Some of McNaughton's work in the property management industry was to make hundreds of calls to tenants who were late paying their rent. "I found that sitting there – calling people over and over again saying the same message over and over again – I was wasting a ton of time doing this," says McNaughton.
"I asked myself, 'There must be a better way to make all these calls without actually making all the calls' … I wanted to create something that would make my life easier. And if it made my life easier it would probably make other people's lives easier."
McNaughton's solution was simple, yet powerful. He would enable property owners to record a voice message, which can be done in a couple of minutes. That message is then set up and sent out as a one-time, mass message to everyone on a distribution list. For example, a landlord might use the system to notify late-paying tenants or to let all tenants know about scheduled maintenance.
"The advantage of the system I've created, you can do it on the fly," notes McNaughton. "If you do it the moment it happens, it takes maybe less than 60 seconds to set up the campaign. The moment it happens you can notify people, let them know the status."
He began to design the system in 2011 and incorporated his company in 2012. A few people had mentioned Enterprise Toronto to McNaughton, but he didn't take advantage of their services until he hit a bump in the development of his business.
"I got to a point in the development where I needed help to push this thing through, and I needed some resources, and I needed to expand my network," notes McNaughton. This is when he reached out to Enterprise Toronto for help.
"I think two important points for me was the mentorship and the guidance," says McNaughton, "and I guess the third point I should say is the financial support, because at the time I was using my own money to fund the project."
To get help from Enterprise Toronto and a referral to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (now known as Futurpreneur), McNaughton had to prepare a business plan. He found the process helpful, because it forced him to look beyond the technical aspects of the business.
"As I developed this thing, I started to see different markets and different applications," says McNaughton.
He already knew that the market he was targeting would be a hard sell, because property management companies are very slow to change, especially when that change involves technology.
He differentiates his service by offering it on a pay per use basis, a better price point, and a texting service that other systems did not have. With these advantages, McNaughton was able to secure one of Canada's largest property management companies as a client. He now looks forward to building the business, working through tasks one day at a time and outsourcing work that is not his strength.
He plans to stay in touch with Enterprise Toronto as his business grows.
"I would say Enterprise Toronto is a really good support system. It's like having a friend in your corner."