Meet LaunchHouse members Jay Apple and Wayne Rothman of Tenant Magic. Jay and Wayne have been part of the LaunchHouse community ever since it’s opening day. Their charm, expertise, and of course their dogs, have brought an irreplaceable value to LaunchHouse.
What services do you / your company offer?
Wayne: Online rental applications and background screening for the residential rental market.
What is your role in the company?
Wayne: Jay manages customer service, marketing, sales, I’m pretty much on the backend technical side of things such as developing and engineering.
What inspired you to start (or join) this company?
Jay: There’s a whole backstory to this. We had started another business called dealermagic, it was a sales tool for car dealerships. We were able to reduce the time it took to buy a car from 4 ½ hours to 1 ½ hours. We had partnered with IBM.
Wayne: When the financial economy collapsed car businesses were going out of business left and right. So we needed to look for the next thing.
Jay: The are many similarities between the automobile dealership market and residential rentals. Both markets are fragmented, not very technologically sophisticated and people need to go through similar processes to get to the end result. When you buy a car, you have to go through the same steps no matter where you are. When you want to rent a property you also have to go through the same steps no matter what part of the country you’re in. Because of the housing crash, Realts got stuck with dealing with rentals and became property managers whether they liked it or not.
Wayne: The concept was that we were looking for another paper based application that we could automate. No one has a simpler system then what we’ve developed. We strive to help small landlords and their tenants.
Jay: I get calls all day long, which I love. My favorite call was from a woman that said “ I really needed your program for my last tenant” I asked why and She said that they took him away in handcuffs. The police told her that he was a bank robber. She said he was the “friendliest guy in the world.”
What inspired you to join the LaunchHouse Community?
Wayne: Jay heard about LaunchHouse and got curious, he set up a meeting and we chatted. It took us 6 months until we moved to LaunchHouse. We showed our first product at launchhouse. It’s not just a place to work, it’s a place where you can really get inspired and inspire others. You’re encouraged to know what’s going on around you.
Jay: Just today Wayne is telling me he needs some sort of expertise on programming to do one of the steps. I asked the guy behind me if he knew anyone that does that and he said yeah and gave me the name and I forwarded it to him.
Wayne: other coworking spaces, it’s a place to plug in to get the internet. This is a place to plug in differently.
Jay: People are happy to point others in the right direction, it’s a value here. You either get it or you don’t. We were here from the beginning of LaunchHouse, seven years ago. We absolutely love it here.
The best advice you ever got?
Wayne: God gave you two ears and one mouth, do the math. You gotta listen to your customer, but you gotta use some sense along with it.
What has been your biggest learning experience from starting your business?
Wayne: all the things that don’t work. You really have to dive into it.
Jay: advertising doesn’t work.
Wayne: Learning how to get to your customer. We still don’t know, we can’t get to them, they get to us. It’s all organic growth.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Jay: I said to my son that If someone wants to go into business they need to go work for a large corporation for a couple years. They can train you, you’ll have resources and will learn about everything. So work for somebody else, identify a problem in that industry or business that they don’t wanna deal with for whatever reason, and go solve the problem yourself.
Wayne: Get some varied experience. Take an accounting course.
Jay: Learn how to read a financial statement. Learn about market research.
Wayne: Strive to fail fast. Nothing is worse than death by a thousand cuts. If you’re not getting traction, pivot or call a quits. Stick with it, but have enough common sense to know when there’s no market. Have an advisor or mentor.
Jay: One of my favorite expressions is “It’s good to learn from your mistakes, it’s a lot better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Wayne: Surround yourself around good people. It’s hard to do it on your own.
Jay: Make sure investors bring more than just money to the table.
Did you always have an aspiration to become an entrepreneur? Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
Jay: I started out in the corporate world, and then got tired of that.
Wayne: I wasn’t in the corporate world for very long. I worked for other companies probably my first 7 years out of college. After that it was working on my own businesses.
Knowing what you know now, what would you change or do differently when starting a business?
Jay: Not much. There’s no way in the world you could foresee what was going to happen. We’ve been around the business world for a long time. All you can do is roll
How do you define success?
Wayne: Success is a lot of different things to different people. You’re a successful entrepreneur if you are having fun. You’re also successful if you can hire one other person. If you can support yourself and another other family. Not everybody is going to open a chain of department stores or a huge landscaping business. Let’s say you decide to do the landscaping business, and you could get customers, hire a few employees, and make a living, then you’re a successful entrepreneur.
Your company has grown dramatically over the past few months, what do you credit for your success?
Wayne: Customer Service.
Jay: Two things.The first is, always working on the program and reducing the number of calls we get from people that are having trouble. The second is being able to answer the questions quickly. In order for us to grow we are putting in a customer service platform that will replicate what I do. Christine is taking everything from our phone calls and charting it so we can modify a platform to answer customer service questions
Wayne: We are endeavoring to make that automatic fix for somebody who climbs through a decision tree. We ask them a few questions, and wanna be able to fix their problem while on the phone with them. Our perfect customer issue would be “Okay, log back in you’re fine.” We’re a customer service company, we want the phones answered. I want people to be able to talk to somebody, and build a relationship. Jay got a call one Sunday morning, The guy said “you use TransUnion SmartMove, I’m gonna smart move all by myself, why should I use your service? Jay says “This is Sunday morning, I’m answering the phone.” I said “You sold me”
If you would like to learn more about Tenant Magic you can visit their website: