Host: Ronn Ruiz and Martin Canchola
Guest: Ben Steward and Bobbi Steward
Martin: All right, everybody. Welcome to The Multifamily Podcast with Ronn and Martin, your source for the latest in multifamily tech and Apartment Marketing. Now today’s episode is going to be a little bit different because we actually have discovered a brand-new multifamily startup and wanted to bring these new founders to the forefront in today’s episode. It is my pleasure to introduce two of the three founders of Revyse.com. That’s Revyse.com, a multifamily startup and product review platform. So, Ben and Bobbi Stewart, welcome to the multifamily podcast.
Bobbi: Thanks, Martin. It’s good to be here.
Ben: And thank you for having us.
Ronn: That’s awesome. We’re so excited to have both of you guys on the show today. We obviously talking with founders and entrepreneurs are very near and dear to our heart, especially when it comes to multifamily startups where we all grew up. Before we dive into Revyse, which I was so excited to hear more about, can you give our audience a little background on what you’re up to like before founding your new startup?
Bobbi: Absolutely. I’ll jump in. So, I started out in the multifamily industry almost a decade ago working on the vendor side at a marketing technology company called G five, which is now a real page company. And I was there for over five years designing products and services for owners and operators. And then I moved over to the iOS world for a short stint working at realtor.com navigating the world of consumer data, and better understanding the renter’s journey. And then I made the biggest change, I went over to the client side, joining BH, an owner operator as a senior executive and head of marketing and customer experience. And when I became the person who was buying the software instead of building it, I quickly realized firsthand how fragmented and fractured our vendor ecosystem is. Especially when it comes to buying technology and software.
Ronn: So true.
Ben: I still love hearing Bobby’s background. I love it. I have a very entrepreneurial background. I started a few businesses in a few different countries. Stumbled into this amazing industry about 10 years ago and has spent the last 10 years really leading the market teams on the vendor side for a couple of really cool and recognizable companies.
Ronn: It’s awesome. What a great dynamic.
Martin: Opening an industry and just, you know, blossoming and really doing some really cool stuff and a good diversity too between the two. So very, bring it all together. So overall, what inspired you to start Revyse? And when did you first discover that there was a need for this type of platform within the multifamily industry?
Bobbi: Yeah, so I would say being on the operator side, like you very quickly realize how arduous the vendor discovery and selection process is. It’s just not easy to vet new solutions, let alone to even understand what your options are and figure out which companies are out there that are tackling the problems that you’re trying to solve. Let alone then trying to plug those solutions into your existing tech, stack in a way that actually delivers a better renter experience. And so that was the key problem that Ben and Jonathan and I set out to solve.
Ben: But I’ll add to that like, multifamily so unique right. It’s this giant tiny industry that we all love. And it’s authentic and multifamily really didn’t have a place where they could go to search specifically for multifamily relevant software companies and services. And so, you can imagine how fun our dinner table conversations are every nighttime when we talk about the buyer side and the seller side of multifamily and we decided there was a need in the entrepreneurs and us couldn’t hold back.
Ronn: Yeah, that’s awesome. As you mentioned that you stumbled upon the industry. I think those are some of the best mistakes that happened and it’s probably a mistake, right? Because we need that, you know, that authenticity, somebody coming in their organic experience. Your combined experience, I think speaks for itself. And so, I’m sure you are onto big things, my friends, I’m really excited. But let’s get into the platform. Can you share how Revyse works and like who are your optimal users?
Bobbi: Yeah, so Revyse is, we launched our flagship product. It is only about six weeks old. So, we are very new in this space. But our flagship product Revyse discovery is a technology discovery review platform that helps multifamily owners and operators find new products, compare authentic user reviews, and connect with vendors. So, our mission really is to bridge that gap between vendors and clients and make it easier to discover, buy and manage software. So, our optimal users are both sides of this beautiful industry. So, we cater to vendors who are looking for a way to showcase their products and services and reach those in market buyers. And then we cater to those in market buyers and try to reduce friction in the discovery and sales process. Help them really compare their options and get introduced to new vendors and new products that can help solve the problems that they are trying to tackle in their day-to-day operations.
