How it Started
In the Fall of 2020, Foliolens Co-founder (Vincent) and I partnered to expand our investment portfolio with multi-family real estate properties in the rural Midwest (Minnesota, where I’m from). We both live in California, so these were out of state deals for us, but I had experience there with another investment property I owned. This provided us with most of the team and the network we needed to get started quickly.
Even though we outsourced leasing, property management, renovations, maintenance, and other jobs, we still encountered plenty of obstacles along the way. Obstacles that had to be managed while we worked our day jobs and maintained our separate portfolios. I’m sure you can relate!
We were mostly prepared for the process to turn these over and expected some surprises, but as we shifted focus to getting these properties stabilized, we were also juggling new investments. I was trying to balance life at home with my family, my W2 job was becoming far more demanding, rates were low so I was refinancing properties… and all this was in the middle of a pandemic.
Cracks start to show…
During this period of plate spinning I knew I had allowed the management of my existing portfolio of 10 properties to slip into autopilot. I was skipping important tasks, falling behind on bookkeeping, and creating several blind spots for myself. The growing piles of unreviewed or unanswered documents was a warning sign, and as insurance, tax, refinance, and property purchase paperwork flooded my house. I became overwhelmed. There was no doubt: it was starting to impact my bottom-line.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a simple way to check property performance and it wasn’t easy for me to find the kind of time I knew I needed. Right around the time I caught a big insurance premium increase and a late property tax payment, it hit me that I needed to do something. Even though I was stretched at work, I had no choice but to take a couple days off and make some real changes.
The opposite of scalability is implosion
I took a few weeks to audit every single document, expense, and property management statement. After building manual reports, I realized I had several properties that were simply not performing. The list of problems I found was surprisingly long. For example, one property manager was accidentally charging me for another owner’s property that was similarly numbered for months. It wasn’t until I combed through every invoice that I discovered the problem.
To fast forward, once I had a handle on the errors, and was caught up with document filing and other routine operations, I still had to get to work changing insurance providers, appealing tax valuations, increasing rents, and more. Don’t get me wrong, there were several best practices I was missing (and have since improved), but the overwhelming thought I had was, “there HAS to be a better way to do this!”
I wasn’t alone. Vincent had been noticing some of the very same issues, only even more pronounced with the new bookkeeping software we had adopted. I love real estate. For a long while my only plans were to continue growing my portfolio. But for the first time since I started buying properties, I questioned if I had hit a ceiling and needed to stop altogether.
Foliolens was born
With our background in technology, we knew there had to be a better solution. We searched everywhere, spoke to other investors, and tested multiple software products, but nothing felt like it was genuinely addressing this area. We wanted to do better.
We decided to build Foliolens, an easy to use property management automation platform for everyday real estate investors, landlords, and property managers that actually saves you time and money without any code or advanced technical knowledge.
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We have a long and exciting road ahead, and want to invite you a long for that journey, starting with this blog and our newsletter. We’ll be discussing property management strategies, trends, and tools, but we’re particularly interested in uncovering those areas that promise to save real estate investors, landlords, and property managers significant time and money.
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