Independent landlords today are feeling pressure from all sides. While the U.S. rental market in 2019 is a healthy one, with vacancy rates hitting a two-decade low, independent landlords are forced to compete with institutional investors. These massive companies are buying up—or building—an increasing number of properties. That means less inventory at higher prices for independent landlords looking to expand their real estate investments. Not to mention that these institutional investors have a leg up in the market, with access to more, cheaper capital; lower insurance rates; and software tools that do everything from automate time-consuming processes to predict which properties will make the best investment.
In fact, time and insights are two areas where independent landlords are often the most challenged. The tools available for them to manage their properties—from rent collection, to getting a loan, to updating their insurance—are outdated and arduous. While institutional investors have both the technology tools and a team of employees to navigate notoriously complex and opaque industries like banking and insurance, most independent landlords are forced to go it alone—not to mention many of them are also juggling full-time day jobs.
But what if independent landlords had access to the same resources for securing a loan, or getting insurance, or collecting rent as their institutional competitors? As executives with decades of experience in real estate, finance and technology, we saw an opportunity to revolutionize how landlords manage their finances by offering digital tools and industry expertise to support them. We want to level the playing field for independent landlords because we’ve experienced these same pain points first-hand as landlords ourselves. So we founded Azibo with the goal of radically improving landlord financial services so rental property owners can save time, improve cash flow and grow their portfolios.
Most major banks and insurance companies are broadly providing products and services to a wide variety of customers and diluting the quality of their offerings for each business case. We believe the best services are focused, so we designed Azibo based on insights about the specific pain points and challenges that landlords face. Every interaction with the platform will be completely optimized to make the lives of landlords easier and more profitable. In doing so, we’ll offer a product that surpasses anyone else in the industry.
“If you look at a typical bank, they offer somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 to 400 products,” says Frank Rotman, founding partner of QED Investors and initial investor in Azibo. “But vertical banking is about focusing on the six or seven products that a specific customer, such as an independent landlord, actually needs. The idea of being world-class in six or seven products—that’s a solvable problem.”
The Azibo vision starts with a platform: a one-stop shop where landlords can access and manage all of their financial needs. Bringing together services like FDIC-insured banking, rent collection, loans and insurance streamlines landlords’ efforts—saving them time and the headache of reviewing multiple accounts with multiple vendors.
Azibo’s platform also eliminates redundant data entry. We all know how time-consuming it is to fill out multiple forms with the same basic personal information when applying for loans and insurance. With Azibo, once your information is entered into the platform, it will automatically populate forms for current applications and future refinancing and renewals.
From there, we’ll offer the best possible services, including competitive rates on loans and optimal insurance policies. And through the platform, the services won’t feel siloed. Today, when securing financing, most landlords must get additional insurance—which requires them to go to an insurance broker and hope they get the right policy. Azibo’s platform will help landlords make informed decisions around insurance policies and pricing so they can confidently choose the right amount of coverage for their properties.
Finally, Azibo believes independent landlords should have access to the same data-driven insights that major real estate companies use to set prices, drive profits and predict where to buy. We’re building a community that allows independent landlords to better understand their investments, their performance, and how they can improve based on Azibo data. With this combination of individual and industry data, our platform will bring transparency to a historically opaque industry. And in addition to keeping that data secure, Azibo will protect your privacy; after all, data is one of your most valuable assets today. Our goal is to help landlords succeed by increasing transparency in the industry—no strings attached.
Our customers are our north star—everything we do is designed to help them be more successful. To deliver on that promise means not only building an exceptional product but also assembling a team that will ensure we keep that focus.
When we interview potential Azibo employees, we first evaluate their character. Are they a good person? We want someone who will not only gain the respect of customers and colleagues, but will reciprocate that respect. Aptitude is another important factor, along with work ethic. A Azibo employee is someone who is willing to work hard and doesn’t feel entitled—a trait they’ll have in common with the landlords we serve.
As we add new members to our team, we’re building a culture where people have fun but know how important our mission is. For landlords, their properties are often their most important asset—they serve as retirement plans, inheritances, and a critical source of income—and we take that seriously.
“Owning rental real estate is a great investment but the technology, partners and process available to individual owners have limited the appeal,” says David Weiden, a partner at Khosla Ventures. “Azibo has the right team to leverage emerging technology and available partners to transform this market. All parties—the owners, service providers, and tenants—can benefit from faster timelines, better partnerships and less paperwork.”
By building the best possible product and an exceptional team to provide these services, we at Azibo are looking to build long-term partnerships with landlords all over the country. We hope that by revolutionizing the rental real estate experience across banking, lending and insurance, we’ll help landlords save precious time, better manage their operations, and ultimately grow their businesses. Empowering independent landlords enables them to provide housing for millions of tenants across the U.S.
Because our unique platform will be built exclusively for landlords, we want to give them an opportunity to see early versions and provide input as we build and roll out our offerings. If you’d like to be a part of the Azibo community, click here to sign up.