In a prior article, I wrote about Nine Four’s partnership with the Laramar Group and how the Pilot Program is aiding in the adoption of technology in the Laramar portfolio. The Pilot Program exposes Laramar to the best and brightest founders, allowing them to test products and services on a manageable scale and create a technology stack that exceeds today’s and tomorrow’s customer needs. The Pilot Program also helps founders test their products in a safe real-world setting and receive feedback about the employee and resident’s experience with the product.
Additionally, startups, Laramar, and Nine Four benefit from these partnerships in many ways that we hope results in the long-term success of our portfolio companies:
Companies get real-time feedback: As much as you can learn from a sales brochure or demonstration video, nothing is quite like actually touching the product. Once a concept is piloted at a Laramar property, residents and/or Laramar employees are utilizing the product or service in an everyday setting where unforeseen variables come into play. A concept may sound like it will really help the onsite team or residents on a demo, but until it is actually tested, we cannot verify how beneficial (or not) a concept is to the end users using it every day. This is valuable for not only understanding the company’s product, but also identifying the hurdles the company or its competitors need to overcome to find product market fit. We can learn why a product/service worked or didn’t work in a safe environment in the field, then pivot from there and find other potential solutions.
Companies get to know us and our operators: Nine Four feels strongly about working with great teams with backgrounds and experiences suited for their current roles in their business. If we can work with the team through the sales cycle, integration process, and client success process, we are better able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a team. As Laramar provides us with feedback on the pilot, we can see how a team responds to this feedback. Do they listen to the feedback from users in the field and make the necessary adjustments? Or do they choose not to? To the extent that we can pilot a company before investing in them, it provides us with a window to better understand how strong the team is and their willingness to make the necessary adjustments to find product market fit faster than they otherwise potentially could. Additionally, through this pilot program, companies are better able to understand the strategic value Nine Four brings to the table.
Companies get to look through the lens of our partner: By having a seat at the table for when decisions are made to pilot a company or respectfully pass, we can see why Laramar wants to use a company or not and we are able to provide this feedback to the pilot candidates. We are able to understand the pain points in the multifamily industry from the eyes of our partner and can line up pilots that aim to solve these pain points. This process allows us to identify the incumbents that the startup is competing against and what it will take to unseat the incumbent. We are able to provide feedback on product market fit and pricing. $2.00 per unit per month might not sound like a lot, but when you are trying to provide the best quality service and operate as efficiently as possible, that extra cost better be worth the additional service or replacing the existing process.
We believe the Pilot Program provides startups, our partners, and Nine Four Ventures with incredible value. Not only are we able to look at companies through the lens of our partners, but we are provided an opportunity to learn more about the founders and their product/service. Additionally, now that these startups have gone through the pilot program, they have been exposed to the Laramar Group who can become a much larger customer, providing the much-needed gasoline to accelerate a company’s growth.
If you have product or service that needs testing in our Pilot Program, please apply here.