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Monday, March 6, 2006

Name: HotPads.com

Location: The District

Funding: In addition to self-funding, the company raised seed money from angel investors. It's now seeking to raise $500,000 from venture capital firms and angel investors.

Big idea: HotPads has developed a Web site that allows users to search for apartments by location, with maps showing apartment communities or private rentals that have vacancies. "Our map-based search allows us to put the big REIT properties right next to someone's rental condo unit or single-family home," said Douglas Pope, vice president and director of operations. "We don't have to arbitrarily define particular neighborhoods that a property is in."

How it works: Listed properties in the database are displayed as color-coded icons on a map: Big red buildings are large apartment communities, yellow skinny buildings are condo units and so on. Users can tweak their search parameters without initiating a new search, Pope said. A drop-down menu sorts listings by type, such as rentals, corporate housing, sublets or roommates. As search parameters are narrowed by price, number of bedrooms or type of housing, property icons disappear, leaving only the matching properties on the map. There are still shortcomings: Neighborhood locations such as schools and parks are labeled on HotPads' maps, but Metro stations aren't yet included. Pope said more points of interest are in the pipeline. The site has 10,000 active listings, Pope said.

Where the idea was hatched: The founders met at the University of Notre Dame. After graduation and multiple job-related moves, the three decided they could improve on existing housing search sites.

Big-name customers: Equity Residential, United Dominion Realty Trust, Archstone Smith, Lincoln Property, Home Properties, Fairfield Residential, Edward Rose & Sons and private Realtors list their properties on HotPads.

Price: Free. The company hopes to generate revenue through targeted advertising powered by Google's AdSense program.

Founded: May 2005.

Who's in charge: Matthew Corgan, president and director of technology; Pope; and John Fitzpatrick, director of sales and marketing.

Employees: The three founders plus eight part-timers working on software development.

Web site: http://www.hotpads.com/

Partners: HomeRentals.net and VaultWare.

What the name means: "We wanted to have something that's fun, that's memorable and general," Pope said. "We didn't want to get locked into one type of housing. That's how we picked HotPads. When we say it to potential clients or potential partners, they have to repeat it, but then they remember it."

-- Andrea Caumont


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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