Electronics startup Buzr Labs just launched Buzr Pro, a smart-home device that connects a building’s intercom system to a resident’s phone, notifies residents when packages arrive, and even monitors an apartment’s temperature.
Founded by two Cornell Tech students, Tony Liebel and Jeremy Walker, Buzr won a Cornell Tech Startup Award in 2020, giving Liebel and Walker $100,000 in seed money to establish the company after the two founders completed their graduate degrees. Now, Buzr is launching in the market — providing residents and landlords a way to check on their apartments from near and far.
“You can talk to people from either your couch, if you don’t want to get up, or from your favorite vacation destination,” Liebel told Commercial Observer.
A paid subscription version of the app lets users give virtual keys to their friends or guests and tracks when someone is buzzed in. The app can help prevent unwanted guests from buzzing every apartment until they are let in, said Liebel, because landlords who have the product installed in all of their apartments can track when every apartment was buzzed and which apartment let a person in.
Liebel’s personal experience missing packages and having trouble giving his Airbnb guests keys to his apartment inspired the technology. Liebel said he was going to great lengths to give his guests keys — even sending them to the bodega across the street, which held an extra for Liebel, or burying the key in the cracks of the sidewalk in front of his unit. All the while, Liebel was missing packages.
“I was a management consultant for about five years living in New York City and traveling every week,” Liebel told CO. “And every week, I would come home to missed package notifications … I just needed to be able to get the package into that front door, into the lobby. [But] because I didn’t have a doorman, there was no way for that to happen if I wasn’t home.”
Liebel hopes Buzr will solve that problem for city residents. About 15 percent of all deliveries in urban areas fail to reach their customers — and some 90,000 packages disappear daily in New York in particular, according to a December 2019 article in The New York Times — for reasons ranging from theft to deliveries to the wrong house (or, as is often the case in New York, for no discernible reason at all).
Buzr is expected to ship in the winter of 2022, a slight delay due to a coronavirus pandemic-caused global shipping backlog.
“Unfortunately, the economic shipping shortage is affecting every industry, including ours,” Liebel said. “Just like the automakers of the world and the computer makers of the world, little Buzr is unfortunately having a tough time getting parts as quickly. Thankfully, it doesn’t affect us too much, because we weren’t [planning on] shipping for another six months or so.”