The Dogged Pursuit of Success: Lessons from Exhibiting at Apartmentalize (NAA).

Recently, Barkably - a venture I lead at Tenney 110 (a division of American Family Insurance) - exhibited at Apartmentalize, the annual convention of the National Apartment Association (NAA), held in Atlanta. Here are some key takeaways, besides the cute dog photos:

  • Over 11,000 attendees! The scope of the multifamily industry surprises many. The audience comprised a mix of property-level staff (especially managers), regional property managers, a few asset managers, and numerous vendors (like us!).
  • Apartmentalize was my first time attending a conference as a vendor. I’ve attended several as a buyer/owner over the years. Both roles, exhibiting as a vendor and touring as an owner, are demanding but in distinct ways.
  • As a buyer, the challenge is to focus on the most pressing problems and potential solutions, which is exhausting due to the sheer volume of vendors. Ideally, I would come prepared with some solutions in mind, interact with the most relevant vendors, and then make recommendations to partners/colleagues. Following my attendance at NMHC OpTech in 2019, I concentrated on understanding new service provider trends and opportunities, which I subsequently transformed into an internal strategy email outlining my thoughts (e.g., on-site employee productivity tools, or Other Income-generating concepts).
  • As a vendor, capturing people's attention is a challenge given the numerous events, companies, and colleagues competing for their limited time. At Barkably, a pet industry venture, we leveraged our canine colleagues to highlight the trend. This approach worked well, as it allowed us to focus on those who showed a strong interest in pet trends.
  • As an online apartment marketplace (ILS), we face larger competitors with vastly more resources. However, the goal of an effective strategy is to render the competition irrelevant. Barkably competes where we can (and do) win: the dog parent market. Niche companies can generate competitive advantages, but it requires discipline. The pet trend is not a creation of ours – we’re riding an existing wave. Our company empowers our customers to compete more effectively in the challenging multifamily tenant acquisition market.

In conclusion, onwards and upwards!

The Barkably Team at Apartmentalize in Atlanta.