Starting Rezi

Starting Rezi

Renting apartments is an expensive and complicated experience. After wading through listings with skyrocketing rent and bending in Matrix bullet time to avoid scams and tricks, renters start a lengthy application process that qualifies them based on their landlords' arbitrary criteria and biases. If they pass, they end up paying up to 15% of their annual rent in broker and application fees.

We started Rezi to turn this chaotic experience into a fast, free, and fair process. As part of the co-founding team, I lead product management and design for both client-facing and internal technologies and services.

Renting apartments is an expensive and complicated experience. After wading through listings with skyrocketing rent and bending in Matrix bullet time to avoid scams and tricks, renters start a lengthy application process that qualifies them based on their landlords' arbitrary criteria and biases. If they pass, they end up paying up to 15% of their annual rant in broker and application fees.

We started Rezi to turn this chaotic experience into a fast, free, and fair process. As part of the co-founding leadership team, I lead product management and design for both client-facing and internal technologies and services.

 

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Designing The Business Model

Designing The Business Model

We started by building an MVP that allowed landlords to directly list their apartments on our website, and tenants to instantly lease them online for free. This approach landed us in Ycombinator's winter bach of 2017, but we had trouble convincing landlords to adopt it.
Landlords stand to lose a large amount of potential revenue if this automated system underperforms. We realized the key to convert landlords was eliminating their risks.

Our proprietary tenant qualification and rent pricing models accurately predict our leasing performance. This certainty allowed us to guarantee landlords' entire revenue in exchange for a discount and exclusive control over their leasing process. We could then lease our inventory at market pricing through our technology and generate profit through arbitrage. 

Renting apartments is an expensive and complicated experience. After wading through listings with skyrocketing rent and bending in Matrix bullet time to avoid scams and tricks, renters start a lengthy application process that qualifies them based on their landlords' arbitrary criteria and biases. If they pass, they end up paying up to 15% of their annual rant in broker and application fees.

We started Rezi to turn this chaotic experience into a fast, free, and fair process. As part of the co-founding leadership team, I lead product management and design for both client-facing and internal technologies and services.

 

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Bringing a New Brand To Life

Bringing a New Brand To Life

Bringing a New Brand To Life

Building a robust brand identity was not an appropriate investment for a pre-market fit startup. I started with a simple foundation and slowly expanded it as we learned more about our audience and business plan. While our fundamental identity elements like our logo and brand colors have been cemented by now, we're still experimenting with our aesthetical approaches through small marketing campaigns and slowly moving toward a complete brand image.

For our product interfaces, I had to create an efficient and reusable set of components from the beginning to decrease our engineering cost. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise and allowed our components library to mature quickly. We're currently transitioning our library through its second visual iteration and moving toward a design system that is co-developed with our new front-end engineering team.

Building a robust brand identity was not an appropriate investment for a pre-market fit startup. I started with a simple foundation and slowly expanded on it as we learned more about our audience and business plan. While our fundamental identity elements like our logo and brand colors have been cemented by now, we're still experimenting with our aesthetical approaches through small marketing campaigns and slowly moving toward a complete brand image.

On the product side, I had to create an efficient set of components and reuse them as much as possible since we didn't have front-end engineers in the beginning. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise and allowed our library to mature quickly. We're currently transitioning our components through its second visual iteration and moving toward a design system that is co-developed with our new front-end engineering team.

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Designing The Service

Designing The Service

Our business model created a new category of rental intermediaries, and it needed an entirely revamped service layer. I mapped our user journey and used it as a backbone to plan our operational processes, communications, and interactions across all digital and physical touchpoints. 

This new intermediary category needed a completely revamped service layer. I mapped our user journey and used it as a backbone to plan our services. These plans included our operational processes, communications, and interactions across all digital and physical touchpoints.

As we scaled, I helped structure our real estate operations departments. We separating the workflows into two departments – One called tenant success that supported our tenant side audience through their journey, and the other called Portfolio management that maintained and managed our rental inventory. After we built a dedicated inventory acquisition team, I planned our entire backstage service procedures.

 

As we scaled, we created three departments to manage our inventory acquisitions, support our renters' journey, and maintain our inventory. I helped create the overarching structure and the division of their service responsibilities.

This new intermediary category needed a completely revamped service layer. I mapped our user journey and used it as a backbone to plan our services. These plans included our operational processes, communications, and interactions across all digital and physical touchpoints.

