A San Francisco lead conversion solution from technology company Zuma has been released from beta testing for use in the rental industry. The technology was welcomed into the market with a seed round of $6.7 million.
A press release stated that the funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz. The healthy list of participants includes, among others, Y Combinator, Range Ventures, Liquid 2, Day One Ventures, Soma Capital, Chris Erikson (co-founder of Apartment List), Qasar Younis (former COO of Y Combinator) and Austen Allred (founder of Lambda School).
Zuma is targeting property management companies for its chat- and text-based, rapid lead response and automated nurture solution. The software flattens traditional lead qualification and follow-up processes using on-demand engagement methods to qualify prospects as leads, arrange appointments and determine best practices for ongoing lead nurture. It conducted an extensive beta test with co-living startup, Bungalow.com.
Because rental decisions are made in substantially less time than a home buying decisions, success in closing rental leads requires “always-on,” reactive engagement tactics and quick information turnaround.
As is common in the space, Zuma has given its response tool a name: Kelsey.
“Kelsey understands which conversation tone, architecture, and patterns are most successful at converting leads to sales, and converses with all inbound leads via text message within minutes to keep prospects engaged,” the release stated.
Challenge questions asked of Kelsey become an alert for human intervention, and help the software “learn” how to respond.
According to Yardi Matrix’s September survey of 140 markets, as reported by multifamilynews.com, “Rent growth remained unparalleled [with] the national average rent rising 11.4 percent year-over-year through September, to $1,558.”
Zuma cited a RentCafe.com study that found the number of renters in suburban areas grew by 69 percent in the past decade. That study also stated that 160 American suburbs are expected to be renter-dominated in the United States in the next five years.
The rise in rental demand strengthens the need for the leasing industry to scale its ability to serve applicants.
Automated lead response tools, such as Zuma, can help agents react, especially for the 55 percent of all rental inquiries received in off-hours.
Zuma said its software can increase conversion rates by 2.1x in 30 days, driving a 35x ROI. It can also reduce dependency on staff, leading to savings in staffing of 50 percent. The company states that its revenue has grown 1o times since the start of 2021.
“Businesses spend 250 billion dollars annually on leads, yet only 27 percent of those leads ever get contacted,” said Zuma CEO and co-founder Shiv Gettu in the press release. “Zuma makes an automated sales agent that converses with 100 percent of inbound leads, ultimately helping businesses reduce the number of sales reps needed.”
Zuma plans to use its seed round to augment internal resources and expand into additional industries, such as car sales and healthcare.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.