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Francois Gouelo, Co-Founder&CEO Enso Connect: You need to be part of the change

Francois Gouelo is the co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect Inc. – a property management automation software that leverages smart home devices and AI communication to provide a seamless experience to homeowners, property managers, and guests. 

What’s the story behind Enso Connect?

Enso Connect started off as a class project at the University of Toronto. In February of 2019, I went to Mont-Tremblant for a weekend ski-trip with some friends. When we arrived at the Airbnb, the key was frozen under the doormat. We had to use lighters to unfreeze it and get in! Once we got in, we were immediately confused by the heating system, and the host was not responding to any of our questions. When we checked out, we asked the landlord for further instructions and still no answers. Almost a week later, I received a message from the host saying the heating system was turned off and a window was left open leading to frozen pipes in the kitchen. This whole situation could have been avoided with smart devices, better communication, and a true home owner mindset. 

As a student at UofT in the Department of Computer Science innovation lab, I had to come up with a solution to an entrepreneurial problem. I decided to start solving this problem that the homeowner and myself had. After all, had the owner known it was -20 in his kitchen with the help of IoT devices, this would have probably not happened.

My CoFounder, Peter Sorbo, joined the team a few months after I had won the Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab $10,000 award, and we began building out a minimal viable product. Today, Enso Connect is a home management communication software that leverages smart home devices and AI communication tools to help property managers lower their operational costs, all while maintaining and scaling their inventory.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Gaining credibility in the industry was the toughest part of our early beginnings. Peter and I started off as students solving a problem. We were trying to get in touch with heads of different travel companies, and the lack of initial traction wasn’t helpful. However we persevered and found ways to scale quickly and get on people’s radar. We joined events, participated in entrepreneurial competitions, and got our names out there until we got attention from new partners, customers, and innovators in the short term rental industry. Many times, the lack of credibility in the initial stages led to some critical “chicken and egg” problems. For example, in the first few months, we “hacked” into airbnb to leverage their API, and quickly got shut down. We then went out to discuss a partnership with Airbnb and were told to come back with 4000 homes. The issue was: how do we get access to 4000 units without Airbnb API data, and how do we get Airbnb API data without 4000 units. We continued to work around this problem – today we’ve found new solutions to connecting with Airbnb’s API and are currently onboarding over 50,000 units across Canada and Europe. 

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

Entrepreneurship is an adventure, and while we’ve accomplished some big things such as fundraising during the pandemic as a travel related startup, or acquiring over 50,000 units, what I am truly proud of is the grit my co-founder and I have demonstrated throughout this past year. We were faced with issues no one could have blamed us for – developing a travel related venture in the midst of a global pandemic. We were told “no” many times, but we continued to pursue our dream of getting every short term rental accommodation Enso connected. 

What is your vision for the future of Enso Connect?

At Enso, our vision for the home is one where every property’s potential is unlocked through a totally seamless and safe experience for guests, owners, and service providers alike. Our mission is to provide a fully automated and personalized communication platform for travel accommodation hosts, for the purpose of enhancing their guest’s travel experiences. Through advanced connectivity, we integrate multiple IoT devices and communication tools to facilitate, at scale, seamless interactions throughout the entire booking process. 

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Listen to your customers – the global pandemic we are currently facing is not a temporary change where things will go back to normal. Things have and will continue to change – you need to be part of that change, and the best way to do so is to continuously listen to your customers; understand the challenges they are facing and see if you can adapt your solution to such issues.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

There are two fundamental books I have as my bibles on my nightstand: “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, and “The Ride of a Lifetime” by Robert Iger.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss about their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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