As we scaled, I helped structure our real estate operations departments. We separating the workflows into two departments – One called tenant success that supported our tenant side audience through their journey, and the other called Portfolio management that maintained and managed our rental inventory. After we built a dedicated inventory acquisition team, I planned our entire backstage service procedures.

 

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Leading the organization

Our executive committee comprised of department leaders set the strategic direction of the business annually and planned quarterly objectives. We consulted with our department every quarter, then gathered to define the overall business objectives. Afterward, we went back to our teams to translate these objectives into departmental plans.

Early on, I introduced the OKR methodology to the rest of the committee and designed our planning structure. Over the years, I've been working with my team every quarter to learn how we could achieve our desired outcomes through experimentation and empowered them to come up with tactical plans to build features and service functions.

Our executive committee comprised of department leaders set the strategic direction of the business annually and planned quarterly. We consulted with our department every quarter, then gathered to define the overall business objectives. Afterward, we went back to our teams to translate these objectives into departmental plans. 

I worked with my team every quarter to learn how we could achieve our desired outcomes through experimentation and empowered them to come up with tactical plans to build features and service functions.

Our executive committee comprised of department leaders set the strategic direction of the business annually and planned quarterly. We consulted with our department every quarter, then gathered to define the overall business objectives. Afterward, we went back to our teams to translate these objectives into departmental plans. 

I worked with my team every quarter to learn how we could achieve our desired outcomes through experimentation and empowered them to come up with tactical plans to build features and service functions.

Building the product

Building the product

Our renters start as leads, become applicants when they begin an application, and convert to tenants when they sign their lease. The logged-out portion of our website services leads, while the logged-in experience supports applicants and tenants.

Landlords and our internal teams use our admin software that manages and reports on our data. As our team scales, I'm creating four cross-functional product teams, focusing on these four sections.

Our renters start as leads, become applicants when they begin an application, and convert to tenants when they sign their lease. The logged-out portion of our website services leads, while the logged-in experience supports applicants and tenants.

Landlords and our internal teams use our admin software that reports and manages all our data. As our team scales, I'm creating four cross-functional product teams, focusing on these four sections.

Our renters start as leads, become applicants when they begin an application, and convert to tenants when they sign their lease. The logged-out portion of our website services leads, while the logged-in experience supports applicants and tenants.

Landlords and our internal teams use our admin software that reports and manages all our data. As our team scales, I'm creating four cross-functional product teams, focusing on these four sections.

 

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Tenant Leads

Tenant Leads

Our leads can view our inventory and schedule a tour on our website. We built a network of contract concierges that perform our showings so we could avoid charging broker fees. Our goals for this stage were to:

 

We built a marketplace that houses our listed inventory and syndicates them to external platforms. It also allows scheduling on-demand tours and manages our tour concierges' calendar.

To eliminate broker fees, we used a contracted concierge network to provide guided tours. Now we're focused on finding a way to provide entry into apartments digitally and decrease this cost. After experimenting with a few solutions, we integrated with a 3rd party platform that installs digital locks and unlocks doors through its app.

  • Maximize our reach to increase our leads pool
  • Minimize frictions for leads
  • Minimize our tours' cost
  • Maximize our reach to increase our leads pool
  • Minimize frictions for leads
  • Minimize our tours' cost

Instead of spending a large sum of our capital on marketing and promoting our marketplace as the default destination for renters, we integrated our listings with all listing networks through APIs and showed up where our leads were already looking. Then we built a parsing tool that captured leads' data and sent them automated responses through event-based drip campaigns. 

Now we're focusing on leveraging smart locks to transition to self-guided tours and decrease our operational costs.

Instead of spending a large sum of our capital on marketing and promoting our marketplace as the default destination for renters, we integrated our listings with all listing networks through APIs and showed up where our leads were already looking. Then we built a parsing tool that captured leads' data and sent them automated responses through event-based drip campaigns. 

Now we're focusing on leveraging smart locks to transition to self-guided tours and decrease our operational costs.

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Applicants

Applicants

Our application qualifies our applicants instantly and allows them to sign their lease online. As we learned about our users' needs and scenarios, we incrementally added features that increased the pool of qualified tenants and decreased our leasing timeline. These features included support for roommates, guarantors, foreign applicants, and government rental assistance programs. 

Currently, we're creating a new offering that allows users who can't find guarantors to pay a monthly fee and sign without a guarantor.

