Buildium Marketplace is a new ecosystem of property management apps for finding and combining software that lets you take control of your business. Users can browse from an ever-expanding selection of partners, choose the integrations that make the most sense for their business, and link them easily within their Buildium dashboard.
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Fresh off of Marketplace’s launch, we sat down with two of the ecosystem’s founding partners, Obligo’s VP of Partnerships, Casey Winter and LeadSimple’s Head of Sales, Zachary Berkompas to talk about how they became early adopters and why they’re excited for what the future holds.
Mike McGee, Product Marketing Manager, Buildium: Welcome, everybody. Mike with Buildium, the platform that lets you control the chaos, sharpen operations and take on more doors. We’re super excited because we’ve just launched Buildium Marketplace, an ecosystem of proven software solutions that fully integrate with Buildium, helping property managers streamline processes and truly own their data.
Today, we’re joined by two of our partner companies to talk about their software solutions and what it means to be a part of Marketplace.
Tell me a little bit about your company and the solution that you provide.
Casey Winter: Hey, everyone. Casey Winter, VP of partnerships at Obligo. Obligo simplifies the rental experience with a best-in-class deposit free rental program and certified electronic payment processing of move-in payments—all fully integrated in the Buildium Marketplace. Frankly, nobody likes security deposits, and ultimately our goal is to make renting as simple as checking in and out of a hotel.
With Obligo residents can choose to live deposit free of pay traditional deposits electronically. With our deposit free integration, property managers can streamline leasing and accounting operations, boost their bottom line, and power a better rental experience. Properties maintain the same level of protection as with a traditional deposit, while renters remain accountable. Obligo has also partnered with Wells Fargo Bank and is backstopped by digital letters of credit.
Zach Berkompas: My name is Zach Berkompas, head of business development here at LeadSimple. LeadSimple offers a fully featured CRM as well as customizable workflows for your operations to help you automate communication, streamline processes, and nurture your prospects.
There’s really infinite workflow automation use cases that can then be powered within LeadSimple. We have content and templates for all of the most commonly used workflows that we’ve developed with hundreds of property managers across the United States and Canada. You can also customize those to meet your specific needs. You’re going to start where you want to start, with all of those templates and processes. We work with you to build out an action plan and then implement that by training and working with your team. Being 100% focused on property management and real estate allows us to do that in a way that other workflow automation solutions can’t.
Traditionally, apps and services have historically been a little bit more siloed. How have you noticed the democratization of data shift?
Casey: The democratization of data has obviously changed our world in countless ways. To alleviate a property manager from having to log into 40 apps, it’s critical to secure data sharing. As a financial technology company whose mission is to build trust between renters and property owners, customer data security and privacy are our top priorities. For instance, we’re SOC 2 compliant and we built our deposit free solution to be API first to ensure protection for the property manager and the renter data, which is one of the most important considerations with any integration.
We actually aggregate and anonymize our own data, which helps inform our AI machine learning model to better and more quickly qualify residents to live deposit free. Proptech companies are popping up everywhere and they need to build their products in an API-first environment. Doing so allows them to integrate better with existing property management software like Buildium, which makes it easier to get buy-in from tech-forward property managers. It simplifies the entire rental lifecycle from start to finish and keeps the data protected.
Zach: It’s been very interesting to watch the progression within the industry. I would say that, from 2015 on, we’ve basically seen a massive amount of investment and really great solutions for key problems within the real estate lifecycle. We know that real estate is all about personal relationships and the ability to do that well.
When we think about our solution, personalized automation is what we enable. We’re not a fan of automation that’s impersonal, particularly when it’s related to one of the most important parts of our lives—where we live. One of the reasons why, in the industry as a whole, we haven’t taken a platform mindset until recently is because there really weren’t as many great solutions out there. Now that’s changed and it makes a lot of sense to go with a platform mindset versus a closed mindset to build a product that solves all your expanding user base needs. That has benefits really for everyone because, once tech is integrated, it helps the platform, itself, be sticky as well.
Each of you are actually a part of Marketplace since the initial early access launch. What benefits have you seen so far?
Casey: The biggest benefit is obviously the simplicity for property managers, allowing Buildium users to have their entire tech stack under one roof, avoiding countless logins, and eliminating the need for any kind of coding for the integration. I would also say that being part of the beta was a very rewarding experience for us. It’s really been an incredible experience working with the whole Buildium team on this.
Zach: What was really exciting for us was being able to work with a lot of current clients that were using older ways of integrating which weren’t even close to the power and opportunity API brings for additional automation and streamlining pretty much everything. Setup is now one click versus what was a pretty cumbersome process. Buildium rolled this out for free to all users, in terms of access to Marketplace partners like LeadSimple and others, which is significant and meaningful. There were a ton of customers even in the initial wave that jumped on the beta and we’re appreciative to all of them for doing that and helping us work out some kinks. We’re definitely just getting started.
How did your partnership with Buildium come about?
Casey: That’s a quick answer for us. We had some mutual contacts at RealPage that were impressed with our product and they made the introductions. The rest is history.
Zach: On our end, it was a little bit more of a snaky road. We had customers using a previous integration that was based on the reporting feature in Buildium to get their data extracted and usable in LeadSimple. That worked passively well, but it had a lot of issues with it when it came to actually keeping data up to date. There were a lot of pain points with that prior integration. So, the partnership was driven by a few key clients of ours that then made an introduction.
