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Joining us in conversation are Rentsync CEO and VP of Technology and Data, Max Steinman and Michael Mottola. We are also joined by two members of the Building Stack community, CEO Jonathan Margel, and COO, Pablo Menghini. Tuning in, you will hear our guests offer their insights on the recent merger between Rentsync and Building Stack and how it was approached. Hear how Building Stack came to be, what motivated the merger, and how it supports property managers and the many hats they are required to wear. Learn about each business, what to expect from the future, and the biggest benefits that are set to unfold in the coming year. Thanks for tuning in!
Key Points From This Episode:
[0:00:35] ANNOUNCER: Hello. And welcome to Sync or Swim, a weekly podcast brought to you by Rentsync, where we take a deep dive into the proptech, multifamily and rental housing industry. In each episode, we uncover the technologies and strategies used to help overcome operational challenges and increase the value of your multifamily investments. So, let's get into our conversation today.
[0:01:00] GL: Welcome to another episode of Sync or Swim, the podcast where we navigate the currents of the rental housing industry. I'm your host, Giacomo Ladas. And today I have a very special group of people on the show. If you've been following us online, you may have already heard the announcement of Rentsync's merger with Building Stack. A Montreal-based company renowned for creating software for the next generation of property management.
Joining me today to discuss this, I have two familiar guests, we have Michael Mottola. VP of Technology of Rentsync. Along with Max Steinman, the CEO of Rentsync. Guys, thank you for joining us again.
We are also joined by two new members of our Rentsync family in Jonathan Margel, CEO of Building Stack. And Pablo Menghini, the COO of Building Stack. Gentlemen, welcome to your first podcast.
[0:01:42] PM: Nice to be here.
[0:01:43] JM: Thank you. I'm very excited that we're finally doing this.
[0:01:44] GL: Yeah. You know what? Before we start off with the questions, I really just want to say congratulations to you, guys. This was a result of quite a lot of hard work. And all the success that comes from it is just really well-deserved. Congrats, guys. This is really, really exciting.
[0:01:56] JM: Thank you very much. It's a great fit.
[0:01:58] GL: Let's start off with that then. Pablo and Jonathan, maybe give us a little introduction of yourselves. Give the audience a little background on not only who you guys are, but the Building Stack as well.
[0:02:08] JM: My name is Jonathan Margel. Background in property management and investment in real estate. More or less the only industry that I've experienced my life in. Dating back many years, about a decade, I found myself managing several thousand multifamily units and realizing the industry was more or less broken. Very old school. Very paper and pen. Needed a lot of help.
Pablo, who's one of my childhood best friends, we would get together, vent. Kind of be frustrated. And one thing led to another. And we decided to stop whatever we were doing and to begin our careers in proptech. And I'm very happy we chose this industry.
[0:02:48] PM: I'll jump in then. I'm Pablo Menghini. I'm one of the co-founders of Building Stack. Like Jonathan mentioned, I'd say maybe about 10 years, ago we decided to put our brains together and focus on real estate management. Ironically, we started in the hardware space. We thought wiring an entire apartment for several months was the solution that best fit the industry. But we really quickly realized that all the things we were excited about or all the features that we wanted to implement were on the software side. Related to communication between the property management. We really quickly realized that that didn't scale and pivoted to software. And then fast forward to today, we're really focused on the entire tenant lifecycle. But yeah, that's a little bit of how we got to where we were and how we got to where we are in a few sentences.
[0:03:36] GL: Perfect. I think then let's go to how we got to where we are now. This is open to everybody. But how did this collaboration between Rentsync and Building Stack come about? And what really led this decision to merge?
[0:03:48] JM: We've been a syndication partner for many years with Rentsync. Recently, as we started to evolve our platform and build out more and more marketing features, lease signature, CRM, we would have conversations with Max and the team about how could we take our partnership to the next level. I guess I'll say one thing led to another. Some heavy flirting and discussing what would a strategic merger look like.
