What does it do?
With Remotely, residents can control their entire rental unit with their smart phone. They can lock and unlock doors, control their thermostat, detect motion, moisture and more.
Remotely is the only home automated property management system that provides property managers with a single dashboard to monitor and control all of their automated rental units. Property owners and managers, who last year invested over $68 billion in operating and renovating rental units, own the hardware and can exercise their own judgement about where and how to place it. Property Managers can streamline property showings, optimize staff performance, or go completely keyless.
Who is your startup aimed at?
Remotely is a clear incentive for owners and renters alike. With big impacts on everything from repairs to utilities, Remotely is poised to re-imagine home automation and monitoring in the rental market.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
100% focus on the rental market, low cost, and near-universal compatibility, are three of Remotely’s strongest advantages on existing competitors. Even the most popular home automation solutions do not take into account the idiosyncrasies of the rental market.
What we’ve done is work directly with property owners and managers to develop comprehensive solutions that cover them across their holdings. In doing so, they increase the value of their portfolios, save the renters money, and most importantly, give everyone involved the piece of mind and control that they look for in a good home management system.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
I own a rental vacation in Vail and was frustrated with having to drive up to the property every time a resident moved out. In the winter time, vacationers stay for about a week or two at a time. I had to drive up to Vail to change the code on the locks, control the thermostat and turn on/off the lights. This frustration led to the development of remotely, where this could be controlled remotely, from anywhere in the World.
As we dug deeper into home automation, we saw that there were fundamental differences between home automation for owner occupied homes, and home automation for rentals. There are different needs, economic models, automated logic and support that remotely has taken into consideration and solved.
We saw Remotely both as an opportunity to improve on the standard offering of home automation, and to introduce a number of new concepts to the paradigm oriented specifically toward the rental relationship. We wanted to offer a low-cost, high-powered amenity that stands out on the marketplace, and positions properties at the forefront of innovation in the rental market.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Larry Page at Google used to say, “Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” For some, starting a company is “impossible”. When starting a business, you will have people say:
“You can’t do that.”
“You are not smart enough”
“That will never work.”
“Stay at your current job”
Block them out of your mind and “Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” I did.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
After college, I began working as an early employee at Google. The culture, the ideas, and the entrepreneurial spirit in everyone ignited a flame which inspired me to do something that was much greater than myself. This flame was ignited and will never burn out.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
The company has been bootstrapped and self-funded since the beginning.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Reaching profitability was a very large milestone for the business.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
Eight years ago, we started our parent company called rentbits.com. Over the years, we developed software for the rental industry and built it into a multi-million dollar business. Fortunately we were able to use the profits generated from rentbits to start remotely.com.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
Lisa Ray and I founded rentbits.com, Remotely’s parent company in 2006, after experiencing personal frustration with manually posting personal rental properties to multiple rental sites. Over the last 2 years, the team has been hard at work developing remotely, home automation for the rental industry.
I am responsible for the day to day operations of the company as well as setting vision and strategy. Previously, I ran the operations team for Google mountain states, and helped to grow the region from $1 million in annual sales to over $100 million within four years.
Lisa has extensive operational, financial and HR management experience and has been responsible for rentbits’ operations, finances and Human Resources. Her personal accomplishments include selling over $15 million in real estate in two years and acquiring multiple investment properties.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Continuing to hire A-players that may have multiple job offers is challenging as a start-up. However, articulating a clear vision of where you see the company, and where you see them fitting into that vision can help move those who are on the fence over to your side.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We would like to be a leader within the $12B a year home automation market, and dramatically increase home automation market share across the 22 MM rental units within the US.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Never. Ever. Give Up.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Quantify everything of significance. Focus on one thing, and become the best in the world at it!