- SmartRent, an access control company for rentals, announced a new product today, Alloy Access, which expands the company’s reach into full-building access control and self-guided tours.
- The company has raised more than $41.5 million in funding from Bain Capital Ventures, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, RET Ventures, and Starwood Capital Group.
- The new product brings SmartRent’s platform to the full building, allowing owners and residents to remotely and automatically allow delivery drivers, mailpeople, and guests into the building.
- The platform also allows for self-guided apartment tours, which CEO Lucas Haldeman said is driving major demand for the company.
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SmartRent, a smart home startup that provides keyless entry, voice-controlled lights, and other internet-of-things software for apartment units, is now adding support for full-building access control and self-guided property tours.
SmartRent had already raised $41.5 million from Bain Capital Ventures, RET Ventures, Starwood Capital Group, Nine Four Ventures, and others by the end of last year when Amazon’s Alexa Fund invested an unspecified amount of money into the company.
SmartRent was founded at the beginning of 2017 by a team of executives from Invitation Homes and Starwood Waypoint Homes. The two companies merged later that year and became the largest single-family rental company in the country. While the company was created by execs operating single-family home portfolios, the product is for all kinds of multi-family, from high-rises to garden apartments.
The company’s original product was a smart-home platform for lighting, access to individual units. CEO Lucas Haldeman said that SmartRent’s team realized early on that “they were missing a big piece: how to get people in and out of the front door.”
SmartRent began work on its new product, Alloy Access, 18 months ago, but the technology has become even more essential during the pandemic. Their original goal was to deal with the high staffing costs involved with running a multi-family portfolio, with on-site doormen and leasing agents.
“Pre-COVID, it was inefficient to let someone in,” Haldeman told Business Insider. “Now, it is not even safe to let someone in.”
Alloy Access’s cloud-based access control allows building operators to provide access to different people who need to enter the building in different ways. That could mean that their software would allow a building’s super to access the whole building with a fob, while sending the package delivery person a new code every day to let them into the building. Residents can get use it too, giving their GrubHub delivery driver a temporary, one-time code to enter the building.
Alloy Access integrates with a range of access control hardware, like low-energy Bluetooth readers and key fobs, as well as property management and HR software. This means that it will automatically give renters access once their lease begins, and take it away when it ends. The same goes for the operator’s employees. Haldeman said that trips to clients’ buildings highlighted how important this automatic integration is.
“At one 200 unit property, there were over 3000 active fobs,” Haldeman said.
The biggest driver of demand in the pandemic, Haldeman said, are self-guided tours. Typically, a leasing agent would show an apartment to a potential tenant. With SmartRent, the potential tenant is able to walk right into the unit and tour it themselves, talking to a leasing agent over text or a video call.
Haldeman said that originally, operators were skeptical because of security concerns.
For someone interested in touring the property to access the apartment, SmartRent requires that the person registers a mobile phone and government ID to enter a property. They have to complete a face scan to ensure that the ID is for the person who is actually entering the building, and they won’t be able to enter unless their mobile phone is near the apartment building, preventing non-authorized visitors.
Operators are also concerned about not having a physical salesperson to pitch, but with the pandemic leading to a rise in virtual tours, their concern has been assuaged as the rental market has already moved toward this. Instead, Haldeman said some operators are considering moving their leasing agents offsite, handling questions remotely.
SmartRent is also outsourcing its product installment to grow more rapidly at a lower cost. Previously, the company had its own teams of technicians who would install their product on a property. In some locales, like Los Angeles, where they service thousands of units, that makes economic sense, but they can’t support that across the country. They are now launching a channel partner network, allowing third-party dealers to sell and install the platform which they will train through a mobile application.