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The Knock team. (Knock Photos)

When it comes to communication with customers, many apartment landlords still rely only on phone and email to connect with potential tenants and existing renters.

Knock wants to change that. The Seattle startup today announced a $10 million Series A round led by Madrona Venture Group to help grow its communications and CRM platform used by nearly 200 multifamily property management companies. The 52-person company has seen revenue grow by 11X over the past two years and is operating in nine U.S. cities. Total funding to date is $15.5 million.

What Knock does: Knock’s technology facilitates communication between property managers and renters — responding to questions, organizing tours, etc. — and also manages customer relationships, bringing both services in one place.

Knock’s product can be used with property management software systems such as Yardi and Realpage, and also provides back-end analytics data to highlight engagement and internal sales statistics. It integrates with communication tools such as Facebook Messenger and productivity apps including Outlook and Slack.

Knock will use the fresh funding to invest in data science and analytics that can help property managers predict tenant turnover and reduce vacancy rates.

Backstory: Knock, originally called ZipDigs, was co-founded in 2014 by Tom Petry and Demetri Themelis, two University of Washington grads who previously worked together at UBS Wealth Management. The entrepreneurs were frustrated with the leasing process, specifically with how difficult it was to communicate with landlords. “All these different communication channels in one centralized platform was just not available prior to Knock,” Petry said. Jay Zeng, the company’s other co-founder, left in April 2018.

More renters: Themelis said that almost every major metropolitan market is seeing a record amount of multi-family development. That’s good news for Knock. “With all that supply, there’s competition to get renters to move into those properties,” Themelis said.

Competition: Some companies offer landlords lead management or communication tools, but Petry said none bring them together in the way that Knock does.

Knock co-founders Tom Petry and Demetri Themelis.

Investor insight: In a blog post, Scott Jacobsen, managing director at Madrona, detailed how Knock “grew from a booking widget for prospective tenants to a comprehensive CRM.”

“By listening to customers and deeply understanding the pain points and friction (a behavior we see in all great founding teams), the Knock team has built the best CRM system for multi-family property managers and are just getting started in their ambition to build a comprehensive, modern marketing cloud for the industry,” Jacobsen wrote.

Not that Knock: There’s another real estate startup called Knock that raised a $400 million round two months ago for its “home trade-in program.”

Seattle real estate startups: Knock is one of several startups in the region building tech for the real estate industry. Others include Flyhomes, Remarkably, Pro.com, Porch, JetClosing, MoxiWorks, IMPREV, and Faira — not to mention industry giants such as Zillow Group and Redfin.

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