MyRentHero’s First Birthday, a note from the co-founder
I’m Greg, the co-founder of MyRentHero, a Miami-based startup tackling the off-campus student housing market. We identify popular properties around campus, as well as those hidden-gem, undervalued properties. Then we onboard properties onto our platform, and serve them up to students in a straightforward mobile experience. Students can then search, favorite, share, message, schedule tours and more through our ultra-slick app, available on iOS & Android.
To say the last year flew by would be an understatement. I left an awesome company called OpenEnglish, with a great team, great product, and lots of success. But the startup bug had bitten. And I knew the time was right for us to go all-in based on the market research we compiled. It was go time. Looking back on our first year we certainly had days where our anxiety levels fluctuated from even-keel to high alert. Self-doubt crept in. But I can confidently say on our 1st birthday we are excited about the road ahead.
Pilot results and feedback
We launched the end of October last year and started on two campuses in the spring of 2018 (University of South Florida and University of Miami). In ~30 days we saw over 4,000 downloads of our iOS app and on our mobile website. We knew we had something big on our hands, but we also knew we had to iterate fast. Our first product was extremely basic. So we became obsessive about gathering feedback from the people that matter most: users. In our case, that’s students and landlords and property owners.
The feedback goes to good use. We launched (and continue to launch) features that our users want for off-campus living, and continue to focus on providing a product that will change the landscape.
Closing on seed round in summer of ’18
With the help of our co-founders from Lab Ventures, we met a key investor that also saw the opportunity that we salivate over on a daily basis (for those curious: nearly 21 million students are enrolled in colleges and universities in the US, with over 60% living off-campus.) This summer we closed on a seed round investment from early-stage fund MC Capital. MC Capital, led by Martin Claure, identifies disruptive companies poised to redefine industries with the right partners and team.
When Martin was a graduate student at Northwestern, he identified this exact pain point that MyRentHero is solving. He sought to tackle the off-campus housing problem with an offline solution with great success. Fast forward 15+ years and our slightly serendipitous meeting got him excited about disrupting this market via tech.
Expansion for MyRentHero
Currently, we are exploring which markets are the most fruitful and where the company will provide the most value for off-campus living. With this additional fuel from MC Capital, we are continuing to build and iterate on our initial product and incorporate feedback. As of this writing, we are now on 8 campuses in the Southeast US, with a plan to roll out regionally and then nationally.
We are also expanding our most important asset: our team. To date, we have brought in supremely talented folks to lead product, marketing, and sales and are always on the hunt for rock stars. Somehow, someway we have been successful recruiting people way more capable than this writer from companies like Bloomberg, Uniplaces, and Royal Caribbean.
Why we’re going to win the off-campus race
This generation of students falling into the Gen Z era grew up with a cell phone in their hands. Technology is a part of their DNA. And we are enabling students to do a historically painful exercise of looking for off-campus housing with the tools they already use. My team and I spend hours on end on campuses across the region talking to students. Their eyes light up when we talk about the ease we’ll bring them. They also prove to be a great R&D team, helping us identify a couple of really cool ideas that we’ll be rolling out later this year. Stay tuned to see how those shake out.
One year down, many more to go.