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How 1871 Connected Us to an Industry Giant

1871-headquartered Rentalutions Partnership with

Anyone who has spent time around the CEC’s Interim CEO, Jim O’Connor, has undoubtedly heard him talk about how 1871 is more than just the 50,000 square feet of space in the Merchandise Mart. He talks about how 1871 represents the Chicago community coming together. I’m sure there are many great examples of this, but I want to quickly share ours.

On January 10th of this year, Rentalutions was featured as the CEC Startup of the Week. The profile was in an email that went out to thousands of people in the Chicago business community. Late that night, I received an email from Kevin Willer (then CEO of the CEC) introducing me to the CTO of, Kayne Grau. He had seen the email and asked Kevin to make the introduction.

A week or so later, my co-founder, Laurence, and I met with Kayne and Chris Brown, VP of Strategy. It was a cold winter night in Chicago, but we knew this was a big “first date” for us and for our business. At this initial meeting, we told them what we were working on and tossed out a couple high-level ideas of how our companies could work together.

After this initial meeting with Kayne and Chris, we had a much better idea of what was all about. This helped us prepare for an office hours meeting that we had a few weeks later with the President of, Dick Burke. During this meeting, we laid out several slightly more detailed ideas.

Over the next 6 months, we kept the dialogue going. Dick made several trips to 1871 and we chatted during several of these. Chris and I met for coffee and laid out a plan for testing an partnership.

Our hypothesis was that landlords who advertise vacant properties on also want to use our landlord software. We kicked off the partnership last week and the results so far have been fantastic. Every business has an inflection point when things start clicking for it, and we hope this is ours.

If you have any questions, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @ryanmcoon.

About the Author
Ryan Coon, Co-Founder, Rentalutions
Ryan Coon is the CEO and Co-founder of Rentalutions, the only all-in-one solution designed for do-it-yourself landlords. The platform is used by more than 14,000 landlords to manage properties in 5,400 zip codes across the United States.

Topics: Insights

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