Featured Founder: Steve Fiske of iApartments
Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Steve Fiske of iApartments, which is a best-in-breed, smart home platform providing enterprise-level asset protection, energy management, and access and comfort control features to multifamily properties.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
Over the years I've started several companies in the IoT and Smart Home spaces. In my last venture, we launched the world's first smart lock and were a large player in the smart home ecosystem, with some incredible partnerships with Apple, Nest, and Ring and notable customers like Kwikset and Honeywell. Most recently I was an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Tampa Bay Wave, working with several exciting local startups.
Smart home for apartments has started to become more of a norm in recent years, but the players in the space have really missed the mark when it comes to meeting the needs of the market, leading to extremely low adoption. My co-founder Dave Magrisso, a veteran multifamily entrepreneur, started hearing more and more from the market about the growing demand for a better solution, so he set about solving that problem. When I met Dave, it was a natural fit to bring this smart apartment vision to life.
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
Our smart apartment platform allows multifamily properties to operate more safely and efficiently all while simplifying their resident's lives. I love to build products that solve a real need, with iApartments it's a fun challenge to build products that bring value across the board to the residents, onsite staff, and owners of each community.
Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?
In our previous ventures, my co-founders and I were the first movers, in this latest venture we find ourselves up against some large incumbents with heavy financial backing and a head start in the market. Thankfully being veterans in our respective areas of expertise, we've been able to drastically cut down that head start, and by having our customers' needs be our north star we're able to continually gain ground.
Where do you see your company headed next?
We've recently launched our first add-on offering and are rolling out nationwide. Right now we're hyper-focused on growing the company and our suite of products and services. Our goal is to have iApartments be synonymous in the industry with smart apartment technology.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.
Learn when to listen to the advice of those close to you (coaches, mentors, partners, family) and when to listen to your gut. If you're surrounding yourself with quality people, in many situations, they'll be correct. But sometimes when everyone is telling you to go left, you need to go right. Oftentimes those decision points come at a pivotal point for a company, it can make all the difference.
Why Tampa Bay?
Honestly, I moved to Tampa Bay on a whim never expecting to stay more than a year. Having grown up in Florida I had some preconceived notions as to what the bay area had to offer, and now going on 5 years in the area I'm pleased to say I could not have been more wrong. The tech and startup ecosystem has exploded over recent years providing a phenomenal area to nurture and grow companies, and when you pair that with our beautiful bay and beaches, it's hard to pass up.