When Alex Bowman returned to Cincinnati after 10 years away, he and fellow Cincinnati native Chris Ridenour found themselves commiserating over the home buying process. As tech-savvy startup veterans, Bowman and Ridenour looked to home buying websites to fine-tune their search.
"Sites like Zillow force buyers to pick smaller areas," Bowman says. "People don't understand all the great places to live in their city. They don't have to limit themselves by geography."
Bowman, a Mason native and former employee of Blackberry and Amazon, had originally limited his home search to neighborhoods like Oakley and Hyde Park. When he finally looked outside that geographical box, he and his wife found a home in Norwood with which he couldn't be happier. His positive experience is why Cincinnati — and regions nationwide — need Casamatic
Casamatic is a home buying site that curates listings for its users based what's important to them.
Once open for business, the site will ask users for a location as well as questions related to the importance of family, food, commute time or environment. The Casamatic team then parses that data with MLS listings to find the listings that are perfect for the user. The site also pairs the buyer with a Casamatic-approved real estate agent.
"We're trying to get a confirmed showing with a realtor in under an hour," Bowman says. "No matter what, you'll get a response from an agent. And quickly."
Bowman met Ridenour while Ridenour was organizing Startup Weekends
for UP Cincinnati. As co-founder of Lisnr
, Ridenour is actively involved in the Cincinnati startup scene. The two decided to move forward with Casamatic when they realized the flaws in the online home search process, and they entered Ocean's accelerator program, graduating in April
"We really liked the founders of Ocean," Bowman says. "Tim, Tim and Chad are great guys, and once we decided to do Casamatic full-time we thought we'd give it a run with them."
Though Ocean has been deemed a faith-based accelerator
, the Casamatic team was drawn to other aspects of the organization, not necessarily the faith component.
"We're open-minded," Bowman says. "We wanted to see what it was all about."
Since Demo Day in April, Bowman and Ridenour have collected a team of five individuals to get Casamatic off the ground. They recently brought a Northside real estate agent on board as well as a full-stack engineer and were invited to move with two other local startups into the new 84.51 Center
"The entire team is extremely passionate about Cincinnati and active members of the community," Bowman says. "That's a big thing we look for in bringing on new team members."
Casamatic hopes to have a fully-functioning website for Cincinnati homebuyers by August. Once established, the company will look to real estate agents as their primary source of income.
"We're giving them access to the fastest growing segment of homebuyers, millennials," Bowman says. "They'll get regular notifications from their target market."
The company also plans to pursue seed funding this fall. Assuming all goes well, Casamatic hopes to expand to other markets in 2016.
On a personal level, both Bowman and Ridenour are thrilled to be in Cincinnati.
"Chris (Ridenour) is a Cincinnati lifer," Bowman says. "He loves it here. I really wanted to come back to Cincinnati because there is so much activity here."
During the rare moments when he's not working, Bowman and his wife enjoy the Cincinnati restaurant scene. While he's a big fan of OTR hotspots like A Tavola and crowd favorite Eli's, one of his favorite places is right in the middle of his newfound neighborhood, Norwood.
"The Bluebird Cafe," he says. "You can't beat breakfast for 6 bucks."