With flexible payment options, DC financing company Till aims to change the rental housing game - Technical.ly DC

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With flexible payment options, DC financing company Till aims to change the rental housing game

"This is not just about stopping at flexible rent. It's about, how do you then step into someone's life and make their financial life stable?" said Till CEO David Sullivan.

David Sullivan is the CEO of Till.

(Courtesy photo)

If you’ve ever bid your landlord ‘Good riddance!’ after moving out of a rental property, you’ve experienced what Till CEO David Sullivan says is missing in the housing industry: brand loyalty.

After working in property management, Sullivan noticed that there was no real reward for people who paid their rent consistently on time, and the system of paying one lump sum at the end of the month — rooted from when people only got paid at the end of the month — was outdated. Nowadays, he noted, people are paid inconsistently due to gig economy work. For some, it’s weekly, while others are paid biweekly or sometimes daily. They also have bills due on different days of the month and things like government assistance landing in a bank account at varying times.

All of this, Sullivan told Technical.ly, means that the rental industry is in deep need of a change.

“Every month you’d have a wave of renters that paid you on time, who [landlords] didn’t pay any attention to,” Sullivan said. “It’s just like, good, that’s what they’re supposed to do and thus there was no brand loyalty.”

Till, a DC-founded rental payment company that is now remote, offers flexible payment options for renters and landlords. The company partners with housing groups and apartment buildings, allowing renters to opt-in to its free and premium tier options.

The first, available to everyone in Till’s system, will report renters’ payments to credit companies to help build their credit score.

The second, which costs $10 monthly, offers a buy now, pay later option to renters. Through it, Till will pay landlords in full at the end of the month, but will allow renters a flexible payment schedule, based on income needs, so they can pay throughout the 30 days in smaller increments instead.

"We can empower renters to pay flexibly on their schedule."
David Sullivan, Till

The idea, Sullivan said, is to help reward renters who pay on time, avoid evictions and help create flexibility in housing that was previously unavailable. It also means expanding housing options and making them reachable for more people, he said, by offering an alternative payment plan. Altogether, he hopes it can be a catalyst away from the current model of paying everything in full at the end of the month.

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“All of the old tech has been engineered to operate this way. All of their property management teams and staff have been trained this way over decades,” Sullivan said. “So we have started by just saying, no, we can step in and we can empower renters to pay flexibly on their schedule.”

Till, Sullivan said, is a cloud-based platform that works with Amazon Web Services and runs a data warehouse through Snowflake. It’s available online and through a mobile app that’s based in Javascript.

The system, Sullivan said, is beneficial for renters — both those in need of housing and already in the rental game — It also helps landlords because evictions can get costly, he said.

The renter, Sullivan said, is “where we should start. We should design towards the renter and be consumer-first, but an eviction is a really bad outcome for the landlord, too…[Till is] a win-win for both sides.”

The 30-person company, which Sullivan founded in 2018 alongside Chief Growth Officer Brady Nolan, has seen massive growth over the past few years. Currently, Till has onboarded 150,000 homes and apartments into its system with 50,000 users — numbers Sullivan expects to double by the end of the year.

Sullivan also said the company has already closed on one fundraise earlier this year, and is in the midst of a Series A with huge hiring plans throughout the remainder of 2021, specifically for engineers.

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The growth, he said, is so strong due to a few different tailwinds from the past year. Sullivan pointed to a renewed focus on housing and affordable homes, a rise in the gig economy which changed how people are paid, the huge boost in the buy-now, pay-later industry and housing reform at the government level.

“This is not just about stopping at flexible rent. It’s about, how do you then step into someone’s life and make their financial life stable?” Sullivan said, “driving towards giving them the flexibility to make better decisions, access to better products, access to better housing.

“The more we build and understand the renter today through our program, the more we can step in and help someone.”

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