Michigan Ross BBA’s Innovative Venture Named to P&Q's Most Disruptive Business School Startups List of 2021
Parmar’s LeaseMagnets was highlighted in the lead of P&Q’s story as one of 14 student ventures honored on its inaugural list. To compile the list, P&Q reached out to 16 of its highest-ranked business schools of 2021 with a goal of finding startups, launched by business majors, with the greatest potential to upend established models and industries.
As a sophomore at the University of Michigan, Parmar told P&Q he found out how stressful, uncertain, and inconvenient the rental and apartment housing process could be. In addition, he learned that many property managers lose 98% of interested leads on their website before they even take a tour.
“It was here that I realized how inconvenient the shopping experience was for an apartment: 1) you need schedule/book a tour for every apartment, and 2) take the in-person tour (usually only offered during business hours), confirm pricing on-site (sometimes re-invite all relevant parties to another tour), and then sign a lease.”
This inspired him to seek a solution, which led him to create LeaseMagnets. Parmar utilizes the Tour.video digital platform to enable managers to create “personalized video tours” of their properties, which he says results in 60% higher lead generation and conversion of clients’ websites.
The Michigan Ross BBA’s passion and determination has helped his startup to reach early success.
“I began knocking on the door of every apartment on the U-M campus,” Parmar told P&Q. “Eventually, I had our first customer, starting with local apartments here in Ann Arbor, and today we are working with apartments in nearly 30 states (with many of the apartment communities that once said “no” here in Ann Arbor).”
In addition, LeaseMagnets has partnered with over 200 real estate clients and conducts over 20,000 virtual tours daily. Parmar’s venture also beat out 250 other startups to win the 2021 Michigan Business Challenge and earned an invitation to YCombinator, a startup accelerator company that has provided funding for over 3,000 early-stage startups.
Additionally, Parmar was even able to offer 10 internships to students at Michigan Ross and the College of Engineering, with alumni landing jobs at firms ranging from McKinsey to the Securities and Exchange Commission to Google.
Taking advantage of the Michigan Ross BBA curriculum to create a successful startup
Parmar said the Michigan Ross BBA Program has greatly contributed to his success launching LeaseMagnets and Tour.video.
“The BBA program complemented with my strong software competencies has changed my life, introduced me to incredible mentors, and team members along the way,” he said.
A class that Parmar credits as having been most valuable in helping launch his startup was Michigan Ross Professor Justin Huang’s course in Marketing Management. “I fundamentally believe the greatest gift a class can give someone is the ability to create something new,” he explained. “Over the course of five days, my team built out an entire video marketing campaign for relaunching the Victoria’s Secret fashion runway.”
Parmar shared with P&Q that the Michigan Ross BBA Program has allowed him to create connections with incredible mentors and team members, and that the resources Ross offers for entrepreneurship have been essential on his startup journey.
“The entrepreneurial programs powered by the Zell Lurie Institute program were transformative to our business’ confidence and opportunities,” he explained. “It has afforded our company the opportunity to both win funding that keeps our business going and find mentors like Anne Perigo, Angela Kujava, and Rashmi Menon (and many others).”
Parmar also emphasized how now-retired Michigan Ross Professor Peter Allen as someone who made a significant contribution to his startup journey.
“Peter Allen taught me the importance of just reaching out and got me started in real estate. When I was a first-year student, I sat in on a few of his MBA real estate classes. Although I was not enrolled in his classes, he considered me one of his students,” he said. “It was these conversations that helped me develop my first understanding of real estate and, more importantly, my realization that I could make my college education experience my own.”
Undergraduate entrepreneurial resources at Michigan Ross
For students like Parmar who are interested in entrepreneurship, Michigan Ross and U-M have a vast portfolio of programs, competitions, and other resources.
Among those open to undergraduate students are the 15-credit Entrepreneurship Minor, which provides students — from any background or area of study — with the necessary skills and experience to translate ideas into real impact in the arts, sciences, commercial, and social sectors. Michigan Ross also offers more than a dozen courses in entrepreneurial studies for undergraduate students.
As Parmar mentioned, the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross provides numerous ways for students to engage in entrepreneurial-related programming. These include the:
- Zell Early-Stage Fund, a venture capital and pre-venture capital investment fund operated by Ross BBA students under the supervision of a faculty member
- Michigan Business Challenge, which takes participants through the entire cycle of new venture creation from creating a strong pitch to conducting a marketing and financial assessment and writing a comprehensive business plan
- Zell Lurie Student Startup Grants program, which provides students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the business creation process by offering startup workshops and awarding $300-$5,000 in grants to individuals and student teams