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How Rhove Came to Be

The inside story of a game-changing idea.

January 25, 2021

Our story begins with a frustrated renter.

Rhove Co-Founder and CEO Calvin Cooper was weighing the pros and cons of renting and owning. He didn’t particularly like either option. 

When he calculated how much money he spent on rent over the previous decade, the number surprised him. After further research, he found out that he wasn’t alone. The average millennial will spend more than $200,000 in lifetime rent with no financial return to show for it. The alternative wasn’t much better. To buy a home, he’d need to make a down payment of tens of thousands of dollars, then spend tens of thousands more paying down interest before building enough equity to just break even. He’d also have to hope for stability in the value of the home—Calvin says he’ll never forget his mother losing her home after the 2007-08 recession. Calvin found the binary choice between renting and owning really just left him without a choice at all.

Then, he had an epiphany: Every renter should be an owner. 

A venture capitalist at the time, Calvin put together an investment thesis and searched far and wide for a passionate, visionary Founder/CEO to turn this market insight into a reality. 

Calvin met and recruited Co-Founders Jonathan Nutt, Jon Slemp, and Scott Sumi, and went to work, subleasing a windowless room the size of a closet from another Columbus-based startup. Rhove was born. 

Meanwhile, Calvin was still searching for his Founder/CEO to run the business.

Everything changed when he met Brett Kaufman, who loved the concept of Rhove but wondered who Calvin was really waiting for. Brett got Calvin to look in the mirror and realize that he was the passionate entrepreneur who could upend real estate and expand access for everyone to experience ownership. Brett believed in Rhove so much that he too became a Co-Founder, with an angel investment, advice, and resources that could help the Rhove team bring their idea to life.

Calvin Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder of Rhove, tells the story of how Rhove started.

The Future of Ownership in Our Communities

We were fed up with the status quo. At the onset of the pandemic, and the outbreak of the civil rights protests, we decided enough was enough. The binary choice between renting and owning left most of us without any choice at all. The institution of real estate remained largely unchanged since Medieval times, and acted to exclude most of us from owning a stake in our communities.

We believe that our democracy is stronger when we all own in our communities––and we saw many of the issues in the world stemming from a lack of access and opportunity. It was time to bring a new kind of ownership into the world, one that empowered everyone to own a stake in our communities. 

People who own a stake in our communities deepen their sense of belonging to that community. Like they have a seat at the table. More broadly, it’s clear that democracy is stronger when everyone owns a stake in where they live.