Ronn: That’s awesome.
Martin: Now for, how do you actually protect other competing vendors, like from seeing their competition, you know, since they’re kind of all kind of on the platform, what kind of safeguards do you have in place to protect their intellectual property?
Bobbi: Yeah, I’ll let Ben tackle this line because we put a lot of engineering and development work into this.
Ben: That was really critical to, we looked at this huge disconnect between buyers and sellers. And we actually did a big survey of multifamily software buyers, and we asked a bunch of kinds of questions to understand their buying journey. And we asked questions like, would verified reviews aid in your buying journey? Would self-guided demos aid in your buying journey? Would direct scheduling links aid in your buying journey? And we had this like overwhelming response, right? Like 100% of our survey group said that they wanted transparent pricing. 100% said that they wanted transparent reviews. 92% said that they wanted self-guided demos. Well then, we audited what we would consider to be like leading multifamily companies’ websites and only 3% offered self-guided demos. Only 10% offer direct scheduling and only 12% offer transparent pricing. Right? So, there’s a big disconnect between what buyers are screaming for, which is more of like a b2c experience, and what vendors are offering today. And when we hypothesized on the why, the hypothesis was exactly the route to this question, right? Like the multifamily still represents a greenfield opportunity for growth, like it’s been historically a bit of a technology laggard and adoption and that’s changing quickly. Right? So, the growth opportunity is huge. And so, our hypothesis that we validated through interviews was people were worried about giving away competitive intelligence. And so, from day one, we gated the whole platform with this concept of verified buyers. And so, we asked verified buyers or PMC to log into the platform with their corporate domain. We have a huge whitelist of corporate domains. Once logged in, we verify against our whitelist and then we send a verification email to them to make sure that they are actually on the receiving end of that corporate domain. Once they acknowledge that email, the platform is unlocked for them to shop. But critically, vendors can’t shop other vendors sensitive information on another product listing page. And so that’s really cool to the platform, right? When someone’s a verified buyer, the whole platform is unlocked for them at the most important moment, right, the time when they are searching for a solution to their problem. So, the whole platform has been built on a pretty robust authentication model.
Martin: Quick question there on the demo, the actual demos that they review on your platform, they can’t actually download it, right? They can only review these live demos on your platform strictly?
Ben: That’s correct.
Bobbi: Yeah. So, one of the cool features is that we have partnered with a best-in-class interactive product demo software provider.
Ronn: I was gonna ask you about that. Yeah.
Bobbi: Yeah, and they provide an incredible tool that reduces the barrier to entry for vendors to produce product demos, and also makes them very specific to those in market buyer personas. And so, it’s through that software that we are providing these interactive product demos, and the software itself allows for different levels of security. So, it’s a really incredible tool to help bridge this gap in the way that software buyers want to shop for products today.
Ronn: Yeah, those are huge. I mean, obviously there’s a plethora of technology out there for monitoring and you know, where people spend most of their time, right? You’re in a demo, maybe rewinding things, listening again, you know, we use some intelligence to when it comes to like listening in on our demos for quality assurance, you know, but also for buying signals and just, you know, further support. So, I would presume that your platform has that and will continue to build upon that. Which is exciting. Now, does each company have one master profile or are there like multiple profiles based on my category of product and what’s your reasoning behind this?
Bobbi: So, this is really the foundation of the Revyse discovery platform. We built it with buyers in mind. So, everything that we’ve done really caters to the multifamily technology buyer and the way that they are shopping for products and services. And so, it is not based around one master vendor profile, which catches some people off guard. That’s because if I’m an operator and I am looking for, let’s say, a CRM tool, and I’m starting my discovery search, I’m going to be searching for multifamily CRMs, I’m not going to be searching for vendors, right? Because I’m looking for a specific product that’s going to solve my needs. And so, we’ve designed the entire platform around product level listings. So, if a vendor has say four or five different products maybe a website product, an SEO product, a CRM, revenue management tool, you name it, that specific product will have its own listing, and that listing will be categorized in a way that allows owners and operators to find those solutions.
