Rob Blackwell believes that on the tech side of commercial real estate, there are too many solutions looking for problems to solve—well-intentioned but ill-conceived products and services developed on the fringes of industry.
In contrast, Blackwell says he cofounded tenant experience platform Caret in direct response to a phenomenon he observed during a redevelopment of a downtown office high-rise in Calgary.
“We were attracting a number of new users to that building,” he recalls last year. “These smaller companies were less hierarchical than traditional ones, and this led to more people interacting directly with our management team whenever they had questions or needed to place a service request.”
He tried to find an all-in-one software solution that met his needs—but couldn’t—”so we decided to build our own.”
“We wanted to create an app where we could not only facilitate this conversation, but also easily connect our tenants to all of the new amenities we had included in the redevelopment,” he explained. “We quickly recognized the value in removing the traditional ‘gatekeeper’ role that many tenants use when they want to interact with their building.”
Caret’s chief operating officer says that by democratizing the communication process, “we have been able to connect with all users of our space, not just the office administrator of the typical tenant.”
With regards to customers, Caret already powers nearly 200 properties, and is happy to be silent. The startup says it “strives to be the ultimate technology partner in providing property managers a software solution that is fully branded.”
“We provide the technical expertise and maintenance in the background,” states the all-encompassing communication, booking, and work order solution built by real estate professionals for real estate professionals.
The startup recently won Alumni’s Choice Award at Platform Calgary’s Launch Party during Innovation Week at the TELUS Convention Centre. However, Caret was no overnight success.
Blackwell says his team—including chief product officer Morley Barr and chief technology officer Stefan Radeta—spent three years developing their platform and building out the app they envisioned. Without “a blueprint for our industry,” he admits there were moments of learning.
Now, “we are leveraging more and more data from our assets and getting a deeper understanding of how our tenants and management team are interacting in our buildings.”
Learnings converted into iterations. The platform has now handled more than 20,000 automated service requests.
“Caret has simplified the way in which asset and property managers, building operators, contracted staff and tenants interact,” affirmed Blackwell. “We think this platform is a critical tool that every commercial building owner or manager needs.”