Editor’s note: Startland selected 12 Kansas City firms to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. The following is one of 2019’s companies. Click here to view the full, ranked list of Startups to Watch.
Homebase’s elevator pitch: Homebase.ai is a smart living, residence experience platform powered by the Internet of Things for apartments and student housing.
Homebase.ai aims to make Kansas City smarter, Blake Miller said with confidence.
Founder: Blake Miller
Founding year: 2016
Amount raised to date: $2 million
Noteworthy investors: JE Dunn, Sunflower Development, The Brain Family
Programs completed: Kansas City Innovation Partnership Program
Current employee count: 22
“You’ve got the traditional property management software and then you’ve got the new Internet of Things and smart home, smart building technology,” said Miller, founder of Homebase. “We’re kind of right in the middle of that where we’re bridging the gap. That’s where some of the major disruption happens, because we can automate a lot of processes.”
Committed to the development of smart cities, Miller formerly led the public-private partnership that honed the Kansas City Smart City initiative. The experience has made him no stranger to building businesses with innovative legs, he said humbly, noting that startups have become his life.
“The smart city framework that got deployed as a part of the first phase along the street car, was a framework of connectivity. We were putting in public wifi sensors, things like smart lighting and all these sorts of things as well as resident engagement applications.” he said of smart city innovation in Kansas City. “We are now applying that into buildings, which are basically like a microcosm [of smart living.]”
Click here for more about Miller’s work with smart cities.
Miller’s presence on the founding teams of such startups as Think Big Partners has also helped him gain necessary leadership qualities that could guide Homebase toward becoming a force for disruption, he said.
“We’re going to make people happier,” Miller said. “We’re going to help make property owners a lot more money. We’re going to because all of our cities are made up of buildings and being able to be a part of that, those things are really important to Homebase. But you know what, we really recognize it and we literally are creating a future. That’s what really motivates us.”
Breaking traditional molds, Homebase solidified its base as a company of the future in 2018, Miller said in reference to the company’s presence in more than 15 buildings — now wired as smart spaces — compared to just one in 2017, he explained.
“That sets us apart from a lot of our competitors who are really focusing more on just trying to have the smart home inside of an apartment and not thinking about the entire smart building,” Miller said
Powering up through momentum gained in 2018, Homebase could add as many as 30 buildings to its smart portfolio in 2019 — all of which are currently under construction and set to come alive by early 2020 — Miller said.