Local Tech Founder Wants to Bring Real Estate Investment to Everyday People

Startups like Robinhood and Tradestation have become big – and sometimes controversial – players in the financial world by offering commission-free stock trading that is available to almost anyone willing to download an app.

Calvin Cooper, co-founder and CEO of Columbus-based startup Rhove, believes the same should happen in the real estate industry.

“Financial populism occurs in other markets – like crypto and public stocks – and these are much less relatable to the average person than real estate,” he says. “People understand the value of owning real estate … we just need to lower the barrier to entry.”

His company has focused on this goal for the past two years, starting with a tenant rewards program at the Gravity project in Franklinton, which has eventually expanded to other properties. Then, last summer, Gravity residents were offered an ownership interest in the building through a Rhove program called Rentership.

(Brett Kaufman, the founder and CEO of gravity developer Kaufman Development, is a co-founder of Rhove).

Cooper describes this program as a proof of concept for the company’s newest initiative – Rhove Invest, an app that allows users to browse and select projects to invest in across the country without the minimum account or income requirements included in Typically, real estate investments are common (income in excess of US $ 200,000 per year or net worth in excess of US $ 1 million is required to be certified as an “Accredited Investor”).

The app is now downloadable, but users won’t be able to make any investments until the official launch, which Cooper says will be on the right track before the end of the year. Once the platform goes live, investors will be able to choose from a fairly wide range of projects – for example, several large new apartment complexes in Colorado, a co-living project in South Carolina and the Third Way Cafe in Columbus are currently in the app.

Cooper’s background is in finance and venture capital, but he insists that his experience as a tenant has influenced his journey at Rhove the most.

“I wanted this product for myself, in order to own a piece of the building I lived in,” he says. “Just because I was a tenant didn’t mean that I shouldn’t be part of the added value in our cities.”

“Until now, people everywhere in our cities had to watch cranes shoot up and couldn’t participate in the value … [and] Millennials don’t have zero net real estate wealth, ”he adds. “Just stroll downtown, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know where money is made, it just takes a millionaire.”

Optimistic about the Columbus economy and its growth potential, Cooper says he believes the region will indeed beat the widely cited estimate of the Insight2050 initiative and add more than a million people by 2050.

“For real estate prices, this means that they rise with every economic growth in a city. I firmly believe that the real estate crisis that follows economic growth is a self-inflicted role; we have to embrace the YIMBY ethos, ”he says, referring to the“ Yes in My Backyard ”movement that is pushing for more living space everywhere, but especially in existing neighborhoods. “More living space for more people – we shouldn’t artificially limit ourselves in solving the housing crisis because people are afraid of changes.”

Cooper believes the new Rhove app can help build the YIMBY coalition by directly engaging non-homeowner neighborhood residents in local projects. He also believes that this can help with what he recognizes as legitimate concerns about equity by both bringing more people to today’s exclusive world and by sharing the benefits when property prices rise in urban areas .

It remains to be seen how much impact the new platform will have and whether the reality of crowdsourcing real estate investments lives up to the high rhetoric. However, Cooper says that interest in the platform – from both real estate developers and potential investors – has been huge, and he doesn’t shy away from bold claims of how it will transform the real estate industry in both Columbus and around the country.

“The missing component of the YIMBY movement is property,” he says. “Imagine if YIMBYs are successful and meeting demand, and we have multi-family and single-family homes in every price range to meet everyone’s needs; You would still have a scenario where most people don’t own anything and we can solve that problem. “

More information is available at www.rhove.com.

Brent Warren

Brent Warren is a reporter for Columbus Underground, covering urban development, transportation, urban planning, neighborhoods and other related topics. He grew up in Grandview Heights, lives in the University District and studied urban and regional planning at OSU.