Kylie Davis: (00:02)
Welcome to the PropTech Podcast. It’s Kylie Davis here, and I’m delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collides. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. Now the aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a PropTech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and to explore the issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they can create amazing property experiences.
Kylie Davis: (00:36)
My guests in this episode are Ben Burton and Dominik Chmielewski from Rental Heroes, a natural language chat bot called Alex that is now assisting 37,000 tenants across Australia by handling their property related questions and issues.
Kylie Davis: (00:54)
Prior to getting together to set up Rental Heroes, Ben held senior leadership positions in both the telecommunications and insurance sectors, specialising in customer service digitization, while Dom, who also has a telecommunications background, has complimentary experience in project management and supply chain management.
Kylie Davis: (01:14)
Now, Alex uses an app most of us already have on our phones, namely Facebook Messenger.
Kylie Davis: (01:21)
So Dom and Ben from Rental Heroes, welcome to the PropTech Podcast.
Ben Burton: (01:25)
Thank you very much for having us.
Kylie Davis: (01:27)
It’s great to have you here. So who’s taking it? What’s the elevator pitch for Rental Heroes?
Ben Burton: (01:35)
So looking short at our AI chat bot Alex, he helps ping by handling everyday tenant requests and issues, including maintenance. So instead of picking up the phone or email, tenants can interact with Alex via Facebook Messenger, which is a platform that we find that about 85% of tenants already use across Australia.
Kylie Davis: (01:54)
Right. Okay, awesome. So what’s the problem that Rental Heroes is solving in a bit more detail. Why do we need to be talking on Facebook Messenger?
Dominik Chmielewski: (02:04)
Yeah, good question. So really what we’re trying to do is remove the ping pong and the back and forth conversations that are taking place between tenants, landlords, trades, and property managers. The way we do this is to really try to deliver a self-service outcome in the first instance. We do that through our friendly chat bot, Alex, who, as we’ve mentioned, runs on Facebook Messenger. Alex can do things like resolve your electrical fault and advise you how to reset your circuit breaker. Alex can also answer common questions such as if you’re in arrears, when’s your rent due, that kind of stuff.
Dominik Chmielewski: (02:47)
The nice thing that we’ve done with Alex is you can basically talk to us or to talk to Alex the way you would talk to your property manager, so that means natural language. And then for those people that maybe aren’t comfortable used to using a chat bot, we also have a visual menu with lots of little icons and you can select your issues or using that menu as well.
Dominik Chmielewski: (03:09)
Whenever a tenant identifies what their issue is, Alex will offer them all the steps to resolve the problem. If Alex is unable to resolve the problem, then basically he will transfer that request directly into the property managers, CRM system. So that can be things like PropertyTree, PropertyMe, all the common ones that are out there. Through that natural language conversation, Alex will find out how long the issue has been going for, where it is, ask the tenant to provide any photos. So the idea is that when it hits the property manager CRM system, they’re good to go. They don’t have to go back. They don’t need any more information and it’s already for them to action, which might be getting landlord approval or cancelling your trades. The really nice thing about Alex is he’s 24/7 because he’s integrated directly into the CRM. So he can answer all those questions. It really saves the property manager from those repetitive, low level tasks and frees them up to focus on higher value things.
Kylie Davis: (04:09)
So if he can’t help or if he hasn’t resolved the problem, does that flag in the CRM that the property manager needs to take an action?
Dominik Chmielewski: (04:16)
Yeah. That’s absolutely right. So depending on the type of inquiries, so if it’s a maintenance inquiry, then that will be generated directly as a job in the CRM system. Most property managers are sort of using that as their central sort of harmful their day’s activity. So it just pops up in that inbox. If it’s a non maintenance inquiries such as maybe like, I’d like a copy of my lease or something along those lines, we basically create it as a task and it can be sort of like an email notification as well so that they know that there’s this request waiting for them and they have to get back to the tenant.
Kylie Davis: (04:52)
Awesome. Okay. So where does the name Alex come from?
