A rapidly growing Chicago startup that makes software for apartment management has opened a remote office in Madison, headed up by one of the area’s tech community leaders.
Mobile Doorman is a so-called “proptech” company, making customized apps that apartments and condominiums can use to connect residents and property managers. Users can use the mobile app to make apartment-related posts, file and handle maintenance requests, manage rent payments, stay on top of packages delivered to the building, organize events and post goods for sale.
“We want to manage every aspect of life in a building,” said Brian Samson, a Madison technologist and the company’s chief technology officer.
The company has rapidly expanded ever since it was founded by Bob Matteson, a former real estate broker, in 2014. The company says it now operates in 28 states, and in 50 different metro areas (Madison not included), servicing about 250,000 apartment units in the country – a figure it claims marks a 635 percent jump from the end of 2017. It has also raised about $2.9 million in venture capital.
“There’s kind of hockey stick growth that you love to see in a startup,” said Samson.
And as of Wednesday, it has opened Mobile Doorman North, its first non-Chicago offices, at the corner of Vernon Boulevard and North Segoe Road.
Samson, as the site’s new manager, will oversee nine employees who will work on back-end aspects of the software, with more hires in the works. The company said it plans to eventually host 25 workers at the office. Samson described the work of Mobile Doorman North as “boring, under-the-hood” stuff that will help the company continue to scale.
While Samson has never been a full-time employee of the company, he has long played an integral role in building Mobile Doorman’s core technology. He’s also the founder and now-former president of Ten Forward Consulting, a mobile app and software development team in Madison that Mobile Doorman had hired to take point on their development over the past three years.
Samson said that for the Ten Forward team working on the project, the transition from third-party contractor to in-house development team made sense.
“It’s really predicated on the success of the Mobile Doorman sales team this year,” he said. “It’s just made sense, from everyone’s standpoint, to have a tech team that’s internal.”
The tech team will largely comprise former employees of Ten Forward who have decided to make the leap with Samson. Samson himself has stepped down as Ten Forward’s president, although he will still serve a leadership role and take a seat on the company’s board. He stressed that Ten Forward itself was not at risk of shutting down, despite the departure of so many of its developers.
Samson has long played an active role in Madison’s startup ecosystem, as an organizer of Madison Startup Week and formerly the leader of MadWorks Coworking at University Research Park. He said that he’s excited to help bring more tech activity to the city.
“It’s just continuing the trajectory of the Madison tech and startup system,” he said. "It’s just such a vibrant ecosystem. Yeah, sure, Chicago’s bigger and has all kind of resources. But Madison has been a long-running second-tier city."
Meanwhile, Mobile Doorman has said that it will provide “all-new resources to the city’s booming tech startup community” in 2019. Representatives with the company said they are not divulging specifics regarding those plans yet, although they confirmed the company is looking into potentially sponsoring or supporting local entrepreneurship competitions.
Correction: The original version of this story said that Brian Samson is new to the role of chief technology officer with Mobile Doorman. He has actually served as CTO since 2014 as a part-time employee.