“The first two years I lived in Canada, I had to move seven times - not necessarily willingly,” Amy Ding, the founder and CEO of Requity Homes, says recounting her days of being a renter who craved stability. “Being able to call someplace your own, to have complete say over how it looks, being able to put down roots - it’s huge.”
It’s that sense of security and stability that got Amy thinking about starting a company that would make owning a home more accessible for those who lack the traditional down payment and aren't able to qualify for a mortgage yet.
“I think people are frustrated with housing and homeownership becoming increasingly inaccessible. We’ve all been told a narrative around homeownership that if you get a decent job and save up a down payment, you’ll be able to own a home eventually. The reality is that ‘eventually’ is starting to look a lot more like ‘never’ for too many Canadians.”
Requity Homes, at its core, is a program that allows a person to try a home before they buy it, much like someone would lease a car. Essentially, the team will purchase someone’s dream home then rent it to them for the duration of the lease term (which is typically two to three years). Each month, the renter pays rent plus a set premium which goes toward their future downpayment. At the end of the program, they have the money needed to buy back the home from the company for a predetermined price.
While the rent-to-own model isn’t new in the U.S., it’s innovative for Canada, which is one of the reasons ventureLAB invited Amy to join their 2022 Tech Undivided cohort. She found out about the program through ventureLAB advisor and venture capitalist Danielle Graham, and was drawn to the support it gives women founders.
“It’s great getting access to mentors and being able to have frank and open conversations with other founders,” Amy says. “Entrepreneurship can be a fairly alienating and lonely experience, so being able to have a group to chat about some of the challenges is so valuable.”
Amy’s advice for anyone who wants to dive into the world of building a business is to get started now.
“I think the pandemic has helped a lot of people focus on what’s really important to them. There’s no better time than the present to get started, and while I don’t think you necessarily need to jump in right away and quit your job and go at it full-time, you can always start setting yourself up for that goal. If you don’t have enough saved up to take that leap yet, figure out how much you need and plan backwards towards an end date,” she says. “Figure out what steps you can take now that’ll help out later.”
She adds running a startup is a lot like saving for a home - it’s a marathon not a sprint. You have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and surround yourself with a great group of cheerleaders who’ll help propel your business idea forward.
ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided offers a comprehensive 6-month program to enable women-led tech companies to scale their businesses. The program creates a support ecosystem of resources and networking opportunities for women founders focused on key pillars of raising capital, commercializing technology and IP, attracting talent, and acquiring customers. Applications for Tech Undivided are open now! Apply today to access mentorship, peer-to-peer support, strategically aligned partners, and opportunities to pitch.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,500 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.