We're Ethan, Jullian, and Will. We're the founders of Latchel (https://latchel.com/). We handle 24/7 maintenance for residential property managers and landlords across the US.
Ethan was Director of Product at One Planet Ops, the creator of websites like contractors.com, homegain.com, and many other lead gen marketplaces. Jullian is a self-taught developer and designer who has built mobile and web apps, most recently at picmonic.com. Will comes from Amazon, where he helped design and deploy the last mile delivery operations for Amazon Fresh, Prime Now, and Amazon Logistics across the US and the world.
Will started the company when his family needed help running the family rental properties. His grandfather managed the properties full time all the way into his mid 90s! Sadly, his age caught up with him and he could no longer take care of the family business after getting diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The disease progressed quickly and unfortunately the family did not have a succession plan in place (advice to anyone with a family business: plan the succession early, you don't want to spend energy worrying about the family business when you want to focus on taking care of a parent's medical or end of life care). Will helped his father with the properties as much as he could while working full time at Amazon but was quickly overwhelmed by the maintenance dispatching and follow-up. He saw that the overall process was very similar to the logistics and delivery problems he was solving at Amazon. After looking for solutions online and calling Ethan to see if he knew of any solutions they couldn't find any. Ultimately, we teamed up to build what we couldn't find on the market: a service to handle rental maintenance problems and ensure work orders don't slip through the cracks.
Maintenance coordination is a difficult problem to solve because it is fundamentally a communications problem that isn't easily solved by software. First, most contractors are third party and take jobs infrequently from a property manager, so they're extremely unwilling to adopt a new process for reporting that work is complete or for getting paid. Second, tenants also interact with their managers rarely, so mobile applications (and even online portals) have low adoption rates among renters. Lastly, property managers face an agency problem: ultimately it isn't their properties, it is their clients who own the property. The property manager is responsible for its care and maintenance and wants to be able to have all of the details of what happened and to know why certain decisions were made in case something went wrong.
We sell monthly subscription services to property managers to take all of their maintenance calls. We have two paid subscriptions: 24/7 Emergency and a premium option where we handle both emergencies and non-emergencies. We also have a free software tier that gives property managers an online web portal for tenant maintenance request submission. This online submission tries to detect emergency scenarios and our software automatically calls the property manager in case of emergency. In addition to the monthly subscription services we also take a 10% referral fee from contractors we source for the jobs (we cover the credit card processing fees).
The HN community is full of people working on simplifying the oftentimes ugly interface between the real world and idealized technology systems. We'd love to hear your questions, thoughts, and concerns about this problem space.