FishbowlNY Chats With New York Real Estate Startup, NakedApartments

It’s not exactly an easy time to launch a startup – much less so one in the real estate industry. But if there’s any way to beat the odds and create a successful business in New York, it’s through the use of funny videos, particularly if they happen to contain cats and/or scantily clad people. Enter Shankar Desai, who co-founded along with his cohort, Peter Treadway.

The site — something of a mix between a less sex-obsessed Craigslist and Yelp — allows apartment-hunters to anonymously post information about the kind of apartment and rent situation they’re interested in so that brokers can contact them with listings. If the apartment-hunters likes what she sees, she can contact the broker directly. The site also allows those who have worked with brokers to post reviews so that others can make informed decisions. As the name suggests, transparency is at the core of the hunter / broker interaction in the hopes that one not get stuck being shown an apartment in a questionable area with a broker telling you a neighborhood is “up and coming” while a crack addict is literally taking a shit on your doorstep. Just, you know. As an example.’s founder, Shankar Desai, a Brooklyn-based Harvard grad with a background in business and tech, spoke to us about his inspiration for the site’s unique approach to real estate and the equally unique ad campaign that’s been unfolding along with it. Desai told us he found many real estate sites to be a little sterile, calling to mind, as he put it, “stodgy old men with cigars.” He wanted to create a means of allowing young, computer-savvy New Yorkers with an irreverent sense of humor to find apartments quickly and without hassle. The site currently features almost 16,000 listings and 6,400 no-fee listings.

To reach his ideal consumer, Desai wrangled together a crew made up of writer / producer Greg Kalleres, who has worked with ESPN on a series of ads, director Andrew Robertson, and editor Stuart Jennings/ Together, they came up with the concept of creating a series of short videos showing typical New Yorkers at home in their apartments. Typical New Yorkers being slightly to bewilderingly eccentric, the videos show people doing everything from attempting to get a cat to roller skate to Auto-tuning their own singing. Each video ends with the slogan “What you do in your apartment is your business… finding you one is ours.”

The concept is smart, the process simple and the ads far, far too relatable:

Plus? Viewers can submit a video response to any of NakedApartment’s videos via YouTube. If they like one, they’ll include it in their upcoming ad campaign on TaxiTV. So you can watch yourself doing something embarrassing while you’re probably doing something embarrassing in the back of a cab. Synergy!

Publish date: April 1, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT