Tech & Startups

Conversation With: TownSq’s João David and Luis Lafer-Sousa

The company’s CEO and U.S. president on their venture’s remarkable growth, and DFW’s tech and startup ecosystems.

TownSq is all about being neighborly. With operations in Dallas and Brazil, the company is behind an app that connects residents, whether in apartment communities or single-family neighborhoods, as well as management teams and HOA board members.

The goal? To improve community living by sparking genuine relationships between neighbors, while also providing operational support and insights to property owners and managers. The platform is used by more than 6 million residents in 14,000 communities.

D CEO recently talked with TownSq’s João David, co-founder and CEO, and Luis Lafer-Sousa, president of U.S. operations, to learn more.

D CEO: Tell us about TownSq’s platform.
João David

João David: “TownSq connects neighbors and delivers many tools and services that are designed to enhance the community experience. Also, if you’re the owner or an executive of a property management firm, we give you kind of an ‘X-ray’ view of your final customers, we turn the boards to the homeowners, and give you what we call ‘relationship intelligence.’”

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “We have a set of apps that focus on the social side: talking to your neighbors, talking to your boss, talking to management.  We also focus on the operational side, all the not-fun stuff of tracking all the backend accounting of it. We track all the maintenance workflow and everything else that’s happening to keep the communities running from day-to-day.”

D CEO: How did TownSq go from an idea to reality?

João David: “We studied two specific gaps. The first one is that people didn’t know their neighbors and didn’t interact with their communities. That’s what we call a communication paradox. And the other gap is operational deficiency. So, looking at those two gaps, we found that by closing those two gaps, we had a big opportunity to create what is TownSq today, which is a one-stop-shop for property management.”

D CEO: How has the company navigated the challenges of COVID-19?
Luis Lafer-Sousa

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “We’ve made a number of technical changes. We’ve helped with new rules and new guidelines around the communities. Also, our customers are marketing differently. Six to eight months ago, a young adult community could be having fun by the pool, but now, that dynamic will scare away any buyer. So, now the focus has shifted to cleanliness, hygiene procedures, how much tech is present, and staff availability. We’ve really helped our customers transform their marketing through tech and digital assets.”

D CEO: How would you rate North Texas as a market? 

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “Dallas is very similar to the rest of the world. But one thing that sets Dallas apart is it is generally a younger professional market. We see more condo high rises, tons of suburbs, and gated communities, versus the rest of the country, has simpler neighborhoods.”

João David: “Another thing about Dallas is it’s a great place to open your business and own a business. The real estate is cheaper, there are a lot of startups, and the taxes are low. So, all those factors combined make Dallas a great place for business.”

D CEO: How can TownSq help with issues of diversity?

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “One of our absolute core values is about building communities. We connect neighbors, regardless of background, and give communities the opportunity to show solidarity and how they can strengthen communities together.”

D CEO: Tell us a little bit about the company’s externship program and partnership with MIT and Amazon.

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “We’ve structured a program where MIT students create something from scratch with the focus on data ethics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and coursework. This year we did a lot with Amazon AWS and worked with something they call a data lab, which is basically a place where engineers work shoulder to shoulder with hands-on solution architects and software engineers to build prototypes. Our MIT students spent a week in Seattle and three weeks here in Dallas and came out of it with a really cool project.”

D CEO: What is TownSq looking to accomplish in the future?

João David: “We are the only solution that is mobile that has scaled. We’re expecting to grow 100 percent year over year. We expect to be the one-stop-shop in property management.”

Luis Lafer-Sousa: “We’re constantly trying to innovate and create disruptive tools. A lot of how we do that is using the latest and greatest technology. So, we’ll continue to leverage our partnerships to do something without massive investments, but will have substantial output and return.”

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