Creating an AI Enhanced Property Management System with Amber Hayes of SecondKeys

In this edition of the UpTech Report, host Alexander Ferguson meets with the CEO of SecondKeys, Amber Hayes to discuss AI enhanced property management and predictive analytics for homeowners.

SecondKeys is bringing artificial intelligence and automation into the property management 

space using machine learning to predict maintenance needs for properties ahead of time. However, that’s just the beginning of where this is all going in the future. 

What are the aspects of property management that can be automated and how can the information provided in a Maintenance Intelligence Report increase profitability for property managers? How exactly does Automatic Scheduling work?

In this podcast, we’re learning all about property management systems and the role that artificial intelligence is going to play.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Amber Hayes 0:00
We’re really excited about automating inspections, because that’s another really big thing, especially if you just built a new property, then the city has all these people need to come out

Alexander Ferguson 0:16
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series. I’m your host, Alex Ferguson. And this episode is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of customer stories at Today, I’m joined by my guest, Amber Hayes, who’s based in Memphis, Tennessee. She’s the CEO at second keys. Welcome, Amber, good to have you. Glad to be here. Now, second keys is an AI enhanced property management platform for those who are trying to or need a new property management solution. This may be something you want to check out. How many understand amber in a very short, short answer. What’s the problem that you guys set out to solve with seven keys? Well,

Amber Hayes 1:00
in the industry, maintenance is normally that one of the biggest issues that happens in property management, and it causes lots of problems even to the budget, your tenants leaving, so on and so forth. So we set out to fix that with our AI platform.

Alexander Ferguson 1:15
Like, I could do this better. Yes. What your your background, we’ll get into the product in just a second. I mean, remind me again, of like, how did you come across this issue itself, and that led to this?

Amber Hayes 1:29
Yeah, so I was actually a contractor for multiple apartment complexes. And I worked for two previous startups before as their lead programmer. So I knew that, you know, I could make something if I wanted to. But I went back into the corporate world, because both of those startups have failed. So once I got back into corporate and being a contractor, seeing that I was there all the time, though, I worked on the Wi Fi, and electrical, they gave me all types of stuff to do. So if I was there, I was working on dishwashers, refrigerators, whatever, it didn’t matter. And I was just like, there has to be a better way to predict when this stuff will break. So I won’t have to be here all the time.

Alexander Ferguson 2:08
So that right there, that last piece, I think is key to some of your technology or your focus that is predicting what will break before breaks so that you can anticipate that can you talk about that technology, how you developed it?

Amber Hayes 2:23
Yeah, so we actually have over 18,000 data points from a couple of our different providers, a couple of them actually worked for the US government. So we have all of that data point back from the 60s. And then we throw it into our algorithm to help better refine seeing that lots of people, you know, your refrigerator, your stove, or whatever, it comes with a little manual to tell you what you actually need to do, you throw that away. So we take all that information and put it back. So it’ll be in a better type of report so you can understand

Alexander Ferguson 2:52
and that where you’re focused on right now is not the individual homeowner necessarily its property managers, right, we have many properties, and they have a lot of equipment, and they’re obviously not going to keep their manuals or night need to looking at when that is. So your your focus is is what kind of equipment we understand, like let’s take out of the theory, like give me an exact example of a hardware that you know, and can predict when it will break. What we now

Amber Hayes 3:19
only can predict like appliances, so dishwasher, washer, dryer, all of that stuff. But we can also predict other assets of the property. So pipes, windows, roofing, foundation, all of that. It’s also different assets that the government has data on, that needs to be predicted because it eats into your budget.

Alexander Ferguson 3:38
Got it? Okay. And so what you’ve decided to do is, is build a full property management solution around this this unique technology as well.

