Smart Home Summit Commences from Scenic Heights
Rently recently welcomed several of our multifamily housing clients to our annual Smart Home Summit, an exclusive event held in Santa Barbara, CA.
Attendees of Rently’s Smart Home Summit were invited to enjoy a beautiful and relaxed setting where they could meet with the Rently team and learn about our product roadmap. Rently was excited to hear from our clients as they shared with us what they consider when deploying smart home technology.
The Summit commenced with an evening cocktail reception held above the iconic Hotel Californian, where guests enjoyed a delicious buffet while viewing a beautiful sunset panorama and chatting with industry colleagues.
For the next 2 days, Rently presented its clients with valuable information about smart home technology innovations and real-world deployment experiences. We shared our company story, provided updates about how Rently is meeting current market challenges and listened to feedback and questions from our clients.
Thanks to our event sponsors – Aerwave, Beans.ai, Kwikset, Latchel and Yale — the Rently Multifamily Smart Home Summit provided an information-rich experience that also included fun activities, such as a yacht cruise and mimosa brunch.
Rently’s Smart Home Summit offered the perfect occasion for Rently and its clients to come together to learn from each other and celebrate the future of smart home technology in the multifamily space.
Smart Home Summit Presents the Rently Mission
The first day of the Summit began with many introductions.
Rently’s Marketing Director, Becca Nevarez, opened the event and welcomed client guests by encouraging them to learn about Rently and to learn from each other. Guests were provided smart home technology brochures and Rently’s smart home devices were on display.
Next, Becca introduced Rently’s CEO, Merrick Lackner, who provided a high-level perspective of Rently’s operations that now serve millions of customers and span several offices, domestic and international.
Merrick emphasized that Rently is a “customer-centric” company that welcomes all customer feedback, even if it sometimes takes the form of “radical candor.” He emphasized that Rently strives to serve clients with the highest level of excellence in proptech. However, it will always be our clients that make Rently the industry leader. Merrick told the audience, “You are here because we need your help. We need to do this together to lead the proptech revolution.”
Merrick assured attendees that Rently is a partner with staying power. He emphasized that capital investors can be confident knowing that Rently will continue to apply OKRs and other data-driven metrics to evolve our business for long-term success.
Smart Home Summit Presents the Rently Story
Following Rently’s CEO presentation of the company’s mission, additional members of Rently’s executive management team joined him for a casual “seaside chat” to share some personal recollections about the company’s beginnings, evolution, and current market position.
Rently’s story has definite elements of “kismet,” or destiny.
In 2011, as Clark Li, Rently’s CTO, was completing his MBA at the University of California, Los Angeles, he was thinking about starting his own company. One day, he received an email with a subject line asking “Do you want to start a company together?” This email came from Merrick Lackner, and the rest, as they say, is Rently history.
Merrick and Clark discovered a shared passion for creating great rental experiences. Drawing from their own difficulties related to housing searches, the two developed a business plan to address two questions that landlords were always being asked about their properties — “Is a unit available and when can I see it?” Providing renters with immediate answers to these questions resulted in the origins of self-guided touring, Rently’s flagship proptech solution.
Merrick recalled his glee at their first $99 sale of a predecessor to Rently’s original “smart lockbox” product. He also recalled his wife reminding him that it takes more than $99 to support a family.
So, the two entrepreneurs continued to evolve their software and product portfolio to include smart locks, smart home devices, and common area access panels. After years of product development, Rently now has the comprehensive feature set required to meet the exploding market demand for proptech solutions in both the single family and multifamily sectors.
Indeed, Merrick noted that smart home technology is being deployed across all asset classes. And, Clark followed up that smart home technology is being used for everything from preventative maintenance to energy management to renter security.
As Rently’s business expanded, Merrick and Clark invited Andre Sanchez, Rently’s COO, to join their venture and help scale the company to reach its market potential.
Over the years, Andre brought operational discipline to the company, and his many years of successful sales experience continues to fuel his enthusiasm to engage with clients. As discussion moderator, Andre presented the current phase of the Rently story and engaged with new executive team members to explain the company’s current priorities.
Andre addressed a topic on the mind of many operators these days — with the stock market showing signs of a bear market, what will be the effect on multifamily and how is Rently currently positioned to deal with that?
Rently’s VP of Client Success, Heath Bideau responded that current headwinds towards recession drive the need for efficiency and cost savings in multifamily operations. Rently’s solutions are ideal for this type of economic environment because the technology was developed to achieve those very goals.
Heath added that Rently is also responding to economic conditions by increasing client support teams to ease deployments. Rently has recently grown its Client Success team nationwide to help customers with everything from product evaluations to installation and billing. Rently’s Client Success team functions like a quarterback helping clients get what they need from Rently’s comprehensive “support ecosystem.”
