Tech Bytes: Property management platform caters to independent owners

Property management may be a side gig for some real estate agents, who are limited in how much property they can manage by time constraints and third-party services. But a new property management company, which recently opened a Tampa office, is changing the game.

Originally founded on the historic Great Jones Street in New York City in January 2017, Great Jones is now expanding in Florida. “We’ve got a lot of runway and are growing,” says Dave Diaz, Co-Founder and Head of Operations, who started the company with Co-Founders Jay Goldklang, CEO, and Abigail Besdin.

The company, which has moved its New York office to Chinatown, opened in its first Florida market in Fort Myers late last year. Then it opened in Tampa earlier this year -- and in Orlando a month ago. Its goal is to bring cutting-edge technology to mom-and-pop-styled property owners, who may lease one or a dozen properties.

Great Jones brings them volume discounts on repair and maintenance, an owner’s online portal where they can monitor their properties, and the potential to set notifications on issues that concern them (and turn them off when they don’t).

“We saw what could be on the institutional side. We saw how cost-effective an individual home could be operated if it is aggregated in a portfolio of thousands of homes,” says John Rapisarda, VP of New Market Development, who is overseeing the office at 442 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 280.

Great Jones just does property management, focusing on rental properties such as single-family homes, townhomes, condos and small multi-family complexes. It handles rentals, rent collection, upkeep and eviction should it become necessary, charging placement and monthly management fees.

What sets them apart from others in this market is the technology. “To benefit the owners, one of the things we’re delivering to them is transparency,” Rapisarda says.

The owner portal allows them to see when the rent is paid, when the plumbing repair bill arrives, the name of the resident, and how many people are living on the property.

“It’s unique in this space. It’s just not something you can get from a local property management operation,” he adds.

It also gives individual property owners the advantage of scale that institutional owners enjoy, such as price discounts on refrigerators or plumbing repairs, for example.

“We’ve got some negotiating power and we leverage that to save our owners money,” Rapisarda explains.

He adds that property management has remained static in many ways. “Property management has been around since the first caveman let the other caveman stay in his cave,” he says. “It really hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. With the trend toward consolidation in just about every industry in the world, somehow third-party property management is still massively fragmented.”

Property management firms have been limited by the platforms they rely on, and humans who track everything, Diaz says.

Great Jones is poised to open in two more markets later this year. “We are not sure where yet,” he says.

Tampa is one of its fastest-growing, with “well over a hundred units in three months,” says the former resident. He cites as reasons its “great market” and “thriving investment community.”

Business opportunities make Florida a logical place to grow. “Florida was home for me. I live in Fort Myers,” he says. “It just seems like a logical place to start.”

He adds that he’s “bullish” on Florida’s economy, with its growth potential and “great vendor network.”

Despite their emphasis on technology, people are an important part of their endeavor -- and a specialized staff helps set it apart. “I don’t believe an app will ever completely replace the full-service business,” he says. “You have to have people on the ground. You just have to.”

Read on for more tech news in Tampa Bay.

• SOFWERX, a Tampa organization collecting and encouraging the development of ideas that might help Special Operations Forces, is advertising some job openings at 1925 E. 2nd Ave. It is currently listing three full-time job openings – one each for a web developer/designer, program manager, and contract specialist. Learn more at Indeedjobs.

• Pitch Night is coming up for Tampa Bay Wave’s TechDiversity Accelerator companies, whose cohort is being financed by the Nielsen Foundation. It’s scheduled at 6 p.m., Thursday, July 12, at Station House, 260 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Sign up for Pitch Night here.

In other Wave news, tech executives and entrepreneurs Tony DiBenedetto and Steven MacDonald are now the Wave’s first Executive Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Their goal is to mentor Wave companies in the Grow category, who are focusing on fundraising and scaling up.

Wave was given a Technology Impact Award by InBIA, a global nonprofit that supports entrepreneurial development programs. InBIA recognizes high-impact organizations worldwide on a monthly basis in six categories: Technology, Mixed Use, University, Biotech/Cleantech, Rural, and Specialty.

• The nonprofit Synapse’s first innovation challenge, which has the goal of developing an application to gather wellness data and create wellness promotion profiles, is now underway. Learn more.

• Want to learn more about intellectual property rights? Attorney Brent Britton, a managing partner with de la Peña & Holiday, LLP in Tampa, will talk about “Ownability -- How Intellectual Property Works” from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at USF Connect, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Learn more.

• Tour Florida Funders with Homebrew Hillsborough, Hillsborough County’s monthly collaborative coffee for techies and entrepreneurs. This month’s gathering is at 8:30 a.m. Friday, June 29, at 1311 N. Westshore Blvd., Suite 101, Tampa. Florida Funders is a venture capital fund/crowdfunding platform that invests in early-stage technology companies. Check it out.

• Nonprofits and social enterprises will have a chance to pitch their organizations at Fast Pitch, an event similar to the TV show Shark Tank. The event by Social Venture Partners Tampa Bay is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at The Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg. The application period, which opened June 1, closes on Sunday, July 15.

• Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland will be hosting the Green Chemistry, Engineering and Technologies Conference July 18 and 19 in partnership with Panjab University of India and Molekule, Inc. The event will enable leaders of academia, industry, and government to come together and discuss advanced research and the development of next-generation green chemistry, engineering and technologies. It also will potentially further the advancement of an international curriculum and graduate studies on the topic. The first international GCET conference was held last year in Chandigarh, India.

In other Florida Poly news, the university is hosting a week-long Florida Poly Executive Leadership Course August 5 though 10. Florida business executives are invited to participate in the course designed by Harvard University professors for mid-career executives who want to improve their leadership skills. The registration deadline is July 22. To learn more, email Florida Poly or call 863-874-8614.

Some 30 underprivileged high school students attended Florida Poly’s first Summer STEAM Boot Camp. The week-long camp began May 29 and included instruction in science, engineering, mathematics, arts and technology. The pilot program was held in partnership with Polk State College.

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. 
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