FAMU grad Anthony J. Gantt Jr., a major in the U.S. Marines, has won $20,000 for his startup in a pitch contest among Historically Black College and University (HBCU) alumni and students.
Gantt’s company, At Ease Rental Corp, helps military families and federal government workers with their temporary housing needs. These travelers are not able to use short-term or vacation rental booking sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, or Booking.com because there is no way for the U.S. government to independently vet each property listed on those sites for safety, security, and efficacy.
At Ease is the only short-term rental company that caters exclusively to military and federal employees. The company addresses the pain points of 450,000 military and federal employees that are assigned station transfers each year. Its rental inventory is tailored to the specific needs of families of military and federal personnel and ease the stress of moving every two to three years for a transfer, while the current pandemic does not affect the need for military permanent change of station [PCS].
Grant says, the $20,000 prize was perfect timing because he needed the capital to grow his team and hire military spouses.
“I was looking for someone that can help with PR. Now I can engage them,” said Gantt when he realized he won. “This is awesome.”
His idea emerged from his work experience. When the U.S. military ordered him to move time and time again, he had to choose between cramped hotels and non-reimbursable rentals homes. He knew there had to be a better solution for millions of military families and federal workers, so he founded At Ease Rental Corp.
Gantt and four other finalists were given four minutes to pitch their company to Silicon Valley titans including FAMU alumna Merline Saintil, a director on the boards of Lightspeed HQ and GitLab.