“At the same time, it helps users find exactly what they need, at the touch of their smartphone screens.”
Naturally poised and soft spoken, with dark good looks and a trimmed beard, Sansal, 46, looks the part of a New York tech mogul. His lilting accent, with its British inflections acquired at university in London, doesn’t hurt, either.
Launched in March, Romio connects regular people with skills with other regular people who need those skills. Do you need a dog walker, or do you want to walk dogs yourself? Sansal is hoping his app is the tool you will use to connect. Categories currently include parenting, education, pets, home, and many others, from accounting to Pilates instruction.
Users also leave recommendations to guide each other to the best service providers.
“There are platforms now in several different areas, but reviews are anonymous—they can come from anywhere. It has become harder and harder to trust what you find online. We saw a real need to build a sense of community and help people connect with what they need in their own neighborhoods,” said Sansal. “We wanted to give people a way to earn by leveraging their skills. We get very excited about how platforms put money in people’s pockets by monetizing an idle car and driving skills, or an empty room that otherwise wouldn’t be used.”
Sansal’s degree in business services from Britain’s University of Westminster jumpstarted his desire for creating viable, digital businesses. Before the recent release of Romio, he founded InvestmentPositions.com and OnTargetJobs.com—which generated $160 million in revenue.
The common denominator in all his business endeavors? Helping people progress in their careers.
“I strongly believe that people should do what they love,” Sansal said. “People would be happier and earn more, while companies would be more profitable, if this were solved. Romio gives people a platform to follow their passions and turn them into lucrative businesses.”
Raised in Algeria by a family of scientists and writers, Sansal had the confidence of an entrepreneur from an early age, playing professional soccer at just 13 years old. Today, he gets his adrenaline going by attending SoulCycle classes, using the five languages in which he’s fluent, and launching Romio.
Sansal gets equally excited about the promise of his new App – not just a product but a social movement that’s spreading globally by acting locally—helping users find the services they need or promote the services they provide—with qualified recommendations from trusted experts.
Unlike other service-oriented platforms competing in this space, Romio has enlisted the most authoritative voices to support every category. They call them Experts (with a capital E!) and each is highly accredited in his or her own field with local and natural media profiles. And they are the gateway – the only way — service providers can only be added to the platform: they have to be recommended, which ensures higher quality services.
Getting Experts to sign on wasn’t difficult, but did take a little bit of time, as Sansal’s team spent nearly a year finding and recruiting only the best. And did they! The App launched last month with 400 of New York’s most qualified professionals lending their expertise and, naturally, their own recommendations.
“I’m proud to be a part of Romio’s unique platform of trusted providers,” said Dr. Lisa Lippman, New York’s premier house-call veterinarian. “As an expert I have the privilege of onboarding providers whose services I have personally used and love. Romio takes the pressure off users looking for highly vetted service providers. In essence, we do your homework for you.”
“Joining was a no brainer!,” cooed Jamie Hord, a fellow entrepreneur whose start-up, Horderly, has quickly established itself as the city’s fastest growing home and professional space organizer. “It’s the smartest App in this field. What I love about Romio is the trust factor. You don’t normally invite strangers into your home, and vice versa, so this eliminates that anxiety because we’re no longer strangers. My team and I worked with a lot of clients in their personal spaces so having that trust and confidence off that bat is essential. No one else offers that.”
Other experts include celebrity hair stylist Christopher Marrero, yoga and fitness guru Kristin McGee and parenting specialists Lyss Stern, Cherie Corso and Beth Feldman, all who have years of experience connecting with moms about raising children.
“As soon as I understood what Romio was all about, I wanted to be part of the Romio story,” said Corso. “As a national parenting expert, I understand the importance of needing a good recommendation quickly. Romio can save time, money, and effort.”
“The beauty of Romio is that we’ve done the vetting process for you,” says Barbara Fight, one of Romio’s Business Development Directors. “Users know they will find trusted providers without having to worry about quality.”
For Sansal, Romio is also a solution for people looking to expand their services in an economy that is increasingly going freelance. With the continuing rise of technologies like robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, 38% of US jobs are going to disappear over the next 15 years, according to a Price Waterhouse Cooper study. Sansal is motivated by statistics like this one to provide a solution for people so that they can continue monetizing from and living out their passions. Romio was built to help people and the company continues to be loyal to that idea throughout the platforms development.
“Tarik Sansal’s vision for building a mobile platform to accelerate digital commerce, anchored in trust, is incredibly timely and appealing in today’s environment,” said Chris Budden, Romio’s Chief Brand Officer. “With powerful global investors backing the platform and a solid core team and partners, Romio will be a game-changing product.”
Through Romio, Sansal is on a mission to solve waste, fake reviews, anonymity, and inequality in wealth. He strives to give every day individuals a fair chance in gaining prosperity on their own terms.
It’s in part because of his passion for people and helping them achieve their dreams that Sansal created Romio and he did so with love being the driving force.
“Romio is about the things that we love the most—our families, homes, pets,” said Sansal. “It’s designed to foster a sense of community and to ensure you can trust what you love the most with the services you need.”
It’s much-buzzed about launch last month in New York proved there is a strong desire for this type of model.
“New York City gives you a true advantage when it comes to starting a company, because you have an accelerated depth of opportunity around you,” said Sansal. “Neighborhoods are nestled into each other, which exposes you to a variety of people and experiences that gives you a great testing ground which has a direct impact on your business.”
Sansal believes in launching a big company in New York City because of the SoLoMo (tech industry jargon that combines social, local, and mobile) space in New York that traditionally was only found in Silicon Valley. He is also inspired by more personal stories, like when he first came to the city and heard about Indochine, a French-Vietnamese restaurant, and the bus boy from Vietnam who wound up buying the restaurant.
“Since then, it’s become one of the greatest places in New York but maintains a relaxed vibe and humane atmosphere, which is in-line with what Romio is all about,” said Sansal. “It’s a platform that delivers high quality local services with a trusted, personal touch.”
Romio launched in New York City with thousands of service providers already signed up, and will be expanding to cities throughout the United States in the coming year. As an active entrepreneur for over 19 years, Sansal is excited about the launch of Romio and the positive affects he knows it will have for its users and service providers.
“Always have a deep reason to help people that’s far beyond financial gain,” said Sansal. “Only then can you really succeed.”
Photographer Udo Spreitzenbarth @udophotography
Photographer Architectural Shots Daniel Stauch @danielstauchphotography
Groomer: Virginia Martin for Angelo David Salon | The Flex Brush | Laura Mercier
Imaging Lorraine Baker @lorrainebaker_
Photography Assistant Nate DeCarlo