Detroit’s Cribspot Raises $660K Seed Round, Plans 15-City Expansion

Cribspot, the Detroit-based startup focused on disrupting the campus rental market, announced this week that it has closed on a $660,000 seed round led by Huron River Ventures, with the First Step Fund and undisclosed angel investors participating.

“I think we have the model to really change how people find housing,” says co-founder Alex Gross. “The response we’re getting is telling us it’s a huge problem everywhere.”

Cribspot entices property managers to post listings on its website by allowing them to do it for free—a departure from the traditional online rental business model—and it works with campus representatives it calls “founders” to penetrate each individual campus market and recruit both property managers and student renters. The site is not limited to students, but it does concentrate on rentals close to college campuses. Users can search by budget, number of bedrooms, start day of lease, length of lease, and more.

In the spring, Cribspot launched a feature that allows users to pay their rent through the site. Within the next few months, Cribspot will start reporting timely rental payments to credit bureaus. “You can build credit as you pay rent, which really helps students with no credit build credit,” Gross adds.

Gross says that 60,000 renters have visited the website since it launched last year; some days, as many as 1,500 people browse Cribspot. “Sometimes, we have more visitors daily that we would have had all week earlier this year,” he says.

The startup says it expanded to 15 new college markets earlier this month, including the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL, and the University of Colorado-Boulder. It also serves the cities surrounding Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and University of Cincinnati. Gross says Cribspot plans to expand to another five to 10 cities by next spring.

We last reported on the company right after it won the Techweek Detroit startup competition in May Since then, Cribspot has gone on to win a Dare to Dream grant from the University of Michigan and earn a spot as a finalist in the Rise of the Rest pitch contest.

Gross says Cribspot, which now has a team of six full-time and two part-time employees, plans to use the money from the seed round to expand and start a marketing push. “We’re poised to do big things in the college housing market,” he says.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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