Former UO student joins a start-up to end homelessness
A University of Oregon alum is working on a project to help combat the dread that can often accompany the search for a new home. Sure, there can be excitement for the next stage of life, but moving can also mean months of searching and rejection, particularly for those from low-income households or homeless individuals looking to get off the streets.
When Brady Sieg graduated from the UO business school in 2014, he spent the next year drifting, finding what he wanted to do with his degree. The beginning of his time with NoAppFee worked out as well as any entrepreneur could expect.
“I was living in Korea,” Sieg said in a Skype interview. “I applied to an online listing [and] found out a week later I knew someone who worked there.”
When he applied, Daniel Rosenberg, Sieg’s acquaintance at the fledgling startup, didn’t think he would be experienced enough. When he was handed the task of writing a sample investor letter however, he proved that he deserved a spot on the team.
The team at NoAppFee is led by Tyrone Poole, who birthed the idea for a one-stop-shop for rental applications while he was homeless himself. The online rental listing platform is streamlining the process of applying for housing, weeding out costly application fees and cutting down travel times to visit housing that low-income families will simply be denied for.
“We’re not just a listing platform,” Sieg said, “People [fill out] one [application] and we show them where they’re qualified. The problem really is that they can get section 8 vouchers, but it’s extremely hard for them to find places that will accept them.”
The work that NoAppFee is doing has recently earned them international recognition when they finished as one of eight finalists in the 1776 Startup Challenge last month. The challenge was designed as an incubator—a company that brings in smaller businesses in order to help them grow—for “socially oriented startups. Startups that were disrupting major socially-oriented industries,” said Sieg.
A total of 3,000 teams competed at local and regional competitions before being whittled down to the eight that appeared in Washington D.C. There, NoAppFee was voted the No. 1 most promising startup by people texting and tweeting in their votes. They were awarded fifth place overall.
Officially, Sieg is the marketing strategist for NoAppFee but he understands that there is more to his job than can be summed up in a bio.
“At a startup, your job title is pretty fluid,” Sieg said. “Marketing strategy is about 20-30 percent of what I do. “
His responsibilities mainly include building relationships with cities and governments all over the country in order to forge ties with property management companies. These relationships help NoAppFee to create a database of cities that will benefit the most from their services, those with large low-income and homeless populations.
Opportunity didn’t just fall into Sieg’s lap. He credits his time at UO for teaching him about what it would take to succeed in the competitive world of business.
“The UO really emphasized how hard it is by exposing us to people who are really doing it,” Sieg said, “You need to be an extremely hard worker.
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