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Why Did Walker & Dunlop Invest in Fortress?

Kerri Davis Nov 21, 2022 1:15:41 PM
whydidwalkerdunlopinvestinfortress

Last November, Walker & Dunlop made a strategic investment in our property management software, enabling us to go-to-market. As commercial real estate finance experts and one of the largest commercial real estate lenders in the country, the company instantly recognized the value in our unique platform.

As we celebrate one year since partnering with Walker & Dunlop to leverage strategic relationships across the multifamily industry, we are reflecting on where we started, what led to that key investment, and what’s next for our powerful, industry-changing platform.

 

Our Origin Story

Fortress started as an internal tool for Elmington Property Management — which is why we're headquartered in Nashville. Our Founder and CEO Kerri Davis was spending millions of dollars a year on what was the best property management software available (trying all of them) — only to be constantly frustrated by endless inefficiencies. Fed up, Kerri embraced her vision of what property management software should be and embarked on creating her own solution: Fortress.

We built the software to alleviate well-known pain points for all users, including both property managers and owner-operators. Our biggest champions are our clients, who have time and again expressed their joy in discovering a platform that solves problems instead of creating more work for them.

The meticulous design of Fortress is completely client-centric, with specific focus on easy onboarding and training, powerful and accessible real-time data analytics, and live support with no extra fees or hassle. Our software allows for accelerated training and onboarding, with helpful features like “Walk Me” and “Onboard Me” built right into the system. Valuable insight is at each client’s fingertips — with robust integrations, built-in BI tools, and industry leading financial and accounting software — and delivered in a clean and intuitive interface that won’t take the equivalent of a 4-year degree to learn. And if issues do arise? Customer service is our top priority, and our team is easily accessible to help clients at every turn.

We didn’t build Fortress to be another point solution in a sea of products. We built a holistic tool to give users everything they need in one place. Walker & Dunlop saw this and seized on an opportunity to help bring our product to an industry in desperate need of modernization.

“We look forward to an even more successful 2023 as Fortress continues to onboard new clients and build out more features and functionality,” said Jack Balaban, Senior Vice President of WDTech, a division of Walker & Dunlop.

 

Why Did Walker & Dunlop Invest in Fortress?

 

Our platform. Unlike other products on the market, we are built on modern technology. We aren’t updating or cramming additional features into tech developed decades ago. We were built on a clean slate and from the viewpoint of our veteran property managers — a first for the property management software industry. We are moving beyond expectations and into the future with our robust third-party application integrations, business intelligence tools providing real-time data, and our user-friendly and transparent approach.

In fact, when Marc Rutzen — while serving as Chief Product Officer at Walker & Dunlop — became aware of our platform, he immediately saw value in what we were offering.

“The property management software industry has gone too long without real innovation or improvement,” he said. “Fortress is changing the game with a platform that is unbelievably easy to use and learn, loved by on-site managers, and can onboard a portfolio in a matter of days, not weeks. This is the property management software the real estate industry has been waiting for."

 

Our innovative team. We are ready to disrupt the property management software industry. Not only do we have the most forward-looking and client-focused team, but we have also created a company culture that is among the top reasons why we keep attracting the industry’s best talent. They strive every day to provide the most intuitive product on the market — anticipating the needs of clients to ensure our product remains the best possible solution.

To put it simply — the proof is in the people. The Fortress team supports and betters our product, consistently impressing clients and drawing in other industry disruptors — including Rutzen, who came aboard in October.

"When I first met with the Fortress team and looked at the platform, I was immediately intrigued,” he said. “So intrigued that as I've continued to get to know the software and team, I decided to join them.”

 

Future collaboration. The powerful Fortress APIs and integrations are the driving force behind an unbelievably instinctive and inclusive product. We value our partnerships and their role in manifesting Fortress’ transformative platform.

Our focus on securing beneficial partnerships is continual. For example, future collaboration with Walker & Dunlop is on the horizon. Their loan and refinance integration possibilities, as well as their document processing technology, will make the loan application process simple and painless for multifamily owners and operators of all sizes. This will give Fortress users yet another opportunity to optimize their portfolio performance with tools that are easy to learn and use.

 

What's Next?

Fortress is currently in a rapid growth phase. Our team has more than doubled since this time last year, and we are regularly onboarding new clients and team members. The most exciting aspect of this growth? Our product roadmap. We already have great software and — with our added developers and technical team members — we are aiming to add even more features and integrations in the near future.

Our goal at Fortress is to make property management more efficient while automating repetitive and tedious tasks. This means users can focus more on centralization and accommodating multiple workflows. And that’s one of the best features of Fortress — everything about property management operations exists in one place, whether it’s communicating with residents/prospects/applicants or writing variance reports. We built the system to be inclusive of all of these incredibly important, but usually ancillary, features. 

This efficient architecture and modern technology stack allows users to access features from a centralized position. For example, a user can manage communication and Google reviews for all sites in one place —  even automate responses to both communications and reviews.

But we won’t stop there. We have the ability to integrate with similarly innovative companies via API connections in a way that property management has never before seen. Property management software users are so used to outdated, inefficient, and limited integrations, but — with Fortress — integrations will be holistic, real-time, and easy to use.

We’re constantly striving to overcome the obstacles faced in our industry, including those created by the pandemic. Finding solutions is our business, and we look forward to digging in and facing head on any challenges that come our way. Because creating something revolutionary means never letting complacency through the door.

 

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