Startland News’ Startup Road Trip series explores innovative and uncommon ideas finding success in rural America and Midwestern startup hubs outside the Kansas City metro. This series is possible thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which leads a collaborative, nationwide effort to identify and remove large and small barriers to new business creation.
COLUMBIA, Missouri — Nick Farquhar went from an unplanned pitch at Columbia Startup Weekend to growing a property management business nine times faster than the industry’s average company — all in less than a year, he shared.
“What I pitched at startup weekend, in many ways, bears no resemblance to where we are today. We’re really trying to change the way that [the real estate] industry functions,” said Farquhar, the winner of Columbia Startup Week 2022 and co-founder of Appreciate — a profit-sharing property management partner for property owners.
Appreciate’s tech-enabled property management dashboard allows owners to access real-time insight into portfolio performance and expense transparency. The company provides advanced data collection and insight technology to help owners make better decisions within their properties, Farquhar explained.
“There are no fees, no overages and we are hyper-transparent with data,” he noted. “Typically as an owner, you have no idea what’s going on in your portfolio today. You get once a month statements. Nobody’s incentivized for you to really understand where your money is going. We are incentivized for that. Owners are responding to the business model, and our waitlist has grown four to five times faster than what we can currently take on.”
Click here to check out Appreciate.
Appreciate recently closed a $750,000 seed round with an investment from Dundee Venture Capital. The decision to partner with Dundee was an easy one, Farquhar said, noting that it was a natural fit with a potential for future investments.
“I felt very conversational and like the relationship I really wanted to have with an investor,” Farquhar said. “I think part of it comes from them being a Midwest fund. They saw the vision; they understood the problem; and they believed that we were the right people to do it.”
Following Farquhar’s success at Columbia Startup Week, he dropped out of the University of Missouri and secured a spot in the second cohort of Scale — a hybrid accelerator fund and venture studio imparting time, knowledge and capital in early-stage startups. Scale was launched by EquipmentShare co-founders Willy and Jabbok Schlacks and fellow entrepreneur Jai Malik.
Click here to read more about Scale.
Scale’s accelerator program taught Farquhar that he needed to be customer obsessed, he said, noting that the feedback from customers allowed him to refocus his business with the right team.
“Scale was massively beneficial in not just reframing your company to aim bigger, but also in getting the right people on board,” Farquhar said — noting Brad Siegler, one of the co-founders of EquipmentShare, joined Appreciate’s founding team as chief product officer and president.
“After learning about the deeply misaligned incentives and waste in the property management industry — and seeing Nick’s drive and passion for solving these problems using his domain expertise — joining him on that journey was an absolute no-brainer for me,” Siegler said.
“We also have a rockstar broker, one of the best brokers in Missouri, as an early hire, and then administrative and logistical staff as well,” Farquhar added. “… Scale allowed us to attract great talent and speak to the right advisors who opened my eyes to the possibility of this problem.”
Appreciate is headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, but the team first got into the market in Springfield, Missouri. In 2023, Farquhar is set to expand Appreciate into Kansas City and St. Louis — then outside of Missouri in late 2023 or early 2024.
“We want to hit 200 units [in Columbia] before we expand to Kansas City, but it looks like we’re going to get there a lot faster than we expected,” Farquhar said. “We’re growing roughly nine times faster than the average property management company, so we’re just exploding. We’re really in the fulfillment stage now.”
Appreciate was born out of Farquhar’s personal frustration dealing with property managers and administrative overhead in his own portfolio, he shared. Through Appreciate, he is trying to change the way the real estate industry functions.
“I feel that real estate in particular is one of the best ways for the average person, the mom and pop owner, to truly build wealth,” Farquhar said. “We feel like the biggest bottlenecks to doing so are the property manager and the administrative overhead that the average owner needs to go through in order to scale their portfolio. We’re trying to attack the root of the problem and build the partner that I wish I had growing my portfolio.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.