Way back in 1999, at the beginning of the dot-com explosion (and implosion), BuildingLink was launched based on the idea that the Internet and simple browser screens, when coupled with a smart database system, could be harnessed to better run residential multi-family properties.

Two revolutionary concepts

There were two revolutionary concepts in what we were trying to do:

Firstly, we were asking our potential customers––incredibly busy and frenzied property managers––to actually pay for something on the Internet, at a time when everything on the Internet was being given away for "free" to attract "eyeballs" and advertising dollars. Our thinking was that the only way to know for sure if we were creating something of value was to see if people would pay for it. It was also our way of signaling to our property management early users that we intended to be in it with them for the long haul; we wanted to communicate to them our serious, traditional revenue model, and that our motivation and viability were not based on any "here-today-gone-tomorrow" or "get-rich-quick" schemes.

Secondly, we were suggesting that residential multi-family buildings, worth in aggregate $100 million and up and employing often more than 15 employees, could benefit from a more organized system of management than what existed at the time: old-fashioned manual address books at the front desk with many scratched off or overwritten contact phone numbers for residents, stacks of old and out-of-date permission-to-enter sheets going back many years and stuck in drawers at the front desk, triplicate copies of work orders floating around the building but not always getting done, pages and pages of package receipt logs and signatures that needed manual recopying for each shift, sticky notes attached to or falling off mailboxes, and package rooms containing long-forgotten boxes or dry cleaning.

Piece by piece

And so seven years ago, with the talents of some excellent programmers (still with us!), the good advice of a few wise and veteran property managers, and a lot of trial and error, we began to design and build a better system. We built a package tracking system, a front desk instructions system, a resident public display (to get rid of the sticky notes), an electronic address book with automated email functionality, and so on. For our more "hard-core" property managers, we also added modules for setting up preventative maintenance tasks, for documenting their equipment and systems, and for keeping inventory. For our more security-conscious customers, we pioneered electronic signature capture, integrated the use of reference signatures, and color-coded "do not allow entry" screens. And for our technology lovers, we invented new, exciting and powerful integrations to enable them to interface with a wide range of devices such as barcode scanners for tracking# capture, autodialer modems to instantly call residents from the front desk, mobile handhelds for delivering and capturing signatures at residents' doorsteps, and camera-to-database direct links for capturing photos.

The early adopters

Thank heavens for our January 2000 early adopters! A board president of a NY condo who loved technology, a professional manager of low-income housing in Boston, a few prestigious high-end new construction rental buildings in Manhattan. Hard work! We knocked on a thousand doors and did hundreds of demos! (It is not easy marketing a new approach to people who have been managing buildings the manual way for decades.) In the process, we refined and expanded our system over and over, making thousands of changes, additions, and refinements, and expanding on the number of innovative and useful things we could do. Our customers made our system what it is today.

From New York to Tokyo

Little by little, word of our system began to spread. A few more co-ops and condos, the first company-wide adoption of our system (thank you, Rockrose, for the vote of confidence), and by 2002 we were off and running. Today, our customer base covers over 3,000+ of the best-managed residential properties in New York and across the country (i.e. Boston, Dallas, San Francisco) and as far away as Japan! (The Ritz-Carlton Residences-Tokyo).

More equipment

Equipment! And lots of it! As our customer base grew, so did our obsession with providing world-class performance and security. We started with a single Compaq web/dataserver in 1999, and we continue today to deliver rock-solid data security, near-perfect "uptime," and sub-second response time via our current 15 load-balanced web servers, our secure-connection SSL accelerator appliances, and our firewall-protected data servers, all located at AT&T's main data center in New York but that replicate every 10 minutes to backup database sites. (You may not understand that last sentence, but trust us, it is impressive!)

Into the future

How will the story end? The momentum of new buildings joining our system keeps accelerating. But, we NEVER forget or take for granted our existing customers. In 2008, we launched the remaining components of our new Integrated Platform 2.0, containing a range of really fantastic new functions that you, or property managers like you, have requested. Together, BuildingLink and our devoted customers will continue to shape our system together, and we will continue to revolutionize the methods by which residential management is performed.

Join BuildingLink Today

Our customers have helped write our history, and will continue to help write our future. We invite you to join the proud network of BuildingLink subscribers today, and be a part of that writing process.