West Orange resident Pete Zimek is getting recognition for his business, iLS network, which allows people looking to rent to find an apartment community that matches their preferences.
Just because you’re renting doesn’t mean that you don’t have certain hopes for your future space. Perhaps you want a nature view. Maybe tile is better for your allergies than carpet. And what do you do if you can’t fall asleep without a ceiling fan?
Pete Zimek, founder and CEO of iLS network, a company that uses internet listings to match renters with apartments that best fit their lifestyle and budget, believes his company can help with those specific searches.
“Whatever it is that’s important to them, we generally have a way for them to find a community that matches that need, that lifestyle, and that budget,” said Zimek, a Horizon West resident.
The company gives potential renters more than 200 search options to find the community that is right for them.
Zimek’s effort has paid off. The University of Florida — where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 2001 and his master’s degree in management in 2002 — recently awarded Zimek the Gator 100 award, which honors the fastest-growing business owned or led by UF alumni.
“We believe that few things are more personal than helping someone find a place to live,” Zimek said.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
There are only six staff members at iLS network, but the company is able to use technology to leverage to work with more than a half-million renters each year.
“It’s because we built what we think is interactive and powerful technology,” he said. “Our goal is to allow a renter to really find out what’s unique and compelling about an apartment community.”
The company partners with apartment communities to develop listings and content. The network does not work with people who are renting out houses or properties outside of apartment communities, because it has confidence that the communities have greater incentive to deliver a quality product.
“(Apartment communities) have a business,” he said. “They have a brand, they have a community that they have a lot invested in. So, they’ll take the extra time to get good photos. They’ll take the extra time to respond to problems with renters and that sort of thing. They’ll just take the extra time.”
The company customizes its approach to different cities, to localize the content potential buyers are sorting through. It began in the Gainesville market and has since expanded into markets across Florida — Orlando, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Melbourne and Daytona Beach. Each of these markets has different offerings and unique prospective renters, so each market is branded differently. In Orlando, renters search for apartments through 407apartments.com.
In Gainesville, renters have a strong association with the Gators, collegiate looks and the colors orange and blue. The demographic in Orlando is quite different.
“In Orlando, we’re dealing with the entire spectrum,” Zimerk said. “We’re dealing with a very, very, diverse population. We need to make sure that we’re not overly student or overly West Orange or overly East Orange. There’s just so much diversity to Orlando — it’s just important to make sure that we embrace all of it.”
The company expanded into the Orlando area because of all the opportunities there. Zimek knew there would be working with great apartments — the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando has a reputation for being one of the best in the country.
CHOOSING WEST ORANGE
Zimek was living in Gainesville, but as his company began to grow in Orlando, he found himself commuting to Orlando multiple times a week.
He decided to move his family to the Orlando area in 2014 and spent time looking through neighborhoods all over the area, but was unable to find the perfect fit — until he discovered Horizon West.
“On a hunch, we said, ‘Let’s go check out Windermere,’ thinking that it was not going to be affordable — we didn’t think that it would even be an option,” he said. “But we started driving down (County Road) 535 and just fell in love with the neighborhood.”
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].