Buildium is a property management software-as-a-service (SaaS) company headquartered in Boston.
We connected with Palak Mehta, Software Development Manager, of Buildium to get an inside look at the company's technology, various projects, the team's culture, and more.
Quick Hit Details
- Year Founded: 2004
- Number of employees: 362
- Number of engineers: 113
- Industry: Tech/Property Management
Can you share a summary on what Buildium does?
Buildium is a cloud-based property management software that enables managers of residential and association properties to take control of every aspect of their business, whether it is in the office or fully remote, including lease management, online rent payments, vacancy management, maintenance cycles, and accounting.
Our software is easy-to use, affordable, entirely cloud-based and specifically tailored to meet the needs of Property Owners, Property Managers, Residents and Maintenance Workers.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
At Buildium, we get to work on a lot of cool technologies. Our backend is primarily .NET C#, our front end is primarily AngularJs but we are actively working to migrate it to Angular 7 and our mobile applications are written natively in Kotlin/Java for Android and Swift/SwiftUI for iOS. We use AWS for most of our infrastructure needs and use Terraform to manage it. We use Teamcity and Octopus for CICD.
Outside of our main tech stack, we use a number of different services and tools to help us manage our day to day needs. We use Bitbucket for code versioning, Docker for containerization, Logz.io for logging, Newrelic for app performance, Akamai for CDN, Launchdarkly for feature management, Appvance for web automation testing, Appium for mobile automation testing and Domo/Snowflake for data analytics.
More recently, we have also ventured into Machine learning and we use a combination of different technologies like Python, AWS Sagemaker, AWS Lambda and Airflow DAG that help us make accurate predictions.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
Speaking of machine learning, we recently developed a solution to help our risk team detect fraudulent accounts created by fake users posing as property managers. Before our solution, fraud detection was an entirely manual process but we were able to build a smart machine learning model that would predict it for us.
Another interesting project we have done this year is the OpenAPI project. We built a secure set of public-facing APIs that enable Buildium customers to access their data for the purposes of direct vertical integrations. These APIs are brand new, follow RESTful standards and support best-in-class documentation.
Lastly, the project that I am super excited about and personally involved with is the Mobile widgets. It’s not available to our users yet but it will be very soon. Our goal is to stay cutting edge on the latest OS capabilities so when Apple revitalized the way widgets work with iOS 14, we got to work. We designed and implemented two different sized Widgets that provide our users with content that they most frequently access and care about. It went from a Practice Week idea to our product roadmap to actually getting released (almost) on both platforms (iOS/Android) within a span of 4 months.
Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities?
Yes absolutely! We follow Google’s philosophy of 80/20 where we allot 80% of our time on core projects and 20% of our time on innovation projects. Engineers can choose to use this time to learn new technologies, take courses and participate in focus groups, guilds and chapters. They also have the ability to spin up their own focus groups and guilds to tackle items that identify as needing effort. Our engineers are always encouraged to participate in dev talks (internal/external), write blog posts, and attend tech conferences.
Outside of this, we organize “Practice Week” (some may call it Hackathon) twice a year for one week where we step back from our regular product development work to engage with new technologies in an attempt to learn, improve and innovate. Several of our production features today started as practice week ideas. In fact, the machine learning and mobile widget projects I talked about earlier were born from practice week.
What is the culture like at Buildium for the engineering team?
Helpful, Supportive, Welcoming, Friendly, Collaborative and Uplifting. We try and live our core values which are:
- Focus on customers first
- Be helpful and supportive
- Communicate openly and honestly
- Be nimble and flexible
- Take initiative and work hard
- Be passionate and have fun
The team works hard, but likes to play as well. When we get back to the office, we'll be very excited to play ping pong (yes, we have tournaments) again.
What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?
I would like to describe our interview process as efficient, relaxed and welcoming. In terms of the actual process, we mainly do two rounds - a phone screening and an in person screening (on Zoom these days). The in-person screening is about 3-4 hours which includes an hour of coding exercise. You can expect to meet different people across the department where you would also get an opportunity to ask questions. In the end our goal is to have a process that gives both parties an opportunity to assess if it’s a good fit.
Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?
The only tech organization that I am involved with is SheGeeksOut. Their mission is to bring awareness within organizations on creating an inclusive environment which we as a company are very passionate about. We have actually hosted them a few times. We also do our own tech talks time to time. Although others in the department have regularly attended Boston Devops and AWS Re:Invent
We have an amazing PeopleOps & Culture team that keeps us busy. Recently I have participated in a variety of virtual events like paint nights, escape rooms, barre classes and even some cooking classes.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
No idea. I am a wine drinker, but I can assure you we never run out
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Neither. I haven’t watched them
iPhone or Android?
iPhone. Never used an Android so I am biased
Coffee - hot or iced?
Hot. I guess I am not a true New Englander
Favorite employee perk?
Unlimited PTO and Free Weekly Lunches
What music is playing in your office?
No music. Most people use headphones to play their own music
View from your office
Lately, it’s only been home office for me but when in the office, I have a window seat overlooking Government Center and it’s a beautiful view
Rachel Sheketoff, Technical Lead
Rachel is a Tech Lead for one of our product teams at Buildium. She was hired as a Sr UX Engineer and got promoted to a lead. Her undergraduate degree is in Biological Anthropology, where she focused on understanding universal human behavior through the lens of evolution. But soon she realized that her degree didn't have a huge practical application without a PhD so she learned coding on the job, starting with ColdFusion. After a few years in web development, she did her Masters in Computer Science at Georgia Tech specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. Needless to say, she brings her background and knowledge in human behavior and psychology to all her development efforts and architecture designs. In her time at Buildium, she has worked on projects like refreshing our leasing flow and creating a new renters insurance product offering. She also leads the Design Systems Focus Group.
Todd Burkemper, Senior Software Engineer
Todd is a Senior Software Engineer at Buildium. He primarily works on our iOS mobile apps and is very passionate about native mobile development. He graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Computer Science in 2011. Todd joined Buildium through an acquisition back in 2017. Since then, he has contributed tremendously in creating mobile apps that deliver a seamless Buildium experience. Recently, he made us all proud when he surprised his brother by paying a significant amount of the down payment on his new house. As the story goes, in 2017, Todd’s brother graduated from college and Todd convinced his brother to move in with him. After about 6 months, Todd started charging his brother rent. But, in fact. Todd, being the amazing person he is, was putting this money in a savings account along with some of his own money to give his brother the leg up that he didn’t have years ago. Needless to say his story went viral and he was also recently called as a guest on the “Kelly Clarkson” show.