6 minute read
August 10, 2020
Engaging Tenants at Scale with David Abrams of Hilo App
This article originally appeared on www.buildingproptech.com, a retired blog where I interviewed proptech founders on how they were building and growing their businesses.
Hey David! What’s your background and what led to you working in PropTech?
My career in marketing and communications began by taking a small promotional agency and expanding its offering and expertise. Through that evolution, we developed a reputation for providing tailored marketing services to the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. Our passion for delivering memorable experiences and impactful engagement programs is what led to the ideation behind the development of HILO.
In 2013, I wrote a strategy document that conceived of a communication, engagement and loyalty program for the CRE industry, delivered through a digital application available on mobile. I like to say that “HILO was built from the inside, out”, informed by, and inspired from 25+ years of CRE experience. As thinking continued to evolve around the customer experience/engagement space in CRE, so too did my efforts to bring the idea to market.
What problem are you working to solve with Hilo?
Building operators need better engagement with their tenants and a single platform that consolidates smart building solutions (IoT).
Building tenants want connection to their building and community, to access information, amenities, programs, and services that support their wellbeing and workplace enjoyment.
What’s the process been like as you build Hilo?
In 2013, the disruption of the commercial real estate industry by technology had not yet begun. In fact, as I continued to present our concept, few industry professionals were interested in participating in the conversation. But I persisted and would not let the idea go.
Fast forward, PropTech has become a major force in the startup ecosystem, and we have been able to carve out a unique space in the Tenant Experience category. Unlike other building apps, the HILO network truly connects people to communities in buildings, neighborhoods and cities where they work and live. This allows tenants to access rewards, content, programs, services, and each other, whether they are in the office, working from home, or commuting in between.
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How have you gone about growing your user base and revenue? What has been most effective?
First and foremost, we are committed to being partners with the buildings that join our network, and not just a licensor of software. That begins by offering HILO’s industry-leading onboarding and training program, led almost exclusively by our team, and enables building operators to launch their own building community to connect with tenants and visitors within just 30 days. We follow that up by activating our team of marketing and engagement experts, to provide hands-on support to help building operators create unrivaled content, rewards, and programs uniquely tailored to their building community.
HILO’s engagement expertise achieves industry-high user registrations, with an average of 50% of tenants signed up to the HILO platform in each building community in as little as 6 months.
What has been the hardest part of the building, growing or monetizing Hilo?
Sadly, I would have to say the most difficult part of growing our business has been the conservative nature of the CRE space in Canada, and a reluctance to commit to a “yes” or a “no”. While the onset of Covid-19 had certainly slowed down our sales process in March through June, we are pleased that conversations are picking up again, with a renewed sense of importance.
The need to provide direct communication in real time to support the health and wellbeing of tenants, can only be achieved through a digital platform such as Hilo. To facilitate a more safe re-entry to the workplace, there is a priority to fast track the integration of touchless smart building features such as secure building access, tenant wellness assessment, and food ordering with payment processing.
What insights about Real Estate and Technology have you come to realize whilst building Hilo?
The learning actually never stops. But this I know for sure. Stand alone building apps are not the solution. Whether on site or remote, utilizing technology to create more informed, engaged, and supported communities is what is required to bring people back to buildings. HILO connects people to buildings, regardless of where they are working from!