hostU Team Spotlight

Providing students with a secure and simple way to find housing and rent their place
The Garage
Aug 17, 2023
Three young women pose together in front of a wall with a colorful background.

Providing students with a secure and simple way to find housing and rent their place

By: Dani Savin

As university life evolves, so do the challenges faced by students. Among these challenges, finding suitable and flexible housing stands out as a significant obstacle. Bella LeSage, Leah Kelly, and Gabby Esteve, the team behind hostU, have taken it upon themselves to address this issue head-on. Their innovative platform is reshaping the student housing landscape, providing a seamless solution for students seeking temporary accommodations and subletting opportunities.

Bella LeSage, CEO of hostU, recounted an experience from her freshman year when she was on the volleyball team and required housing for summer training. She found herself in a predicament, unable to secure a three-month lease amidst the prevalent one-year options; the search was frustrating, with limited options in a market dominated by long-term contracts and high costs.

She quickly realized this struggle was widespread. People restored to group chats of expensive Airbnb listings, often plagued with vacation-style fees. The notion of subletting was alluring, but the absence of a reliable platform to connect renters and subletters posed a significant challenge. These experiences ignited Bella and Leah’s curiosity: how could students juggle academics, extracurriculars, and internships while navigating housing uncertainties?

hostU’s mission revolves around reckoning students’ dynamic lives, marked by internships, study abroad programs, co-op opportunities, and exchange initiatives. The platform aims to become the one-stop destination for students to find housing and easily sublet their accommodations, reducing the burden of double rent payments. Furthermore, by leveraging existing university connections, the platform fosters a sense of security and trust among users; their stringent verification process ensures that every user is affiliated with a university, providing a level of dependability unmatched by other platforms.

Unlike the scrolling and searching required on platforms like Airbnb, hostU takes a proactive approach, presenting direct matches that meet users’ unique criteria. This hands-off approach streamlines the process, allowing students to focus on their academic and personal pursuits with confidence in their housing arrangements.

When asked about their decision to apply to Jumpstart, Bella explained how the decision was easy because it “provided us the opportunity to work full-time on our vision and collaborate with other ambitious entrepreneurs. Access to the valuable resources and mentorship in The Garage gives us the support we need to tackle the complexities of scaling our innovative platform.”

Bella LeSage and Leah Kelly are pioneers in reshaping the student housing landscape through their groundbreak platform, hostU. Their dedication to simplifying housing for university affiliates and their commitment to transparency and security are poised to redefine how students find accommodations during their academic journeys. As they continue to expand and refine their offerings, hostU is set to become an indispensable resource for students worldwide, alleviating the housing barrier and enabling them to seize opportunities without hesitation.

Looking to list your place? Check out hostU today!

Dani is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying Journalism and RTVF at the The College of Letters and Sciences. Dani joined the team at The Garage to help facilitate the 2023 Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator summer program, working as a key pillar of the community to assist in daily operations and event execution, curate content for digital, print, and video publication, and strengthen community bonds.

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