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Happipad was developed by a UBC Okanagan professor and student to address the rental shortage

Cailan Libby is CEO of Happipad.com, a new venture focused on helping renters and landlords connect, founded in the Central Okanagan with its low-vacancy rental housing market.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/UBC Okanagan
August 14, 2017 - 4:49 PM

KELOWNA - UBC engineers create a program to help connect renters and landlords.

There is a rental shortage that UBC engineers are trying to solve. They created a program to help people find their best matches in the rental market, according to a press release issued today, Aug. 14.

Entrepreneur Cailan Libby, a UBC Okanagan graduate, has paired up with Kenneth Chau, associate professor with the School of Engineering, to help the community. They are addressing the difficulties in renting, especially in the Okanagan. Some communities in the Okanagan, according to the release, have seen vacancy rates as low as 0.6 per cent over the past year.

In order to address this issue, Happipad.com was created to address the rental market problem. It is an online service that allows landlords and renters to search, advertise, and screen potential matches form rental contracts and post reviews.

“I’ve been a student renter for the last five years and Happipad.com is a tool I wish I had when I first moved to Kelowna,” says Libby. “While traditional classified ads and online listings exist for renters to find places to live, they don’t do the job very well. The system is not transparent and it’s slow – it can take weeks to find and secure a place to rent.”  

For the past year, Libby and Chau talked to tenants and landlords in order to create the Happipad vision.

“It’s not just about making the process more efficient and it’s not just a listing service,” said Libby. “Happipad wants to make renting a connection, rather than a transaction.”

The UBC release states the program was designed to support long-term rentals and guides users through the entire rental process. It allows renters, according to the UBC release, to search for their future home and submit applications, while landlords can list their properties, screen, and accept authenticated applications. Once the right match is made, the rental contracts are electronically signed and delivered by email.

Developing Happipad.com wasn't easy.  It began with Libby was a fourth-year engineering student in on of Chau's classes and it took "heavy-duty engineering" to develop the idea from a concept to the online experience. Now, according to the UBC release, the partners are working to tackle the practical challenges of renting while engaging the local rental community.

“We worked well together and talked about all sorts of solutions that we could build,” says Libby, recalling the early discussions about how they might collaborate on addressing a compelling community challenge.

“As engineers, we have been able to go through the visioning and development processes, and all the creative problem-solving, very quickly,” he says. “A large company might take months to do what we are able to do in a matter of hours.”

Accelerate Okanagan’s Venture Acceleration Program gave direct support such as access to experienced advisors including Lance Schafer, one of Accelerate Okanagan’s Executives in Residence.

“Working with Lance has been great,” says Libby. “As an Executive in Residence, he has offered ideas about what to focus on, how to stay motivated and make the best decisions. The program has given us access to all the resources at Accelerate Okanagan – help with our accounting and legal questions, advice about advertising and networking. It has been very beneficial.”

Happipad is growing and in its first month, the service recently hired its first employee. Happipad seeing a 300 per cent increase in weekly traffic, according to the UBC Release and new authenticated landlords and prospective tenants are registering every day.

“I want to create something our society needs,” Libby says “I realize most people are not willing to take on the risk and struggles, that’s where I’m a bit different.  I want to change the way renting is done. Renting should be simple and stress-free. I want everyone to be able to find a ‘happy’ home quickly and easily.”

Happipad launched in Kelowna in July 2017 and has plans to expand across North America.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
InfoTel News Ltd

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