The majority of recent graduates have high hopes for the future but Ofo Ezeugwu has high hopes for the now. I got the chance to sit down with Ofo, CEO of WhoseYourLandlord, a website which allows users to rate and view their landlords based on experience. WYL is a site that he and business partners launched before Ezeugwu even received his diploma. With a re-launch in just a few days, he’s a pretty busy guy, but somehow he made time for the Blavity fam.
What is WhoseYourLandlord and who is it for?
WYL is a platform and app enabling renters to rate their landlords and housing complexes and giving them the ability to find their next home. We really focus on millennial renters and college students because, often times, this is their first time addressing housing on their own and because this is the period of time in their life where they’re moving the most.
How did ‘WhoseYourLandlord’ come to be?
During my junior year at Temple University, I was prepping to run for the VP of the student body with my campaign team. We would hold a lot of late night meetings to discuss how we were going to best help our students. And, at one of these meetings, while attempting to figure out how to assist students with off campus housing, I thought “What if students could rate their landlords, that way those coming in behind them would know what to expect before ever signing as lease?” My team and the students were extremely high on the idea and we ran with it from there.
The website will be having a re-launch on March 15, what can users expect from that?
Our users can expect a more seamless app experience and will actually be able to use WYL to find their next home. Landlords and property managers will be able to upload their available listings for our prospective renters to view and pursue. While I cannot unveil the exact features just yet, know that we’ll use home provider reviews and your desired amenities to make the search process more of a matchmaking service for your next home.
What is WhoseYourLandlord’s biggest goal for 2015?
Our goal is to be on the national map in 2015. We’re currently a part of DreamIt Ventures’ spring class and are fleshing out the Philly market and making sure everyone knows about and is actively benefiting from the services we provide. The ability to grow aggressively in our next few major markets will drive our funding round and enable us to put together the capital needed to make the national rollout strategy possible.
And what is your biggest personal goal for 2015?
There’s a few areas of focus. Personally, I want to take a few vacations this year with my closest friends and family. I’m super big on traveling and have spent a ton of time on the road, recently, for business; but, I’d like to have more relaxing vacations in 2015, as well. I also would like to push more creative content out into the world. I always have concepts and thoughts on current events and every day occurrences that I’ll make a more concerted effort to relay to folks through creative channels, whether it be through writing, multimedia, etc. Lastly, I want to continue plugging myself into circles with successful, driven people who are realizing and acting on their purpose for being here.
What are your ambitions outside WhoseYourLandlord?
Outside of WYL, I’m an actor, model, and inspirational speaker. I’m signed to several agencies between Philly and NYC and have been featured in numerous fashion shows, commercials, TV shows, and short films. I’ve been on the Today Show four times, worked with ESPN and Alfani Suits, and have had my short film ‘The Letter’ air at the Lincoln Center. The rush I get from entertaining people is amazing and it gives me the chance to explore all kinds of emotions, both on the deepest and shallowest of levels.
In regard to being an inspirational speaker, I love engaging with young people about taking control of their minds and on taking ownership of their lives. I’ve led talks on and spoken on many panels about entrepreneurship, leadership, and on making change in folks’ surrounding communities. My ability to inspire is the strongest thing I can provide others. Nothing makes me prouder or more fulfilled than hearing that my actions and words have helped to positively change the tune of someone’s thoughts. A great leader’s job is to galvanize the people around them to work beyond their capabilities in order to achieve a goal beyond their expectations. That’s what I work towards every day.
How do you balance your company and personal life?
The reality is, there’s always better ways to manage this balance. I think I’m at that stage in my life where I can be a workhorse. I don’t have children or a family to provide for, directly. I believe everything is in front of me and I don’t have any excuses to not achieve all I set out to do.
That said, I do in fact make sure to set aside time for the personal. This time is usually on the weekends hanging out with/partying with my friends or visiting family. I’m in a fortunate position where I genuinely love the work I do; so, I’m able to keep going and my energy continues to match my level of output because I go to work every day with great excitement over what’s to come next. My professional life is really an extension of my personal desires.
Your motto is “No steps backward; just forward progress”, why do you think that best fits your life?
This best fits me because I live it every day. I don’t live with regret or believe in failure. I think everything happens for a reason and that we’re supposed to learn lessons from things that don’t necessarily go as planned. If you look at things in life that way, you condition yourself to always be growing and moving forward. This doesn’t mean you don’t take the time to acknowledge or feel things thoroughly; but, it does mean that you don’t dwell on positive or negative occurrences for too long. They’re a part of the journey. The impact I have on others and my own happiness determine my success. I surround myself with folks that believe in consistent, persistent growth.
If you’re living in a major city or on a college campus, if you’re a young black millennial, then you definitely will want to hit up Ofo’s site WhoseYourLandlord! Its basically Yelp for Renters, and whether you’re a student or just moving into a new place, you will definitely want this tool in your arsenal when renting. Be sure sure to check out the Re-Launch on March 15! You can keep up with all things WYL and Ofo by checking out their Twitters @OfoEzeugwu and @wylandlord.