Each improvement was planned against targeted success metrics. For example, supporting international students in neighborhoods surrounding universities increased our leasing velocity by 50%.

ur application qualifies our applicants instantly and allows them to sign their lease online. Calculating the conversion rate for a leasing business is entirely different from subscription or e-commerce businesses. Our constant pricing configuration to lease faster and all external parameters like seasonality led us to optimize our overall leasing velocity instead.

As we learned about our users' needs and scenarios, we incrementally added features that increased the pool of qualified renters and decreased our leasing timeline. These features included support for roommates, guarantors, foreign applicants, guarantor replacement programs, and government rental assistance programs.

Each improvement was planned against targeted success metrics. The roommate workflow increased the leasing velocity of 3+ bedrooms by 300%. Supporting international students in neighborhoods surrounding universities, increased our velocity by 50%.

 

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Tenants

Tenants

After signing the lease, tenants can pay their bill once a month, or set up automated recurring payments and stop visiting our website until the end of their lease. We built an internal billing system to manages all possible payment scenarios like partial, late, or overpayments. It also supports negative balances like discounts and credits.

A roommate management workflow allows tenants to adjust their roommates and sign automatically generated lease amendment agreements. An automated renewal workflow allows them to review and sign their next lease. Projects for this stage are planned to reduce our support costs decrease assistance timelines for tenants.

ur application qualifies our applicants instantly and allows them to sign their lease online. Calculating the conversion rate for a leasing business is entirely different from subscription or e-commerce businesses. Our constant pricing configuration to lease faster and all external parameters like seasonality led us to optimize our overall leasing velocity instead.

As we learned about our users' needs and scenarios, we incrementally added features that increased the pool of qualified renters and decreased our leasing timeline. These features included support for roommates, guarantors, foreign applicants, guarantor replacement programs, and government rental assistance programs.

Each improvement was planned against targeted success metrics. The roommate workflow increased the leasing velocity of 3+ bedrooms by 300%. Supporting international students in neighborhoods surrounding universities, increased our velocity by 50%.

 

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Landlords

Landlords

We categorize residential RE owners into three segments based on the size of their portfolio. We built an automated experience for the smallest segment – Mom & pops. After filling out the required parameters around their property, they can receive an instantaneous offer and start their leasing process.

Larger owner segments require a longer sales cycle that is managed by our inventory acquisition team. After closing these deals, their data is captured in bulk and uploaded to our platform for workflows like listings and tenant management. 

I ran generative research projects for each segment to understand their unique needs, and identify the optimal service offering and price points.

We categorize residential RE owners into three segments based on the size of their portfolio. We built an automated experience for the smallest segment – Mom & pops. After collecting the required parameters around their property, an offer is automatically generated for them, pending our confirmation after inspecting and confirming the data.

Larger segments require a longer sales cycle that is managed by our inventory acquisition team. After closing these deals, their data is captured in bulk and uploaded to our platform for workflows like listings and tenant management.

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Our Internal Teams

Our Internal Teams

Our internal software nicknamed "Neo" allows us to review and manage our inventory, renters, and finances. A set of default reports display all collected and calculated data through the platform and allow our operations teams to monitor, modify, and enter new information. Another set of on-demand reports provide insight into our data and performance.

Because of the sensitive nature of our qualification data and all the regulatory requirements around them, we had to build a robust permission management system. Each internal team member gets their specific read/write access to reports and datapoints that directly correlate to their tasks. 

This structure allowed us to create a landlord-specific view of Neo for each landlord account where they can access their individual portfolios reports.

Our internal software nicknamed "Neo" allows us to review and manage our inventory, tenants, and financial information. It can also generate customizable reports for each team. Our landlords can access a read-only version of this tool as well.

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Results

So far, our inventory has grown 3X YoY while our gross margin has increased by 430% since the beginning. We've performed 10K+ tours, converted more than 60% to applicants, and leased more than 1,500 apartments through our core products alone. We've achieved all of while significantly outperform the market in vacancy and credit loss.

So far, our inventory has grown 3X YoY while our gross margin has increased by 430% since the beginning. We've performed 10K+ tours, converted more than 60% to applicants, and leased more than 1,500 apartments through our core products alone. We've achieved all of while significantly outperform the market in vacancy and credit loss.

More Case Studies ↓

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ClassPass

Previously, I built a product design department, started a research practice, and help create embedded product teams. 

Previously, I built a product design department, started a research practice, and help create embedded product teams. 

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Agencies

Over the years, I worked with numerous agencies for clients like Microsoft, Mercedes and Motorola.

Over the years, I worked with numerous agencies for clients like Microsoft, Mercedes and Motorola.