Dominik Chmielewski: (04:57)
Good question. So we wanted to come up with a name that was sort of gender neutral so that it would appeal to everyone. I think maybe people are naturally tending to Alex being a boy, but that wasn’t our intention, that’s how it’s come about. We just wanted something really simple, easy, yeah, something that people would relate to, not set up any sort of weird expectations, that kind of stuff.
Kylie Davis: (05:24)
Okay. So how did you guys come up with the idea? What’s your background?
Dominik Chmielewski: (05:33)
So for many years, Ben and I … So we’ve been friends for a long time, and we’ve worked in large corporations for a long time. We really thought that at some point, we’d like to start a business together. We’re not from Property, which is interesting. We’re more from Telco backgrounds and insurance and Bupa, and whole mix of companies. Over sort of various pop conversations, we spent endless hours talking about what we’d do one day. I think what I had kept coming back to the PropTech space, and some of the issues that property managers deal with, and how can we make that whole experience better for everyone.
Dominik Chmielewski: (06:19)
We had our idea and we decided that we weren’t 100% certain how to go about things, because obviously coming from a large organisation is very different from running your own business day-to-day. So we joined an accelerator programme and that’s where for six months we were part of the Stockland, BlueChilli PropTech Accelerator. And that’s really where they helped us hone our ideas, and effectively that’s where our big grand plans really turned into Alex. We got to try him and get our first feedback as to whether the market would like a product like this.
Kylie Davis: (06:59)
Okay, awesome. So how big is the problem of dropped communication in rentals? How big a problem is that in Australia and globally?
Ben Burton: (07:13)
Yeah, so some of our best estimates, looking at the Australian market, we think the property services space. So that is the fees that landlords pay to property managers, residential, but also commercial is worth about $8 billion. We think that if you expand that to US, New Zealand, and UK, which is a market that we’re moving into, that expands to about 180 billion.
Ben Burton: (07:36)
Now obviously, we’re a subset of that, but look, we’ve spoken to 100s, if not 1,000s of property managers. Our sense is that about 30% of time is spent on maintenance coordination. And then you can add in some other common tasks like lease renewals, am I in arrears? When is my pay to date? All these sort of common questions. So you can work back from that. So 50% of time is spent on $180 billion industry. That’s not global, that’s just some of the key market. This problem is huge. So the opportunity to move those communications that typically take place via phone and email into an automated conversation, it’s a multi multi-billion dollar opportunity to free up that time to be invested back into other higher value activities.
Kylie Davis: (08:27)
So if you take a look at any review page for real estate or property managers, it’s often the rental or the tenants that have got the worst things to say about an agency. It’s full of really bad reviews. I’m curious though, what made you decide to go down the Facebook route?
Dominik Chmielewski: (08:49)
Yeah, that’s a good question. We actually get asked that all the time. I think the main reason for this is, people really, when they hear chat bot, I think they just imagine this very text-based kind of say something and then you get presented with a little menu of 10 options and you type option one, or option two. So similar to choosing options over the phone. But now it’s in a text-based conversation.
Dominik Chmielewski: (09:20)
We really wanted to do something a bit different to that. So the reason why we chose Facebook Messenger is, it’s a really rich experience. So rather than just having this little menu, we’re able to have images, videos, menus that you can scroll left and right in and drill down into what your issue is. That’s just not possible in the other channels, even something like WhatsApp doesn’t deliver that kind of experience. So that that was one main reason.
Dominik Chmielewski: (09:50)
The other main reason is about 80% of the population have Facebook installed. So whilst we do know there is sometimes a negative perception with Facebook, and privacy issues and those kinds of problems, the reality is the majority of people do have the app, do have Messenger. Recently, Facebook have also introduced the ability to use Messenger without having to set up a profile. So you don’t have to have a picture in your name and all that kind of stuff. You can basically use it as a guest. So when you combine all of those factors together, it really made sense for us to start in that space. But having said that, we do recognise there are other channels that people want to use such as voice. So in the future, we will switch on other channels as well.
Kylie Davis: (10:35)
Okay, awesome. So what’s your business model? How does Rental Heroes work?
