Without a doubt, multi-family real estate (i.e. apartment buildings) is one of the fastest-growing industries. Historically this industry has often been resistant to technological change, but a flurry of tech startups are entering the market and are impacting the rental experience for tenants.
While consumer-based real estate apps like Zillow is streamlining the process of listing and viewing properties, the modern-day renter is desperately looking for more.
Being able to get real reviews on properties is something that tenants are looking for, and you can’t blame them. Wouldn’t you want to know how the parking really is or if the elevator works consistently before you enter a contractual agreement with a property?
Heybor!, launched by media professional and tech entrepreneur Kiola George, is a mobile app that allows users to provide insight into properties across the city. With Heybor! users can rate and review residential properties that they have lived in, and connect with their neighbors and build community.
Recently, we were able to catch up with Kiola and learned about her experience launching Heybor! and her thoughts on diversity in tech.
What was your career path like prior to Heybor?
I was born in Georgetown, Guyana and immigrated to Brooklyn, NY in the 80s with my family. I attended Brooklyn College and graduated in 2006 with a BA in TV & Radio Studies. After leaving college I started my career in media at The Walt Disney Company as a Standards & Practices Associate. After six years, I became a producer at a national cinema advertising company before leaving that position to pursue Heybor full-time.
What makes Heybor different from its competitors?
Heybor is different than anything on the market because it consolidates tenant reviews and property information for residential properties across the country. It also serves as support to property owners for on-boarding new tenants and managing tenant requests.
How are you generating income from this type of business?
Once the app is relaunched, we’ll generate revenue by offering building owners administrative and new tenant on-boarding support via the platform for a subscription rate. We will also generate revenue through advertising and promotion.
How did you find an engineer to build out Heybor?
I do not come from a conventional tech background so I hired a company to program the app from wireframes that I drafted. To find my developers I looked to Twitter. I tweeted that I was looking for engineers and more than 20 developers reached out with their capabilities. I was able to set up calls and interview engineers to decide which one I wanted to go with.
What would you say is the biggest barrier between the tech industry and Black millennials?
For myself, one of the barriers is that there aren’t many people that look like myself or my team (all Black) in the tech industry. We have created a small sector within the tech industry for ourselves and are trying to make an impact with little support from the current players in the industry. We will succeed but it’s taking a great deal of pushing through the resistance.
I think that we need to show people how many opportunities there are in tech. I think when we hear tech we automatically think of programmers. There are so many ways to contribute to the tech industry. We just have to make people more aware of the opportunities.
How have you as a Black woman been able to thrive despite the disparity of Black women in this space.
Most of the connections I’ve made are within the Black tech space. They have been integral in connecting me with folks that know how to navigate the industry. It is important to be around people who look like you.
I have found that a lot of my encouragement comes from Black women. They understand, have been in my position, and see the potential for my success, therefore, I am determined to not only excel but to make them proud in the process.
What’s next for you and Heybor?
Next up for Heybor™️ is to complete the development of the administrative support system for building owners. We are excited to provide property owners with a seamless process for managing their listing, welcome new tenants, and a host of functions to simplify their day-to-day. We look to make Heybor™️ beneficial for both tenants and owners.
*feature photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/shootwithhamza/?hl=en*