Class of 2008 - MKA
When Mark Smukler (’08) founded Bixby he was 12 months into a new career as a software developer having decided that a career in finance wasn’t his true calling. Mark spent his days building websites for real estate brokerages as a freelance web developer and his nights bartending at 142 Sullivan, a small wine bar in the SoHo district of New York City. It wasn’t a dream come true, but it was exactly where Mark wanted to be as a 26-year-old looking for the right opportunity to dedicate his life to.
In late 2015, Mark got a call from an old college buddy, Alex Ohebshalom, who needed a simple mobile app that would modernize and digitize his family’s property management company, Empire Management. Two years later, that simple app has developed into a cloud-based set of tools and services that enable property management teams around the world to provide tenants and residents with a more connected, efficient, and sustainable building experience.
Today, Bixby serves over 2,000 properties across the U.S. and internationally, providing a building amenity platform that makes it easy for property owners and managers to provide top quality service to their tenants and residents. It enables managers to automate and organize their operations, resulting in less time and money spent on overseeing repairs, communicating with tenants, and collecting payments. At the same time, tenants and residents benefit from a better building experience through access to on-demand services, weekly discounts and promotions, and a single platform to interface with their smart-home devices. Bixby is a fully-customizable virtual amenity, allowing property owners and managers to tailor the experience to their property’s needs, resulting in higher retention rates and less turnover.
With the platform quickly developing into a best-in-class property management tool, Mark knew that it was time for Bixby to attract talent that help him scale the company into a first-class operation. With this in mind, he set out to hire a business development team focused on increasing the company’s market presence, taking advantage of their early mover entry. Fortuitously, in early 2018 he bumped into two old friends and former classmates that were both looking for a change. Derek Phillips (’07) and Tarique Cooper (’07) had different paths to Bixby, but both were excited to take on the challenge of working for a start-up. Derek came from Capital One where he worked on the Commercial Banking Strategy team doing internal consulting. He wanted to get into a client-facing role in a place where he could have a greater impact, while feeling more connected to the goals of the Company and Bixby was a perfect fit. Tarique came from a real estate background, having worked as a leasing agent and property manager for groups like Toll Brothers, Silverman Properties, and The Marketing Directors. Coming from the real estate world, he felt first-hand the need for a product like Bixby and came aboard to introduce the product to market like Jersey City and Hoboken.
The MKA network has meant a lot to the Bixby team both personally and professionally over the years. “MKA was fantastic from an educational perspective, but the network it gave me, both personally with my friends and professionally with no shortage of mentors willing to give advice, may be MKA’s most valuable and lasting impact.” Derek said. As a startup, there’s a long road ahead for the Bixby team, but their passion for the industry, dedication to creating a socially responsible, innovative company, and most importantly, friendship, trust, and loyalty, bring together the right ingredients to set Bixby up for a successful future.