Why we invested in Knock
-General Partners: J. Corey Schmid and Tom Gonser
At Seven Peaks Ventures, we like to invest in breakout ideas and teams that have a common set of characteristics. Knock is one of those companies. We are excited to be working with the Knock team as they scale their business to the next level. I’ve had the fortune of advising the Knock leadership team from very early days and have seen their progress in sales, product, and partner strategy. This progress made me present the investment opportunity to my team at Seven Peaks Ventures.
The team at Knock is swinging for the fences. Tom, Demetri, and the team are dedicated to creating a seamless solution to solve challenges in the property management space by connecting renters and properties more effectively. By adding value to both sides of the equation, they have developed an elegant and effective product that is delighting customers and driving significant sales growth for their businesses. It also provides a number of expansion avenues as the business scales. The focus on the solution was derived from their experiences in the market. Solving problems from a perspective of having the problem yourself provides an ‘unfair advantage’ which is critical in disruptive solutions.
We respect and seek out teams who are hard driving and solving real world problems in established markets, but humble enough to thoughtfully accept advice and listen. The Knock team is super talented, but listens and is open to input as they build the business. They are more aware than most teams that they are building a scalable business, not just a technology solution or tool. We have been working with Knock on organizational development and strategy for a few years now, and have seen their growth as leaders within the company, resulting in outstanding growth and success for the business as a whole. This openness to input is critical to scaling and growth, and the Knock team is a shining example of the top-notch entrepreneurs that we like to back.
We like ideas that focus on measurable customer problems, and ideas that generate meaningful revenue for clients. These ideas have the potential to be ‘must have’ solutions in order for companies to be competitive in the future. We also like ideas that are broad enough to generate revenue from the core solution, but also have the potential to create additional revenue streams in the future giving the company optionality in solution breadth and business growth. We are even more interested when the customers vote with their check books and their comments validate how important the solution is to their business. Thus far, Knock is progressing well on these elements.
We like markets that need to evolve and be disrupted. The rental property market is one of those dominated by software companies founded in the 1980s – it’s dated and primed for truly value-add innovation. Back in the ‘80s, just having an application at all was a step forward, but it is often hard for companies with these monolithic ‘green screen’ applications to keep up with technological advances. These incumbents generate revenue from setup and configuration, often more that for the software utility itself. Many of the reviews of these old platforms comment that “.. the onboarding was brutal” highlighting the issue. When new companies like Knock emerge with very little setup and training, elegant user design and ease of use, disruptive SaaS pricing models, and strong value propositions, customers begin to switch. The entrenched companies find it difficult to change their core business, giving new market entrants time to build the new software platforms that are fundamentally mobile, SaaS, and distributed. Knock has the rapid development and fundamentally different design focus to disrupt the property management market, and add value beyond what current players provide.
Finally, we like to invest in teams we know. I’ve known the folks at Knock for a few years. I met Demitri and Tom through a connection with the University of Washington. They approached me as an adviser, and a fellow UW alum with startup experience. I was impressed with their focus, and the platform expansion opportunities that the Knock solution can create, and I invested early. This gave the Seven Peaks team some visibility before we made the investment in their A round.
It’s hard to describe what an amazing partner Tom has been since basically the moment we met him. He has this incredible way of breaking down complicated business problems and offering solutions so that the right path forward seems almost obvious after the fact — it’s just awesome.
After a few years of working with Tom we knew that Seven Peaks would be an ideal partner for the next chapter in our story and we were thrilled when they decided to invest in Knock.
Now that we’ve been working together more formally following the raise, Tom and Dino (Vendetti) have proven to be everything you could hope for in an investor. They are 100% behind you and you can feel it when you spend time with them. I really look forward to our journey together.
Demetri Themelis, Co-Founder at Knock, commented on how helpful Seven Peaks has been over the past few years:
It’s hard to describe what an amazing partner Tom has been since basically the moment we met him. He has this incredible way of breaking down complicated business problems and offering solutions that have been critical to our growth — it’s just awesome.
After a few years of working with Tom, we knew that Seven Peaks would be an ideal partner for the next chapter in our story and we were thrilled when they decided to invest in Knock.
Now that we’ve been working together more formally following the raise, Tom and Dino (Vendetti) have proven to be everything you could hope for in an investor. They are 100% behind you and it shows through their commitment to our vision and steady guidance every step of the way. I really look forward to our journey together.