The value of the US housing market was estimated to be a whopping $43.4 trillion at the start of 2022. This comprises roughly 140 million housing units, approximately 90 million of which are single family homes. More than one-third of this housing stock is rented—and single family rentals (SFR) accounts for the growing majority of these units. Given the massive demand for housing, it isn’t surprising that over the last decade institutional investors have flocked to the segment to buy up supply, shifting SFR from a largely mom-and-pop segment to one increasingly consolidating into large portfolios.
Even though we rarely talk about it as such, maintenance is one of the most—if not the most—costly and complex issues faced by residential owners today. The average home experiences five maintenance issues per year, making it the most frequent resident touch point after move-in. While multi-family rental owners nearly always have the benefit of on-site property management to address these situations with the resident, SFR portfolios rarely have dedicated technicians on staff, let alone a sufficient number to move swiftly from intake to triage to diagnosis to resolution all across a large geography. If the sheer number of resident requests across large, sprawling portfolios of units wasn’t enough to make maintenance a huge headache for owners, add to it a shortage of technicians from an aging workforce, and it becomes clear that we need technological intervention.
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that physical distance doesn’t have to prevent us from getting things done. If we can be even more effective in how we diagnose, triage, and treat human medical conditions via telehealth, we can certainly leverage similar pathways for something as ubiquitous as residential maintenance. That is precisely what Mike Travalini and the team at Mezo intend to do. With Max, a digital maintenance assistant, Mezo can intake and diagnose the root cause of an issue without dispatching a technician.
Mike Travalini and Heather Widman spoke about home maintenance, SFR, and Mezo at our recent BVIN Fall Summit.
Imagine a resident engages Max to triage a “broken toilet.” Through a simple workflow, the issue is translated by Max’s natural language processing to either a) enable a resident to self service, or b) enable a stronger diagnostic for the technician so that they arrive onsite prepared with the parts and skills they need to fix the job with a single truck roll. Happy resident, empowered technician, efficient ownership. Meanwhile, the Mezo platform is collecting and synthesizing massive amounts of home-level data, ultimately powering the future of predictive maintenance.
The Mezo team has an almost unfair advantage in solving maintenance for the residential market. Mike initially saw the problem first hand as SVP of operations at SFR owner/operator Waypoint, where he focused on property repairs and maintenance, the management of maintenance spend, the optimization of the team of maintenance technicians responsible for the company’s portfolio of 17,000 homes, and the relationships with third-party vendors that facilitated maintenance work around the country. Realizing that technology had to be the future of maintenance, Mike joined the facilities management solutions provider SMS Assist, where he led the residential business. Mike grew the business segment by 5x and made it the largest division at the company. Still, Mike felt that the problem wasn’t fully solved, and he wanted to apply his earned secret to a true tech solution that would truly transform the maintenance experience. That’s when he teamed up with co-founders John Botica, to lead growth, and experienced telehealth CTO Erin Karam to build Mezo.
The Mezo team together in Chicago.
In the near term, Mezo will improve the resident experience, empower technicians to be more efficient and effective at their jobs, and drive down a massive operating expense for SFR portfolio owners. The second horizon of truly predictive maintenance can enable massive improvements to how we employ changes like residential electrification at scale. This is why we were thrilled to co-lead Mezo’s $6M Series Seed alongside our friends at Chicago Ventures. We look forward to working closely with Mike, Erin, John, and the growing Mezo team as they change how we maintain our built world.
Learn more about Mezo here.