“How do you go from running a plumbing and air conditioning company to also running a multifamily networking website? We must’ve been out of our minds!”
In early 2016, Ike and Dallin Tippetts started development on what would eventually become Multihousing Friends. Ike’s company, Rainforest Plumbing & Air (at which Dallin is a manager), was known for its use of innovative marketing strategies. Dallin had recently put the finishing touches on an app for Rainforest’s customers and had been working with the Arizona Multihousing Association to create a similar app for them. It was while helping to create these features that the father-son duo had an idea.
“We should build a website,” Ike remembers saying to Dallin. “It could be an online hub for apartment managers.” Dallin liked the idea. For years, the two had built a network of blogs aimed at various multifamily audiences, such as maintenance professionals. They’d been here before. But while these were similar in concept, the site Ike and Dallin were envisioning was much larger in scope. So large, it seemed, it was almost crazy to them. “How do you go from running a plumbing and air conditioning company to also running a multifamily networking website? We must’ve been out of our minds!” joked Dallin.
Their crazy idea underwent several iterations and changes throughout the design and development process. Even though the basic concepts were there from the beginning, it wasn’t until later that the ideas for the core features took shape. An early concern was how to appeal to both multifamily industry professionals and service vendors alike. In concept meetings with the site’s developers Mesa-based Skyhook Marketing and design firm Tactix Creative, Ike and Dallin laid out their vision. “We wanted to somehow re-create the experience of an AMA trade show and conference,” said Dallin, “And if we could do that in a digital setting online where you could have that same experience year-round, I thought we might really have something there.”
They described three basic pillars: education, networking and relationship-building. These concepts would eventually evolve into the Learning Center, Vendor Directory and AMA Forums. With these ideas in place, development had a clear idea of where to go. But they had yet to share their ideas with anyone beyond the development team. Seeking guidance, Ike and Dallin turned to Tom Simplot, president and CEO at the Arizona Multihousing Association. Simplot helped them introduce the site concept to the AMA’s executive board and from there, the development of the site worked in tandem with suggestions and feedback from the association’s core leadership.
“It was really important for us to do this in conjunction with the AMA,” said Dallin. “They were so enthusiastic and supportive of what we we’re trying to do.” Features such as AMA events and education listings and exclusive membership access were added to the site as part of this process. Finally at the May 2017 board of directors meeting, more than a year after first discussing the idea, Multihousing Friends was unanimously approved to become an Affinity Partner with the AMA.
Granted, the two didn’t expect to spend over a year of their lives creating a website they weren’t even sure people wanted. As most of their conversations go, Multifamily Friends just sort of came up. “I mean, we bounce crazy ideas off each other all the time. Instead of talking about baseball scores, we talk about cool domain names and stuff like that. That’s just us,” says Dallin.
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