Why We’re Building a Property Management System

Building PMS

Our team has seen numerous startups succeed and fail. When choosing a project to work on, we chose a mission we believed in: Simplify real estate.

Startups are hard. Many spend years of their life building something that no one ends up using. Abstracting out, at inception, startups take a combination of market risk and execution risk. We decided to minimize market risk and over-index on execution risk. Our idea isn’t new. Others have tried before and given up because it’s a really hard problem. No top team with a core competency of building compound startups has gone after this space. Instead of attempting to catch lightning in a bottle (i.e., build a new market), we’re doing the simple, hard thing.

The simple part is that the number of workflows is finite. The hard part is that there are hundreds of workflows we need to support in one system.

Property management systems are an archaic industry with traditionally high switching costs. The incumbents in the space are large, closed platforms with messy integrations. The industry requires hundreds of workflows, but incumbents have been slow to offer tools that simplify processes. We believe a new end-to-end product can radically improve every aspect of the industry.

Beyond failing to drive innovation, legacy platforms act like evil app stores, shutting off plug-ins. This has led to data being stuck in silos. Even if one manages to painfully aggregate unstructured data, the workflows remain super inefficient. Legacy software was designed around manual data entry to create reports, not making workflows more efficient and auto-generating relevant reports and suggestions. The result is operations teams locked into deeply manual processes.

Legacy enterprise software deals with payroll, purchase orders, and other well-defined processes. New enterprise software deals with knowledge work and analysis. This requires data integration, search, knowledge management, and collaboration. To create new enterprise software workflows, we had to rebuild the foundation.

Think of legacy enterprise software as an old house. The foundation has some cracks in it, but it works for a one-story house. You’d be insane to try and build a skyscraper on top of that foundation. We need to do the dirty work of starting anew with a foundation capable of supporting our skyscraper.

The foundation is the hardest part. Accounting supports everything. On top of the foundation are enterprise resource planning (ERP) features that include purchasing flows, leasing, and property operations. A real estate ERP needs asset management, which utilizes operational data to create rich reports, a tenant portal, tools for marketing, procurement, vendor management, and invoice processing. Our skyscraper needs to deliver the functionality of dozens of companies in one.

With our skyscraper built, the workflows fundamentally change.

Humans are amazing at taking things and modeling them at a high level. Software is meant to get rid of routine work, like sorting and parsing data. We built property management software because the amount of routine work is immense. 

Humans should spend time on what we do best, whether it be emotional (e.g., making tenants feel cared for) or analytical (e.g., identifying key factors and trends). Our users formulate the hypothesis, set the goals, determine the criteria, and perform final evaluations. AI can be applied at scale, but the current platforms lack the foundation to properly apply AI.

Companies should take on hard problems to push society forward. When we finish our skyscraper, there will be a world in which real estate companies are either on Ender or they can’t compete. Software plugins to existing systems are aiding and abetting the evil platforms that control real estate. It’s time we broke free.