By Sabina Mollot
A new social networking site for residents of specific neighborhoods has recently expanded its reach to include residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Tenant King, which began including the neighborhood last September, is aimed at helping people interact with neighbors online in a way that encourages talk about local businesses and also offers a way for people to buy and sell things to neighbors through a listings section.
The contents of the site only becomes available to a visitor after he or she has provided proof of an address that coincides with the right network/neighborhood, of which currently there are just a few. Along with ST/PCV, there’s also Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport, the Financial District and Long Island City. Without signing up, access to information on the site, tenantking.com, is pretty limited.
So, as the company, which was co-founded by two Long Island City residents, boasts on the site, there are “No stalkers, no marketers, no bots, no management companies, just you and your fellow tenants.” Of the two founders, one is Mihkel Noormagi, an Estonia native who’s lived in New York for the past five years. The other is Hungarian-born Patrik Misko. The two met when working at Elegran, a midtown real estate firm.
It was after moving to the neighborhood, that they came up with the idea for Tenant King, “because they saw a need,” said Meena Ziabari, a spokesperson for the company, “for a way to meet people in your neighborhood that might share interests with you.”
The most popular feature so far seems to be the listings, which was created as a locally oriented alternative to Craigslist. So far, it seems to have worked, with people using the section not only for commerce but for things like giving away furniture and starting book clubs. There’s also been a lot of debate online on issues affecting the different neighborhoods; a recent thread among Stuy Town neighbors revolved around the rudeness of a dog owner who’d left the pooch’s pee in an elevator. Another dog-related conversation started when a user offered to walk other people’s dogs for them.
“She runs in the morning and said, ‘I would love to help,’” said Ziabari.
Membership on the site is free, and while Tenant King is hoping to form partnerships with businesses in their areas of coverage and eventually be able to collect some sort of fees that way, the website and service have yet to be monetized. Meanwhile, businesses are not allowed to join as members, which is a rule aimed at discouraging self-promotion. Individual service providers, such as dog walkers and baby sitters, however, are an exception.
As of this month, Noormagi said there are close to 4,000 members of Tenant King in the participating neighborhoods, mostly in Long Island City. Around 700 members are from ST/PCV.
In other recent developments, Noormagi noted that the company has been shooting member video testimonials and has started actively looking for investors.
So far, there hasn’t been too much in the way of promotion, although actors dressed as medieval town criers did prance through the Oval on one afternoon last fall to hand out invitation codes. The effort, Ziabari recalled, delighted the kids. “They had a lot of families coming up to them, asking how they got there, by time machine?”
Responding to invitations, which can also be sent by mail upon request is one way would-be members can verify their addresses. Another way is to send a scan of an ID or debit card.
If things take off, the company hopes to eventually expand its services. “We would love to do it across the country,” Ziabari said, “but for now, this is for New York City.”