Boulder startup Silvernest launches roommate-matching service for baby boomers

BOULDER — Local startup Silvernest LLC on Wednesday announced the launch of an online platform aimed at matching baby-boomer and empty-nester homeowners with roommates to help America’s aging population stay in their homes longer than they might otherwise be able to do.

The idea behind Boulder-based Silvernest is that many homeowners would like to stay put as they age, but the reality is that several factors aside from just health — such as divorce, death of a spouse or lack of retirement savings — can force them to move.

Silvernest provides a streamlined way for such homeowners to find suitable roommates who can rent rooms in their homes and help ease some of their financial burden. The service is aimed strictly at those who will be living in the property in which they’re renting out a room and is not open to landlords listing rental property.

“This particular demographic is so significant in its size, and there hasn’t been a lot of focus on the demographic with respect to their housing needs,” co-founder and CEO Wendi Burkhardt said Wednesday. “Our mission was to create a seamless end-to-end experience that would make all the details really easy.”

Silvernest charges a one-time fee that ranges from $99 to $349 based on the level of service. Services include listing available property on the Silvernest website, background screening on renters, an algorithmic matching of compatible roommates, digitally executed leases and optional automatic bank transfers for rental payments. Once a group of compatible roommates has been identified, the homeowner can choose which ones to interview and which to ultimately rent a room.

On the renter side, a $14.99 application fee is charged that includes a background check good for 90 days. If renters don’t pass the background check, they’re ejected from the system.

While Burkhardt said the company is targeting its marketing at people between the ages of 55 and 70, there’s no hard range of who’s allowed to use Silvernest to rent out a room. And any age of renters can apply because homeowners are able to set parameters on a variety of factors, including age, related to whom they’re willing to rent.

“We’re trying to let people define themselves and not label them too distinctively,” Burkhardt said.

Burkhardt, whose background includes 25 years in the tech industry, founded Silvernest in February with Debra and Chuck McKenney, who have experience developing small group homes for Alzheimer’s patients. The trio has self-funded the company to date, and Burkhardt said they’re in the process of raising a $1.5 million seed round of funding.

Burkhardt said Silvernest is available to anyone nationwide, but the company is initially focusing its marketing efforts on the Denver metro area. A mobile version of the platform will be added early next year.