Mulk is a technology start-up founded in Oman. Mulk is looking to empower landlords to maximize real estate passive income by monitoring expenses, rental collection, and contract management. Starting out as a seed of an idea, Mulk approached PhazeRo to realize this vision as an MVP, interactive prototype. The timeline was 5 weeks.
Landlords are not able to track the revenue from their real estate investments and are having to inefficient methods like a logbook which can be time consuming. The long-term vision is to provide landlords with rental based lending to finance refurbishment projects to retain and attract tenants.
To make the design process clear, PhazeRo conducted several user interviews with prospective users of Mulk, rental companies, and domain experts. Through user interviews, we gathered and discovered critical insights and behaviors of users, of which helped us develop precise features.
The key takeaways from the user interviews suggest that landlords currently use manual methods such as hiring a watchman and setting reminders on their personal devices to track the financials of their properties. They also store soft copies of contracts on their devices and talk to others to understand pricing standards. Some landlords use Excel files to track financials, and some have unoccupied assets due to tenants leaving without prior notice. Registering with brokerage firms can take away these pain points, but these firms are seen as expensive and their business models are not suitable for landlords with fewer than 5 assets. The landlords also believe in the importance of improving communication between themselves and their tenants and storing important documents such as contracts and tenants' contact information. Some companies, use custom-made tools for property management, and brokerage firms typically target customers with more than 5 assets.
We conducted competitive research to gain insights into the features and solutions of the competitors. Identifying three of direct competitors was the first step.
- Happy Tenants
Then we went through each platform and analyzed it to find any opportunities or gaps that we could fill.
Our initial assumption is that by solving the problem of landlords not being able to efficiently track their real estate investments, Mulk will empower them to maximize their passive income, leading to better financial performance of their properties.
The team's expected measurable outcomes are that landlords will have a standard process to track their finances, leading to reliable and accurate data, and the ability to view and track the financial performance of their properties. We also expect tenants to have better visibility on their contract and stay updated on it, and landlords to store all their contracts in one place. Additionally, the app will help landlords make better decisions on setting rental prices according to the market, and tenants to discover rental prices according to a specific area/city.
To validate these assumptions, the team plans to conduct user testing and gather feedback from users to ensure that the app is meeting their needs and solving their pain points.
User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability, usually a user or customer of the system.
For the initial phase, we broadly defined two users:
- Real Estate managers
With this user in mind, PhazeRo worked together to prepare a whole range of user stories to go clearly define the breadth and depth of the proposed solutions. To determine what is most important for the MVP, the client team prioritized by voting on the most important user stories. The key user stories for Mulk are:
- Price Discovery: View and discover rental rates in Oman.
- Financial Management: Track and monitor the financial performance of the properties.
- Contract Management: Create digital contracts and notify tenants prior to the renewal or end date.
- Verification: Keep track of the rental status in terms of contract due dates, payments, and validation.
Feature set and functionality
The features included in the scope of this project are listed here.
The aim of this feature is to create value for the landlords and tenants by providing access to the rental rates.
This feature aims to create value for the landlords by allowing them to track the financial performance.
This feature will allow landlords to create digital contracts and be notified prior to the expiry date.
This feature will allow landlords and tenants to keep track of the rental status.
A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of a product offering over time. A product roadmap communicates the why and what behind what you're building.
After defining both user and business needs, we prepared some task flows involving the all features. The goal was to show how users might interact with the new features as they move around the app.
Wireframing is a process where designers draw overviews of interactive products to establish the structure and flow of possible design solutions. These outlines reflect user and business needs. These wireframes allow’s PhazeRo and Mulk to ideate toward optimal, user-focused prototypes and products.
The key feature flows to map out were:
- Adding a new property
- Creating a new digital rental contract
- Adding a reminder
The team has decided to use high-fidelity prototypes to test the usability of the app and identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.
To create the high-fidelity prototypes, the team used Figma. The prototypes were developed with a high level of detail, including interactive elements and visual design, to closely resemble the final product. The team focused on creating a user-friendly interface that would be intuitive and easy to navigate.
The high-fidelity prototypes were then tested with a group of beta testers, who were asked to complete a series of tasks using the app. The testers were asked to provide feedback on the usability of the app, including any issues they encountered or areas for improvement. The feedback was used to make necessary adjustments to the prototypes, which were then tested again.
Oman Technology Fund awarded Mulk $50,000 in a startup competition.