Knock Nabs $10M in Bid to Become the OpenTable of Apartment Leasing

People in the market to rent an apartment have plenty of options for contacting property managers, from phone calls to e-mail messages and live chats hosted on their websites. A Seattle-based startup, Knock, says it can help managers track the range of these communications with prospective tenants by storing them on a single digital platform.

On Thursday, Knock announced it has raised $10 million to support its continued growth. Madrona Venture Group, which is also headquartered in Seattle and has invested in a number of local startups, led the Series A round.

Knock’s software is primarily designed for people who work in leasing offices, says Tom Petry, who co-founded Knock in 2013 and leads the company as its CEO. But prospective renters may also use its tools for things like scheduling apartment tours, he says.

Petry says the startup’s new funding will allow it to work toward becoming the “gold standard” in customer relationship management software for companies that lease units in large, multi-family apartment buildings.

Knock sees San Francisco-based OpenTable, a popular service allowing users to make reservations at restaurants across the country, as one comparison for what the company is trying to build, Petry says. OpenTable and Knock both use software to facilitate the initial contact between customer and vendor, he says. And both platforms allow vendors to track key indicators, like how many people who schedule a tour or make a meal reservation actually show up.

One major difference between OpenTable and Knock is the latter company’s software is designed to help advance and manage what some landlords hope to turn into a multiyear relationship, rather than one that only spans a single meal. Given that longer time horizon, Knock tells property managers how many of the people inquiring about available apartments end up leasing one, and the number who choose to renew when their initial leases end, Petry says.

Knock’s products also allow leasing office staff to monitor how much they’re spending on digital advertising campaigns, how often people are viewing and clicking on their ads, and other marketing statistics, Petry says.

Currently, almost 200 multi-family property management companies use Knock’s software, Petry says. Together, they manage more than 500,000 apartment units across 2,000 buildings. Knock focuses on apartment buildings in the U.S. and Canada. Most of its customers lease properties in large metropolitan areas. The startup says its sales force is spread across the U.S., in cities such as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Knock makes money by charging apartment managers monthly fees to use the startup’s software. Petry declined to provide past revenue figures or projections for 2019.

Demetri Themelis, one of Knock’s other co-founders, says there are currently more than 50 people on Knock’s team. They’re about evenly split between the startup’s sales, engineering, and customer support divisions. Knock plans to add employees in all three areas using some of the proceeds from the new funding round.

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