Ben Burton: (10:42)
Yeah, sure. So some of the way we make money is we charge a subscription fee to our customers who are our property management department, and then our users predominantly the tenant base. So the property managers pay and in return on a practical level, what they see is a reduction in phone calls and emails, and more data going straight into their workflow system PropertyMe, PropertyTree, whoever they’re using for them to action. So the tenants who are the non users get to enjoy Alex 24/7 for free, and it’s that easy access via Messenger and the 24/7 nature and the instant response nature of the self-service tasks, which is around 50% of the volume that’s really driving that tenant adoption.
Kylie Davis: (11:43)
Okay, awesome. So this would work really well for Strata too, wouldn’t it? Strata is so terrible?
Ben Burton: (11:43)
Kylie Davis: (11:43)
Sorry, Strata people.
Ben Burton: (11:48)
We’re actually working with a partner called LJ Strata in Sydney on a beta version, it’s not called Alex, it’s a different brand name, on a beta version that that does handle all of those Strata use cases. So it’s a whole nother level of complexity in terms of understanding what issues are common, area issues versus in unit, et cetera, but the same problem exists in Strata, but also we found in commercial as well. So in terms of the industry verticals of this technology can assist with, we’ll talk about it a little bit more later, but over time, our strategy is to widen both industry verticals, the use cases, but also the channels for which these natural language conversations can occur in.
Kylie Davis: (12:33)
Okay. And now let’s hear a word from our sponsors.
Kylie Davis: (12:36)
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Kylie Davis: (13:44)
So a typical user experience might be I come home from work or I’m working from home, and the hot water dies on me. So I ring my agent and leave a message and then wait for them to call me back to tell them that the hot water is broken. I wait for them to call me back. The following day when they haven’t called me back, I call them again or send them an email. And as you go, your level of frustration kind of goes until that poor property manager, who’s getting the same thing from every other person on a rent roll, finally gets back to you. And then she sets an appointment to have someone check the hot water service. Within two weeks, maybe your hot water service is probably fixed too, or you get told all the pilot light was out. So how is it different under Rental Heroes?
Dominik Chmielewski: (14:39)
Yeah, really good question. So, Alex-
Kylie Davis: (14:43)
I love that you think all my questions are good, Dom.
Dominik Chmielewski: (14:45)
Sorry, I guess I’m trying to be not really humanised.
Kylie Davis: (14:49)
No, I’m feeling very validated.
Dominik Chmielewski: (14:52)
Yeah. So I know it’s different using Alex competitors for the experience that you’ve just described? So Alex is aware of the time of day. Alex is also aware of what is considered an urgent issue versus a non non-urgent issue as defined in the Residential Tenancies Act. And so combining that with the example that you gave, or sort of the hot water system not working, rather than the email process that you described or possibly the phone call conversation, Alex will basically offer you some self-help to try and fix that problem. So if you have an electric hot water system, chances are, it’s the circuit breaker that’s tripped. It may not be that, but it’s a three-second thing to check if it is, and it could, for example, remove all of those subsequent steps that you described and get the hot water back on straight away.
Dominik Chmielewski: (15:43)
Similarly, if it’s a gas hot water system, it might be that pilot light that’s gone out, and again, it’s something that may be some tenants or most tenants can relight and get it going again. So we’ll go through those steps first. If it turns out that it’s not something simple like that, then Alex will log that issue, as mentioned earlier, directly into the workflow system or the CRM. But what Alex will also do is then, from the property manager’s perspective, give the tenant the option of organising the preferred property manager trades right there and then.
Dominik Chmielewski: (16:16)
So in the case of a hot water system, it will say, “Yeah, this is an urgent issue. If it cannot wait until the next business day, here’s the contact details of the agency’s preferred plumber, give them a call. They should be able to assist.” So at least if it’s 8:00 or 9:00 PM at night, the tenant can get resolved straight away, but Alex is still logging all of this so that then when the property manager is back at work, the next day, they can see exactly what happened, who was called, and then they can say follow up from a invoice reconciliation perspective or following up with their landlord.
Kylie Davis: (16:47)
So the property manager sets the parameters around-
Dominik Chmielewski: (16:50)
Kylie Davis: (16:51)
… at what point you can start ordering plumbers, right?