And now we could say that we're very pleased that we're one giant company. And the teams are one giant team. And we have a lot of exciting work to merge the platforms and to address the entire leasing and tenant lifecycles.
[0:04:28] MS: Yeah. I'd say like we'd been in touch and thinking about this idea for quite some time almost a couple years. But timing is everything. And finally, we were able to realize it just in the last month here. But it was always on Rentsync's agenda to continue its product expansion we say down funnel. The majority of the value of Rentsync's products and services is in lead generation and marketing. And so, it was on our radar to eventually move into leasing applications, leasing. And then eventually into the resident lifecycle as well. Instead of having to go out and reinvent the wheel and build that all ourselves, there is this obvious fit here that has now come together really nicely.
[0:05:20] GL: Max, I'll stay on you for a little bit there when we talk about the resident lifecycle and how we're trying to move down funnel as much as possible. I guess those would be like the main strategic goals behind this merger with Building Stack. Was that kind of on the forefront of why we want to do this? Or were there may be some more strategic goals behind this merger that you're open to divulging a little bit on this pod?
[0:05:40] MS: Yeah. I mean, without going too, too into the details. Because there's a lot of strategy, but there are some real obvious ones. Definitely product. As I sort of previously mentioned, it takes a lot of horsepower to build software. And it's not always easy to do that in any sort of profitable way and see a return for a very long time.
Naturally, if you come across a great product offering and there's this opportunity and there's a team and cultural fit, then it's a good idea to look at that first. And so, that's you know how we approached it. But there's some other fantastic benefits that come from it as well. Building Stack was born out of Montreal, Quebec. And it's always one of the more difficult markets for non-Quebec-based companies to gain traction in.
And Jonathan, and Pablo and their team have done such a fantastic job at penetrating that market and building amazing client relationships over the last 10 years. And so, we really believe in that side of it as well. It's hard to be considered a national provider of really anything if Quebec is not in your plans. And we really, really love the Quebec market and believe in its future for renters and for rental housing providers. It's actually per capita the largest rental market in the country. That also played a huge part in this strategically. And we're really excited about that aspect.
And the last thing really quickly is just the team, and the culture and the talent. There's about 20 team members here that now merge with our approximately 100 team members. It's hard to find talent these days. That's also sort of the third component that we really saw strategically.
[0:07:33] GL: It's interesting point too when you mentioned just could we build a software? Or is there something out there that is just unbelievable and comes as everything that we want to do? And talking to Michael, the tech guy, it's pretty obvious that he's like, "Yeah, we could do this. But my God. This one's available there." I know that's definitely where the excitement I saw for Michael. No. That's great to hear.
And maybe on the flip side there with Pablo and Jonathan, from your perspective, what were some of the aspect of Rentsync? Our capabilities. Our vision that you learned about that was really appealing for you guys to merge with us. I'm sure you share a lot of sentiments with Max. But kind of love to hear your perspective here on that.
[0:08:09] JM: From our perspective, I'll say it's clear to us that Rentsync has always had tremendous reach. ILS-wise, Rentsync's the clear-cut leader without a question. They're able to get ads out to essentially every major ILS. Historically, that's something we've struggled with a bit. It's very challenging to keep up with all the different ILS sites and even marketing ourselves. We love that. Rentsync has such a dynamic marketing shop in-house. Such an amazing platform. Again, to my earlier comment, it just made a ton of sense. Extremely complimentary is the term that I'll use.
[0:08:45] PM: Yeah. And I'll jump in from a product point of view. I think the possibilities are now almost endless. Like Max describes it as being a bottom of the funnel. We describe this as top of the funnel. We do a lot of things on the property management operational side. But something that we never did particularly well or maybe we struggled with and one of our core competencies was being able to get the visibility on those ILSs due do the degree that our clients need.
These days, property managers need to be experts in many different areas, like marketing, to design, to operations. You name it. They need to be experts in a lot of different things. To quote somebody much smarter than me, "You have to be an idiot not to use our platforms now." That we have access to the whole lifecycle.