For Rently, the goal is to help clients accelerate installations despite economic headwinds.
In sum, the Rently story has come full circle to where it first began — innovating new products to help single and multifamily operators enhance leasing operations and reduce expenses.
Smart Home Summit Offers a Day of Learning
After the Rently Executive Panel had shared the company’s story and mission, the Summit continued with several learning sessions.
Zach Goulhiane, Rently’s Director of Multifamily Sales, opened a dynamic vendor-client dialogue by encouraging attendees to share what they were hoping to learn from Rently at the Summit. Responses ranged from one client inquiring about how to track the number of lease signings that result from self-guided tours, to another client seeking information about Wi-Fi integrations, to another client inquiring about deploying smart access solutions throughout their community.
One attendee wondered how Rently’s self-guided touring solution differed from other options on the market. To which, a prominent REIT client in attendance responded with an answer based on their own experience researching market options and finding that Rently is the only real, full service, comprehensive SGT solution in the marketplace.
After hearing these clients’ interests, Zach introduced a presentation entitled, “Rently’s Complete Solution: Self-Guided Tours to Smart Home” where he walked through the entire leasing lifecycle to show how Rently’s solutions optimize each step along the way. He outlined the benefits of Rently’s “street-to-suite” approach and described special features offered by Rently, such as renter ID verification, autonomous property mapping and integrations with Apartments.com. Zach also presented 2 client case studies — Flatiron District at Austin Ranch and Mizner Court — to offer real world examples of the operator benefits of self-guided touring.
The session concluded with a dynamic round of Q&A between Rently and clients on topics ranging from renter feedback, CRM data, integration with Amazon delivery, package lockers, HVAC reporting, solar device integrations and staff onboarding.
Smart Home Summit Showcases Rently Product Innovations
Once the complete Rently Solution had been presented to Summit guests, Rently’s Product Team — Jared East, Jonas Kant, Maggie Villano and Badri Krishnan — came on deck to explain Rently’s product development strategy.
In their presentation entitled: “Rently Product: Development Philosophy & Feature Highlights”, panelists explained how Rently determines which products and features to pursue to reduce friction in the leasing lifecycle. Rently is diligent about finding solutions to actual marketplace issues and gauging their market value.
Jared shared Rently’s product development methodology of always seeking the “Innovation Sweet-spot” — the point where customer pain-point and value-add meet. Rently strives to find product solutions that solve renter and manager problems, to the degree that customers find it worth the cost to add.
Jonas provided an example related to Rently’s self-guided touring solution where Rently has integrated the Beans.ai autonomous property mapping technology so that onsite leasing teams are relieved from having to constantly input tour instructions.
Maggie offered additional examples of products that Rently has developed to address market needs, including a smart access panel for property common areas and a smart home hub that does not require Wi-Fi service. She added that Rently provides installer support for all new product innovations.
Badri demonstrated Rently’s commitment to be on the cutting edge of product development by providing the audience with a preview of Matter, an emerging industry standard protocol for IoT devices. In the works also at Rently is a smart thermostat that integrates hub software technology.
Together, the panelists from Rently’s Product Team answered a variety of attendee questions about product features and capabilities. The session concluded with an invitation by Rently to multifamily clients to participate in a Product Advisory Board to continue a dialogue about developing products that best meet their needs.
Smart Home Summit Highlights Deployment Successes
Once Summit attendees had gained a greater understanding of the benefits and values of Rently’s products, focus shifted to how Rently helps multifamily clients with actual deployment of these innovative products.
Rently’s VP of Client Success, Heath Bideau introduced his presentation, “Keys to Successful Deployments”, by sharing with attendees that he himself has first-hand experience installing thousands of proptech products. That deep understanding of the installation process was extremely valuable as he helped Rently build out its technical support and client success teams.
Rently’s deployment program includes technical and client-side support teams that span all installation activities from client onboarding, through staff training, and eventually to the renter experience. Rently is certified in best practices for each phase of installation, culminating in world class smart home support.
As with the development of its products, Rently also incorporates innovation into its deployment and installation methodologies. For instance, Heath explained that Rently’s smart home devices are shipped already “pre-paired” with a hub (IoT control) device, eliminating the need for the onsite installer to connect the devices for interoperability. This is a significant value-add when it comes to accelerating smart home device deployment.
To date, Rently has completed 16 million tours and our devices have been deployed by 4,500+ operators. Rently handles all support in house, along with a nationwide installer network. We are currently not experiencing serious supply chain issues, only for some very popular products.