Dominik Chmielewski: (16:56)
Some property managers choose to allow tenants to call the preferred trades direct. Other property managers prefer to have the on-call emergency number. And they have property manager there that sort of receives those requests. So we support either of those models. The other thing that’s quite nice is we can, again, send in addition to the job going directly into PropertyMe or PropertyTree, we can send SMS notifications, emails, and again, all of that is customizable for how the property manager likes to operate.
Kylie Davis: (17:27)
Okay, awesome. So I don’t just report into the void and hope that it gets fixed and hope someone gets back to me. I start to see some answers and if it does have to be fixed professionally, I start to get like a bit of a status update.
Dominik Chmielewski: (17:40)
Yeah, and that’s a really good point. So the communication is two way. So obviously, the tenants initiate those communications, but then there are various updates that come through as the task progresses through the various stages of the workflow, which might be again, getting approvals or looking for trades, quotes, that kind of stuff. That information will be fed back directly to the tenant. So again, that means the property manager doesn’t need to be sending those updates. The system will take care of that.
Kylie Davis: (18:12)
Okay. So now you guys were part of the BlueChilli Stockland Accelerator work back in 2019. What stage are you at now? How big are you? How did 2020 treat you?
Ben Burton: (18:27)
So look, 2020, most of the year when we really first hit our stride in the residential space, that’s through the BlueChilli Programme. In 2019, we developed an MVP product. We did some trials with our partners, Stockland, and then we launched Alex as a commercial product in about January, 2020. So we’ve sort of grown since then. We finished up the last year with just over 200 property managers on our platform and over 37,000 tenants on our platform. In terms of where we’re at at the moment, we’re growing at about two to three new branches per week, that we’re onboarding two to three real estate shopfront.
Ben Burton: (19:17)
In terms of what next, I mean, we’ve seen an incredible reaction to the market. I think COVID has been on a, on a personal level, very challenging for us and many people. But on the flip side, it also means that we don’t have to go physically from branch to branch anymore. We have Zoom calls every day. It’s really been quite efficient in terms of building momentum for our business.
Kylie Davis: (19:40)
Even property managers are owning the zooming, right?
Ben Burton: (19:44)
Absolutely. The teams are embracing it. I mean, it’s quite interesting. At the start of the pandemic, I would say on average, it probably took about three to four minutes before we all thought of that audio and got things up. Now, nine out of 10 times, Zoom calls start straightaway. Everyone knows how to do it. It’s the same for all tech, I think. What’s really exciting colleagues, we are currently just about to close our seed capital raising round, which will give us an injection of funding, and that is going to allow us to take things to the next level in terms of features and how fast we create those features, but also in terms of our ability to get around the country virtually to really promote Rental Heroes a little bit more as well.
Kylie Davis: (20:31)
Awesome. So you’re going to tell us how much you’re looking to raise or is that State secret?
Ben Burton: (20:39)
Absolutely. We send every moment that we’re not on calls to property managers on call to invest this. We were raising $1 million. Our lead investor is a VC fund called Investible by Sydney. We’ve closed about 60% of our 1 million raise. So we’re actually still out actively seeking in the next three weeks about the final 400K on of the $1 million round.
Kylie Davis: (21:06)
Ben Burton: (21:06)
So off the back of that, I’ll give ourselves a plug. If you’re interested in PropTech, obviously, we’d love to chat to you.
Kylie Davis: (21:14)
All right. We will put your contact details in the show notes so potential investors can reach out. So look, but there’s a lot of competition in this space, isn’t there? There’s a lot of competition in both the automation of property management and in the whole Rental experience in space. So who do you see are your main competitors and how do you guys reckon your compare?
Ben Burton: (21:38)
Yeah, sure. So I might answer to compare Big Thirst. So look, we’ve very deliberately built our platform and positioned ourselves as an interaction layer. So we are a communication interaction layer and we do conversational AI really well. That’s been our background and our experience in other industries. What we don’t want to do is replicate other systems that do workflow automation very well. So we’re not trying to create maintenance workflow systems again, we’re not trying to create features around trust accounting. What we’re trying to do is create a platform that tenants love to use so that instead of, and a lot of our customers sort of tell us this, instead of maybe one in 10 tenant requests going through a tenant app or portal, we’re driving that usage right up to close to the 50% mark, and it will go even higher as we turn on extra channels.
