Proptech firm 1VALET eyes Middle East expansion as revenues soar

1Valet app

A Gatineau startup whose smart building technology is installed in apartments and condos across Canada and the United States is eyeing its next big move after raising millions of dollars in fresh capital.

Proptech venture 1VALET says it’s poised to expand into markets such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia over the next 12 months as its platform – which uses AI facial recognition technology to unlock doors and allows couriers to enter apartment lobbies by scanning a package’s barcode – gains momentum.

The firm, which previously raised more than $16 million in venture capital, announced last week it closed an oversubscribed $7-million round of convertible debentures. The company says it will use the funding to accelerate its move into other markets and add new features to its platform.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

“It’s very exciting times,” said CEO Jean-Pierre Poulin, adding that 1VALET hopes to set up an office in the Middle East in the next few months.

Founded in 2016, 1VALET specializes in subscription-based software that provides condo and apartment dwellers with features such as keyless entry, remote thermostat control and automatic package delivery alerts. 

The company has been riding a wave of growth during the pandemic as demand for touchless technology in public places such as apartment lobbies skyrocketed. Its revenues have been growing at more than 150 per cent annually for the past five years and its platform is now used in more than 75,000 residential units in Canada and about 10 U.S. states, with an additional 200,000 units in its sales pipeline.

Its 135 clients include major landlords such as Ottawa-based InterRent REIT and Minto Apartment REIT, while telecommunications giant Rogers offers 1VALET’s software to Rogers and Shaw internet customers across the country. 

Poulin says more deals are in the works. Meanwhile, the firm, which has 60 employees, keeps adding more residential units to its inventory as new buildings are completed amid a multi-residential construction boom that’s seeing thousands of new apartment suites built each year across Canada.

The Gatineau company is also looking to tap into new revenue streams by incorporating pay-per-use features into the platform. 

They include an app that will allow apartment and condo dwellers to rent vehicles in a similar manner to car-sharing services such as Communauto. Synced to 1VALET’s platform, the app would permit only registered tenants to unlock the vehicles.

After investing more than $30 million in the technology since its inception, 1VALET is on track to start turning a profit within the next 12 months, Poulin said.

Two of the firm’s U.S.-based competitors, SmartRent and Latch, went public a few years ago via mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies created specifically to raise capital through a public listing.  

In 2021, Poulin told OBJ such a move seemed like a “natural path” for 1VALET. But he now says the company – which he describes as having “zero churn” as it heads toward millions of dollars in monthly recurring revenues – likely won’t follow its fellow proptech ventures from south of the border in testing in public markets.

“We don’t foresee requiring lots of money before we reach profit,” Poulin explained, although he didn’t rule out seeking a “significant equity partner” to help finance 1VALET’s continued expansion drive.

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