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Apartment life made easy

Released at: 15:34, 27/01/2019

Apartment life made easy

Photo: VET Magazine

One new startup has introduced e-solutions for apartment and building management.

by Ngoc Lan

Having lived in an apartment for many years, Mr. Pham Hung Phong, Founder and CEO of CyHome, often had to wait around to pay his water and electricity bills and management fees. This is quite common for those living in an apartment building, and it gave Hung the idea of introducing a radical change to apartment building management in the digital age. “With CyHome, we hope to be able to reshape life in apartment buildings, which has many shortcomings,” he told VET. “We want to make a positive change to operations at the buildings and in the lives of residents.” In March, the CyHome app was launched, introducing new e-solutions for apartment and building management.

New e-solutions

CyHome’s intelligent apartment management solution includes management tools on the cloud platform for the management board, providing the necessary functions to manage and operate the building, such as services, leasing, property, and maintenance, and interaction with residents.

The CyHome app can be used on Android, iOS and websites and comes in different packages for management boards and for residents. The app for residents offers functions such as online payments, interaction with management, and online shopping, while the app for management boards and staff allows for the easy management of necessary tasks at all times and assigns and monitors the work of staff. 

Its software is not for individual buildings, but instead provides optimal and centralized processes for individual management boards. “We aim to standardize management in accordance with the chain model,” Mr. Phong explained. “This is different to using individual software in each building. For example, under the traditional management model, each apartment building would need an account, so the developer would need 20 accounts for 20 buildings. With CyHome, all data is updated on the system and the developer only needs about 10 accounts or less for 20 such buildings.”

CyHome costs just 50 US cents a month for one mid-end or affordable apartment and $2 a month for a high-end apartment or serviced apartment. “In a building of 300 apartments, the management board only pays VND3 million ($130) a month and nothing in copyright fees,” he explained. 

He believes the app will allow management boards to minimize their costs, increase revenue, standardize processes, and expand their management scale. 

The potential of Vietnam’s real estate market will continue to present opportunities for CyHome. In Ho Chi Minh City, more than 1,500 units from eleven projects in the serviced apartment segment will enter the market from the fourth quarter of 2018 to 2020, according to a quarterly report from Savills. Six are located in the CBD and will provide approximately 780 units, or 50 per cent of the total future supply. Meanwhile, from 2018 onwards, 1,830 units from 17 projects will come online in Hanoi.

Furthermore, to 2020, the supply of apartments is expected to be approximately 124,000 from 94 projects in Ho Chi Minh City, with District 9 expected to have the largest share, at 32 per cent. The Hanoi market, meanwhile, will welcome more than 4,500 units from eleven projects, mostly in the mid-end segment. These are extremely positive numbers for CyHome. 

Teething problems

While CyHome has applied modern technology, it’s not easy for a tech company to survive. The idea for CyHome came in September 2016 but it took nearly two years to get underway. “CyHome was not well prepared when it came out because market knowledge among the development team was quite limited,” Mr. Phong said. 

CyHome still faces certain challenges. For one thing, it is not the first app in the field of apartment management, so its launch required a degree of differentiation for it to compete.

On the other hand, Mr. Phong said, real estate management in general and apartment management in particular in Vietnam is still in a period of stability and better standards are being adopted. “Entering an unstable market carries a lot of risks in user training and changing long-standing opinions on the way to manage buildings and how residents want to be managed,” he added. “Transparency and the use of technology to cut down staff is a barrier for traditional management models, but accepting change to improve the quality of services through technology always comes up against the interests of the traditional management model.”

Although Hanoi is a large market, Mr. Phong chose Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang to develop his startup model. In Hanoi, he said, management boards and residents tend to prefer traditional operations and management. Understanding the market and gradually changing traditional views on building management is one of the challenges CyHome simply must address.

In the short term, it will focus on Vietnam and aims at a market share of 20 per cent over the next two years. Mr. Phong also plans to approach ASEAN markets such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and has already expanded its service platform to Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

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