Louis Baugier is a JP Morgan Chase Global Real Estate and RXR Realty alum. But he’s also the founder of Surecave, a New York City-based real estate technology company.
Surecave’s proprietary software platform is designed to help management companies and owner-operators of residential rentals optimize their business processes and increase their bottom lines, while simultaneously anticipating and solving tenant issues.
The company recently announced a strategic partnership with a large real estate owner/operator in the Midwest and a New York-based publicly traded company.
What made you decide to enter the property management sphere?
The property management industry is in dire need of technological innovation. The nature of property management business is fragmented and cross vertical, and we need to deliver powerful tools to align stakeholders. It was clear from the beginning that there was a real opportunity to create a better way to operate a management business, so I got to work on the business plan for the product that would become Surecave.
What made you decide to branch out and start your own business?
JPMorgan and RXR were great environments to learn about the industry and I came out of those experiences with a fantastic real estate network and a systematic way of detailing and solving complex problems. I’ve always wanted to do something entrepreneurial, and after doing my diligence on my idea that would become Surecave, I decided to leverage my domain knowledge and bring it to a technology venture.
What makes Surecave stand out among other technology developments in the property management sphere?
We are a property manager’s true partner. We do not charge a manager for succeeding in growing their business like our competitor’s per unit fees or expensive consulting contracts. Surecave aggregates data and features that are valuable to the renter and owner-operator, and also brokers and limited partners. We plan to announce additional unique features, as well as the ability to accept rent payments in cryptocurrencies.
How did Surecave get to where it is today?
After coming up with the idea I knocked on doors of forward-thinking real estate investors in my network to raise enough funds to seed a beta product. I was lucky enough to work with a visionary NYC developer earlier in my career. He understood the value in what I was trying to accomplish and seeded the initial build-out of the product.
Since then we’ve sourced additional capital primarily from real estate investors, venture capital firms, and real estate companies, which has enabled us to hire a best-in-class team of engineers, primarily from MIT, to work full-time on the Surecave mission.
What do you think the future holds for real estate technology? How is Surecave adapting to/becoming a part of that future?
Today’s renters demand a better rental experience. We have one-click purchases on Amazon. We should have one-click rent, or at least a seamless way for managers and tenants to communicate with one another. Managers who don’t offer a renter-friendly solution in the Surecave mold will have higher vacancies and unhappy tenants—tenants who tire of the same painful rental experience.
You will start to see products capable of communicating between and serving multiple real estate constituencies such as LPs, managers, tenants, and service providers to provide something much closer to real-time insight into asset performance, pricing, lead generation, etc. than what you have today.
What background/credentials would be advisable to have to start out in this business?
It’s hard to succeed in the real estate business, even as a technology company, without a real estate background. In any industry, it’s important to know the parlance and the players, but real estate is particularly relationship driven. Ownership structures are opaque, and the big real estate companies are often family-owned and keep information close to the chest.
If you’re a Silicon Valley technology company, you may have the best developers in the world but you’re still going to have a hard time getting meetings with New York real estate companies unless you know someone that can get you in the door.