Serena Keith

Director of consumer product, RentPath Inc.

Keith-Serena

Time at RentPath (via Lovely): three years. RentPath operates some of the nation’s most popular rental sites, including Apartment Guide and Rent.com. In April, RentPath acquired rental startup Lovely, where Keith served as director of product.

What she does: I spend my time identifying frustrations that renters and property owners/managers have, and working with my product and design team to create smart and simple solutions.  

Age: 28

Degree: B.A. in social studies, Harvard College

Location: San Francisco

Social media: LinkedIn

What do you do?

As the director of consumer​ product at ​RentPath, I work with user feedback, data and intuition to collaborate with my team over solutions that please our renters and property owners/managers. We’re trying to create an efficient rental marketplace where both sides feel empowered to decide where to live, whom to lease to, and transact.

How’d you end up in real estate tech?

I’ve always been enamored with how far-reaching and impactful technology could be. After college, I worked for an online marketplace, which was fascinating, though it ultimately focused on solving a problem that didn’t resonate strongly with me. I knew if I wanted to make an impact, I needed to serve users whose problems I could relate to.

As soon as I moved out to San Francisco, I immediately felt the pain of the rental search. As I learned more about it, I could see how complex the problems were and also how unique and undefined the relationship was between a renter and a property owner. It’s been my obsession ever since.

What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?

​R​enters are ultimately the party making the purchase. However, their ability to purchase is contingent upon so many factors beyond their control, i.e., what the property manager seeks in renter credentials, how quickly the renter contacts a property and how many other renters are competing for the same property.

I’m trying to empower renters by making the experience more streamlined, transparent and efficient. For owners and managers, their current measurement of a website’s success is how many inquiries it sends their way, when at the end of the day, it takes only one renter to sign the lease. We’re working on creating tools to shift the measurement they’re able to focus on.

What’s the favorite part of what you do?

Endless discovery of innovative solutions and collaborating with a team that wakes up every morning to solve the same problems I care about.

What products have you had a part in developing in the past?

​I helped develop Lovely’s renter cards, which increase transparency and allow good renters to rise to the top of Lovely’s iOS and Android apps, which give renters the ability to streamline their search and get notifications as soon as new listings hit the market.

I’ve also worked on renter payments (Pay with Lovely)​, which allows renters to put their monthly payments on autopilot so owners can rest easy and renters can track their own payment history so that when they rent their next place this information follows them.

What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?

We’re focused on making buildings more accessible to renters — it’s hard for property managers to distinguish their buildings in the eyes or renters. We’re also focused on making a more streamlined solution for landlords that gives them the confidence they need to extend an offer to a renter who will be a responsible tenant for their property.

 

Elizabeth-workspace

A communal workspace at Lovely, where Keith sometimes works.

Favorite food

Sashimi.

Favorite book?

I love biographies and books by people who try to predict the future.

Favorite city?

New York City, where I grew up. But San Francisco is a close second.

Who’s your favorite band or singer?

Rolling Stones.

What do you hate about technology?

The quick dissemination of technology’s advances through media seems to encourage more people to go and build their own versions of similar technology rather than work together to build a single awesome technology.

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

Lack of transparency.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Of course!

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?

Access to mentors. They’re so critical to success and yet most people I talk to don’t have one.

What motivates you?

Guilt. I honestly feel incredibly grateful to be alive at a time when technology can impact so many people, and lucky to be surrounded by a team of passionate designers and builders. Not making the most of it feels like a huge waste.

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