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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 14, 2006

Business Student's Plan Receives Kudos In National Contest

A team led by University of Iowa business student Michael Hubbard made it to the semi-final round of a business plan contest sponsored by Fortune magazine and this month, and while the plan didn't make the finals, the team's idea can still win a reader's choice election.

Hubbard, a senior in the university's Tippie College of Business, and his two partners, David Oliver and Brian Clark, are the founders of, a Web site that advertises apartment rentals in the Iowa City/Coralville area and helps match renters with potential roommates. The company, which went online Aug. 1, 2005, currently has about 180 accounts, logs more than 2,000 hits a day and earns a profit.

Hubbard said the company has been successful because potential tenants can see photos of available rooms online and can get more information about the space than they can from a typical classified ad or grocery store shopper.

"It's more efficient for the landlord or the property management agency because they're getting more calls from people who know more about the apartment than the 10 words in a classified ad," said Hubbard, who is president of the group, while Oliver, a 1995 UI graduate, is the vice president of operations and Clark is vice president of technology. "It means that more people are calling who are serious about the property."

Hubbard said he came up with the idea for the company several years ago when a person who had agreed to be his roommate in an apartment backed out at the last minute. Looking for someone new to share expenses with, he went online to find a Web site that matched up roommates and property in the Iowa City area but found nothing that offered that kind of information.

"That's when I realized there might be a market for this," he said. He and Oliver worked with David Hensley, executive director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, to help write a business plan and get off the ground. They are currently working on the business with JPEC through the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, located at 322 N. Clinton St.

"Without that space, and without David Hensley's support and insight and experience, we wouldn't be as successful as we are," Hubbard said.

Hensley also suggested the team enter the Money magazine and business plan contest earlier this year. Their idea made it all the way to the semi-final round of 12 business plans before it was eliminated by a panel of entrepreneurs. As a semi-finalist, however, they are still eligible to be named reader's choice by a vote of Money/ readers. For more information, or to vote for the best business plan, visit

Readers can vote until the end of September.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,