Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear blue jeans and a pressed T-shirt. This is Tyrone Poole, founder and president of OneApp—an entrepreneur who emerged from the ashes of homelessness to launch a property-rental company, not for riches or ego, not for fame or glory, but with one mission—to level the playing field for disadvantaged renters to help all people thrive. “Everyone deserves a place to call home,” Tyrone shares.
Based in Beaverton, Oregon, the growing web-based company is designed to help renters of all income levels find a place to live, regardless of economic status, creditworthiness, or employment history. “There are lots of website that show all the pretty listings of rental properties, but our website not only shows you these pictures, they show you which ones you qualify for and can go get the keys from right now,” Tyrone explains.
The inspiration for OneApp grew from his own experience with homelessness after suffering a devastating injury while training to become a firefighter in 2006. Medical bills overwhelmed his savings while he was in the hospital, and Tyrone was discharged to find his car had been repossessed and he’d been evicted. He found himself taken from aspiring firefighter to living on a cot at a homeless shelter, in the blink of an eye.
While struggling to find a place to live, he heard others share the same stories of the obstacles he was hitting—astronomical application fees and rejection, rejection, rejection. This sparked the idea for OneApp, a free app that allows renters to understand exactly which property, house, or apartment they’re qualified and eligible for in each state, eliminating the financial and emotional stress of paying multiple application fees without knowing whether they’ll be approved. With a single fee, the app screens everybody, as a specific property would, against all vacancies in the state at the same exact time.
Tyrone honed the concept and the technology as he moved from shelter resident to the role of housing advocate for nine years before its launch. “It takes a split second for your life to fall apart. It takes even longer to put it back together—and the odds are against you. I wanted to change those odds for other people, not just the homeless, but all people, give everyone a chance for a better life,” Tyrone explains. OneApp has come a long way at a lightning-fast pace and has matched thousands of people with rental housing. Currently serving Oregon and Georgia, Tyrone has his eye on expanding to Tennessee, Washington, and Minnesota in 2020.
What began as a business borne of necessity by an unwitting knight just two years ago has soared—with a parade of organizations acknowledging his innovative brainchild. He and his company have received a cache of awards, including the 5th Most Promising Tech Startup Worldwide Award, the 2017 Fast Company United States Innovation Award, the 2018 Business Journal Forty under Forty Award, and Oregon Entrepreneur of the Year Award, with Tyrone as its first African American recipient.
Tyrone overcame insurmountable odds and emerged from the streets as a visionary entrepreneur determined to help keep others from a similar fate and as a community-minded business leader helping to lift up communities one renter at a time.
President — OneApp
LinkedIn: Tyrone Poole
Facebook, Personal: Tyrone Poole
Facebook, Company: One App Oregon Rental