Startup Spotlight: Doorbell

Jul 8, 2018


Startup Spotlight: Doorbell

Jul 8, 2018

Meet Benjamin pleat –  Ceo and Founder of Doorbell, the leading amenity activation platform built for multifamily housing

GH: What is Doorbell?

Doorbell’s mission is to help residents belong in the cities they call home. We curate free in-person event experiences to enliven apartments’ community spaces and power digital engagement through the Doorbell app to build cohesion and connection for building residents. The focus of all our in-person and digital engagement is simple: happy residents.

GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?

Our internal philosophy driving our company culture is exactly what we emanate to the world. It is based on the following three tenants: 1) Belonging: We aim to build inclusive communities where every neighbor (and team member) is welcome;  2) Growth: Everything we do for our community members is intended to help them become their best selves; and 3) A Warm Welcome Home: We are connectors; we want to meet and connect with everyone, bringing smiles to the entire community and neighborhood.

GH: How did you build your team?

One of our five focal points for our weekly team strategy meetings is scalability and thinking of 500-building-strong solutions to our current challenges. This mentality helps us build a strong foundation while thinking forward to the future. It is this exact laser-like focus that drives our internal growth, finding incredible team members to bolster our mission and innovate our work to make it scalable and offer big ideas that inspire us to keep moving forward.

GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Doorbell get started?

Doorbell was the culmination of two eureka moments: one professional and one personal. On the professional side, I observed just how much pain apartment building owners had with competition in the market; retaining residents and being the best usually came with million dollar renovations, which often did not contribute to the bottom line. On the personal side, I saw just how painful it was for my own mother to not have a community when she moved to the city. Her apartment complex had the community spaces, and yet she may as well have lived in a shopping mall. The entire experience was impersonal, and frankly very isolating for her. Doorbell was born from the mission to help my mom — and all city dwellers — truly belong in the places they call home. Finding a way to make it sustainable by bringing value to both residents and apartment building owners was the true eureka moment!

GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?

It is a marathon journey indeed! A few quarters back, we were struggling with how we delivered a major product revamp for our customers. We had to ship some major product additions and redesigns for our communities, and we were seriously behind. Rather than panic, we decided to prioritize features and roll out new features step by step. We turned a potentially rough deadline into a process that not only produced a better outcome, but made our customer stakeholders feel much more ownership in the end product. Ship early and ship often, and refine as much as possible from user feedback.

GH: What did you learn from your first customers?

Our first customer was The Grid in downtown Worcester, integral to and located at the heart of the city’s downtown revival. As we got to know this incredibly diverse and dedicated community, we were welcomed with open arms and had the opportunity to work directly with some of the largest stakeholders in the city’s urban revitalization initiative, ranging from local business owners to energized political leaders looking to transform the downtown landscape.

GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?

Boston offers us an environment city-wise that allows us to scale Doorbell nationally. Unlike San Francisco or New York, Boston is much more similar to the next top 30 cities in the United States both in terms of size and growth. Boston simply offered the most supportive place to start that allowed us to build a strong team and position Doorbell for future success.

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

More Doorbell! But seriously, life in this moment in time seems to be veiled with fear due to uncertainty in the world; that fearful tendency unfortunately extends to everyday occurrences. Well-intentioned people may not want to knock on their neighbor’s door to say hello because the fear and uncertainty of who they will find on the other side is seen as too much of a risk. It’s a scary survival mode to stay locked into and there is evidence of it everywhere, not just in Boston, the city that we all call home. We want to change that and help people open their doors, enjoy their buildings in a safe, communal space, and make friends with people they live with. When we can open neighbors’ doors, then people don’t have to knock at all, right?!

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

Best piece of advice is that the company growth process is a marathon; you have to be in it for the long run. We’re building Doorbell Communities to improve the buildings and the cities around us, and that’s no small mission. You have to take the long-term perspective!

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

The best thing that happened to us in the past year was is the amazing and passionate team we have built. From technologist to community builders, our team is a diverse and passionate group that gets it done. The culture our team is building is something I am exceptionally proud of.

GH: What does the future hold for Doorbell?

An amazing array of connected communities filled with happy residents, apartment property managers and property owners! With loneliness and social isolation on the rise in tandem with a newly invigorated awareness for mental health encompassing the news and heightened competition in the apartment industry, community and human connection are critical now more than ever. We want to help people feel like they belong so they can live happy lives. We are looking forward to helping as many people as we can!

Learn more about Doorbell!

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