UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.
It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”
February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.
Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.
“Being an entrepreneur is a lifelong journey,” said Brice. “iUnit is a reflection of many other businesses and experiences.”
iUnit is the response to the flood of millennials who desire to live in hip, urban communities but may not have the budget for the trendiest apartment building or those high dollar zip codes. Through innovations in real estate design, iUnit provides rental units at better price points with features that millennials care about: community, energy efficiency and technology.
iUnit not only provides more affordable urban living space, it provides a smarter one, too. Tenants will have access to an iUnit app that creates a communal building, by connecting tenants with each other, while empowering tenants to use energy more efficiently by displaying their energy consumption and that of their neighbors on a dashboard. iUnit’s goal is to create a net-zero carbon footprint in each of its buildings.
Taking the concept of community even further, tenants will also have the opportunity to invest in neighborhood projects and local non-profits. iUnit just broke ground on its first project site in Denver, CO, and aims to make units available in DC within the next year.
So, what advice does Brice have for student entrepreneurs?
“The point is to make a living doing what you love to do. Don’t go into entrepreneurship for the money.”
“Test your idea really early, fail fast if you have to. Pitch your idea to others and potential customers. Figure out how to test your idea at a minimum cost.”
For more insights from Brice and Dingman’s other EIRs, stop by a Dingman Fridays Session, held every Friday during the academic semester from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Dingman Center (2518 Van Munching Hall). Visit the website for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.