April 24, 2019

From initial idea to Series A within 2 years

This is how we helped LoftSmart become a desirable digital product for both investors and the public.

Clarisa Guerra

Clarisa Guerra

Lead Marketing at Z1

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From initial idea to Series A within 2 years

In 2016, our partner Mario Tarabbia joined AngelPad. He met two young entrepreneurs there, Sam Bernstein and Sundeep Kumar, who were developing an ambitious project aimed at radically changing the way American college students lease apartments. This idea was called LoftSmart.

By that time, Sam and Sundeep had already been at AngelPad for three of the four months that the accelerator program ran for. Those were months of hard work. During this time, they set up an exhaustive business plan and refined the first MVP of their idea; however, not having an internal technical team jeopardized everything they had achieved up to that point.

In the final 30 days of the accelerator, they needed to create an entire transactional app to lease student rentals if they wanted to meet the deadlines set by Angelpad.

First LoftSmart website Z1 built.
First LoftSmart website we built.

Starting from scratch: Going from zero […]

Taking our work with Mario at Outwork as a reference, Sam and Sundeep got in touch with us. We have a method to create successful products based on empathy, by listening to real user’s needs and encouraging collaborative teamwork. We had the first conversation and, after understanding the business context, we decided to work together and join LoftSmart as their design and development team.

What came later were days of intense work to achieve all the challenges that they entrusted to us, in which we crafted the first prototype of their transactional platform.

These are some top quality features we implemented:

  • Students wanted to have the most realistic view of the house in which they will live without having to travel to visit it, so we integrated Matterport to offer 360 virtual tours.
  • Owners needed to have accurate information about future tenants, so we incorporated Transunion to the platform to offer credit reports.
  • Both students and owners aspired to be able to sign contracts online, so we integrated HelloSign, and formalized all payments in a secure way, for that we used Stripe.

Beyond these features, it was clear the platform had to be flexible and offer different configuration variables. Listening to student renters and property managers’ feedback was essential to develop the ideal product.

[…] to one. Four Funding Rounds totaling $18.7M

Meeting the demanding due date set by AngelPad required a herculean effort, but we succeed together, and investors began to emerge.

LoftSmart first raised almost $2 million by Corigin Ventures (a real estate-focused venture fund) “and included additional money from Expansion Venture Capital, Full Tilt Capital, Metaprop NYC, and a number of individual investors (chiefly Jaffray Woodriff, who made a significant contribution to the round),” TechCrunch explained.

Two views of the Lofsmart redesign by Z1.
Property and Search pages redesigned.

Loftsmart was a very ambitious project from which we continue learning lots. Since launching this early version of the app in June 2016, we have evolved the product through numerous new milestones, including a significant redesign applying the new branding of the company made by Zack Davenport, and the full implementation of the online leasing process.

Two years after the first prototype, LoftSmart raised a Series A of $16.7 million. It’s difficult to explain how proud we feel watching this startup grow, seeing how a product we have accompanied through so many different scalability phases, has achieved such triumphs.

LoftSmart mobile interface.

We’ve been working with Sam, Sundeep, and the entire Loftsmart team sprint to sprint and week after week for three years now. We’ve moved from a hectic pace to daily work with weekly meetings in which we evaluate new functionality to create, and how to grow the application iteratively.

Sam and Sundeep trusted us to take their idea to the next level

Now, as the platform continues growing, we continue analyzing opportunities for improvement. Not only do we love to create delightful digital products, but we also love to support the evolution of startups. We are not afraid to help founders achieve new goals and to tackle challenges together.

Loftsmart has become the marketplace trusted by both student renters and property managers. It has made off-campus housing market transparent and trustworthy. Sam and Sundeep have disrupted the student housing space with their startup. And we love having helped them to get there.