Canadian Startup Manaya Wants to Change the Way We Find a Place to Live


The “aha!” moment came to Manaya’s founder, David Polisi, in 2010 when he was searching for a new place to live.

He stood outside houses with “for sale” signs, jotted down the information and waited for real estate agents and property managers to call him back. Polisi was frustrated with the process. Why should looking for a new home be a game of cat and mouse? That was the spark leading to the concept of Manaya Mobile Marketing, an easy and convenient way to get rental information through text messaging.

Since launching in 2012, Manaya has connected renters with property managers by making key renting details accessible. Anyone with a cellphone can text for information by simply punching in the numbers supplied on the vacancy or “for rent” signs. Potential renters will instantly receive all they need to know about the space including price, square feet and general description. Property managers may also choose to upload pictures and videos to assist in the renting process.

“It is tough to peel it back and see what the world was like before this,” said Polisi, “But one thing I can say is that we see 35% of our inquiries taking place while offices are closed and 55% of inquiries taking place over the weekends. We can show people who are texting in the after hours and say that those would have once been voice mails that somebody either should have or could have followed up with—but now they get the information instantly.”

Although house hunting through a neighbourhood you wish to live in has not changed, the way we can spontaneously access information through our mobile devices have. The 24/7 convenience has garnered property manager’s approval. The ability to track usage and analytics has been a key attribute in the service, especially for the busy realtors and property managers.

“We actually see quite a bit of sharing,” said Polisi. “They [potential renters] will send a text message, they’ll come onto our mobile platform and they’ll discover the property; the building, the pictures, the amenities. And what we start to see are people sharing the buildings with friends. So that is a good indicator to us that the consumer is enjoying it so much that they are sharing it with other people through email or Facebook or Twitter.”

Discovery is Manaya’s main focus. The first step to accomplishment is initiating the first step, and Manaya is hoping to make that leap of faith a little less of a daunting plunge and more of a treat for curiosity. The service draws people, assist with scheduling a booking and from there it will always come down to the client’s preference, whether they choose to live there or continue their hunt.

Manaya has also introduced a web to text feature that allows people who are searching for properties in front of their computer to send a text message to their mobile device, which has the coined term “virtual scratchpad.”

“Our goal is to increase the quality and convenience of getting information,” said Polisi. “So the quality is really pictures. And we see, as consumers 84% of the people said that photography was the most important aspect of searching for a place to live. We are supplying a service that brings in professional photographers and virtual tours, so people can really see themselves in the room.”


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