Dwelo: Creating Smart Apartments

“Let’s take this ecosystem of smart technology and let’s make a way for apartments to integrate it.”

If you manage apartments, you probably have a daily checklist that stretches 50 items deep and 24 hours long. Made sure nobody defecated in the community pool? Check. Visited Mrs. Thompson to confirm she didn’t die in her sleep? Check. Tried to fix the broken carbon monoxide alarm, failed, and then lied to everybody about its functionality? Check.

Managing property and taking in all the headaches associated with monitoring multiple people and places can stretch a person paper-thin. It’s time consuming, anxiety-inducing, and in terms of technology, an industry that is wary about trying anything new.

Eric Wood used to live in California and it was there that he began experiencing the rigors of property management. The more involved he became with that world, the more he realized a pressing need.

“My wife and I were managing apartments at the time, so we were exposed to the apartment world,” Wood said. “It was crazy to see how dated that world was, how slow it was to embrace and adopt technology.”

Instead of lamenting about the oil-and-water mix of apartments and technology, Wood has set out to provide a solution. Along with fellow co-founder David Beenfield, Wood has created Dwelo, a platform designed to bring apartments and their managers into the future.

“You have all these connected device-type companies, but they’re all so segmented and fragmented and they’re all targeting single-family homes,” Wood said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on here, all of the early adopters are in apartments. Why is there no real solution here?’ That’s where Dwelo was ultimately born. Let’s take this ecosystem of smart technology and let’s make a way for apartments to integrate it.”

Smart apartments are the future. If all the basics — locks, lights, temperature — are taken care of, then property managers can spend their time on more important things, like watching Lebron James play basketball.

“We have a gateway that sits in each apartment unit,” Wood said. “This little box that looks like a router, about the size of your hand. That communicates to the devices — we got locks, lights, thermostat, all communicating through this gateway. We’ll eventually bring in a security element.”

Through Dwelo’s online platform, managers can control all the essentials for each individual apartment. Mostly this involves turning the (digital) keys over to the renter, but mass control of vacant units is a convenient option.

For renters, download the mobile app and let the fun begin.

“The mobile application is what residents will use when they move in, it’s really straightforward and simple,” Wood said. “They can control their lights, locks, and thermostat from their phone, but they also can just set it so it’s automated. You set what’s called our Dwelo Fence, you tell it this is where my home is, this is my radius, and whenever you cross that parameter, it’ll recognize you’re gone and turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat, lock the door for you.”

Have a friend in town for the weekend? Provide him a digital key code that expires on Monday. Every time somebody uses a key code to access your apartment, you are notified via the app, this way there’s no confusion when your television ends up missing.

You don’t have to worry about losing keys. You don’t have to experience that sinking feeling when you go on vacation and start questioning whether or not you remembered to turn off the thermostat. And you also have an energy reader that provides real-time insight into your energy consumption.

“We launched our first beta last week in a Utah apartment complex, got a few units that we’re rolling out,” Wood said. “It’s limited beta, we’re going to get into 30 units or so over the next two months and then do a lot of testing around them, make sure we’re nailing out the bugs…20 units here (Utah) and 10 in California, so we get a little bit of both markets.”

Sensing the burgeoning Utah startup scene, Wood has recently relocated to the Beehive State. He knows Utah’s star is rising and he wants Dwelo to partake in everything it has to offer, while making contributions of his own.

“We have Utah roots, we kind of have a special place in our hearts, and seeing everything that is going on we would like to help fan the flame a little bit, at least have part of our business in Utah,” Wood said.

Dwelo is a subscription-based model with an up-front cost for each smart device. All they need to know is the configuration of each apartment and they’ll provide a quote.

If you’re an apartment manager, your time is important. You don’t want to spend the majority of your day working on mundane tasks, because nobody deserves that fate.

You want things to be simple, seamless, and most of all, smart. That’s why Dwelo exists.

“Looking specifically at the apartment industry, owners and managers don’t like additional work,” Wood said. “They feel like they’re already spread thin. Obviously, this is still really new. You’re introducing something to an industry that’s pretty slow to adopt as is. But we’re finding with owners, there’s that initial interest…as owners start to understand it, there is a continued interest.”

Published 5/11/2015

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