Amber Hayes, CEO of SecondKeys and winner of the 3686 Festival 2020 Pitch Competition, describes the process of building a tech startup and continuing to find new clients during COVID-19.
When Amber Hayes was working for a property manager, she realized that the processes used to manage maintenance requests were overly complex and unnecessarily costly. To solve this problem, she created SecondKeys, a holistic property management platform that allows residential rental managers to be proactive instead of reactive.
“We use predictive analytics or machine learning to help determine when appliances fail,” so that landlords can be prepared to fix them, Hayes explained.
In this episode of Disrupt the Continuum, recorded at 3686 Festival 2020, Hayes explains how she built SecondKeys with the help of resources like Epicenter Memphis, and she shares how she’s navigating the challenges of working in real estate during COVID-19.
If you’d like to hear more conversations like these, join us for the next 3686 Festival, set to return this summer! More information will be coming soon, including official dates, registration details, speakers and networking opportunities you won’t want to miss.
Building a Software Company from the Ground Up
As a developer who has been coding since high school, Hayes knew she could build a platform that would help simplify the maintenance process for landlords, but she still wanted some support as she learned to grow and run a business.
That’s where Epicenter Memphis came in. Hayes joined an accelerator that helped her create a minimum viable product, find a first customer, and learn to pitch to investors. She was also able to raise $360,000 from investors in Memphis and California, and she won the 3686 Festival 2020 Pitch Competition.
Most of all, Epicenter has been a resource that’s helped Hayes navigate some of the unique knowledge that you need to run a business.
“Epicenter has been there along the way to help us with little things in business that you don’t really think about, like, ‘How do I process payroll?’ and ‘What is HR?’ When you come from the corporate world, all of that is done for you, so I didn’t know any of that,” Hayes explained.
Staying Afloat During COVID-19 as a New Business
As a relatively new company, founded in 2018, in the real estate sector, SecondKeys was especially vulnerable to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were hit pretty hard,” Hayes shared. “Lots of our friends have closed down already, but we’ve been trucking along. We did lose about 50 to 75 percent of our revenue from May to June… Continuing to weather through the storm is just being patient with others and also still knocking on doors and getting more customers.”
As they seek to continue finding new clients and replacing revenue that was lost at the beginning of the pandemic, Hayes believes SecondKeys’ dedication to going above and beyond to support both tenants and landlords will help them survive. This has included helping landlords apply for the Paycheck Protection Program and helping tenants find rent assistance.
“Though we are a for-profit platform, we do really care about our customers, and we like to make sure that everyone is getting the attention that they need and the resources that they need,” Hayes explained. “Renting and housing isn’t going to go away, it’s one of the necessities. So just making it through and making sure that, not only tenants are OK, but the landlords are OK, is really what’s driving us.”
Please subscribe, rate, and review Disrupt the Continuum wherever you listen to podcasts. This season of Disrupt the Continuum is powered by Pinnacle Financial Partners. We’d love for you to join us next year at Launch Tennessee’s 3686 Festival to hear more stories about innovation and entrepreneurship. Watch this space for more information about 2021’s Festival, returning this summer.