Ronn: It’s awesome.
Martin: Okay, so in the review part of it and I have another question after this one but a quick one. So, they would leave reviews on the different products right themselves. It’s like it would be based, the reviews will be more focused around that specific product then.
Bobbi: Exactly. So, the reviews themselves are product specific reviews, which helps to level the playing field, right. If you know say, there’s a vendor who just generally has really great brand sentiment and everybody loves their core product. And they have dozens of reviews for the core product, but and, you know, their overall star rating shows up as a 4.8. If I’m looking just to buy their chatbot and maybe the chat bot doesn’t live up to the hype. I should be able to provide an authentic review on my experience with that chatbot that doesn’t, that isn’t clouded or influenced by that overall brand sentiment. So, we’re really trying to get to the core user reviews. As a decision maker, I chose to onboard this software or this technology. And here was my experience using that on my portfolio, that was of a specific size, and I have a specific strategy. And so being able to provide reviews at a more authentic product level versus just the overall vendor level.
Martin: I like that.
Ben: Yeah. Be singularly important as, you know, the industry is going through waves, right? Like we saw another consolidation just a few days ago. And whether through product development or consolidation, I think we’re going to continue to see software companies broadening their product offering and so I think that having everything at the product level is going to be critical for true transparency and also like, you know, as we start thinking future state, integrations is a really critical topic too, right? So, making sure that each component of the product is integrating well with other products is going to be something else that we’re focused on highlighting.
Martin: Okay, now are reviews on Revyse platform only generated within the platform or do you also curate reviews from like Google My Business or other platforms by chance?
Bobbi: They are authentic only to the Revyse platform. And that was a really deliberate decision. So, we’ve built what’s commonly known as a closed platform. And so, user reviews have to be authenticated. They are actually reviewed by our internal teams before they’re published. And then the users who submitted the reviews also have to be authenticated and verified. So, there’s a lot of friction in our review process on purpose, because we are really setting out to maintain the integrity of the Revyse platform as a go to place for authentic reviews.
Ronn: And I think that’s great because, you know, what I’ve always said is, especially when there’s like oh, here’s another platform coming out or another, you know, software or you know, is there’s a lot of noise around that and I think that to have the authenticity in a good review platform of somebody who’s officially like verified and used it and put it in practice and or they did it and it didn’t work like you said you know for them. I think that that is good to have that organic experience out there without, you know, kind of like mud slinging and you know, from people that just start hating.
Ronn: So yeah, I definitely appreciate that and appreciate the closeness because you got to control it for now. And then maybe eventually, it gets into the GBP and all that stuff.
Bobbi: Yeah. And, you know, Ronn, we really wanted to make this a resource for decision makers, right. It’s, a lot of people have asked, you know, what if it’s just like, how are you ensuring that the reviews are relevant to people who are signing contracts and making those buying decisions, and that’s baked into the foundation of the platform. So, in the review submission process, we actually ask a series of six different questions to understand the reviewer’s level of engagement with the product. So, we specifically asked, were you the decision maker? Did you buy this product? Who used this product on a day-to-day basis? So, we’re getting to the nuts and bolts of the reviewer’s relationship with the product, so that we can ensure that we’re delivering peer reviews that are going to help the industry make the best tech stack decisions they can.
Ronn: Yeah, that’s huge. Do you guys also, I know we can get into that from that part. But do you also, like for us, you know, as vendors sometimes we have to identify that our core product or the product that they thought the client that they wanted to buy, that they’re not truly a candidate for that. So, I think that that should be at play as well, right? Where maybe they’re not ready for like a self-serve environment. They need to do full service and they’re looking just for self-serve, you know, so you think that could help.
Bobbi: Definitely. And it’s so interesting. We have found ourselves in a really cool position in the industry, where we get to help both sides create a better ecosystem. And part of that is going to be through providing resources and education to the industry as well. So, we’re going to start releasing content, helping decision makers better educate them on how to buy software? How to do vendor discovery? How to conduct a good product demo? What questions should I be asking? And really get to that, is this product the right fit for my portfolio and my needs? Because maybe I’m not ready for a self-service product. Maybe I just need to be shopping full-service solutions. And so, it’s super exciting for us to be able to help from that. Like we’re basically the Switzerland of multifamily tech and which is really cool spot to be in. To be able to help both sides connect and understand each other better.
