While open source and SaaS continue to serve as mediums for delivering software applications and data science capabilities to enterprises, Mercury has identified a continued movement of entrepreneurs in the Midcontinent who are reinventing traditional outsourced enterprise services firms by “in-housing” data and business process automation technology. These TechNative Services companies provide superior services to those of the traditional service provider, brokerage, agency, or consultancy. Using proprietary data, software, and machine learning models, TechNative Services firms are able to shoulder immense operational complexity associated with delivering a given service, or to scale the output of highly trained individual services providers. Recognizing this shift, Mercury was excited to find our first investment within our emerging TechNative Services theme in our own backyard.
In October 2017, Mercury met Apartment Butler Founder/CEO Ben Johnson during a mentoring session at Houston-based coworking accelerator Station Houston. Ben conceived Apartment Butler on the tail end of several years in investment banking while pursuing his MBA at Chicago Booth. Managing a rigorous schedule, he had the added responsibility of making sure his puppy was taken care of and apartment was clean and in order. Ben was surprised that there was no intuitive way to coordinate services while working long hours; and when he made a trip to his apartment during the day, there were several service providers from disparate organizations providing one-off services to his neighbors. Through numerous discussions with institutional real estate investors, Ben learned that multi-family owners wanted to limit the number of service providers entering their properties and improve the depth and breadth of concierge-like services that could be offered to their residents. Ben recognizing the opportunity for scaling efficiencies within multi-family service providers while providing an improved customer experience for Class A apartment residents. He also saw an opportunity to provide improved visibility of service usage to Class A owners. These discoveries and key learnings led Ben and his team to launch Apartment Butler and began servicing apartment complexes in Houston.
Today, Apartment Butler enables multi-family residents to schedule on-demand concierge services – such as housekeeping, pet care, and laundry – directly to their unit through an intuitive mobile app. By leveraging the density of units in a complex, Apartment Butler provides economies of scale to a single service provider, enabling these small businesses to service many units during a daily trip. This substantially cuts the cost for the service provider and Apartment Butler, in turn, passes the savings on to the resident. Apartment Butler also provides its service provider partners lead generation, which no longer need to worry about marketing to consumers as Apartment Butler serves as an aggregator of consumer demand. Apartment Butler also provides service providers a remote customer success team, delivering continuous feedback and insights to the provider. Apartment Butler also provides great value to the institutional owners of Class A apartment complexes, by coordinating service provider access to units. This frees up hours of a property staff’s time on a weekly and enables properties to control the number of providers entering their complex.
In September 2018, Mercury led a $2 million Series Seed investment in Apartment Butler. Since that time, Apartment Butler has built a top-tier management team, expanded operations in two Texas markets outside of Houston, added new service lines to the platform, and made significant improvements to their customer experience. The company currently services Class A apartments in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, with plans to expand to additional markets outside of Texas over the coming months. In addition to housekeeping, pet care, and laundry, Apartment Butler has also added a suite of microservices to offer consumers a more tailored experience. Continuous improvements to the mobile application have also been instrumental in fostering a loyal customer base.
Mercury is excited to partner with Ben Johnson and Apartment Butler’s outstanding team on their journey to creating the future of multi-family concierge services!