If your revenue is built on volume, the best thing to do is scale as quickly as possible, right? Founder Justin Shreve has a very level-headed and shrewd reason for why that might not be the best course to choose for your young and hungry company. Shreve has been sharpening his acumen in the Bay Area literally alongside hundreds of new companies. He’s an entrepreneur that’s engineered businesses and bought-out software.
Shreve’s newest startup is Rentmatic, property management software designed to make being a small scale landlord a cinch. It’s secure, fast, and reasonably priced. Landlords receive help with rental applications and leasing tools. Shreve anticipates eliminating paper rent checks by streamlining the payment and collection process. (Argh, can’t wait for my expensive contract with a property management company to expire.) He was kind enough to not charge KillerStartups for an overdue visit.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Actually, one of Rentmatic’s very first advisors is a friend who owns a residential real estate company in New York. We were brainstorming ideas and his wife thought of it, we liked it, and it stuck.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Check current payment status, sign-ups, and outgoing deposits.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
It was just me in the beginning. There are 3 of us now.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
I think most things with a startup are a struggle. From funding, to building the product, to getting your first customer. I think one of our biggest struggles was clearly defining our target market. Since our revenue model is built on volume, the first thought most advisors have is to partner up with large apartment owners that have thousands of units. Although this could potentially scale quickly, it puts pressure on Rentmatic to become a heavier property management software for larger landlords. Heavy property management software is usually too complex and too expensive for small landlords. Since the majority of landlords in the US own less than five units, Rentmatic has stuck to its guns and focused on the best solution for smaller landlords.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
We recently released a new and improved version of Rentmatic, which inevitably ruffled the feathers of our existing customers. We firmly believed the new site was a major improvement, but change is always hard. Getting criticism and push back on the new site that we thought was a great leap forward was of course frustrating. Time, patience, and increased communication were the solution. As our existing customers learned more about the new site, they quickly came around–and we’ve seen a nice spike in new customers, which really eases the pain.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
Rentmatic is in the heart of San Francisco’s startup community, near South Park. Not only is our building is full of startups, but there are hundreds of startups within a few blocks. Our space is open, fairly noisy, and definitely requires headphones.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
We’re hoping Rentmatic eliminates paper rent checks for small landlords within five years. We’re hoping tenants ask for Rentmatic by name and landlords offer Rentmatic as a convenience to entice renters.
Who or what inspires YOU?
My pregnant wife and my one year old daughter named Vesper are my biggest inspirations.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?
Self-funding, then friends & family got me through the initial development so that I could focus on the product full-time until it was up & running. Since then, we’ve been able to bootstrap it.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Probably standard practice, but: AWS for hosting, Skype or Google Voice for calls, MyFax or HelloFax (if you even need faxes), Trello for project management, Google Apps, Stripe.com for credit payment processing, OneBox for a toll free number (pipe it to your Google Voice & to your zendesk), & lastly Zendesk for support.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup /projects)?
Invest in real estate. The rates are low and Rentmatic makes it easy to manage.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Yes, I’ve had a successful exit with software I created that was sold to DoubleClick; however, Rentmatic is my brainchild, so that would be more rewarding.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
For business: zendesk. Personally: Rdio for my music
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Strava – I might be a little competitive
Dogs or cats?
Dogs! Pork Chop is a black and tan coonhound and Rentmatic’s mascot! Porkchop– his blog
iOS or Android?
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Rentmatic is an affordable way to make paying and collecting rent 100% effortless. Just like the famous Showtime Rotisserie, you just “set-it-and-forget-it.”
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
Finally, How is Rentmatic different?
Rentmatic is set apart from other payment services by three main points:
- Rentmatic focuses on automation, not just online rent payments
- Rentmatic can be set up in under two minutes for a single rental unit
- Rentmatic doesn’t require lengthly merchant agreements