Why usewalter is the app no one can live without
Shawn Hall, Market One Media
- Hit by the pandemic, Usewalter, previously known as GOLO, shuttered delivery operations to save cash but has now re-launched as an urban living tech provider
- After acquiring Walter Innovations, the resulting new company will draw on its expertise with tech to relaunch with over 35,000 residential units under contract
- Complexities of the final 100 feet of delivery coupled with products in urban settings absorb 50 per cent of a delivery company’s spend
GOLO Mobile Inc (previously TSXV: GOLO) and Walter Innovations have come together to simplify urban living with a single app. Now, Usewalter (TSXV: WLTR) is the new solution to many problems faced by property managers and residents in high density urban environments.
This transition didn’t happen overnight. Montreal-based GOLO was one of the early urban delivery companies, able to cost-effectively bring condo residents and office workers everything from lunch and groceries to dog food. This wasn’t just restaurant deliveries, but all the stuff city dwellers needed day-to-day.
With delivery now a common service provided by numerous companies in Canada’s urban centres, the company found itself struggling financially in recent times. Making a change, it recruited new CEO, Peter Mazoff, in late 2019 to turn things around.
“The delivery model they had wasn’t profitable or sustainable,” Mazoff says. “Something had to give at some point in time to be able to get shareholders their return and leverage the assets we had.”
Mazoff set out to build a great team, reduce the cash burn rate, and create a profitable business model. He focused his team on the expensive and time-consuming final 100 feet of delivery to both condos and workplaces in high-population urban centres.
In those environments, delivery companies spend up to 50 per cent of their outlay as drivers circle the block to find somewhere to park, gain access to a building, get into an elevator, and connect with the customer.
“We are creating smart building technology that provides convenience and service to property managers, and people who live and work in buildings.”
— Peter Mazoff, CEO, Usewalter.
Pandemic prompted re-think
Then COVID-19 struck and everything changed. The hospitality and food industries shifted. E-commerce scrambled to catch up as more people ordered groceries, meals, and pretty much anything else online. The final 100 feet became even more expensive and challenging to navigate.
Mazoff made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations as of March 26th, 2020 to save the cash needed to re-focus the company. Then he got to work.
“We needed to be nimble and leverage the resources we had,” he explains.
Acquisition powering new model
In July, GOLO announced the acquisition of Walter, a company that had created a smartphone app simplifying communication between large, multi-unit residential property managers and condo residents. Mazoff says Walter came with great management talent that has stayed with the new entity, a better technology platform, and reach into residential real estate clients. Bolted on to GOLO’s expertise and contacts, Mazoff saw a new way forward.
“What was GOLO is no longer the business that we’re in,” Mazoff explains, adding that they’re now in the process of rebranding the business to Walter to reflect the new focus.
“The business that we’re in is to become the app no one can live without in the home or workplace. We are creating smart building technology that provides convenience and service to property managers, and people who live and work in buildings.”
By developing its smart building technology, Usewalter is now is tapping into a market that is projected to grow to USD $105.8 billion by 2024 at a CAGR of 11.7 per cent. North America is poised to lead the market, which is exactly where the company has situated itself thus far. With contributing factors such as big data, cloud computing, analytics and artificial intelligence, smart building technology is about to take off and Usewalter wants to be part of that movement.
Usewalter does it all with one icon on your phone
Much as the smartphone has replaced everything from cameras to calculators in our lives, the new usewalter app replaces numerous applications and physical widgets and will add more over time. The app is built around three pillars that run on a single platform — communication between landlords and residents, managing the Internet of Things devices such as security systems, and delivery of commerce.
The app is an all-in portal through which a property manager can communicate to residents, whether a memo about upcoming maintenance, a rent increase going out to every unit, or a letter to a single resident is pending their attention. It is also the residents’ electronic security key card, granting access to the building, lockers, bike room, parking garage, and their unit.
That access can be extended to service providers — say, a cleaning or dog-walking service that comes to a building while residents are at work. It can also be configured to allow residents to book the gym or common room. In COVID-19 times, it can be set up to help ensure measures are met by, for example, restricting in-building gym access to one resident at a time, through an onboard calendar.
All of the services can be tailored to the unique needs of a specific building, creating simplicity by bringing multiple services together in one platform rather than requiring multiple apps and items.
