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An entrepreneurship story: Student starts rental business

March 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm


Thu vertical 

Thu Pham’12, an economics and management and media studies double major, did not expect to be starting a rental business in her last year at Beloit College.

Taking ECON 207: Entrepreneurship last fall expanded an idea that Pham had over the summer: renting out the apartments of two friends she met while interning in New York City last summer.

Pham interned last summer at Arts Engine, a media company based in New York City. She became friends with two of her fellow interns, who still currently live in the city. They both travel frequently, causing Thu to raise the question of whether or not they still pay rent when they are not using their apartments.

“I suggested that they rent their apartments [when they’re gone],” Pham explains. “I said I’d take care of the customers.”

Though the idea came about in the summer, it was when she took the entrepreneurship class last fall that she and her friends began the rental business. They currently rent out three apartments in Manhattan.

Pham’s role in the business so far has been finding customers. So far, customers have been 60 percent from friends and family of Pham and her associates and 40 percent businessmen who found them on Airbnb, a website that offers a rental alternative to hotels. Rentals span anywhere between a weekend and a week.

“We want to offer a place to rest and build networking and trust within the city,” Pham says. “We don’t want people to use a sketchy Craigslist place.”

Pham hopes to expand the currently nameless business when she moves to New York City to work at the Broadway League (the national trade association for Broadway, the famous theater district) in May, post-graduation. She envisions the business catering to artists who travel a lot and are interested in making their apartments available for short-term rentals.