[0:09:41] GL: Okay. Looking through the press release, Max and Michael, you guys both mentioned significantly in there that Building Stack joining Rentsyn'c portfolio is really that real significant step. Could you may provide some insights into how this integration will enhance our services offered at Rentsync both to potentially renters and landlords? And Michael, I'll let you start this one off.
[0:10:04] MM: Well, first off, offering the entire list to lease funnel has been a goal of ours for some time now. Max mentioned that that's kind of why we kind of looked at the strategic merger. And going even further into the resident lifecycle, something that we've always dreamed about, being able to help renters find their new home. To helping rental industry professionals navigate the leasing process. And I mean, there for both sides for the day-to-day, month-to-month rituals of being a resident and tenant. That's powerful stuff. That's a software that we want to operate and deliver to our customers. Incredibly useful and functional tools for those owner/ operators, for property managers, renters. By combining forces and merging, we are merging two great software platforms. We're merging two great technology stacks and two fantastic teams full of great talent. This all translates into amazing product offering that we can deliver to our existing and new customers for many years to come. It's easy to see why this is going to be very valuable for us and our customers. And we're very excited about where this is going.
[0:11:05] GL: Michael, in the next, I would assume – what? Six months to a year. A lot of that is just learning how these two platforms talk to each other. Getting the tech side of things. That's kind of exciting thing for me to see as just, "Okay. Now we've merged. Now we have to just kind of learn how to speak to each other more on the technical side of things and hash out those teams." I think that's almost one of the most exciting journeys to see, is just like, "Hey, this is us. This is you guys. And let's really get the synergy together." I'm assuming that's kind of the next six months to a year over on the tech side of things.
[0:11:35] MM: Yeah. That's where our fun begins. We've been talking about this for a while now. But now we got our tech teams together introducing people. Starting to talk about how, like you said, the two systems can talk to each other. How we can integrate. How we can create that seamless user experience for our customers to navigate this full lifecycle? And yeah, that's where we're going now is talking, scoping out work and making sure the teams all know and can learn from each other and can build together.
[0:12:01] JM: And eating a lot of Montreal bagels.
[0:12:03] GL: Yeah. that's kind of the benefit there.
[0:12:05] MM: Lots of food. Hey, food brings people together. That's how we started. Got the devs together with some great food. And now we're going to work our way. Work hard.
[0:12:13] GL: The conversation I'm sure have been going really well though, especially with a good little breakfast around the table there.
[0:12:18] MM: That's been great. I mean, there's a nice cultural fit here between both companies, which is great to see. And that's how we can really hit ground running here and build some really amazing stuff.
[0:12:27] GL: Yeah. I assume that's kind of a big part of it as well. When someone asks just me, like my friends or family of working here, right? A lot of it's just like, well, we have such a good culture her that not that we're protective over it, but we really value that. We're really proud of what we are in that aspect of things. As an employee of Rentsync, the idea of merging with another company and bringing a large amount of staff over, it's kind of exciting. Because we get to see what theirs is compared to ours and see where we can find that middle ground.
What's awesome about this merger is that it's not only for the CEOs, and the COOs and VPs, right? This is something that's actually going to affect just every day-to-day people who work at these perspective companies. The sentiment seems to be really excited for everybody involved. And I definitely share in that.
Jonathan and Pablo, we'll hand this back to you then from Building Stack's side of things. How do you see your software really contributing to this all-encompassing list to least solution? I know quite a bit about software already. But for those who don't, I think it would be really beneficial to kind of hear like, "Hey, we offer this. And this is something that we're excited to bring to the Rentsync's side."