Ben Burton: (22:39)
That simply means that we’re acting as another channel, another digital gateway to get that data out of phone and email and put into the best of breed workflow system that the property manager chooses. So I think it’s slightly different approach to some of our competitors. So of course, some of the maintenance workplace system that exists out there, some of them have fantastic products and our friends, we’re not competing with those guys. All we’re doing is grabbing more jobs. Once we’ve tried to do the self-help and the troubleshooting, if we can, and putting it into those systems.
Ben Burton: (23:17)
So it’s going to work the same way beyond our current integration set. So once we have completed our CRM integrations, which is our biggest priority at the moment, so we’re currently working with Voltaire and Console to get those guys on board, and then we’ve got Pella, PropertyMe, PropertyTree, an IRA as well. Once we’ve got all of those core systems that I guess are in the central part of lifecycle management of a tenancy, we’re going to move upstream. We’re going to really say whether we can use conversational AI to assist with the other big workload of property managers, which is inquiries about new property listings and the details around those listings, for example.
Kylie Davis: (24:02)
Ben Burton: (24:02)
So we’re never going to replace these core systems. We’re just going to make it easier to get data into those systems through our conversational gateway,
Kylie Davis: (24:10)
Right. So you guys are an inch wide and a mile deep in terms of conversation or support and communication support around Rental?
Ben Burton: (24:21)
Yeah, absolutely. I might give you a sort of sense of the complexity of conversational AI. I mean, it sounds-
Kylie Davis: (24:31)
It’s a whole specialty area, isn’t it? No, it’s a whole specialty area in itself. So [inaudible 00:24:34]
Ben Burton: (24:34)
I think we take account. The last time I looked, I think we’ve seen what we call intents. So these are specific actions or outcomes, and we’ve seen over 450 of them. On average, we see about 10 different ways that you may ask that request. So you put all of that into a big machine, and that creates quite a complicated use case for a bot to have a conversation and get it right. So we think there’s a need to have companies that really specialise in this use case for property management.
Kylie Davis: (25:08)
Kylie Davis: (25:11)
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Kylie Davis: (25:26)
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Kylie Davis: (26:00)
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Kylie Davis: (26:20)
That’s one of the issues that I hear a lot from friends of mine who rent. Well, they’re not really happy to use a specialist property management piece of tech because it’s something else that they have to learn. And so the convenient thing, the so-called convenience of being able to log your query or log your issue is offset by the difficulty of having to remember how to use the bloody app often. So I guess that’s where the whole Facebook stuff look. Everyone uses it regularly and they know how to do it. So it is kind of very clever, so well done.
Ben Burton: (27:00)
Kylie Davis: (27:01)
So what are the next five years? Do you guys think hold for the real estate industry and property management from where you’re seeing it?
Ben Burton: (27:14)
Yeah, so look, and this is a topic that’s I think spoken about very widely and I’ve read down some fantastic blogs that you’ve written as well, Kylie, but I think property managers are truly going to be freed from the mundane day-to-day tasks. It’s a slow burn. We’ve seen tech before our tech. We think making a giant leap in terms of accelerating that, but that creates hugely exciting opportunities for property managers to up-skill and service their clients, their landlord in other ways. We see that a lot of the industry is being around investment management and asset management, and really being able to advise your landlords on not only how to select great assets, but how to optimise the yield that they get from those assets.
Ben Burton: (28:03)
By the way, when the industry really evolves to this specialisation, I think that’s a really exciting opportunity for the next wave of tech to come along and support property managers in being fantastic investment advisors as well.
Ben Burton: (28:19)
I think we’re going to see a world where suddenly like, property manager is okay, you’re now not dealing with the coordination of these maintenance tasks, for example. You need to advise your landlord on which one of these properties is going to have the best yield in three years. That’ll be supported.
