Walter, usewalter.com, is a made-in-Montreal app designed to connect building managers and residents, along with a few extra perks to make condo and apartment living a little more fun and friendly.
Handout / Courtesy Walter Innovations.
Montreal condo projects are getting bigger. The new crop of tall towers offer impressive views and, often, more amenities for residents. But the scale of these buildings also poses new challenges for apartment managers to co-ordinate bookings for party rooms and guest suites, deal with maintenance requests and communicate important information to residents.Enter Walter, usewalter.com, a made-in-Montreal app designed to connect building managers and residents, along with a few extra perks to make condo and apartment living a little more fun and friendly, too.The app, which launched only six months ago, is the brainchild of Charles Lachance, who comes from three generations of real estate developers, architects and promoters in Montreal and Quebec City. While working in customer service for his family’s company, GCA Immobilier, Lachance saw an opportunity to integrate modern ‘smart’ technologies within condo and apartment buildings to improve communication and help residents feel more connected to what’s going on where they live.“Communication is a big part of the real estate experience for condo owners, whether that is with the developer or the property manager,” Lachance said. “What we’re trying to do with Water is to try and create smart technology for your building. Residents of condo towers like to know what’s going on. We want to emphasize a sense of community.”
Team Walter is, from left: Eric McCutcheon, Thierry Skoda and Charles Lachance.
Jimmy Hamelin /
Courtesy of Walter Innovations.
To take Walter from idea to market, Lachance teamed up with tech-savvy developer Thierry Skoda, a Montrealer who had recently returned from the prestigious Y Combinator program in California and recruited family friend Eric McCutcheon to lead sales and development.Most software in the co-property management world aims to streamline workflows for property managers, Lachance said. Particularly in Canada and Quebec, there are few applications that aim to engage the residents as well.Walter connects residents with property managers, but also provides concierge-like access to local businesses to make it easier to find services like housecleaning, dog walking or personal training. The app includes a buy-and-sell board, an instant-messaging service and information like important dates, and digital copies of bylaws and co-ownership documents. For condo owners who bought in pre-sale, the app also allows them to view their unit plan and choose the colours and materials before construction begins, and receive progress notifications on the work.Lachance said the ultimate goal is for the app to enhance residents’ daily experience in their buildings, from checking to see if there’s a free treadmill in the gym before trekking to the elevator, to putting in a work order for building repairs, to getting a ping on their phone when Amazon packages arrive. In some buildings, residents can even use Walter to unlock the doors with their phones.Residents in buildings that offer Walter are not required to use it, Lachance noted. They can choose to receive memos and other important information by text message or email, or call in requests for service, repairs or bookings if they prefer.Walter is currently in use by several property management companies in the greater Montreal area, and the company plans to start selling the app in Ontario within the next year. The cost for property managers is $1 per unit, per month. Current clients include YOO Montreal in Griffintown, Le Solano in Old Montreal and CentraCondos downtown. Lachance said Walter is currently serving over 8,000 units, and the company aims to register 30,000 units by the end of the year.Related