[0:13:32] PM: Sure. I think we sort of pick up the ball. Rentsync currently maybe drops it off and vice versa. I think that Rentsync's core competencies are really on making sure that you get the leads for your properties and you get that visibility. And on the website side, they do great work. Where we focus on is really you have that lead. Like, now what happens? From capturing application data, to credit checks, to creating that lease and adding guarantors, co-applicants, et cetera. Getting that lease signed digitally for the province that they're in. And then, ultimately, moving that tenant in to the property where they can log into their portal, see information about their building, view amenities that are available. Book them. Reserve them. Et cetera. Communicate that their toilet is broken. Hopefully, it's not. Being able to see any important documents or communicate about any other issue or receive communications as well.
And then, also, a big part of what we do is online rent payments. We provide a secure portal where our tenants can make payments online with the payment method that they wish. And then we make sure that that money gets to the property management bank account where it should. And there's a lot that happens under the hood. But on the surface, it's very simple to use. And we of course focus on being very secure.
Zooming out, marketing team, accounting teams, maintenance teams, et cetera, can now basically use one platform to handle many different aspects. We found that a lot of inefficiencies happen is when data needs to transfer from one place to another. You need to have someone who's coordinating where data comes from one platform to another. And then you got to maintain those integrations. And that's expensive. And it requires time and people. And we're really focusing on making sure that that data goes all the way through. And then when they become a renter again, the cycle can start again. But ultimately, you're providing a phenomenal service for both property managers and tenants, of course.
[0:15:28] ANNOUNCER: Like what here so far? Make sure you never miss an episode by clicking the subscribe button now. This podcast is made possible by listeners like you. Thank you for your support. Now let's get back to the show."
[0:15:43] GL: To jump off that a little bit then and back to the Rentsync guys here, entering that lifecycle tech market right stuff such as rent payments and really becoming that all-encompassing thing. Does that really help Rentsync's broader strategy of whatever that may be? What does that now allow? That if we are an all-incoming list to lease solution, that must open some doors or maybe different areas that we can go into that we've never really had that capability before. I think that's kind of an exciting thing. And if you guys want to dive into that, I think that would be really interesting.
[0:16:15] MS: Yeah. To Pablo's point, the seamlessness and the efficiency of having one seamless end-to-end solution is definitely probably the biggest benefit. But a few other really important benefits to us and which should eventually translate to the market and to our clients is the reporting capability. I think that's something clients really have struggled with in our industry, particularly in Canada. Having the level of fragmentation we've had across so many major ILS networks. And then there's quite a few players as well in the CRM leasing space and then different accounting providers as well.
I think the industry has needed to for a little while go through a period of consolidation. And there are benefits and drawbacks to that in every industry. But one of the definite benefits is just the reporting capabilities become a lot stronger. Because you've got teams that are no longer just, hey, hopefully, pie in the sky, talking to each other about sending data around. But they're becoming one team.
Being able to report truly on marketing expense, ROI and down to the lease level or at every stage of the funnel, the application level, the lease level. And you could go even further beyond that. There's a lot of excitement that comes from the reporting side, the other side. As many of our listeners know and our clients know, Rentsync has taken a real leadership position in data in Canada for the last couple years. And that's really in conjunction with two entities. Rentals.ca, of course. But also, our partner, Urban Nation.
And we've definitely become the leading source of data for the media just about everywhere you look, rentals.ca, Rent Report is being quoted in every major media publication every month. And we do an amazing job. We definitely have the largest data set to report on. And it's become a huge issue obviously in Canada.
But one area of weakness admittedly is beyond asking rents, right? Some of the deeper data sets out there that are more difficult to achieve when you're just an ILS. Without going into the details, this obviously opens up some really great opportunity for us to continue to educate renters, the housing industry by leveraging potential aggregated or anonymized, of course, rental data. Like, vacancy rates, turn rates.
And we were kind of jamming on this the other day. The list could really go on in terms of what we can now pick and pull out of our two systems combined. I'll leave it at that. Mike, do you have any other thoughts on that?
