By Meghan Hall
As technology and IoT becomes increasingly woven into new developments, technology and real estate professionals are continuously looking for ways to better manage their properties and interact with tenants. Digital infrastructure and new applications are working to connect end-users to property management, and Berlin-based Homebeat.Live is striving to create a platform intrinsic to new projects by allowing its tenants—in addition to property owners and managers—to register their building on the app. The Registry spoke with Homebeat.Live’s founder and CEO, Bruno Acar, on how Homebeat.Live works and the company’s goals for the future.
Can you tell me a little bit about your real estate background? What was your inspiration for creating Homebeat.Live?
Before starting HomeBeat.Live, I had no real estate background other than owning two apartments. One in Brussels and another one in Berlin, both in HOA-buildings. The lack of transparency and efficiency in these buildings, especially for a digital native like myself, was mind-boggling. For years I expected a cool Silicon Valley start-up to come along and fix this widespread problem but nothing much happened. In 2016, Anton Skorochod and I decided to build a solution dedicated to the interests of HOA building owners. As our background is pure digital tech & international business development, we didn’t feel limited in any way to stick to existing industry concepts, which typically focus on landlords or property managers.
Do you think that in the future, apartment buildings will become more highly digitized? Why or why not? If so, how will applications such as Homebeat.Live serve to work in harmony—and not in competition with—those technologies?
Digital infrastructure, intrinsic to buildings, sets out to make things more transparent, more convenient, safer and reduce cost. It’s simply a natural evolution and in our opinion a matter of 10 to 15 years to become the new normal. HomeBeat.Live is dedicated to serving the interest of owners in HOA buildings, to protect and enhance their largest asset. Our outset is to bring everything together in one place for that building: data, documents, service and integrate with IoT of central infrastructure like elevators or central heating systems.
Where is Homebeat.Live operational? Has the app been particularly popular in any one geographical location? Why or why not?
HomeBeat.Live is currently available in 4 languages (English, Spanish, German and French) and released in over 20 countries including the United States. The problem it solves is location-agnostic. As we’re a young German company, most of our buildings are in Germany and Europe. Its popularity is not a matter of geography but more one of attitude: the desire to enhance and not be stuck in the status quo. Finally, there’s a tool out there that empowers people to make change really happen.
In an era where privacy is a very real concern, how does Homebeat.Live protect users’ data? What specific measures are embedded into the platform to thwart unauthorized access and limit security breaches?
As a German company we comply with what probably are the most stringent data privacy regulations in the world (GDPR). We use modern encryption standards like TLS and simply don’t share any user data with third parties. Even our support only has access to minimal information required to do their job. In our opinion it’s a good thing that people are becoming more thoughtful on what happens to their data. It should only be used in their interest and with explicit consent (opt-in).
What is your favorite feature of the application? Why?
Incident notification automation. It’s a simple yet very effective feature that reduces stress for all stakeholders. Now, when an elevator is out of service, everyone is notified instantly and on the same page 24/7. Property managers can focus on fixing the problem rather than respond to numerous calls on the same issue.
How has the structure of the app—and the fact that it is run entirely by the building’s community—allowed it to succeed?
We all know that most property managers are not early adopters when it comes to technology. They often lack the willingness, know-how and the budgets to invest in technology. By creating a platform that empowers owners to effortlessly set up a solution for their building, we turned the dynamics upside down.
Property managers obtain access to a tool that helps them make their work become visible and appreciated without any burden. At the same time, the platform and data stays at the building, irrespective of changes in the service provider structure. It’s a win-win situation.
We combined concepts of widely-used platforms such as Slack and Dropbox and brought those together with a clear purpose. Just like LinkedIn, people take care of their own data and benefit from the network effect.
Lastly, it’s also a statistical consideration. In a building with 30 units and one property manager, you multiply the odds vastly in your favor.
Conversely, has this posed any problems for Homebeat.Live? Why or why not?
Some property managers are reluctant to engage with it at first, since it’s outside of their comfort zone, worried to lose control, or worse, get more work. That’s why HomeBeat.Live can even be implemented when the property manager doesn’t want to get involved. In that case, they simply get an email from our system containing all details on reported incidents. Eventually it’s the owners that decide what type of service they want, but it can take time for property managers to see that and discover the benefits it brings them.
What’s next for Homebeat.Live? Do you foresee the platform facing any challenges in its expansion? If so, how do you plan to mitigate them?
As we’re positioning a novel type of solution, it takes time for users to fully understand the extent of advantages it brings.
We address that through blogs on practical use-cases, which people can relate to: Having access to detailed emergency response plans protects your family and home (and can get you an insurance discount), and having access to supplier lists helps you avoid paying a fortune next time you leave the keys inside, etc.
We also work a lot with interest group associations for homeowners, media and large distribution partners to get our solution and message out.
Where do you think the platform will go in the next year?
The platform will see a good deal of growth with even more features and integrations. We’re especially bullish on our distribution partners. Since the beginning of this year, a large energy company is bundling HomeBeat.Live PRO into its offering for multi-family buildings as a USP & customer retention tool. Insurance companies have also expressed interest to reduce the volume of damage regulation. We simply want to be the perfect solution for HOA buildings.
Is there anything else that you would like to add that The Registry did not ask?
Yes, what does HomeBeat.Live cost? Well, is free and can be set up in just 10 minutes!