With $500K in Tow, Rentabilities Aims to Simplify the Cryptic Equipment Rental Space

8/23/12Follow @xconomy

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a totally seamless system one day,” Cook says. “We’re hoping to hook into a bunch of inventory software out there, but we need significant funding to pull that off.”

As far as funding goes, after Rentabilities switched its focus to the online marketplace last spring, it started raising its seed round, which turned out to be a bear of a task, Cook says.

“It took lot longer than I anticipated—especially being located in Boston,” Cook says. “While I was fundraising, we almost decided to move to the Valley. I thought that maybe I was a complete idiot and I was terrible at raising capital.”

He attributes the challenge to the low number of angel investors that invest on their own, instead of just within angel groups, and also the reluctance of the Boston angel community to invest in first-time entrepreneurs. Rentabilities took to San Francisco-based AngelList and eventually convinced investor and HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah to invest (he committed at 2:00 am on a Friday night). The idea attracted other angels like early Facebook employee Andrew McCollum, Punchbowl founder Matt Douglas, HipHost founder Mario Ricciardelli, and Steve Willis, a co-founder of Wellfleet Communication, Argon Networks, and Overlook.

“We got some pretty incredible support from Ryan Moore at Atlas Venture; they came in and closed up the round,” Cook says. The startup closed the majority of its seed funding in January, and pulled in a last bit this June for a total $505,314.16. Odd number, you say? Well one of the startup’s investors is really, really into the number pi, and can recite it to the thousandth digit. He wrote an extra check to make the amount come out to $505,000 plus 100 times pi. (Cook remained mum on who the Boston-based investor is. Do you have any guesses?)

Rentabilities’ big focus in the next couple of months is making better sense of all the information and options out there for consumers. It recently updated its interface to filter rental merchants by price, abundance, and reliability of the merchant. The three-person startup is also planning to raise a Series A round next spring and staff up its inside sales team.

“We’ve done a really great job with really supply and demand on the site, and a decent but not amazing job with conversions,” Cook says. “That’s our No. 1 issue. We want to be converting all our visitors into sales.”

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  • http://twitter.com/tpetr Tom Petr

    nice job, guys!

    • http://twitter.com/aacook Alex Cook

      Thanks Tom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daglaser Drew Glaser

    This is absolutely awesome, and please tell me the $pi investment was Plum

    • http://twitter.com/aacook Alex Cook

      Haha, no it was not :)

  • http://twitter.com/jaredstenquist jaredstenquist

    That’s awesome news guys. Congrats!

  • http://www.facebook.com/buyselldomains John Martel

    You guys reached out to one of my rental store web site clients some time ago. Having grown up in my families rental store and knowing the software they use quite well, and obviously the internet, I didn’t think your biz plan made sense. Nice to see you changed course and made it work. Just checked the site, nice job! Oh and I took a second look today since you contacted my family biz and are working with them. Now I can suggest my other rental clients check it out as well.