Ben Burton: (28:35)
Companies like Al, developing hugely rich data sets from what we do today that is going to evolve into supporting the roles of the future as well. I think just as an aside, Kylie, I think that’s one of the big advantages of early adopters in this industry as well, who do take on and partner with companies like Al that are getting involved in this really powerful AI tech.
Ben Burton: (28:59)
It’s not just that you’re going to have an Alex chat bot today that reduces your phone calls and emails, it’s the fact that you’re starting to learn about this technology, and you’re starting to go on the journey that we’re going on as we get more funding, and build out more features, and are able to do more and more powerful things with the data that we’re collecting as well.
Ben Burton: (29:18)
So it’s quite frankly, I mean, the guys that do take the risk today and put this new technology, they’re setting themselves up for the future in terms of the latest venture that they have as this industry morphed into a focus on adding value to investors.
Kylie Davis: (29:36)
Look, I’ll have to hook you guys up with PIPAA, the Property Investors Professionals Association of Australia. I probably got that wrong. I’m on the advisory board. Property investment is advice, is a really sort of complicated based in that you should have credentials, or people have managers credentials to make sure that you’re dealing with a proper professional in that space, has done the training and knows what they’re talking about. But because investment is covered by national legislation, but property is all state based, there’s a lot of mess in there. So I might hook you guys up.
Ben Burton: (30:19)
That’d be great. Thank you.
Kylie Davis: (30:20)
Yeah. No worries. So what does the future look like for Rental Heroes? You’ve got your funding coming up, your next round of funding, what else is on the agenda?
Ben Burton: (30:30)
So there is a huge list for us to do, but that’s just pick a couple and that’s the more immediate sort of steps. So we will widen their channel. So we love Facebook Messenger, but not everyone uses Messenger, so we want to make sure that we’ve got 100% percent coverage of channel. Integrations is a big one for us. We learned very early in our life and property that you cannot have multiple systems to log into. If it doesn’t integrate, folk aren’t interested, they’re just too busy to be trained up on multiple systems, as you mentioned earlier.
Kylie Davis: (31:02)
Ben Burton: (31:02)
So we will keep expanding our integration. As I mentioned, we’re really excited to get into the whole listing space as well, and then perhaps just a little bit more futuristic. It’s about predictive prompts within the chat conversations themselves.
Ben Burton: (31:18)
This is a very exciting topic that we could spend a long time talking about, but the chat bot at the moment is reactive. So when a tenant has an issue, they go to Alex and Alex will help them solve that issue. In the future, it’s not too far fetched to think about Alex supporting issues before they become issues.
Kylie Davis: (31:37)
How does that work?
Ben Burton: (31:39)
So a common use case could be predictive maintenance, for example. So really starting to understand the lifecycle of certain appliances, understand the detail around troubleshooting at a specific appliance level and helping out in a much richer way, and those sorts of issues pop up. But it’s only limited basically by the data that product like Als, we’re able to collect it and make use of in terms of helping property managers and tenants solve issues essentially before they even become issues.
Ben Burton: (32:15)
So that’s a little bit longer term. I’m deliberately being a little bit cryptic because it is a conversation that we could get into the period exciting that that deserves the actual time to dig a bit deeper as well.
Kylie Davis: (32:28)
Okay. So now I’ve got one last question, because in the digital marketing world where I come from, there’s this whole issue around rented versus owned media. When you’re doing stuff or building stuff on Facebook or any of the social platforms, there’s always that issue of, well, the content that you’ve put on there, or the information that you’ve shared on it, you don’t own it, and if Facebook changes the terms and conditions, then you risk losing everything you’ve got. So how are you guys managing that as a chat bot? I know that you said that you were about to launch new communication channels, but is that a risk in your business?
Dominik Chmielewski: (33:10)
So Kylie, look, the reality there is, it is tough because you’re absolutely identifying a risk where Facebook could change the rules. And when we look at, for example, Europe, and we see the GDPR regulations that are coming in there, that is already having an impact on the chat bot experience. So various things that, for example, we have taken for granted here, such as being able to determine location of the user under the European rules, that’s no longer allowed.