Rently Listens to Smart Home Summit Attendees
After Rently concluded its company presentations, the floor was opened to a Rently client panel who shared their experiences working with Rently to deploy self-guided touring and smart home technology solutions.
Andre Sanchez, Rently’s COO moderated the panel, which included Kristina Chervenka, VP of Operations, TBD Management, Louise Santana, Sr VP, Klingbeil Capital Management, and Rhonda Toure, Director of Multifamily at Fundrise.
The first question asked of these Rently clients was how they found value by using Rently’s solutions. Across the board, clients said that Rently’s solutions help them with operational efficiencies, maintenance flows, and utility usage control. Louise noted that they came to Rently when they noticed their renters installing smart locks on their own and so they decided to standardize the amenity across their communities and add on the self-guided touring solution to help with their leasing operations. After running a pilot project in Silicon Valley, they found the Rently solution to work best.
This client story prompted Andre to point out that Rently’s solutions are flexible and can be deployed in various order — either adding self-guided touring to smart home or the other way around, adding smart home devices to an SGT solution.
When asked what aspect of Rently’s solution generates the most value, clients had different answers. For Rhonda, Rently’s value is in the scalability of the solution. For Louise, Rently’s value is in its revenue-generating potential, allowing her company to add a monthly smart home device fee to their rates. And, for Kristina, Rently’s ability to provide technical support for devices without returning to the manufacturer was important.
Rhonda noted that it’s difficult to quantify the value of smart home technology, saying “there is more value than what you can quantify in dollars.” For instance, she observed that, “adding Rently’s self-guided touring is like having an extra person on your leasing team.”
Louise agreed, adding that their leasing staff “absolutely love” smart locks because they know when maintenance staff have come/gone. Renters also love having an activity record with exact details to know what happened in their units.
Summit audience attendees then had the opportunity to question the client panel. Louise responded that they only considered vendors who offered both self-guided touring and smart home, and Rently was the only provider that offered a complete solution. Rhonda added that support services were important to Fundrise so that was a differentiator.
After the client panel, the Rently Smart Home Summit attendees continued to engage with each other in dynamic breakout groups. They discussed topics related to ROI, how to get teams on board with smart home technology, how to budget smart home investments, product pricing, and what data is important to collect.
The client breakout sessions resulted in many creative new smart home product ideas, and Rently is especially grateful to the Smart Home Summit audience’s request for a “smart home doggy camera” that would automate feeding treats to renters’ pets. We will see what we can do!
Seriously, however, there was a sober consensus amongst attendees that what’s most important for them when making vendor decisions is finding a solution that will last a long time. Operators want to feel confident in their investments.
When asked where they see multifamily smart homes 5 years from now, Summit attendee answers varied between “ubiquitous and expected” to “nonexistent” in smaller communities that don’t see the value. However, most agreed that the future of smart home technology for renters will be similar to the experience of entering a Hilton hotel room using smart access apps.
The majority of the Rently Summit audience remain smart home optimists with most agreeing that it won’t be much longer until all properties are smart properties, pointing to the 2023-2025 timeframe as a realistic expectation.
Smart Home Summit Looks To New Horizons
As the sun rose on the final day of the Rently Smart Home Summit, spirits were high and also available to guests at brunch at the Brass Bear Brewing Co.
While enjoying a beautiful morning, Summit guests listened to Zach Goulhiane, Rently’s Director of Multifamily Sales, explain how Rently differentiates itself in the marketplace.
The “Rently Difference” is that we offer a true end-to-end solution, with one login to control every aspect of the renter journey.
Among the many benefits of Rently’s solution is the ability to quickly scale for growth and the peace of mind that comes from our product’s multi-layered security. Our platform integrates easily with leading property management software and we offer managers a portal dashboard from which they can monitor and control smart technology usage in each unit and gather portfolio-wide leasing metrics. In addition, operators can brand their own self-guided touring experience and smart home resident app.
Rently has more than a decade of experience and has been vetted and utilized across all 50 states. We provide full stack technical support and dedicated client success teams to ensure smooth deployments and happy customers.
Rently solutions make a positive impact on the everyday lives of both renters and managers. We continue to innovate and engage with our customers so that together we can optimize the entire leasing lifecycle and create the best rental experience in the world!
Rently is grateful to all of our clients who attended our Smart Home Summit. We enjoyed our time together and look forward to partnering with you to create a successful future for multifamily smart home solutions.
Special thanks to our event sponsors, who helped us create so many wonderful memories.
Rently would like to extend special thanks to our very “smart” Event Planning Team, including Lauren Greenberg, Field Marketing Manager and Adam Ontiveros, Field Marketing Specialist for all of their hard work planning this extraordinary event.
See you next year!