Friday Future Leaders: Caren Maio|
Moving can be one of the most miserable experiences that occurs during the first quarter of our lives. Wrought with being a total pain in the butt and a major headache, moving just plain sucks. Craigslist is a lie, landlords hold the keys to heaven and you’re just there to hope and pray you have a place to sleep next month.
Add to the process that we are currently experiencing one of the toughest renter markets in recent history in cities like New York City and San Francisco, and you essentially have a total nightmare. And you thought job hunting was competitive.
All of this stark negativity (aka reality) sheds light on just how much we should love Caren Maio. When Maio was living in New York City, she racked up more than 10 moves in 10 years. As a student of New York University, she began her apartment hunting miseries right out of the gate, experiencing the frustrations that most of don’t realize until our post-college days. So, she looked to establish the apartment-hunting cure for all of us and quickly found herself in a brand new space: technology.
Offering a panacea, not a one-time fix
When Maio teamed up with co-founders Matt Raoul and Mike O’Toole, they wanted to offer something that would make the apartment hunting pains more manageable. They wanted a product that would be a must have, not just a nice to have. Together, they built Nestio, one of the easiest ways to organize, streamline and collaborate on the apartment search through a web and mobile app. Nestio allows you to search for apartments, leave notes and photos for others to see, communicate with owners and share findings with roomies. Essentially, Nestio serves as a one-stop rental hub for anyone in the market for a new pad.
The features for Nestio were born out of Maio’s commitment to what the users needed and wanted. However, the process in getting there involved some heavy feedback and reworks of the initial Nestio model. Luckily, Maio had the support and mentorship of TechStars, a startup accelerator, to do that. In 2011 Maio and her team joined the TechStars NYC program.
Finding support where it counts
Immediately, Maio had to present her Nestio idea to incredible mentors like David Tisch and David Cohen, TechStars founders. Through the process of flushing out their idea with Cohen and Tisch as well as a few very accomplished female mentors, Maio realized there were fundamental business flaws in her initial working and she was forced to pivot her ideas. It was because of experiences like this that Maio suggests to talk about your entrepreneurial idea to anyone and everyone who will listen. Through that process, she notes, you can understand if there is a true need in the market and figure out what the market really wants.
Maio’s experience at TechStars was just one instance of the very inviting and welcoming community she had experienced since diving into the tech startup space as a newcomer. She has said since experiencing so much support and camaraderie, she is committed to paying it forward and encourages other women to do the same. It is that fortified community that she hopes will eventually result in women leading more and more startups in technology, making a positive impact on the workforce at large. On Maio’s pursuit of solving our real estate troubles, she has taken a leadership role in gender equality as well.