PHILADELPHIA, PA - CommunityVibe, a Software as a Service solution provider that helps property managers improve their Net Operating Income and associated renter occupancy levels through a focus on maintenance management and resident satisfaction, was the winner of the National Multi Housing Council 2012 OpTech Conference LaunchPad startup competition.
With the entries for the NMHC LaunchPad Startup Competition stacked high, NMHC quickly assembled a panel to weed through the applicants to find a unique a diverse group of startups to make the final cut. Out of the “Final Four” selected to give their pitch, Pittsburg based CommunityVibe was one that made the cut. In the end, the judges selected CommunityVibe for its proprietary technology built out of Carnegie Mellon University that incorporates resident feedback into various aspects of the maintenance work to provide rich feedback regarding team and property performance.
CommunityVibe, Inc. CEO Kariithi Kilemi’s gave the winning pitch centered on how his software helps property managers address the #1 cause of avoidable resident turnover – poor maintenance – by providing an integrated maintenance management and resident satisfaction solution. CommunityVibe walked away with the goods, honored with the NMHC Innovator Award, $5,000 in cash and a one-year Advisory Committee membership in NMHC.
MultifamilyBiz.com caught up with CommunityVibe CEO Kariithi Kilemi for an exclusive interview. We asked Kariithi some pointed questions that ranged from his start in technology, how it felt to win the first NMHC LaunchPad Competition to where are things heading in the multifamily industry.
How did you get into the field of technology?
I got interested in the technology during my time as an undergraduate student at Wake Forest University (WFU). While at the university, I developed a passion for leveraging technology to solve complex business problems. I hence chose to pursue a major in Information Systems - with a minor in Computer Science - since this would allow me to have a better appreciation of the role and application of technology in business. After graduating from WFU, I was fortunate to intern for Jay Dominick - formerly Chief Information Officer (CIO) of WFU, and currently the CIO of Princeton University - who mentored and taught me the complexities and inherent strategies of introducing technology across the enterprise. After the internship, I went to DC to work in Consulting with Accenture before pursuing my MBA at Carnegie Mellon University.
How does it feel to have won the NMHC LaunchPad Award?
My team was - and still is - very excited to win the NMHC LaunchPad award given the tremendous effort we put into building a truly unique solution for maintenance management and resident satisfaction. Furthermore, participating in LaunchPad provided us with an opportunity to meet industry thought leaders who have continued providing us with feedback on our product roadmap.
Where do you hope to see the company going in the next 12 months?
In the next 12 months, we see our company developing more partnerships with vendors to increase our product's reach and ability to help property managers improve their operational efficiency and resident satisfaction. Additionally, based on the feedback we have received from customers and the NMHC conference, we plan on providing richer solutions to help our managers monitor real time resident satisfaction while providing tools that aggregate and publish our customers reviews on external sites with the goal of proactively influencing their online brand reputation.
What are you most excited about happening in the Multifamily Housing Industry?
I am excited about two trends which I am seeing in the multifamily industry. The first trend is the proliferation of property management solutions which are taking advantage of the portability and usability that is inherently available on tablets and smart phones. What is great is that tablets and smart phones allow us to engage our customers in ways which were previously not possible while increasing productivity, collecting more data and all the while reducing the learning curve associated with using a touch friendly solutions. Because of this trend, we foresee more maintenance technicians - who are a very tactile user group - leveraging touch friendly tools to improve the quality of service rendered to residents while significantly reducing average completion times.
The second trend which is exciting is the increased awareness of the importance of online brand reputation for property managers. Given that more managers are seeing the impact of resident dissatisfaction and negative online reviews on their NOI, it is becoming evident that investments have to be made into more proactive ways of measuring and improving resident satisfaction before the resident moves out. Hence, companies which can easily collect resident feedback and leverage them for both improving their operations and marketing their properties are going to have a great advantage over their counterparts in improving their profit margins.
NMHC LaunchPad Returns
Stay tuned, the National Multi Housing Council will be brining NMHC LaunchPad back to its highly successful flagship OpTech Conference again this year. Sponsored by MultifamilyBiz.com, NMHC LaunchPad 2013 will be adding some spice to the mix with the judging panel deliberating live before the audience, delivering the “Shark Bite” to startups looking to bring home this most sought after award. The 2013 NMHC OpTech Conference & Exposition will be held November 11 – 13, 2013 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.