By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Although Cindy Convery, founder of Raw Space for Rent, was born in California, Oklahoma is in her DNA. She is a member of the Choctaw Nation and attended grade school in Ada. Her mother’s family still lives here.
Original ideas come to Convery almost as a matter of course. Early in her career, one of her ideas was instrumental in filming the wild coal car ride in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
When, after a successful 20-plus-year career in the movie and television industry (Warner Bros. and Disney were her clients), Convery had an idea for a very different type of company, she came back to Oklahoma to start it up.
Raw Space for Rent, is an online, peer-to-peer renting business, conceptually like Airbnb — with one huge difference. Raw Space for Rent rents virtually any kind of space, from an attic in Brooklyn to a barn in Dewey, Oklahoma, that comes complete with surrey and fringe. An empty closet, a garden plot, a warehouse, an office, or a vacant field, any space represents an opportunity.
“You don’t need an extra bed and bath to make a little extra money renting out the space you have,” said Convery, who understands renting locations for her film career and learned Airbnb by renting out a guest apartment in a house she was restoring.
“This business hits all the things I want to do,” Convery said. “It’s big. It helps a demographic that I understand. It’s hard for a lot of people to earn a living. It’s hard for women. There are a lot of people with jobs and space who still need to earn extra money. Sometimes $100 or $200 dollars a month is the difference between yes and no. I want to help more people get to yes.”
Convery constructed the website for Raw Space for Rent economically; then she studied the Airbnb map.
“Oklahoma was right in the middle,” she said. “Other space rental startups are all focused on the coasts. No one was paying attention to the Midwestern market, so I decided to capture markets not being sought out.”
Raw Space for Rent provides an easy way for people to reach an audience and monetize unused space. The business model is proven, and Convery’s focus is on her customers — she learned all about understanding an audience from producing movie trailers and documentaries.
Raw Space for Rent capitalizes an interesting trend — individuals seeking to monetize their personal excess capacity. With Raw Space for Rent, it’s space. With Airbnb, it’s beds and baths. With WeGoLook — our recent $35 million exit — it’s “lookers” with extra time.
Convery recognizes that Oklahoma is a good place to launch a business; she came from California to Oklahoma to launch hers here. Raw Space for Rent is our fourth client company founded by a Native-American entrepreneur.
In Oklahoma, we are leveraging all the advantages of founding a high-growth business to attract even more entrepreneurs from outside the state. Cindy Convery and Raw Space for Rent is yet another example.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.