Dwellwell Analytics Raises $12M for Its Rental Maintenance Platform
Proptech firm out of stealth mode and aiming at single-family and multifamily rental markets
Proptech startup Dwellwell Analytics exited stealth mode on Wednesday with $12 million in seed funding aimed at developing what one of the startup’s founders compared to a “check engine light” platform for the home.
Billing itself as the first comprehensive data and analytics product to monitor the health of the entire home, Dwellwell claims that its hardware and software components offer end-to-end oversight of all major home systems, including HVAC, electrical and plumbing, as well as delivering a comprehensive view of environmental aspects such as indoor air quality, temperature, CO presence and humidity.
The Bethesda, Md.-based company raised the $12 million in seed funding from the State of Maryland, and executives from the proptech, engineering and real estate industries, including AvalonBay Communities former CEO Tim Naughton.
Dwellwell was founded by Dan Simpkins, a serial entrepreneur who introduced the first SmartTV operating system to the market years before turning to the real estate world. His idea for Dwellwell came about after a second home he owned on Maryland’s eastern shore suffered extensive damage after two frozen pipes burst, he said.
“I actually said, ‘Well wait a minute, I’m an expert in sensors and systems technology,’ ” Simpkins recalled. “My [Dwellwell] co-founder Chuck [Gritton] is an expert in AI analytics. I made the observation that there are 100 million cars on the road in the U.S. and all of them have a check engine light. What do we use it for? We use it to tell when something’s going wrong.
“The check engine light is essentially a collection of sensors. So a mechanism to sense the various systems in a home and then identify when there are issues that might need to be addressed [had us ask] ourselves the question, what if maintenance could become proactive? And that’s what drove us to create this product. To essentially create a mechanism so that we can understand at a level of detail that’s never been possible before what is happening in our homes.”
Residential maintenance costs property owners in excess of $80 billion annually, according to Dwellwell. The company claims that it combines patent-pending, multi-sensing technology and artificial intelligence to take the guesswork out of maintenance for owners and managers of residential property portfolios by identifying maintenance issues as soon as they arise, eventually predicting issues before problems occur. This enables users to address repairs proactively, significantly reducing costs by averting major system failures.
“We wrote down a list of hundreds of different things that could go wrong in a home,” Simpkins said of Dwellwell’s first year. “Turns out that list got to be almost 500 items long. and we said, ‘What sensors could be applied in order for us to identify many of those things?’ ”
The company then surveyed potential customers about their most important concerns.
“Our customers are institutional owners, so [they] have this problem at scale, whether they’re in the single-family rental market or in the multifamily market,” Simpkins said. “They gave us insights, and that ultimately is how we made the decision on what to put in our device in order to actually develop and provide intelligent insights.”
Dwellwell has piloted with two customers, Bernstein Management, which has more than 40 buildings in the Washington, D.C., area, Simpkins said. “And we also have our first single-family rental customer, so we will be doing a pilot with them in the Atlanta area.”
For now Dwellwell will concentrate on single- and multifamily rentals, he said.
“We built this specifically for the management or maintenance teams of the owner operators,” said Simpkins. “So our go-to-market focus is primarily on multifamily operators, the early adopters, and the multifamily communities typically in the larger urban areas, like the Washington area. The single-family rental market is the larger REITs that have scattered sites, so they are particularly vulnerable because they have houses everywhere. We deliver the technology to the maintenance teams, to the property management leadership in those organizations.”
A Dwellwell app for individual tenants and homeowners might be in the future too, Simpkins said. “We’re discussing that with our customers now.”
Philip Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.