Life as a startup moves fast. Once a week, we’re going to checkup on an early-stage company we have previously written about. This week: Dwelo, who we profiled in May 2015.
Smart homes have become cool. I personally will not speak with human beings unless they’re named Alexa or OK Google because it’s too far out of my comfort zone. And even then, those humans can’t do any of the things I want them to do, like adjust thermostats or unlock doors using nothing but a mobile app. It seems gross to think about but there was a time when we adjusted thermostats and locks by physically walking to them and using our hands. What sad people we were.
Three years ago, the idea of smart homes was cool but adoption rates were low. Dwelo had launched their beta platform to determine two things:
- Was there a market for smart home automation in rentals that benefited property owners, managers, and residents?
- Was Dwelo capable of providing this service?
The answers: yes and yes.
“There’s a ton of attention being paid to smart technology, the industry is really waking up, and I think we’re positioned to take advantage of that,” said Dwelo CEO Michael Rovito. “It’s an opportunity for folks like us who take pride in keeping it simple for every member of the community, whether it’s the owner, manager, or resident. They see all this stuff happening around smart technology and want to take advantage, so they’re seeking partners who can help them navigate these decisions.”
Dwelo rolled out a beta platform in Utah that gained enough momentum to convince themselves they were onto something. Even more importantly, they reached an agreement with their current largest customer, Wasatch Group, to roll the platform out to more than 20 communities across 6 states, in turn validating the business model.
“The adoption of Amazon Echos and Google Homes has illustrated a big shift in how people use consumer smart home tech,” said Rovito. “They’re selling tens of millions of those things, which wasn’t true even one year ago — it’s happened so quickly. At last year’s Super Bowl, the first ad — traditionally a car or Budweiser — was Google Home. It’s on everybody’s minds in a way it wasn’t in the past.”
Dwelo’s smart community platform for apartments is now in over 100 communities spanning 16 national markets. Growth has been fueled by both the public’s hunger for smart technology and a total of $9 million in funding from various industry partners/firms, including Utah-based Peterson Ventures. This has enabled Dwelo to become one of the market leaders for smart technology in the rental industry, with 35 employees and headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Rovito notes the biggest benefit of having a company stationed in Utah is finding key partnerships, citing two companies in particular — ProdataKey, the world’s first cloud-based, wireless commercial access control system, and NextCentury, the developer of meters that are industry leading in terms of range, ease of install, and identifying leaks right at the source — that have partnered with Dwelo.
“We started out providing smart homes for rentals,” said Rovito. “Through that exercise, being close to our customers and having investors inside the industry, we’ve learned and adapted to more of a smart community product. That same (smart home) technology can solve a whole host of operational problems that property owners and managers have. Increasingly, we’ve been focusing on those problems. That’s what our customers want and we want to add value for our customers.”