Ronn: Yeah, and be educated on both sides, right?
Ronn: All right, as on the vendor side, supplier side, knowing that, you know, our product needs to maybe be enhanced, so that way we could you know, better serve what everybody’s looking for, and for the clients that you know, what platform can they buy now, but do they need to, you know, look forward to searching in the future. You guys are in a unique position, and that’s why we were so intrigued and wanted to have you on multifamily podcast. So that way we can help share with the masses, but let’s have some fun here. Let’s, what are some of the perks of working with the platform for obviously generate. It’s fun because I want to know this part, right? How do you generate new leads, new clients, and then are there any special features you guys want to highlight today?
Ben: I’ll start here, Bobbi, and feel free to layer on, please. But Bobbi said this really well. We listened very, very closely to our ICP, which is really like multifamily PMC buyers, and we tried to match, you know, what are they looking for that’s not available? What’s missing in this journey for them? So, a couple of things to call out, direct scheduling, critical, fun story on that really quickly. The self-guided demo software that we partnered with had direct scheduling. I had three meetings set up with three different providers. And in the moment that I was shopping the one that we partnered with actually, had direct scheduling and a meeting available that afternoon. So, I scheduled the meeting, they sold every single one of the problems that we were looking to solve, and I canceled the other two meetings. So that is the power of like being available to your buyer when they are shopping and answering questions for them. So, self-guided demos is a big one. Transparent pricing is a big one. Direct scheduling is a big one. Obviously transparent reviews is huge as well, right? So, they’re some of the core features of the platform and then in terms of generating new leads. I think this is this is important to know about the platform, like there’s two ways to look at this. One is as like an inbound demand gen strategy. The other is it like this social proof references, verified reviews, component two, right. And I think you’ve got to put both lenses on to this because the platform can actually be used in sales processes today, right? So typically, what happens today is you get to the end of a sales cycle, and someone will ask you that dreaded question of, hey, do you have any references you can send me? I want to speak to three. And the sales rep goes into the tailspin of like, oh no, I’ve overused my same references, who am I going to give to them? So, I think what helping solve for that as well, but hopefully at the start of the journey, right, like you don’t want to get to the end of a sales cycle where you’re hugely timing committed, and then have to talk to a couple of references that might not be relevant to you. So, they’re the critical things that we’re honing in on, which is what buyers are looking for. Bobbi, anything you want to add?
Bobbi: No, I think one of the things that I love the most about the platform is in the industry, right? As an owner and an operator. We are constantly getting inundated with new products and technologies that help reduce the barrier to entry for prospective renters when they’re leasing an apartment, right? We have had this explosion of technologies like virtual touring platforms and self-guided touring and all of these technologies, great websites and unit level merchandising. And where we are being encouraged and moving in the direction of frictionless shopping experiences for our prospects and residents. Where we want them to be able to see real time unit pricing and availability on our websites. Click a button to schedule a tour or do a virtual tour right then in there. And then submit an application online through the prospect portal, right? Like we are making it hot, quick and easy for our prospective residents when renting an apartment. And then as a decision maker, I go to try to buy technology and I feel like I have just gotten in a time warp backwards 25 years, where I can’t see any pricing. I can’t see a demo. I can’t see the quote, unquote unit that I’m shopping for. And I have to talk to a bunch of people just to get information about whether or not this product could be right for me. So, I love that we’re setting out to kind of turn the tables a little bit and say like, you know, our prospects and residents when they’re shopping for a home, they want frictionless experiences and transparency. And as a software buyer, so do I and I deserve that.
Martin: Yeah, I know, all that totally makes sense. And I think you guys are really hitting it right on the head right there. So, I understand now that the vendors can actually start claiming their listings right now. Now is it actually officially opened up to multifamily professionals to actually start discovering new software and products and to be able to review them or is that still coming?
