As a property owner, William Armstrong struggled to find a way to manage his properties. The only options available either involved him emptying his wallet to hire a property manager, or doing all of the work himself, which he couldn’t do because he had a full-time job.
When Armstrong didn’t find a virtual solution that suited his needs, he created one himself: Ivan AI, a fully automated management solution for rental property owners.
Raleigh-based Ivan AI is one of the seven startups participating in RIoT’s Accelerator Program (RAP). The 12-week program, which started in-person on June 9 following a virtual year in 2020, is the eighth RAP cohort overall and will end in a pitch by each startup later this fall.
Existing virtual property managers, Armstrong found, either only catered to a specific area of management (like maintenance) or were on a commercial scale and required owners to own a large minimum number of units.
Ivan AI bridges the gap between self-managing a rental property and hiring a traditional property manager.
“He” (Ivan) uses AI to automate many mundane or repetitive landlord tasks, while keeping costs to roughly half that of the traditional property manager. Ivan is available 24/7 to both tenants and landlords and responds in seconds.
“Ivan takes the workload off of the landlord at a much more affordable rate than a traditional property manager,” Armstrong said.
Ivan handles a swath of landlord tasks, including communicating with tenants, resolving maintenance requests, collecting rent payments, and sending leases and reminders of expiring leases.
Having only begun Ivan AI in January, Armstrong hasn’t collected any funding yet. Right now, he said he’s focused on finishing the prototype, which should be available to the public hopefully in September. In the meantime, Armstrong will test the MVP starting in July with his own rental properties and then begin a private test trial in August.
Armstrong encourages any readers who own property and are interested in trying the software during the beta trial to send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.
Up to bat again, and ready
Founding Ivan AI isn’t the first time Armstrong has exhibited an entrepreneurial spirit. In high school, Armstrong ran a small landscaping company, and when he left for college, many of his clients asked him if he knew of anyone to refer. He didn’t, which gave him the idea for Yaardvark, a matchmaking platform for homeowners and yard workers, that he founded in 2015.
Armstrong continued to work on Yaardvark while earning a business degree from the University of Akron in Ohio, and the startup even made it as a semifinalist in the national Student Startup Madness competition in 2015.
Despite Yaardvark’s potential, Armstrong quickly learned that growing a successful startup is a full-time commitment. As a college student with a busy workload, he had to put his entrepreneurial ambitions on pause and Yaardvark didn’t survive.
This time around, after graduating college in 2018, Armstrong left his job at a real estate company—the job for which he had moved to the Triangle—so he could dedicate all of his time and resources to Ivan AI. His experience with Yaardvark also taught him that successes aren’t created overnight.
“Although I would love to create an overnight success,” Armstrong said, “my main focus with Ivan is to really listen to the wants and needs of my market and create a truly exceptional product that drives massive value to the end user.”