In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with the co-founder of Latchel, Ethan Lieber.
Without further ado…
What do you do?
I help property managers and landlords grow their income streams. Latchel was created with that goal in mind. Latchel gives them more bandwidth to focus on business growth by coordinating maintenance for them. We take over the process end to end. Everything from taking and troubleshooting tenant calls at all hours, scheduling contractors to do work, confirming work was completed, and getting invoices for work. Software and process technology is a big part of how we’re able to coordinate so efficiently and cost effectively.
I love where we are as a company because we’re the only end to end solution for property managers and landlords that want to reduce the time and money they spend on maintenance coordination. We’ve gotten so good at what we do that our customers can efficiently manage maintenance on over 400 doors with only a single admin in their office.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Property management companies and landlords face a huge problem coordinating maintenance. It often prevents them from increasing the size of their portfolios and generating additional income. It is one of the biggest costs of being in the property management business and it takes property managers more time to resolve than any other issue. It is the number 1 reason that landlords turn to property managers for help and it is the number 1 reason that property managers across the US turn to Latchel for help.
They’re so busy dealing with emergencies that the routine work falls through the cracks, which leads to bigger problems down the road. Latchel takes all that coordination off their hands and we do it for less than 1/3 the cost of hiring an employee.
What are you most excited about right now?
We recently won the Seattle Angel Conference. I know the whole team is pumped about that and it validates where we’re heading as a company.
We have a service update that I’m also very excited about. In December, we’re launching a Night & Weekend emergency service specifically for landlords with one to nine rental homes. Tenants call us during nights and weekends, our team diagnoses if it is an emergency, and if it is then we dispatch an emergency contractor and ensure the issue gets fixed. We also take a credit or debit card on file so the payment to the contractor is seamless. I’m targeting California property investors right now, but hope to expand that out soon to rentals across the US. I’m excited because I think it is a hugely valuable service that will introduce landlords to Latchel. It only costs $180 for an entire year and Latchel will take all your night and weekend tenant calls. I’d gladly pay $0.50 a night knowing that I get uninterrupted sleep.
Currently, we’re pre-selling this service with a huge discount. If you go to https://latchel.com/preregistration/night-and-weekend-emergency-service and use Promo Code EARLYBIRD then you’ll get 73% off. You get an entire year of night and weekend emergency dispatching for less than the cost of 10 Starbucks lattes. I’m a major caffeine addict (over 600mg a day), but even I couldn’t resist an offer like that. 🙂 I’m also very cheesy when it comes to writing marketing copy. If you’ve ever gotten an email from me then you’d know.
What’s next for you?
#1. What technology improvements can we make to increase the efficiency of our maintenance process?
#2. What is the next big product or service that will help property managers and landlords spend less time handling maintenance?
In regards to #2, there is a big problem that large property management companies face with the quality and reliability of incoming maintenance requests. If you’ve ever had to screen a maintenance request from a tenant then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Even at Latchel, we get requests like – “Leak in the kitchen and heater not working.”
Requests like this are very common, but they present a couple problems for property managers. First, the tenant is talking about two very different issues. The property manager now has to split these up so that they can send one issue to an HVAC contractor and the second issue to a… well, we’re not sure who should fix the leak in the kitchen. Is the sink leaking? Is the freezer leaking? Is the kitchen ceiling leaking after a rainstorm? We also don’t know much about the heater. Is it a central heating unit or is it a heater for a single bedroom?
This is a big problem that Latchel is going to fix in the next couple months. How do we get better quality maintenance requests from tenants? Fixing this problem means less calls going back and forth with the tenant and an easier time booking contractors to do the job.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I hope that one day everyone has the freedom to pursue a vocation that they find meaningful and impactful. I believe the global effort to cure genetic disorders will help bring that freedom to more people. I am lucky enough to be an entrepreneur despite having a genetic disorder, but I understand the personal and family struggles that it can create and how it often limits someone’s ability to pursue their calling.
Thanks to Ethan for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).