Entrepreneuer and former NYIT management student Ajay Yadav has been selected as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2017.
Yadav is the founder and CEO of Roomi, an app that lets people find roommates and search for apartment listings. He launched the app in June 2015. One of his first users was a man from Norway; today, Roomi boasts approximately half a million users and has raised $7 million to date.
“Ever since I was a kid living in New Delhi, I knew what Forbes meant to the business world,” says Yadav. “For years, I’ve flipped through the pages of the magazine. I never imagined that one day I’d be there too. It’s an incredible feeling. I’m grateful, happy, and honored, but also more determined than ever to keep growing my company.”
The journey to developing a successful company wasn’t always smooth sailing. “When I first moved to New York, I shared an old, underground studio with five other guys in Queens,” recalls Yadav. “Soon everyone left, leaving me with just one other roommate. We got along fine—or so I thought, until I came back from vacation to find out that my apartment was locked, my key didn’t work, and all of my stuff was gone. I never saw that roommate again!”
Nevertheless, Yadav turned a negative life experience into a positive one: The event sparked the idea for Roomi. “I knew there had to be a better, more transparent way not only to find a place to live, but also to find the right people to live with,” he says.
Yadav quickly got to work developing his idea. The early version of Roomi was a cobbled-together prototype that used Tumblr, Google Forms, and Twitter. “It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Soon I had a couple dozen users and Roomi was born.”
The app has come a long way since its inception. It helps users find a good roommate as well as housing that fits their needs and budget. “You can find the right apartment and you can get to know the people who’ll be living in the apartment,” explains Yadav. Users can also see prospective roommates’ likes and dislikes. “If it feels right, you can chat within the app,” he adds.
Yadav credits NYIT for getting him to where he is today. “NYIT gave me something few other schools could: Perspective. In the middle of Manhattan, surrounded by such diverse people, you can’t help but develop that New York City hustle. This, coupled with the flexibility of evening classes, gave me the mindset and the space I needed to build my business,” he says.
Success has made Yadav pause and reflect on his journey. He offers this advice to NYIT students: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the ingredients you need for success. For my fellow NYIT students, for aspiring entrepreneurs, I think there are three: 1) In the startup world, mistakes are a given. You have to accept them. 2) Once you accept them, you have to be willing to evolve with them. For example, take time to reflect on what you’ve done and how you can do it better. Or change your leadership style, if you have to. 3) For the first two things to happen, you need time (read: money). If you have these three elements, I think you’ll have a good chance of succeeding in what matters to you.”