Amber Hayes 3:49
Yes, so in the industry, there’s two types of property management platforms. One is just extremely property management focus, or property manager, and then the other this is stream tenant. But really, you need to have like the tenant, contractor, owner and property manager all in one place to actually understand and share the responsibility, or else it’ll just be too much work. And then people start picking sides and you start losing money. So

Alexander Ferguson 4:18
you’re trying to make both happy. Yes, everyone needs to be happy. It’s

Amber Hayes 4:22
an ecosystem. We all live here. So

Alexander Ferguson 4:25
Indeed, indeed. So you set out to build this this technology. I’m curious of the ecosystem that you mentioned that already exists out there are people I’m curious as property managers, are they ready to say yes, give me a new solution because they’re they’re probably already using a solution right? Everyone has it’s pretty standard. Now everyone has something that are you seeing? What’s the response right, what are people who are ready to jump on? On more automated AI solutions is going to tell me what my mind My thing is going to break is that easy for them to understand.

Amber Hayes 5:04
So before COVID, it was rather hard, we actually start off down south, so people were a little bit more rugged. And it’s a bit more daunting just to say, Oh, I have this AI that’s gonna predict when things will break and also predict your revenue and expenses. And people freak out, you’re putting like a robot in my home Big Brother is going to be here what’s going on? But that’s not what we do at all. It’s just we’re taking all these data points, and we work behind the scenes. So you have an assistant, when we rephrase it that way, then it’s like, oh, okay, so like a home surveyor or home inspector come in and check all my assets, which is what they have come every year, so it’s fine.

Alexander Ferguson 5:42
So you mentioned mentioned COVID, as kind of the, the changer and it’s been a lot the linchpin or the the catalyst for a lot of technology to be to really take off. Overall, if we just take a step back, because you, you said you were the contractor. So you’ve been that side, now you’re building a solution for property managers, how have you seen COVID-19, the dependent pandemic affect property management, overall, the industry.

Amber Hayes 6:09
So the industry is honestly extremely old. And it seemed like they were waiting for something huge to happen anyway, to move forward into the future. So we always say that construction is possibly like five or 10 years ahead of just multifamily in general, because they’re just so behind picking up on technology and things recently, you know, everybody just started picking up IoT devices, smart locks, where your doors and everything, but with COVID What really hit the most was the rent moratoriums, and people not being able to pay rent because they couldn’t go to work. So that was like one of the biggest things that happen. And that really affected us as well, because people have to pay rent on our platform, we get a small percent percentage of that. So we weren’t getting paid. And some of the property managers weren’t getting paid. So we have to be rather lenient and helpful to everyone else there. Because you know, it’s an ecosystem, we have to help each other.

Alexander Ferguson 7:06
It’s ideally, everyone gets hurt throughout the chain, so you have to support each other to make to make it happen. But now more more than ever ready to adopt new technology, or you’re finding that that that property managers are Alright, time to try something new.

Amber Hayes 7:20
Yeah, so actually, when was this, I guess it was like 2020, when it first peak hit. And it was May, and we got a whole lot of people from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, looking for a new platform, because all of their people have been home for a couple months now. And they were like, yeah, these 10 has been here for a while, and they keep finding new things that breaking. We don’t have any money for that. So how do we fix this? So that’s when we first saw that peak, and it’s been going pretty well.

Alexander Ferguson 7:50
You start with, again, this this ability to anticipate or predict the maintenance needs, but you build up this whole solution around it? Was it easy to build the rest of the solution as well?

Amber Hayes 8:02
Yeah, so pretty much everybody has the same pieces in property management. So the accounting tenant platform, maybe you have like a maintenance piece. But we wanted to make sure that we took all of the problems that we have been renters ourselves and try to make sure that it was there. So some platforms only let the tendency the ticket being created. And that’s it, you don’t know if it’s open, you don’t know if it’s close, it’s just gone out in the ether. So we’re trying to make sure that all of that communication and transparency is there and each platform.

Alexander Ferguson 8:35
So you both as a renter, and you have been a contractor. So you’ve seen both sides, in many ways having to take the tickets and waiting for a ticket to be be received. Curious for for your solution, you’ve definitely got the automation or the solution for predicting when something’s gonna break. Do you see other areas that you’re excited about? We’re working on automating as well.

