When Ryan Barone ’16 and his fellow Pace students were looking for off-campus housing in New York City, the process of scouring ads and presenting paperwork for potential spaces was dizzying, even brutal.
“We found an apartment in Chinatown. It was walking distance to Pace and to work and the landlord said, ‘Yeah, no problem. We just need your W-2, employment information, tax returns, bank statements, and all that for your guarantors.’ So, we ended up missing out on that apartment and a few others. Originally, I thought we were just really bad at renting apartments, but later, I found that renting apartments is really difficult for everybody,” he says.
Barone knew there must be a better way. After discovering that no such solution already existed, he developed an app that helped him to organize documents. Once he found an apartment he liked, he could type in the landlord’s email, and the required information could be sent over immediately.
“It’s really exciting to actually see something that you worked on and care a lot about mean a lot to somebody that you've never even met in person.”
Those early efforts, a reflection of the adage of necessity as the mother of invention, would serve as a launching pad for Barone, who today is the co-founder and chief executive officer of RentRedi, a software company that empowers landlords to easily manage their properties themselves while saving time and money on rent, screening, listing, maintenance, and communication. His company is a national success, currently used by self-managing landlords in over 44 states, with plans to grow even further.
Barone grew up in a small town near Albany, New York, and at Pace, he developed the ingenuity and drive that has ignited his success.
He recalls how, on an interview for a financial internship at Goldman Sachs during sophomore year, the dual economics and mathematics major with a minor in computer science was asked to provide an example of an accounting course he had taken, and how he could apply it to the job, and he provided an honest answer. Barone hadn’t taken any such course, but he did take other courses, and would happily explain how those would be applicable.
"I felt like I could learn the pieces that I hadn’t taken direct courses in because I've taken a bunch of different ones that required me to think in different ways," he says. The interview was a hit.
When Barone decided to seek experience in consulting, he reached out to a mentor who was employed at New England Consulting Group. The company had not previously hired Pace students, meaning Barone was under considerable pressure to establish a precedent of success. Barone accepted the challenge, and his strong performance has opened doors for other Pace students. For Barone, it paved the way to the full-time position he accepted at PricewaterhouseCoopers after graduating. The job was a great opportunity, but when he found that he was working each night on his rental software, sometimes until 3 or 4 am, he knew he had found his passion.
“People talk about leaving a house nicer, tidier than you found it. I kind of feel that way about life, you know. Leave it a little bit better than you found it. So that, to me, is a big motivation.”
In December 2016, he began working on the RentRedi app full time. Since then, the service has evolved to include features such as mobile payment, maintenance requests, automated late-fees, and communication among landlords and their tenants.
“It actually became a way for landlords and tenants to save time and money on almost every facet of the renting process I got to experience first-hand while at Pace,” Barone says. “It’s really exciting to actually see something that you worked on and care a lot about mean a lot to somebody that you've never even met in person.”
Serving as a Dyson Advisory Board member is one way that Barone is hoping to ensure that his success means something to the Pace community.
As a student, he was actively involved on campus, working on the Economics newsletter, serving as Dyson president in the Student Government Association, and sitting on the New York City Master Plan committee. As a board member, he hopes to help prepare students for the rapidly changing job market by encouraging them to pursue practical learning opportunities—such as a computer coding camp—and helping to raise awareness about the different majors offered, that, when paired strategically, could set them on a path to unique careers for which they are competitively equipped.
“People talk about leaving a house nicer, tidier than you found it. I kind of feel that way about life, you know. Leave it a little bit better than you found it. So that, to me, is a big motivation,” Barone says.
Favorite way to take a break? Playing basketball. Everything else doesn't exist for a bit and you can just play your heart out for as long as you want. I often play pickup with strangers and it's actually nice - there's no expectation going in, and I typically form some sort of bond with whomever I'm playing with by the time I leave.
What’s your favorite dish? Fried chicken or white queso. Both are pretty incredible.
If you were a city, which one would you be? New York! Seasons, endless possibilities, the constant grind, and loving every bit of it. You can never pin down exactly what it is, but there's something special about it.
What is on your travel bucket list? Really, so many places, but the Philippines, Japan, and Peru are currently on the top of my list.
What’s your reading material of choice? Audiobooks! I use an app called Libby that lets you check out books (and in my case, audiobooks) from the NYPL. I like that I can throw in headphones and listen on the subway no matter how packed it is.