Real estate purchase and rental prices are on the rise. Especially near city centres, the supply of quality, affordable living arrangements is low.
A new trend that addresses this tough housing market is “home sharing”. Home sharing is a living arrangement among two or more unrelated people. Home owners with extra space that are looking for financial support or social connections may be set up with those seeking a more affordable, shared housing option.
Hamilton startup HomeShare Alliance offers turnkey services for those seeking shared housing opportunities. Their services offer convenience and safety to take out the guess work.
We spoke with HomeShare Alliance Founder and CEO Tara McEwen about her journey as an entrepreneur and the unique mission of her company.
What was the inspiration for your company?
My personal experience inspired me to create a social enterprise with the focus of housing affordability. After my 16-year marriage ended, I was faced with the challenge of transitioning from a dual income household to a single income household. Being middle-aged in the middle-income bracket, I knew I had to consider different options in order to ensure my financial stability and security. To help overcome this challenge, I turned to shared living in order to reduce my housing expenses. Realizing that many single income homeowners face similar challenges, I wanted to offer a professional service to help them while also meeting the needs for home-seekers who want to reduce their housing expense. I was able to find the ideal roommate for myself by utilizing my career experience in recruiting, screening and vetting applicants. There are many benefits above monetary reasons to shared living and it can be a very successful arrangement when roommates are properly screened and matched.
What do you find the most rewarding about being an entrepreneur? What do you find the most challenging?
The most rewarding piece for me is creating something and turning it into reality. When you are inspired with an idea and turn that passion into action – it’s an amazing feeling when you see the ‘idea seeds’ growing.
In the past, I found that the most challenging piece was ‘myself getting in my own way’. What I mean by that is, as an entrepreneur we sometimes start second guessing ourselves and the negative self-talk sets in. I’ve learned to push that part of myself aside in order to allow the magic to happen. It also helps to align yourself with a good mentor.
How has entrepreneurship defied or lived up to your expectations?
Having been an entrepreneur before, I had a fairly good picture of the commitment and sacrifice that would be needed. Now being an entrepreneur with a social enterprise, it surpassed my expectations. Having a business model that serves to benefit many others, I find that doors of opportunity open more easily and the positive social impact aspect is the rocket fuel that drives my determination.
How did you become involved with Innovation Factory?
I attended a workshop at iF and I saw the value of the wide range of resources and support available, so I decided to become a client.
What have you valued most about Innovation Factory’s services/support?
iF offers a good range of resources, but to narrow it down, I found the feedback sessions the most valuable.
How do you measure success?
When we serve a person’s need, it’s how they change as a result that matters. When we can help create a positive financial and social impact for an individual, all while maintaining a sustainable business, that’s our measurement of success.
What differentiates you from your competition?
We offer an in-person representative turnkey service that provides confidentiality, convenience and a thorough screening process for compatibility/lifestyle matches.
What is the best recognition you have received?
It was an honour to have this business model accepted in the Ontario Social Impact program delivered by Wilfrid Laurier University. It was equally an honour to receive 1st place at the ELEV8 Pitch competition and 2nd place at the Wilfrid Laurier OSIV Pitch event.
What are your plans for the next year and beyond?
Our future plan is to scale out to offering our services in other regions.
What support will you look to Innovation Factory for in the coming months?
The mentorship and community connections as we continue to move forward.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who may just have an idea?
Even if you’re at the ideation stage, connect with an entrepreneur support centre such as iF. They can provide valuable feedback and the tools needed to help you put your idea into action.
How can we connect with you?