Amber Hayes 9:01
Yeah, so we’re really excited about automating inspections, because that’s another really big thing, especially if you just built a new property, then the city has all these people that need to come out and they’ll pick like random units and things to come and check and make sure that you’re up to code. So that’s another really big thing that we’re looking forward to, as well as adding on to our owners portal. Normally in the owners portal, they only get to see like one report if that and then that doesn’t really help if they want to go and expand their portfolio and take on the market. So we have a few really big things coming down the line.

Alexander Ferguson 9:34
Let’s come back to the technology for a second amor. When we look at at your ability to predict I’m curious, have you you’re able to get did you say 16,000 data points 18,018. Excuse me, I can’t leave off the other two, your take all these data points. I mean, tell me a little bit of how did you work with that and how is that algorithm able to then make a prediction based off of it?

Amber Hayes 9:58
Yeah, so that 80,000 data points really come from the manuals, so the appliance manuals as well as industry knowledge. So a lot of property managers and contractors generally know when things are going to break, they’ve been on the job for like 20 years, but they don’t write this information down. So there are other companies that survey and take this information for them. And then they’ll just, you know, eat it into their budget, because they’ll forget that this needs to be done. So we take all of that information, as well as we put it back into the algorithm to take not only what items we can’t predict. So if our algorithm says, This dishwasher needs to be changed a little filter inside of your dishwasher, you probably know about needs to be changed every 90 days. But we realize that their tenant washes their dishes more often. So we’ve upped it, and then now a tenant put in a ticket and says, Hey, my dishwashers a little funky. So we see that ticket, put it back into the algorithm, the more refined the algorithm and give better data points.

Alexander Ferguson 11:06
And trust it now, are you doing it on a per tenant basis, or overall as kind of applied to everyone? Okay, people probably wear this thing out more than we thought it was. So now just apply to everyone.

Amber Hayes 11:18
Yeah, so we look at. So there’s a couple of other IoT devices that we’re going to be bringing in later on. So there’s a couple that look at water, look at electrical, so we’re taking all of that information in as well. And then also looking at the usage of that tenant, how many tickets they’re actually putting in, and then we’re able to, you know, create a profile for them and be like this type of tenant needs a little bit more care. So you might see extra $1,000 in your budget. Because of that.

Alexander Ferguson 11:46
I I’m just pontificating here I’m wondering is could that type of insight end up hurting renters? Because they they start to your they have now the property managers have a track record, which could be then shared? Where could this information go?

Amber Hayes 12:02
Well, we’re not actually sharing it with those people yet. So we haven’t thought about that. We know, with everything that’s going on currently, like facial recognition with Facebook, putting faces everywhere, clear net. So we’re trying to be rather conscious of that being developers ourselves. We don’t want to put anyone in that type position and create like a new social credit score

Alexander Ferguson 12:24
something. Yeah. But I imagine from as a property manager, you’re always concerned, like, if I, especially the individual property managers, whatever have, is this a good tenant? Are they going to take care of the space? Are they going to use it up and tear it up? And they’re going to waste it? You never know. But part this solution will quickly tell you actually, if that’s the type of tenant you have, yeah. Am I correct on that, like, it would give you that type of insight.

Amber Hayes 12:54
So you can get down in the weeds if you would like, but we’d normally keep it high level of this is how much you’re going to be spending. And then this is how much if you do all of your upgrades, you’ll be able to sell this property in the future for a higher price. So normally, owners really just want to see how much money I’m gonna lose how much money I’m gonna make.

Alexander Ferguson 13:14
So it’s the higher level they’re looking at. But also Yeah, the future tense of you can plan of knowing what you need to spend, and and what you’re able to sell it for based off of those expenditures. Yes. When you look at kind of the as everything progresses more and more as an online, of course, collecting rent payments, reducing communication is the most obvious ones, but potentially doing virtual tours and showing off and there are a lot more opportunities coming for what are you seeing as some of the trends that are coming down the road that might you might include, or even just out there that will be included in the future? Yeah, most

Amber Hayes 13:51
of the really big trends are the virtual tours, having drones now is really big. So there’s lots of drone businesses out in New York and California that are booming, as well as what is the other thing I just saw. It’s more of like clean airspace. So more, there’s a couple of air purifiers that are now out there for larger spaces that properties luxury properties now are putting out to help clean the air because some people still want to come in person to look at it and not just virtual tour

Alexander Ferguson 14:27
in a bigger emphasis on air quality in terms of that going around. That that is fascinating for you guys. This being your your you’re familiar with startups, but this is your probably your most excited one because you understand the space and you’re in it. And as a team member, the 10 team members, is that right? Yes. Gotcha. What? Being being part of this kind of next startup? And is there any learnings that you’re taking from previous startups and applying it to this one?

