RentHop Completes The Ultimate Heist

Originally posted on December 13, 2019 4:38 am

Updated on December 13, 2019 11:39 am

Today we had our annual RentHop Secret Santa gift exchange. We upgraded from the old “names in a hat” method to the much higher tech Elfster (because one employee was tired of getting the same recipient 3 years in a row, which Elfster can prevent).

Photos from the gift exchange and drinks will follow, but we also spent time discussing our multi-year tradition of exploring various escape rooms in New York City (we used to also play NY Urban volleyball). Our latest conquest is the Ultimate Heist, a puzzle from Clue Chase near Bryant Park.



Escape Room Stats – Which Is Most Important?

Some people prioritize the decor and ambiance of an escape room. Call it part of the immersion experience and production value. Others want extremely clever or memorable puzzles. I usually ignore the storyline, but some rooms punish you if you forget key points in the plot!

Lawrence in particular likes what I call the “Zelda effect” – performing a seemingly innocuous triggers some huge surprise. For example, a tiny switch opens an unexpected secret passage into a new, larger room, or a sturdy looking wall suddenly collapses away revealing an exotic contraption (or dummy corpse).

Something for Everyone

Thankfully, Ultimate Heist has something for everyone, checking all of my boxes, but also with a unique twist. Ultimate Heist is one of the most parallel escape rooms ever designed. A team can split into groups working on an endless slew of side quests. Just don’t forget to actually solve the main puzzle and… escape the room!

Published at Fri, 13 Dec 2019 09:38:57 +0000

Two Sigma Ventures to Grand Central Tech

Originally posted on December 11, 2019 1:54 pm

Updated on December 13, 2019 11:34 am

Last time we discussed the very early days. From mid-2008 to 2010, RentHop used co-founder Lawrence Zhou’s apartment to write code on nights and weekends, while the founders held day jobs at Traxis Partners, D. E. Shaw & Co., and Two Sigma Investments. The doormen must have assumed we were dating, given all the late nights when I would leave the apartment, looking disheveled from a long hacking session.

Grand Central Tech – Urban Tech Hub

In 2013, RentHop raised a seed round from Two Sigma Ventures, one of the first investments TSV made in the PropTech and Big Data space. Floored and Canary were also part of their early portfolio, and all three companies shared offices, first at 96 Spring Street then 101 Avenue of the Americas.

Within two years, the office was full of startups from all kinds and sizes. One of the best things about Two Sigma Ventures is their willingness to invest in a large range of company stages, and a wide range of check sizes. You can be two founders with a prototype, or a borderline private equity deal – as long as your company is engineering innovative solutions using data analysis and machine learning, they should be on your list.

RentHop grew to 9 employees during our time at Two Sigma – but sitting next to us, delivery company Homer Logistics raised $8.5 million and quickly expanded to over dozens of executives and employees. When Homer outgrew the space, CEO Adam Price moved the company to Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech, and was kind enough to carve out space for us to sublet. Adam is now CEO of a publicly traded company after selling his startup, and we took over the GCT space!



Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech attracts alumni from various accelerators – some from Y Combinator (RentHop), others from Bachman’s Hacker Hostel (SeeFoods)


Not at All Like WeWork

Urban Tech Hub brings together a unique community of invite-only startups focusing on unique problems and opportunities in dense cities such as New York – transportation, logistics, infrastructure, clean tech, and big data, and space allocation are focus areas – thankfully RentHop and RealtyHop tick many of the boxes! We will discuss our current offices more another time!

Published at Wed, 11 Dec 2019 18:54:53 +0000