Dominik Chmielewski: (33:49)
So that does change the experience. The nice thing about this is, we’re able to look at what’s going on in other markets and develop strategies to mitigate those and to work in maybe a different way, but still trying to deliver that same outcome as best possible we can in whatever framework is available. So, yes, Facebook, may change the rules and we do everything we can to be sort of one step ahead and be aware of what’s coming and prepare for that as best we can. A diverse channel strategy is one way to do that. But there are other things that we will do in the future as well.
Ben Burton: (34:36)
The other thing probably just to add is the, the AI, which is the power that sits behind the conversation that’s had within Messenger, that doesn’t live in Facebook.
Kylie Davis: (34:46)
Ben Burton: (34:48)
That’s a proprietary product that Rental Heroes has built. So whilst we like Messenger, because of all of those rich experiences that Dom spoke to earlier, we’re not held to a hostage as such by Messenger because the power is the conversational AI piece that sits behind it.
Kylie Davis: (35:07)
Awesome. Okay. Cool. Well, thank you for answering that. I was quite curious to see how that would play out. Well, look, Dom and Ben, it’s awesome to see you both, because we’re doing this over video, but it’s been great to talk to you today and to hear about Rental Heroes. Good luck with it this year.
Dominik Chmielewski: (35:28)
Thank you very much.
Ben Burton: (35:30)
Thank you so much, Kylie.
Kylie Davis: (35:31)
Keep up the good work. So that was Ben and Dom, co-founders of Rental Heroes and natural language AI chat bot that allows tenants to report maintenance issues and ask questions about their leases using the Facebook messenger app.
Kylie Davis: (35:46)
Now there’s a lot of activity in the tenant communication and engagement space, but one of the downsides of those user experiences is that they often rely on tenants to download and use a specific app to report and track their issues. Look, we all know that if you’re using a piece of technology only once or twice a year, most of us are going to avoid it. We won’t find it particularly convenient because learning a new app is something that most of us just find to be a pain in the backside.
Kylie Davis: (36:16)
So while on the surface Rental Heroes might seem quite simple, there’s actually a lot of elegance in their solution because Facebook Messenger is something we already have on our phones and something we’re all really comfortable using. So adoption is easy.
Kylie Davis: (36:31)
As any good techie will tell you, making something seem really simple is actually one of the hardest things to do. There’s a lot of thinking that goes behind something seamless, but Rental Heroes is experiencing 30% month on month growth and has 48 offices on their books. Not bad for startup that’s only two years old. So well done, Dom and Ben and looking forward to seeing the app move over into the sales space as well.
Kylie Davis: (36:59)
Now, as the peer mentioned, Rental Heroes is seeking a 1 million early stage funding round off the back of a 4 million pre evaluation. So if you like the sound of Rental Heroes, I’ve included the emails of Dom and Ben in the show notes. Drop them a line and they will send you more details.
Kylie Davis: (37:18)
Now, if you have enjoyed this episode of the PropTech Podcast, I’d love to tell your friends or drop me a line either via email, LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page, which you can find at Kylie Davis PropTech.
Kylie Davis: (37:32)
You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple, iTunes, and Anchor, and where all good podcasts are heard. And I’d love it if you could subscribe or leave me a review. I’d like to thank my audio support, Charlie and Sam Hollands and the fabulous Jewel Pescadero, and our sponsors, Direct Connect, making moving easy, Smudge wines by Matt Wink hand-crafted and highly awarded wines and HomePrezzo, now part of active pod and making marketing automation easier than ever before. If you haven’t got the scalable agent, go to the active pod website and download a copy.
Kylie Davis: (38:09)
Now, if you are a PropTech, also make sure that you joined the PropTech Association of Australia. Why? Well, because it means you can enter the very first ever PropTech awards. We’ve got 21 awards up for grabs for startups scale-ups and even established real estate and property technology suppliers. So check out proptechassociation.com.eu. Go to the awards page and it’s easy to enter and entries close match 19. So chop chop. So thanks everyone until next week. Keep on prop checking.