Written by Adam Nelson (Partner at FirstMark) and Dez Fleming (Investor at FirstMark)
Today we’re very excited to announce our Series A investment in Revela, (the all-in-one property management system or “PMS” specifically built to unlock new revenue streams and increase margins for property managers), making this the company’s first institutional equity round nine years after its funding.
While there are many things to love about Revela, we are particularly enthusiastic about the company because of its direct alignment with one of our overarching theses that we’ve been actively developing and following — the concept of Negative CAC financial models. Simply put, Negative CAC models can be employed by software companies that are able to control and manage a transaction, and then sell additional financial services products as a function of owning that transaction. Given that there is $700 billion of rent flowing through the residential real estate market every year, Revela, as a PMS, is perfectly situated to leverage this model to drive phenomenally efficient growth and profitability.
Battling 90s-Era Behemoths
The importance of the property management software stack has led to tens of billions of enterprise value creation among legacy leaders in the market. The “newest” market-leading platform, however, was built back in 2007 — well before cloud, mobile, and platform APIs became the market standard…and it shows. Some of these multi-billion dollar behemoths are running on software that was built before Revela CEO Grant Drzyzga was even born.
Given the value of the property management ecosystem, we’ve spent considerable time actively looking for solutions that could lead the next generation of value creation in the space. The biggest challenge that we’ve seen with these companies, however, is that the breadth of features required for a property manager to consider deploying a given solution (let alone rip out their current one) is so vast it creates an absurdly high barrier to entry.
As a result, the resources required to build these core products would not fit within the “normal” venture timeline for seed or series A. As a result, most venture-backed solutions in this space sit alongside the operating system (instead of attempting to replace it), preventing most from getting to the necessary scale to build a large, venture-type outcome.
A Nine-Year Grind & Explosive Growth
While we were writing off our hopes of ever finding the next-gen PMS to invest in, Grant and his co-founder John were hacking away in a small warehouse in Detroit, building a PMS from the ground up, feature by feature, alongside customers and partners. Grant and John spent nine years masochistically grinding away until they had built the full solution
In 2021, a switch flipped and it somewhat magically happened that team Revela had built what many of our institutional partners think is the absolute best system on the market, thanks to its modularity, modern architecture and fully open platform. Since then, the business has seen significant growth acceleration (particularly for the fast-growing single-family rental segment), and perhaps most impressively, has been able to comfortably maintain profitability throughout.
All of this on $50,000 of outside capital raised (and no, we’re not missing any zeros).
A Vision Beyond Property Management
While Revela is poised to become the next great PMS, they aren’t simply leveraging the same old business model. As we mentioned above, property management solutions are uniquely positioned as the central operating system running one of the largest segments of the economy. They touch far more than just rental payments (almost 70% of competitor Appfolio’s revenue comes from payments), sitting at the nexus of construction and maintenance spend, financing, insurance, and remittance to the ultimate owners.
In a world where the timeline to launch embedded financial products has collapsed from years to months, We think these additional revenue streams will not only provide a multiplier on the potential market size and revenue of this already massive category but will also make for a significantly better experience for all stakeholders in the residential real estate ecosystem.
We believe there is a significant value creation opportunity in the Proptech market, and we couldn’t think of a better example of all there is to be excited about than Revela. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Grant, John, and the entire Revela team, and to have our friends at Detroit Venture Partners, Metraprop, and Assurant join in on the incredible journey ahead.
We recently raised $1.1 Billion to invest in new tech companies shaping the future. If you’re a Founder and this article resonated with you, we would love for you to get in touch.