Tech start-ups are rapidly arriving in the real estate industry, ready to solve a host of problems and enhance efficiency and productivity. At RealShare Apartments this week, emerging tech companies competed in Apartments Tech Tank—a Shark Tank-style demonstration. Domuso, Cloud Keyz, Smart Rent and One Spot Tech presented to four judges, John Helm, managing director at Real Estate Technology Ventures; Michael Beckerman, CEO of CREtech; Amber Schiada, senior director of research at JLL; Oron Maher, founder at Maher Commercial Realty.
Domuso opened the tech competition with Michael Lightfoot, co-founder and COO of the company. The firm is overhauling the rent collection process with technology, and serving as a lender for renters who need a short-term bridge to pay their rent. Lightfoot explained that collecting rent is a burden for landlords and backend staff, estimating that the cost for a large portfolio could be substantial—especially considering that 80% of rent payments are still made using a check. The firm already grew 400% in the last 12 months, and Lightfoot expects the firm will grow another 400% in the next 12 months.
Shane Robinson, founder and CEO, CloudKeyz, presented the firm’s tech update on the traditional call box. Cloudkeyz has proprietary software that allows guests to easily look up a tenant and call using video software. Tenants are also able to easily give guests access or even give workers, dog walkers or guests a time-restricted code to enter the apartment. The system also works for entry into different areas of the buildings—elevators, fitness centers, etc.—from the resident’s phone. In addition to easing guest entry into a building, Robinson said that CloudKeyz also enhances security in the property by recording everyone who enters and exits the building and time stamping the information.
Smart Rent is a home automation platform for both property management and tenants. Lucas Haldeman, CEO of Smart Rent, presented, explaining the widespread benefits, which included access controls for both residents and owners, maintenance monitoring and building optimization, which monitors functions like climate and lighting. One of the biggest benefits of the platform is that can work with and be integrated into different technology programs. Even better for property owners, the benefits of the platform, from saving on utilities costs to asset protection, would pay for the program.
Finally, One Spot Tech’s Ryan O’Rourke, national sales director, gave an overview of the firm’s property management software. The software allows property managers to pinpoint maintenance projects over an entire portfolio, pinpoint them and mange them. This can all be done through a desktop or an app, for ease of use. All of the information is stored in a cloud, so the program is updated instantly. This is meant to reduce the copious amounts of emails that property managers field every day. O’Rourke said that property managers spend as much as half of their work week filtering through emails. For that reason, property managers can communicate through the app or outside of the app, and can send messages through the app to contractors or other maintenance workers.
The judges were generally impressed by the technologies, saying that any technology that enhances efficiency is a winner. Helm said that he would be concerned about potential competing within the technology, and how the companies planned to stand out. Beckerman added that companies should focus on revenue, especially with so many tech companies launching in the real estate space. “We are in an ecosystem where you have to build sustainable businesses,” he said, adding that the presenters should be focused on different ways to scale the company.