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Innovation & Startups

Where to live? Pittsburgh's Rent Jungle aims to be the Kayak of rental searches

It's a jungle out there in the world of apartment listings, one that Pittsburgh startup Rent Jungle is attacking with the precision of a machete.

Rent Jungle's website helps users to locate the perfect rental property in almost any city across the country, pulling up listings culled from thousands of websites using spidering and indexing technology. It works much like a search engine but is designed for the exclusive use of the rental housing industry.

"No site has 100 percent of everything that's available," explains Jon Pastor, CEO and Co-founder. "We've invented a search engine like Google that grabs all the data and aggregates it one place. There's been nothing like it on the market until now. We are the Kayak of apartment listings."

Rent Jungle got underway in 2009 with an office in the Riverside Center for Innovation. The team includes three co-founders, including Rick Ferris and Geng Weng. Last month the website moved out of beta. In its first year, rentjungle.com has logged 100,000 users and recently moved up to the number two search result for apartment listings on Google.

The site culls 6 million apartments listings from 7000 websites, breaking the listings down by city and neighborhood on interactive maps. It is also among the first to introduce natural search technology, allowing users to search by price, bedrooms and architectural features. Looking for wood floors? Exposed brick? A river view? A loft? Just ask. There's a "Compare Your Rent" tool too.

The revenue model is similar to Kayak.com's relationship to sites such as Expedia and Orbitz, offering advertisers placement for a set fee, explains Pastor. Advertisers pay to have traffic driven to their listings.

Pastor, who worked for both Google, Calif., and Microsoft, Seattle, moved his family here from Chicago. In addition to being closer to family in Ohio--but not too close, he notes--Pittsburgh is the perfect place to start a company.

"It's easy to get drowned out in a place like San Francisco. There's a good ecosystem for startups and angel investors here. It's easier to get traction here."

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jon Pastor, Rent Jungle 

Image courtesy of Rent Jungle

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