Ben: The platform is live. Awesome. Yeah. The platform is officially live, we’ve been very thoughtful with our approach. You know, we’re building a marketplace, right? There’s two sides to this, so we really sprinted to get the platform life NAA, which we thought was just a perfect launching pad. Had a wonderful reception. And we were very intentional to launch kind of almost a little bit discreetly to the vendor side first, right? We wanted to give them a chance to claim their listings, update their information, choose the appropriate package for them. And so, we’re just now shifting gears to really tout the platform to PMCs. And it just so happens that they’re slowly emerging from budget season. So, we feel like our timing is pretty good here.
Bobbi: Yeah, so slowly emerging, but you can’t keep this thing under wraps. We’ve already had like over 25,000 page views and we haven’t even really announced it publicly. We have just quietly gone live. And so that is super exciting, right? That’s huge market validation that this is a need in the industry.
Ronn: So, I love it. You quietly went live at the biggest event with what? 9000. That’s a perfect place for a soft launch, right?
Martin: And good marketing and people were talking about it on LinkedIn and that’s how I, you know, dived a little bit deeper and then bam, that’s where I hit you up. So great job, great job on that.
Ben: I want to say a huge thank you to the community they got behind this, right? Like the industry like I said is like giant and tiny at the same time. But just watching and feeling like the love and momentum through social channels was incredibly validating. So big thank you to the network out there supporting us.
Ronn: That’s multifamily, right.
Ronn: Exactly. And that just goes to show how much we are still so eager, you know, for technology out there, like what’s the latest and greatest to the point that we need to revise to make sure we don’t over buy and under assess our needs, right. So, obviously we spoke a little bit about this, but I’m really interested in, obviously we are a reputation management provider ourselves. And we always know that there’s no getting around bad reviews for our clients. Got to face it head on. Will multifamily vendors like us have any control over the reviews coming in? You kind of mentioned a little bit, but how safe has your platform being for like fake or just, really negative, you know, reviews? Is there any protection that we can have for a reputation like would there’ll be any kind of verified like we do, you know, verification and when we do our reviews, review responses that is So is there something like that in place?
Ronn: Yeah, I was gonna, had to add to that, because the thing that, I mean obviously we all face it head on, it’s we’re not afraid of it. But the thing that I know that’s alive in our industry is we don’t just have that one customer. Let’s say like Ray star, you know what, he’s just one of the biggest names out there. We have multiple rooftops within one company. So, if one property, one portfolio, you know, didn’t align with our services and didn’t have a good experience. What I would hate as an owner operator myself, is to have limitations from ever getting that account, again, or people using that big name in our industry like oh, if it wasn’t good enough for them, it wouldn’t be good enough for me. So, you know, I don’t know if there’s a way to like qualify or quantify like, you know, I manage one property and this was my one review, you know, for that one property or I’m the global buying agent for the entire corporation. And I need somewhere to like really assess like the exposure there.
Bobbi: Definitely, definitely. It’s a huge part of it, right? Because as a multifamily decision maker, I want to see what people like me have experienced using the same type of technology or software. So, understanding size of portfolio, characteristics of investment strategy, right? Is it a value-add shop or is this a new development or long pole, right? There are a lot of characteristics and nuances of the industry that can really influence how a piece of technology is going to help solve my business needs. And it’s really cool. I bet I’ll probably share a little bit more about this. But so, the Revyse mission is to help the industry, discover, buy and manage software. And so, Revyse discovery is the discovery piece. And as we keep continue to develop products and release new capabilities to the industry, we’re really hoping to tackle that by and manage next and to give owners and operators additional tools to understand which technologies would fit best in their tech stack, based on the characteristics of their portfolio. So, we’re super excited to be tackling that soon.
Ronn: That’s awesome.
Martin: Oh, that sounds cool stuff. Yeah. So, I’m totally interested. What’s the process of actually claiming a listing as a vendor and is the process pretty simple for us to kind of go through?
Bobbi: Super simple. So, we designed the platform to be self-service. So as a vendor you can go in and with a couple of clicks in less than 60 seconds, claim your listing. Once you’ve claimed your listing, you will be able to edit product name description, update the logo, adjust your categories, and then even create new listings. So, as you release new products in your product suite, you can self-service, create new listings for those and tag them to categories and have them show up in the rankings as well.
