Zego and the new chapter in property management
Another month, another easier, more tech-savvy way to do business. Indeed, while management used to be an arduous, pen-and-paper task, recent years have introduced a full suite of apps and interfaces to the condo/co-op scene. This month it comes in the form of Zego, an app that works as a one-stop shop for all things management and operations.
Co-founded by entrepreneurs Clay Coffman and Adam Blake, Zego was created in response to a void in the real estate marketplace. Rather than create accounting-centric software, a popular trend in the industry, Blake and Coffman sought to create a resident-focused technology.
“The entire founding team of six came from our former company, Brightergy,” said Blake. “We were very fortunate to handpick a really strong group of engineers that I’ve worked with for many years.”
Blake himself approached Zego with a great deal of technical expertise. With 15 years of experience owning, managing and investing in over 10,000 units as a principal, Zego’s creation was a completely informed decision—to say nothing of Blake and Coffman’s collective experience with Brightergy, which also sold to the apartment industry.
Blake and Coffman’s dream team had one simple mission—to create the premier digital amenity platform for apartments and to provide residents with the convenience, savings and security of a smart home solution; while still adding value for owners. In other words, Zego prides itself on saving everyone time—and in turn, creating more money.
Zego’s app is just that—a singular app that allows residents to interact with their unit. From Zego’s platform, residents can: access their apartment via smartlock, control their thermostat and set up thermostat schedules, control lighting, add additional smart home devices, use voice control (i.e. Alexa or Google Home), pay rent, submit and track work orders, reserve amenities, communicate with managers, view property info and much more.
“We save managers a lot of time and free them up to focus on more high-value activities,” added Blake. “One of the most common things we hear from residents is that they no longer have to talk to their property manager. They can chat with or message them from their phone whenever they want.”
This focus on improving operations is essential to Zego because, according to Blake, operations are becoming increasingly important, especially given the current real estate cycle.
“Real estate entrepreneurs have been very focused on finding and financing deals. Although this never changes, the industry is focusing more on operations at the property level,” Blake concluded.
All of this is well and good, but the elephant in the room remains—only recently has the larger real estate industry wholeheartedly embraced tech. Thus a large sector of the management world remains relatively uneducated on how best to approach and integrate tech into their daily operations. Ultimately this creates a challenge for Blake and others who hope to improve the larger space. However, it’s a challenge that the team at Zego is more than prepared to face.
“One thing is common with all real estate owners. They want to make more money,” said Blake. “So I often start pitches by talking about how better utilization of technology can increase property level net income. There’s also a demand for owners and managers to keep up with the latest technology, because it’s what residents want. This expectation is growing every year as millennials become a larger and larger percentage of the population.”
And, at the end of the day, technology isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s growing stronger and more prevalent by the day—even in the most antiquated corners of property management.
“I actually think a handful of disruptive technologies are going to adversely impact property values in the medium term,” added Blake. “The cost of construction is going to decrease as digital manufacturing and prefabbed buildings become the norm. Autonomous vehicles will reduce the need for parking lots, which will create an oversupply of available development sites. These factors will force property operators to become more efficient with how they operate, and technology will drive this.”
And while tech’s revolution rages on, Zego has plenty to talk about in terms of its own accomplishments and innovations. Its partnership with S2 Capital, in cooperation with Amazon, brings the company to 30,000 apartment units. In addition, Zego just launched an artificial intelligence-powered assistant to improve interactions between property managers and residents, while simultaneously improving the overall living experience.
“The future is AI,” said Blake. “AI can replace so much of what property staff do on a day-to-day basis, such as automating resident engagement, leasing apartments, underwriting deals or sourcing deals.”
So, whether it’s AI or another of tech’s next big thing, the management market will have plenty to buzz about for the remainder of 2019. This is just the beginning.
For more information, please visit www.zego.io.