“It’s really about the full experience whether you are at work or in a residential building,” Mazoff says. “It’s about that one app that’s essential.”
Mazoff says in many buildings, residents and property managers are using the app to better manage the provision of services in a building. Rather than each resident figuring out building access for their own cleaning service, say, the entire building might opt to use the same cleaning service, giving residents the option of arranging cleaning in a simple schedule.
The service could have its own parking spots, as they’ll be in the building every weekday. That cuts down on the complexity of multiple services needing parking and access. The same system can be used for dog-walkers, grocery delivery, or any other service commonly used by condo residents. The building could even have a standing plumbing service — if you have a clogged sink, you could simply hit the ‘plumber’ button in the app and book an appointment.
Mashing up the app’s services, you can order cleaning, grant access, and then view your in-suite camera to make sure the cleaning was done, and pay, and the door locked after the providers — all through the app.
“The number of integrations not only creates simplification it creates added value as well,” Mazoff notes.
Many buildings are starting to use the app to help easily receive deliveries from online services. Storage rooms can be set up with lockers, with access to the building and locker for both the service and residents controlled by the app. Wave your phone over a lock, and it opens.
Whether in a condo or office tower, the app could become a perk, part of a benefits package.
Re-launch plans include western expansion
The re-focused company has just re-launched with over 35,000 ‘doors’ (or units) under contract, mainly in Montreal, and also recently signed service agreements with three premium Montreal condo buildings with another 1,000 units between them — La Tour des Canadiens Phase 2, Le Solano Phase 4 and Le Laurent Clark Phase 2.
In a slew of company updates, Usewalter also announced a partnership with Condo Manager to unveil the usewalter app to Condo Manager’s ~225,000 units in Ontario and Western Canada. The addition of this app to Condo Manager’s software is set to create more value and usage for residents by enabling them to more effectively communicate with property managers, while also introducing direct for home delivery solutions.
In early November 2020, Usewalter entered into a partnership with Magex Technologies, which is a company that designs customized software for the North American real estate market. This partnership with Magex will further increase Usewalter’s presence in Quebec, which has grown significantly since its acquisition of Walter Innovations in July 2020.
Snaile Canada also partnered with Usewalter in November to optimize parcel management solutions in multi-residential buildings across Canada. For context, Snaile is the only smart locker company that is officially approved by all major carrier companies in Canada.
The company’s modular and entirely customizable lockers offer parcel management solutions, including automated notifications, contactless collection, and secure storage for multi-residential buildings, and much more. This makes Snaile an ideal partner to Usewalter as their technology can be seamlessly integrated with the usewalter app to provide a synergistic user experience.
Lastly, Usewalter’s most recent news comes from its signed agreement with Location Locketgo Inc, a company that provides turnkey micro storage solutions for multi-residential buildings.
The agreement will allow residents in buildings that have Locketgo smart lockers to reserve those lockers with the usewalter app. By allowing better and more secure management of parcel deliveries through the usewalter app, residents will have a quick, easy and trusted solution that also brings the company one step closer to its ultimate goal of becoming the only app residents need to effectively and efficiently manage their homes.
“We’re in growth mode,” Mazoff explains. While most existing units are in Montreal, Usewalter has just hired a sales manager for western Canada, and is planning an expansion into Ontario and then the U.S. They currently have about 20 employees and are adding more.
The company has plans to grow to about 200,000 residential units, or doors, in the next year.
The company’s team is also working behind the scenes to develop similar applications for big office buildings — building access and security; deliveries for lunch, Amazon packages, or dry cleaning; and communication with employees about building operations.
While the future of office work is up in the air at the moment due to the pandemic, Usewalter’s team is in touch with shared office space providers and some major corporations about their offerings.
“Let’s build up a network of hundreds of thousands of customers in residential, and then extend that back into a network of commercial buildings when the time is right,” Mazoff adds.
Usewalter’s goal is to grow towards 10 million square feet of office space under contract over the next few years. Smart building technology, coupled with the growth of e-commerce, is set to exponentially increase over the next few years and the company is excited to join the ranks with its enhanced business model.
Watch the company’s Investor Update below to learn more about the rebrand and investment proposition.
Learn more about Usewalter by visiting their website here.
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