You know how when someone owes you money, it’s sometimes hard to ask for it back?
That’s exactly how Kevin Hui felt when he was managing some tenants for his parents and had to chase them for overdue rental fees.
After speaking to some friends and family, he realised that it was a rather common issue many landlords faced.
Even though there were existing solutions in the market, he found them quite expensive. He also wanted something more user-friendly and cheaper so that even his parents could use it.
With that in mind and armed with his web developing skills, Kevin set out to build a platform to do just that.
Then he ran into his first issue.
This Is Why We Need Creatives
Between 2017 to 2019, Kevin worked in REV Asia’s tech team, which was where he developed his technical skills.
But while he had the know-how to build Upsettled, he lacked the skills to make it visually attractive and easy to use.
This is when Yu Qing, his co-founder, entered the scene. Besides having digital marketing planning experience from her time at REV Asia, she had also turned her hobby of mural painting and graphic designing into her side hustle.
She then picked up designing UI and UX, and later helped Kevin with the initial UI and UX for Upsettled.
“Upsettled is a project for the both of us to improve our skills while at the same time solving existing problems,” Kevin told Vulcan Post.
The primary goal Upsettled has is to eliminate the need to chase after payments by automating reminders and tracking payment records.
This benefits not only landlords, but also tenants who appreciate being able to track their payments, get reminders before the due date, and have proper documents like receipts and invoices as proof of payment.
According to Upsettled’s website, tenants can also put in maintenance requests for their landlords. It’s a feature most tenants would probably appreciate, but there’s a slight issue with it.
At this stage of the startup, Kevin still hasn’t figured out a way to hold landlords accountable when it comes to fulfilling maintenance requests. “Perhaps in the future we’ll set up representatives for tenants in our system,” he said.
Let’s Talk Money
Because the payments can be automated, we asked Kevin what steps a tenant should take when they’re moving out so that they wouldn’t be charged anymore.
He replied, “Although we’re building a system that helps automate most of the tasks, we’re putting in several checks to make sure that nobody gets charged for something they don’t know about. All payments must be agreed by both the landlord and the tenant before it can be charged via Upsettled.”
So, a tenant can decide to cease payments from their account to their landlord, and vice versa. Once both parties have agreed to terminate the management agreement, all payments will be deactivated automatically.
While the issue of overdue payments is what Upsettled seeks to solve, Kevin shared that their biggest challenge right now is the payment system that will be integral to Upsettled’s management system.
“We’re hoping to work together with PayNet, government bodies, and other services available to come up with the best and most secured payment solution for our users,” Kevin told us.
On Upsettled, landlords are charged for the service based on the number of tenants they’re managing with the platform.
The more tenants you’re managing, the cheaper the fees. There are 3 general management packages:
- For those managing 1 to 20 tenants, the monthly fee is RM35 per tenant
- For those managing 21 to 50 tenants, the monthly fee is RM30 per tenant
- For those managing more than 50 tenants, the monthly fee is RM25 per tenant
So, in a month, the average price of managing one tenant is about RM1 per day.
“The pricing is set as such so that it’s highly affordable to anybody who’s managing their tenants. From simple home owners who are renting out their properties/rooms as a side income, to multiple property owners that want to streamline their management more without expensive rates,” Kevin explained.
On the other hand, tenants can use Upsettled for free.
Running A Lean Startup
The initial capital for Upsettled was RM5,000, and Kevin said that they’re doing great so far.
One thing that he’s quite proud of currently is their market validation effort, which he describes as outstanding.
“Within less than 24 hours of posting it on StartupMamak, we have gotten 40 signups which includes a total of over 500 tenants under our potential user signups,” he said.
In response, Upsettled is doubling efforts to deliver an MVP by the end of the year to these early adopters. As for the official release date, Kevin shared that it’ll be sometime in January 2020.
With everything becoming mobile-accessible, we asked Kevin if we would be seeing the same for Upsettled.
“Yes, but that would be in the future,” he replied. “Going mobile is paramount to Upsettled’s plan to be user-friendly and accessible, but we’re holding back now due to the lack of resources. But once resources are in, we’ll definitely be working on a comprehensive mobile app.”
As someone who’s been a tenant before, I appreciate the idea of letting tenants put in maintenance requests. It certainly makes it a lot easier for both tenants and landlords to review and stay up to date on the status of the property.
However, Upsettled would definitely have to look into ways that landlords can be held accountable to fulfil such requests. I do have some doubts about whether it’ll succeed in doing so since it’s basically a third party, but I look forward to being proven wrong.
- You can read more about other proptech startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Upsettled