The first incarnation of HILO was built in 2018 after its first round of investment. It officially launched in 2019 in three neighbourhoods and 11 buildings in Toronto and Ottawa. Abrams said lessons were learned from those early adopters.
Toronto-headquartered HILO received its first American venture investment in late 2019 and early 2020 and was accepted into an accelerator program that’s now called Forum Ventures. Things were progressing well until the pandemic struck.
“We were meeting with developers across the country and then, on March 13, 2020, our sales cycle hit a wall as every building we were talking to went from 100 per cent occupancy to near zero,” said Abrams.
Much of 2020 was spent improving the product, but an increased interest in tenant experience this year has helped HILO regain its momentum. Abrams said a digital solution was needed to connect office workers adapting to remote work – and he believes companies will need to work hard to entice people back to the workplace.
“We want to make it super easy for building operators to connect with their tenants and deliver and focus on customer experience,” said Abrams. “Our mantra is that building apps shouldn’t be proprietary, but your tenant experience should be. That’s where we feel the money is.”
HILO, which also has offices in New York City and San Francisco, has 12 building partners with properties across North America. The client list is growing:
• It’s launching on-boarding with Avison Young at four buildings in Dallas.
• It’s partnered with Epic Investment Services at the Atria complex near Victoria Park Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East in Toronto, as well as in Commerce Valley Business Park in Markham.
• It will work with Capitol Buildings on six properties around Adelaide Street West and Spadina Avenue in Toronto.
• It’s partnering with small family-owned companies on three buildings in midtown Manhattan.
“We’ve got a number of other partners that are close to the final contract stage,” said Abrams.