Sunday, September 16, 2012
Posted by Gloria Ware
In 2010, Lindsay Sims started working at the Lorain County property management company New Sunrise Properties. Little did the Ph.D. student and communications professional know that this job would eventually lead her to form a forward-thinking startup.
Lindsay’s creation is Renter’s BOOM, an innovative online solution that connects property managers with potential tenants using what she calls “socially integrated leasing.” By leveraging Facebook options (apps, advertisements and posts), Lindsay is able to create a community to attract leads for new renters, while maintaining a social media presence to manage a company’s online reputation and retain relationships with current tenants.
Because Renter’s BOOM uses an easily trackable digital platform to generate potential renters, property management companies can see concrete results when they use the service. “I can 100% quantify how many people I send them through my service,” Lindsay says. “We focus our efforts on turning non-renters into renters.”
But Lindsay didn’t arrive at Renter’s BOOM’s concept easily. Initially, after witnessing the unique stresses New Sunrise Properties faced trying to manage their properties more efficiently, she had the idea for a platform which would streamline and organize maintenance requests and facilitate social media engagement. Lindsay attended a Bizdom event to see if she could get support for her business idea—and successfully competed and won a spot in the accelerator’s entrepreneurial education program. “I had never started a business before,” says Lindsay, “I thought if there was an opportunity to get help, I would get help.”
Like any good scholar, Lindsay began researching the validity of her idea and soon learned that it wouldn’t serve her intended marketplace. While people outside of the industry loved her concept, those within were not as enthusiastic. However, Bizdom’s instructors and mentors then helped Lindsay change and strengthen her direction. “It was great to go in and week after week, tweak the idea into a business,” she says. “It really helped us entrepreneurs figure out what we didn’t see or didn’t know.”
Besides Bizdom, Lindsay has utilized many other regional resources to help her endeavor get off the ground including The Beta Space at MAGNET, entrepreneur-in-residence George Buzzy and members of JumpStart’s team. She welcomed all of this advice, which included everything from help smoothing out her executive plan and business strategy to tips on how to pitch Renter’s BOOM to investors.
So far, Lindsay’s persistence is paying off. Over the summer, she received a Tech Sprout grant award from the Braintree Business Development Center to put toward critical software, and an early Renter’s BOOM client is Geis Properties, one of the fastest-growing commercial real estate developers in Northeast Ohio. But Lindsay is not done fine-tuning or learning how to grow her business. In fact, she applied to the fall 2012 Cleveland class of Bad Girl Ventures.
In the future, Lindsay plans to offer her solution to larger, more technical firms in the properties marketplace. Indeed, she believes the flexible nature of social media is perfect for the ever-evolving world of property management. Clients will need her services to tap into the market and turn community-building into viable leads. “There will be a need for services like mine for the foreseeable future, because my clients can’t keep up with the opportunity,” says Lindsay. “They’re in the business of property, not social media.”
Lindsay has learned a lot from her experience building Renter’s BOOM, not the least of which is how many times a business concept might change before it becomes a reality. But, she sees the work she’s had to put in as a positive thing instead of a setback—an attitude which is serving her well.
“I came through multiple iterations of this idea,” she says. “But I’m happy that I went through all those changes, because it’s really helped me solidify what I’m doing now.”
Gloria Ware is a Senior Advisor at JumpStart. She helps entrepreneurs improve their odds of obtaining funding and achieving business success via outreach, coaching, and technical and business development support.