Ben: I’ve got to add to this because we’ve got to give our co-founder a big shout out. Bobbi has a background in product but we both discussed like, right, if we’re going to embark on a new business, which is, you know, challenging, right, you guys have been through it as well. It’s not easy to start a new business, who can build this for us with like just the cleanest UX UI? Who can build it in a way that people are going to want to spend time here and really, you know, do that research? And we both said the same person’s name. And whether just serendipity or what happened, we’re not sure but the very next day that person’s LinkedIn profile changed, and they were just letting go of their existing employer in a mass layoff. And we reached out with them, we explained the business idea to them, and they came on as a co-founder from day one and we could not have asked for a better co-founder. The platform is just so wonderful to use, which is one of the most critical pieces in the marketplace.
Ronn: That is awesome. That is definitely divine Intervention right there. They felt sorry before that, you’re like, okay, we got to do this.
Ronn: That’s awesome. I love the stories. Yeah, nothing’s by accident and sometimes we do need that push, right? Especially when the two-income household going into one direction.
Ben: Exactly. Yes. And I’ve said this a lot through my career, but businesses are just groups of people, right? Like they’re just groups of good humans doing good work together. And we’re just, we’re thrilled to have such a great human or a number of great humans now on the Revyse train.
Ronn: That’s awesome. So that being said, like what, I mean, we heard the inspiring, you know, startup story, but what is your vision for the company over the next few years? And can you share your perspective on where you see this going long term?
Ben: Bobbi hated this a little bit, and we may be a little bit coy here because we’re just so excited about what’s next there. So, the brand promises, you know, helping PMC find or discover, buy and manage the right software for their stack. What we launched was Revyse discovery, which is really helping with that discovery and review process, but we want to go deeper into the full lifecycle of the software purchase and software procurement. So, we’re going to be leaning a lot heavier into the buy component and the managed component with some pretty big product releases over the next, I’d say three to six months. Doing a lot of market validation right now. And then we have one thing on the near-term roadmap which we think is going to be huge. The industry is just craving a platform for conversation. And we feel like it’s a little bit lacking today. So, there’s, we’re gonna be adding a string to the Revyse though within the next four to six weeks. And we’re pretty excited about that one.
Ronn: That sounds exciting.
Martin: Oh boy, here we go. So, we really appreciate you guys taking the time today. We want to thank you so much for joining us on the multifamily podcast and we really do look forward to, you know, watching you flourish and grow and really take this industry by storm. So, I just want to say congratulations to your new startup, and I have a feeling it’s gonna do some pretty cool stuff.
Bobbi: Thank you. Thank you. Ronn and Martin. It was awesome to chat with you and we definitely appreciate the opportunity.
Ben: Thank you. We’re big fans of what you will have built as well. Thank you for the support.
Ronn: We know firsthand how hard it is and how all the opportunities, let’s say, right, present themselves when you’re starting a company, but you are very much giving birth to your company but also taking us along for the ride. So, I really appreciate it. I can’t believe we’re done with the podcast. I have way more questions. We can talk later offline. Just really excited for you guys. I think we definitely need this in the industry. But I know we hear about it often. About, you know, just like even people like pausing to buy stuff right now or just accelerating to buy stuff now, especially if you’re, you know, a channel provider. So, you guys are gonna really help, you know, take out some of the guesswork and I’m really excited and want to hear more about just the overall like platform to do your own on demand demos. That’s super cool. So congratulations.
Bobbi: Thank you.
Martin: All right everyone. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Multifamily Podcast at MultifamilyPodcast.com. And make sure to get your free marketing analysis from ApartmentSEO.com. And also, please take time to check out Revyse.com And that’s R E V Y S E and I love the domain by the way, I’m definitely a domainer, so kudos on picking up that nice little branded domain. So, make sure to sign up, check them out. If you’re a vendor, sign up, claim your listing. Property management professionals start diving in and finding some cool products. Until next time, bye everyone.