My name is Tomas – I’m the founder and CEO of a proptech start-up, called Rhenti. Rhenti is powerful marketing automation and leasing software for property owners, property managers, and landlords helping them to find and sign the right renters, much faster than any other way and with much less effort.
Our mission is to be the go-to software for what we call the ‘lead to lease’ part of the rental process by making it easy, efficient, and transparent for both parties. In other words, we are drastically improving the way that property owners connect with and finalize leases with renters and vice versa.
What is your background/previous experiences? What made you get into this line of work?
I went to school for Engineering, so I enjoy figuring out how to make solutions and systems efficient. Before Rhenti, I worked in tech and my most recent role was at a machine learning start-up, called Rubikloud. Solving large problem areas with tech is a fun challenge for me and doesn’t feel like work most of the time.
As it relates to the rental industry, I’ve been a renter for a very long time. I’m also a property owner (a.k.a. landlord), so I have this fairly unique perspective of being both a renter and a landlord simultaneously. This is a great vantage point when it comes to building Rhenti because I experience the issues first-hand and from both sides.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Back when we were exploring this problem space, we didn’t like the system that was set up for connecting property owners with renters. There actually wasn’t a system at all – it was this disjointed process that people cobbled together haphazardly. And when we examined it further, there was so much time, effort, and frustration involved for both the renter and property owner. There wasn’t a solution that was tackling this problem in the right way and we knew that we could build a better system.
What problem does your business solve?
Where do I begin? Let me take you on a journey of a property owner who is looking for their next tenant.
First, the property owner must decide which listing sites are the best ones to list their rental on – and there are many of them. If they want to list on multiple sites, that’s a lot of tedious work. After that, if they need to make any changes to their listing, they need to log back into each site to make the updates. Along with that, property owners need to figure out how to create a stand-out listing that attracts renters. Most property owners have zero expertise in marketing.
Then, the most time-consuming activity is reading through all of the renter inquiries and managing those conversations – while knowing how to spot and filter out the folks who are not that serious about the listing and booking viewings with those who are. Bookings for viewings need to be organized, so they aren’t overlapping with any other important stuff in their calendar – and they can’t overlap with the other bookings. Then, property owners need to ensure that renters are actually showing up to their viewing appointments because you’d be surprised at how many renters don’t.
After that, property owners need to review applications and try to decipher which applications are sharing the full story of an applicant, and which aren’t. And of the applications that seem transparent, they need to figure out which is the best fit for their rental. But, at this point, the process is wearing property owners down – so much, so that property owners cut corners on screening applicants. They aren’t digging for all of the details that they should be digging for. Also, many property owners don’t know what information they can legally gather from an applicant, so there is a level of uncertainty and hesitation added to the overall experience.
All while this is happening, time is ticking. Mortgage payments don’t stop while property owners are trying their best to find the right renter. At this point, they are often desperate to sign with any renter that seems ‘good enough’, and perhaps one that doesn’t meet the requirements that they had when they began the process.
After all of that, they need to coordinate the lease agreement and the deposit with the renter. This step often involves renters travelling to a physical location to meet the property owner to sign a paper lease agreement and submit a physical cheque or money order – which they will then need to go to their bank to deposit.
As you can see, this process is nuts. It’s stressful and frustrating for both property owners and renters. Finding the right renter-fit is one of the most important things a property owner can do to increase the chances of getting what they need from their investment property. But as you can see, their focus has been hijacked away from focussing on applications and due diligence to focussing on enduring the ridiculously painful process that I just outlined. It’s important to note that if they make the mistake of signing with the wrong renter, their investment plans for the property are ruined until they can part ways with the renter – sometimes that can take up to a full year. This can bring an enormous amount of stress and difficulty to their lives.
Rhenti exists to make the process easy so property owners can spend their time focussing on making the right decision for their property.
What is your magic sauce?
To be blunt, we’re really good at Product. We have an exceptional team of builders who have deep expertise in product development and building tech experiences. That has allowed us to build industry-leading software that people get a lot of value from. When property owners are looking for their next renter, Rhenti makes ‘lead to lease’ incredibly fast and easy for them – especially for property owners with five-plus rental units where the time and effort to manage the painful process piles up.
How do you differ from the competition?
When it comes to alternatives to Rhenti, property owners can hire a realtor or a property manager to turn their unit over for them – and that will cost a full month’s rent – which is HUGE! So, for a 2-bedroom unit in Toronto right now, a property owner would be paying a realtor $3,000+ to find them a tenant. Alternatively, that property owner could use Rhenti’s digital platform to make it significantly easier to find a renter themselves and, on average, it could cost them around $600. So, there is a significant cost saving in using Rhenti. Also, realtors usually confine themselves to finding renters through the MLS ecosystem which will generate limited demand – whereas Rhenti can bring you renter inquiries from MLS and all of the other top listing sites so that property owners can truly find the best renter-fit from a larger pool of inquiring renters.
The other alternative is that property owners could do everything themselves – and that kind of works if they have one or two properties, but if they also have a full-time job, then it gets trickier. If they have more than five properties, the process becomes really tough. Those types of property owners get the most value out of using Rhenti.
What is the vision?
When property owners across Canada need to find their next renter, we want them to think ‘Rhenti’. When renters need to find their next rental home, we want them to think ‘Rhenti’. Rhenti will be the industry default for connecting property owners, managers, and landlords with renters. And vice versa.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
We’ve experienced many big challenges – and have thankfully lived to tell the story! Pushing our team to grow Rhenti during COVID lockdowns and to navigate the general uncertainty that we all faced in 2020 and 2021 was wild. Our next big challenge will be to grow during the great ‘reset’ that we’re seeing in the tech industry right now in combination with the rising real estate rates and the looming Canadian recession that is forecasted for next year. These are rough times, but if the team can rise to the challenge, I’m excited to see how strong we’ll be at the other end.
How can people get involved?
We are always excited to teach about what Rhenti can do for people. Interested property owners, property managers/operators, landlords, and brokerages can reach out to our team member, Scott, to learn more: [email protected]