Amber Hayes 15:00
I’m an engineer, we always do that you have to learn and apply. So I’ve learned a lot. And then we’ve also applied a couple. Our employees have also came from other startups and other corporate. So we all bring back those learnings and then remember what was really good and what was really bad. Move forward.

Alexander Ferguson 15:19
Gotcha. Did you go through it? Was it start code or Y Combinator? Nashville’s? What was it? Well, how did that start? Can you tell me? Yeah, so

Amber Hayes 15:26
it was start co it was ServiceMaster, large delta Home Services accelerator under STARCO. It’s very long.

Alexander Ferguson 15:34
That is a long name. That is a long name. And it’s kind of began there. And you you have a co founder as well.

Amber Hayes 15:41
Yes, Mars McLean. So he also worked at another startup for like restoration software. And then he came over.

Alexander Ferguson 15:49
Gotcha, gotcha. And and the two of you, and building the team kind of heading forward, you raised around, correct?

Amber Hayes 15:56
Yeah, we’ve raised a couple of rounds. So to date, we’ve raised about 1.2 million.

Alexander Ferguson 16:02
Right? That’s exciting. And and with with this, with this kind of track record, what can you share of your roadmap of where you guys are going next.

Amber Hayes 16:11
Um, some of our biggest items would really just be commercial and municipalities seeing that they have so many units commercial is actually really changing. Currently, it’s evolving with COVID. So a lot of spaces are actually turned into lofts for like employees instead of paying in the stay in hotels when they’re moving. So it’s really interesting what’s going on in the commercial space. But the municipalities for HUD housing is really looking for something to actually help with the affordable housing crisis as well as there’s another crisis that’s going on that escapes me, but they’re looking for new technologies to help in that front.

Alexander Ferguson 16:51
Gotcha. And now you’re in eight states, is that correct? Gotcha. And, and growing from there. What are you most excited about?

Amber Hayes 17:00
I am most excited about the industry moving forward. I’m always just really excited about technology in general. I mean, that’s just my background, but so many new things are coming out just because of the pandemic which is nice to see that people are adopting when to grow but you know, it’s always a little scary saying that things are changing

Alexander Ferguson 17:19
it’s both exciting but also there’s there’s those who are concerned and fearful of change but hopefully all of us this is the outcome is stronger from this thank you for sharing the journey that you’re on and in this unique technology predicting of WoW things will break do you see ever see going into nonprofit management actually providing that solution to others even on the consumer side or pretty? You see that as a potential I haven’t you?

Amber Hayes 17:45
Oh yeah, we’ve always we speak to so many just thing a homeowner. So they’re always talking about home inspectors coming out. And they really need to get all this stuff done, especially with the pandemic so many people like up north in the cities went and bought a house because they realize they apartment was too small to have a home office. So there’s so many first time homebuyers that don’t know what they’re doing. It’s so much money being wasted on maintenance. So we saw that and we’re looking we’re trying to quickly get into the market.

Alexander Ferguson 18:11
There’s the opportunities are endless, but the focus needs to be there. You can’t do everything all at once. But it’s I’m fascinated with with the ability as individuals as homeowners to be able to monitor and utilize your home know what’s going on in there. And it sounds like your solution is great for property managers and eventually could be for homeowners in the in the future. For those that are property managers Oh, and you want to learn more you can head over to second the That’s the word second spelled out keys K e y s calm. Thank you again, Amber’s Great to have you on. Yeah, thanks so much. This is fun. Be sure to subscribe and like to be able to get our next episode and we’ll see you on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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