[0:19:08] MM: Well, I think you covered all the bases there. I think it's just we want to always grow the business, and solve real problems and enable solutions, amazing service. And I think together we can do that. Just being able to offer that list to lease, to resident lifecycle. It's just so important for us as a business. And it's a no-brainer to see how it fits into our overall strategy. And I think it just excites us to no end how far this merger can go and all the benefits and opportunities that exist within.
[0:19:34] PM: I'll add a quick note to that. I think that fast forward maybe a year or two, if we look back to now, I think a lot of clients will realize how much they're driving with blinders on. I think the data element here is very important. I think that each maybe software on the market today is really focused on their little space. But the insights you can gather is far more than some of their parts.
I think being able to see that entire journey and what things actually cost. And whatever your LTV for a tenant might be. There's a lot of things that we're going to be able to give our clients the tools to really see what's going on in their operation.
[0:20:12] GL: Yeah. And for any clients, or landlords, renters who are listening to this podcast, are there going to be any service interruptions? How are the next few months going to be on their side of things? Or when people see us in the news, they probably wonder what does that really mean for me. But to our current clients there, I'm assuming it's going to be a pretty smooth transition to begin. Or anything they maybe need to know about as we begin this merger?
[0:20:37] MM: First off, there'll be no service interruptions between customers on both platforms. I mean, our goal is to make it seamless and smooth. We want to expand our offerings across the board to those customers. We got to do things one step at a time. Make sure everything goes smoothly. Connecting our dev team technologies. That's kind of mission one. Getting together where a customer can adopt both platforms seamlessly is our current goal obviously.
Both platforms will live. Customers are unaffected for now. But we'll be ongoing communication with those customers as we transition and as we offer more services and combine some services as well.
[0:21:12] MS: I'll just add, for those who are potentially a little less familiar, our listeners who are a little less familiar with Building Stack and its offering. Between Rentsync and Building Stack, there are several millions of rental units that are leveraging these platforms. These are highly utilized software applications in our space.
And so, our first responsibility is to ensure that we have continuity. And, of course, when news like this gets announced, you get a lot of people reaching out, a lot of clients reaching out with perhaps some uncertainty. But I'll say, for sure, there will be continuity. Nothing in the near term is going to change. We're looking more long-term at this and figuring out how we can lever both of our strengths to bring something significantly better to the market. Have no panic. Things are just going to get better. And we've got more resources now to lever on both sides.
[0:22:13] GL: All right, guys. As we come to a close on the podcast today, we covered over some really exciting things. I've had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan and Pablo already. And I can definitely see the excitement when we chat with them. I just want to make sure we say welcome. We're really excited to have you there. And I can't wait for the things to come. And more importantly, just to learn from you guys learn from your teams. And learn from what you guys bring to the industry. I can't wait to get started. And I know from the renting side of things, we can't wait to learn from you guys and kind of get under the hood of all this. This is going to be a really amazing 2024. We're really excited about that.
[0:22:44] JM: We're going to be able to offer together landlords, tenants. So many amazing features. So much rich functionality. These two platforms couldn't possibly fit better together if you wanted them to. We have a lot of exciting work around the corner. I'm really excited to get Building Stack in the hands of some Rentsync users to get Rentsync. And their ILS is in the hands of Building Stack users. This is going to be a lot of fun.
[0:23:14] GL: I think that's a good place to wrap it up then. Once again, we have Michael Mottola and Max Steinman from Rentsync. And Jonathan Margel and Pablo Menghini from Building Stack. Thank you all for listening. We'll have a lot of exciting updates on our social media channels and our website. It'll be really easy to follow what's coming up between the merge between Building Stack and Rentsync.
Thank you all for listening. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Until next time.
[0:23:37] ANNOUNCER: You've reached the end of another episode of Sync or Swim. Make sure to visit us at rentsync.com/podcast to access show notes, key takeaways and where you can sign up to our newsletter to receive free bonus content. If you found value in the show, please also remember to rate, review and subscribe. Don't forget to join us next week for another episode. Thanks for listening.
E78:The Housing Pulse: Toronto Star's Business Reporter on Canada's Rental Landscape
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