Former Bear hawks cribs to other colleges

Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer
Ryan Young, Bear Cribs founder, expanded Bear Cribs, the business aimed at helping students find off-campus housing, to other colleges.

By James Stockton

In 2002, Ryan Young was like any other freshman at Baylor — he was looking for a place to live after the dorm.

“I couldn’t find an apartment,” Young said.

Amid the frustration of traveling from leasing office to leasing office, Ryan had an idea to create one place for Baylor students to find specific listings for apartments around campus.

Young, a management major at the time, decided he had the opportunity to provide a service to his fellow students, and Bear Cribs was born.

After almost 10 years in business, Bear Cribs has become one of the most popular small businesses used by Baylor students. Bear Cribs offers information from more than 100 properties that cater to students in the area and allows students to search specifically by price, size and type of home.

“Bear Cribs aggregates all the different pricing, amenities from all the different providers,” Young said.

His mission is to help students find what’s best for them, without charging them for it. Young said he felt compelled to offer the same service to students of other universities, but didn’t think he was in a position to market to students of other colleges.

“I had for a long time wanted to expand to other colleges because Bear Cribs was such a huge success,” Young said.

In June 2010, another opportunity presented itself to Young, but this time it was the opportunity to expand.

Sally Burns is a junior at University of Kansas and leasing officer for one of Kansas’ private dorms. Because of her position, Burns is aware of the issues students face finding housing.

Michael Hanley, vice president of Asset Campus Housing, a company which manages Heritage Quarters in Waco, referred Burns to Young as she began plans for an easier way to find housing.

“Ryan contacted me … [and] I explained where I was in the process with the Housing Hawk,” Burns said.

The Housing Hawk, a rebranded clone of Bear Cribs, now offers much of the same service to students in Lawrence, Kan., under the sole leadership of Burns.

“I think the student there [Burns] at that college knows how to reach the students there,” Young said, adding that he makes himself available for advice but gives Burns the liberty to do what she thinks is best for her market.

Burns said the biggest difference between Bear Cribs and the Housing Hawk is the type of housing they advertise on their respective websites.

For example, the Housing Hawk’s selection of houses is smaller than Bear Cribs and Burns relies more heavily on apartment properties.

Burns said she believes that with time, her model will look more like Young’s.

“In the last week, on average, there are 35 to 40 people checking into the site every day,” Burns said. “Students have enjoyed having a place to go [for housing information].”

As for Young, he continues to grow Bear Cribs and has plans to expand to several new universities by the end of the year.

And he will give each one the advice and freedom he has given Burns.

“Ryan has probably saved me a lot of time and a lot of mistakes that I could’ve or would’ve made,” Burns said.