Innovation: Instant municipal permit app
Growing up in a family with three generations of plumbers, Kyle Konieczka knows the industry well. From a young age, he helped his father and grandfather with their plumbing business and eventually noticed various inefficiencies in the contracting industry. One flaw, in particular, stood out to Konieczka as the worst: the process to obtain municipal permits.
He set out to fix this problem and after three or four years of developing his idea, Konieczka in 2015 founded West Allis-based startup Permyt, a shared services platform that generates permits instantly. The service allows contractors to obtain permits through an automated app instead of through a municipality’s manual permit application process.
“It takes an average of three to five business days in the U.S. to get a permit,” Konieczka said. “It should take three to five seconds.”
It is illegal for plumbers, electricians, HVAC professionals and remodelers to work without a permit. But because the application process and the wait time to receive the permit is time-consuming and arduous, contractors often neglect the city’s permit requirement and choose to work illegally.
“Contractors are not going to spend more time getting the permit than they would be doing the work,” Konieczka said. “So they defy the law and they defy regulation.”
Each year, cities lose the revenue permits would generate and contractors waste time and costs on the inefficient permit process. When contractors choose not to obtain a permit, they risk unemployment, losing their contractor’s license and fines from the state and city.
With Permyt’s smartphone app, a contractor provides city, permit and payment information and submits the application. The service then validates the legal requirements, processes the payment and assigns a permit authorization number for the contractor’s work.
City clerks can view all contractor information through Permyt’s municipality portal–allowing the city to schedule inspections and pass or fail work. The Permyt app uses push notifications to alert the contractor and the homeowner of any changes in the permit’s status. Homeowners can also request and schedule inspections and search city permit records with the app.
“No one in the world is doing this,” Konieczka said. “There is no instant permit, there is no shared services platform…we are the first.”
Permyt plans to approach suburbs of large cities in its 21 target markets. The startup plans to eventually partner with larger cities, but only after it has first partnered with the city’s surrounding, smaller municipalities.
After Permyt partners with its first city, the product launch for every additional city will take only 30 days or less.
With a 20 percent transaction fee, Konieczka predicts that in 10 years, Permyt will make $100 million in revenue. Unlike other software companies that provide municipal services at a city’s significant expense, Permyt charges much less, he said.
“We built this for (cities) for nothing and we host it, we enhance it, we fix it … we just charge a transaction fee,” Konieczka said.
Recently, Permyt attracted interest from outside investors and launched an equity round lasting 30 days. The startup plans to use a large portion of those investment funds for product development.
The interest was sparked after Konieczka pitched the innovation at Startup Milwaukee’s monthly EMERGE event in February. Since the event, Permyt has formed a network of other stakeholders, including potential municipality clients, other startups, interested investors and contractors, Konieczka said.
“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have garnered such a positive response,” Konieczka said. “The inherent challenge in front of us is to consider all of these, oftentimes paradoxical, recommendations and forge the path that is right for Permyt.”