Saving a SaaS MVP for a PropTech Startup

Engagement Details
  • 1+ Months
  • 2 Developers
  • 1 Site Reliability Engineer

About ServusConnect

Focused on Multi-Family (apartments & condominiums) property management firms and their vendors (cleaning, painting, flooring and other apartment service trades), ServusConnect is aimed at improving service speed, quality and utilization of resources. ServusConnect helps approximately 200 property managers direct 10,000 monthly service requests across 500 properties.

The Problems

ServusConnect had attempted agile development and a mobile-first native app approach with another firm before discovering Vaporware. With 6 months of development and the spend to match, there was no end in sight, as the launch date kept getting pushed back. Stuck in development hell, they needed a way out, and fast.

Get to Market

Easily our client's most common need -- ServusConnect was no exception. With no customer or beta users on their platform, the team could not validate their solution to the customer problem. No revenue was being generated. Investors wouldn't give them a second glance without either of these metrics.

Changing complexities

Despite their time and energy, the firm they were with had not been able to pin down a viable business model. Instead, they opted to develop a social network of sorts, which connected individuals around properties. While this could function, it didn't fit any business model Property Management Companies could easily purchase or integrate with their systems.

No Business Ownership

With little code insight and no management interfaces into the platform, the ServusConnect team had no way of managing, operating, or owning their platform. They were tied to the previous firm.

What We Did

Understood the System

Since this was an existing codebase, we spent our initial phase simply understanding the framework which was already in place. It's impossible to jump into a system and make architectural-level decisions without understanding the business needs.

The first contribution we made was an Administration portal. This admin interface allowed the ServusConnect team to manage their customers. While separate from the existing mobile app, this framework sat side-by-side the backend API and provided a web interface to sensibly keep business flowing immediately.

Kept it simple

Next, we simplified the data model. Reducing two complex flows of data, a recommendation of service and a request of service, into one element allowed us to instantly reduce the data model into a ticketing mindset.

Adding a thin organization layer allowed us to group companies and teams into logical entities for future roles and permission functionality.

DRYing up the code to generalize API responses and provide a single layer of authorization allowed for simple auditable controls.

Property Managers wanted an easy way to manage multiple properties and see their entire portfolio. This first idea allowed them to switch between properties visually or through data in a table.

Property Managers wanted an easy way to manage multiple properties and see their entire portfolio. This first idea allowed them to switch between properties visually or through data in a table.

After launch, we iterated

Since our launch was quickly successful and users were starting to give feedback, ServusConnect naturally turned back to us for continuous feature releases for their customers. While development is still ongoing years later, here are some of the impressive features we added, thanks to the Lean Customer-First methodology employed:

  1. Reporting. Property Manager Organizations wanted to capture quantitative reports and comparisons of vendors, so we developed the ServusStat Score, which automates all vendor activity into an easily comparable score.
  2. Invitations. Property Managers needed to introduce the app to other customers, so we built a viral invitation system, rewarding users for bringing on partners through customized invitations.
  3. Billing Integration. ServusConnect tried several automated billing models, ultimately ending in an enterprise SaaS model with large Property Management organizations.
  4. Notifications. Discussions were built around each service request, with a full-fledged web, email, and iOS notification system to keep people up to date with the latest information.

The Results

  • First Month ServusConnect was able to deploy their app to customers and start receiving feedback with several local service providers.
  • Road to Pivot Additional features and user feedback was iterated on until the customer acquisition approach was invalidated, forcing a pivot.
  • Product Pivot Focusing the product to multi-family apartment properties and adjusting to the property management experience, allowed for the same core functionality to gain traction in new markets.
  • Seed Funding This early traction gained the interest of local angel investors, raising a seed round of $350,000.
  • Partner Positioning Further integrations into Property Management software positions ServusConnect for high customer acquisition and large-scale adoption.