Alexander Roth, CEO, and founder of iDWELL tells us about efficient real estate management.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alexander Roth: Thank you, we are very fine – it is very fortunate that no one in my family has contracted the virus as of now.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded iDWELL.
Alexander Roth: After finishing school, I studied at the University of Vienna and at King’s College in London. Following my graduation, I was part of the team developing the successful e-commerce platform “Blackfridaysale.de”, which registers more than 9 million users within a couple of days every year.
In May 2017, I decided to found the Austrian prop-tech startup iDWELL – the idea came to me following an afternoon with my father-in-law, who works in property management and had to make numerous phone calls from tenants. One year later, in 2018, we received a 7-figure investment from primeCROWD and won the prestigious title of “Startup Battle Champion”.
By September 2019, more than 150.000 apartment units were managed with the iDWELL software. In the same year, iDWELL was named “Best PropTech Startup 2019” by the Austrian PropTech Initiative.
How does iDWELL innovate?
Alexander Roth: Property managers encounter this problem regularly: property owners send emails and Whatsapp messages simultaneously, while often complaining face-to-face as well, as they did not receive a timely reply to their notification of damage. Additionally, in recent times many employees work from home. Therefore the telephone is manned by a single staff member. How does a property management company keep track of all the messages from owners and tenants as well as manage the outstanding tasks as a team?
The iDWELL software solves these issues: our mobile CRM software combines all communication channels as well as external and internal management processes into a single platform. It enables employees to access important data and documents at any time from any location, which improves teamwork and provides fast data transfer through numerous interfaces. Furthermore, with our software, selected processes, such as notifications of damage or entries on digital blackboards, can easily be automated. This results in property management companies saving time and money as well as improving customer service and satisfaction.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Alexander Roth: In March 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, we worried about the possible detrimental effects of Covid-19 restrictions on our business growth. However, the complete opposite happened: Corona motivated many previously old-fashioned real estate companies to implement digital tools. Over the last 12 months, we have increased our customer base by 250% and already manage over 450.000 apartment units in the DACH region. The interest in iDWELL has steadily increased, as property management companies want to make the switch to a digitalized workplace – both to enable their employees to work from home or on the road and to increase the overall efficiency of internal company processes.
Our sales team typically travels a lot to meet potential new clients face to face, in both Austria and Germany. This has, of course, not been possible during the last months, so we made the switch to digital meetings, which are both more efficient and cost-effective, and focused on improving our digital product presentations – so far, it has been very successful.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alexander Roth: One of the most significant changes we had to make was the restructuring of our initial pricing model: the implementation costs of up to five-digits proved to be a significant entry threshold for many property management companies, therefore we decided to introduce a new subscription model (SaaS). This eliminated the original entry barrier and, additionally, provided us with a calculable cash flow.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Alexander Roth: We work with most current tools and popular software systems, and we do adapt to our clients – whatever is easiest for them. However, we have mostly been using Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alexander Roth: We are Austrian market leaders and currently on track to take pole position in Germany as well. There are several other prop-tech companies offering similar services to iDWELL. However, we are convinced that we offer the best software and all-around support to property managers – this is also the feedback we continue to receive from clients and potential new customers.
We work tirelessly with our customers’ feedback to improve our product, and it shows.
Your final thoughts?
Alexander Roth: The COVID-19 pandemic, while challenging in many ways for our business and a trying time for the human race, has provided a big boost to digitalization generally and the digitalization of the real estate sector specifically. Without it may have taken us about one year more to achieve the position that we are in now.