When evaluating an integration partnership, what do you look for?
Casey: I guess the obvious answer is a good fit. There’s got to be value for the property managers, first and foremost, and obviously the residents that will be using our system, too. We also look for a good cultural fit with our partners where we mutually want to help deliver the best experience possible. We really got that vibe working with the Buildium team. We look at this as a model for the future as we explore other initiatives through API.
Zach: We found the cultural fit as well and the mutual alignment in creating value to be very much there with Buildium’s team. It’s been super fun to be on calls and talk about solutions. Working with the development team, the product team, and on the API experience from a developer perspective has been really good. Buildium’s focus on the seamless activation flow has really stood out as well. It’s very seamless and can even be customer-driven. Obviously, there’s a limited amount of time in life and the best ways to spend that time or working with people that you enjoy.
How do your teams feel about Marketplace so far?
Casey: We have a Buildium Slack channel, so it’s really cool to see activity as it’s happening, whether that’s a new property manager signing up or renters signing up for our service. We should really get a gong or something for whenever those come in. Internally it’s been a lot of fun. Everybody in our company knows who Buildium is and the partnership has created a lot of excitement around the company. We’re really happy that the beta was successful and now we’re into the full launch and we get to wake up every morning and see more activity, so it’s a lot of fun.
Zach: Internally, we enjoyed interacting with every team member at Buildium. There’s a lot of moving pieces, so there’s a lot of coordination that has to happen. When you have a mutual partnership we both have to be on track with all of the steps to make it a success for the client. It’s been really good and you guys have been super responsive. Frankly, we’re excited for the future of this new platform mindset and thinking about how we can create value in a way that’s different from what was in the past.
Externally with clients there’s been a massive response. The initial beta was smaller and there were definitely people that were waiting for this to go live that now are going to hear about it and get excited. And, from those that chose to jump on and connect and work with us in the beta phase, I’ve only heard good things.
Casey: I’d also add that you can actually see what customers are saying about us. There’s a testimonial page on our Marketplace section, so you can actually go in there and see what customers are saying and what they think about any of the vendors in the Marketplace.
What kind of business impact have you seen so far?
Casey: At Obligo we’ve already onboarded dozens of property management companies during the beta period, so obviously there’s a positive impact for us there. We’re finding that new renters love having the option to live deposit free and use that, otherwise tied up cash to save, invest, pay off their debt, travel, whatever they want to do with that cash. On the property management side, they’re seeing the benefit of eliminating the deposit management and owners are not sacrificing any protection because they get the same protection that they would have from a traditional cash deposit except now they don’t have to manage the cash.
Zach: The business impact that we’re hearing from our clients is around direct labor efficiency. It’s about saving time and doing valuable relationship-based work versus busy work within the organization. Any task that you can streamline or introduce personalized automate, eliminates work from your team’s schedule to let them spend more time building relationships with not only your residents, but also owners and investors. Whether or not clients want to stay at 50 doors and run a really, really tight, efficient workflow or have thousands of units and really expand and grow, you need to have workflow and systems to support that and allow you to have more time.
One of our clients built out their own custom process for communicating with owners and tenants all the way from 100 days to zero days before. So, the client is meeting with his top three investors for dinner and they all just said, “Hey, what’s started happening since a couple of months or weeks ago? We’ve started getting more notifications and you guys are becoming more communicative as a company.” The client just smiled and said, “Yeah, we made some changes internally.” Then he called me up and said, “I didn’t write any of those emails. I didn’t initiate any of it.” It was just all personalized automation that they built on LeadSimple.
Has being part of Marketplace given you the opportunity to form some new partnerships with other Marketplace partners?
Casey: Yeah, in fact, we’re already collaborating with LeadSimple on conference events and happy hours, and we look forward to collaborating with more additional Marketplace partners as this network grows and we get to meet in person and at events.
Zach: We’ve definitely been a fan of Obligo and a number of other partners and the latest push to partners as well, we’re very familiar with most of them. So we’re excited about the opportunities that we’ve already had in the past and then expanding those into the future. So it’s definitely been beneficial in that regard.
Where would you like to take this partnership in the future?
Casey: Marketplace is fantastic. It gives renters options. It helps property managers consolidate their tech stack. We’re already seeing incredible demand and there’s clearly a product market fit. As Marketplace continues to grow, we’re excited to help more property managers simplify their operations and let residents live deposit free. So really, for us, this is just the beginning and there’s just a lot of opportunity out there within the Buildium base.
Zach: We’re definitely expanding current reach to anyone that’s interested in CRM or customized workflow automation, with all of our past experience having done that with hundreds and hundreds property managers throughout the country. We have starting processes, templates, and content so you’re never starting from scratch with any specific thing that you might want to do, but you can also build your own custom solution as well that we assist with. So we’re excited about the opportunity to lean into that and expanding content to support clients Specifically, we’re just excited to see this partnership and what Buildium is doing along with every Marketplace partner to change the industry and allow the consolidation of software. You’re on the bleeding edge of that.
Mike: Well, that feels like a perfect note to end on. Thank you both for your time on this panel discussion. We appreciate all of your insights, your partnership. To everyone else watching, thank you for joining us.
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