Shaking the foundation: Tech-driven real estate startups are moving in on NYC scene

Taylor Majewski

In New York City, a long-standing real estate capital, change is afoot.

The city’s famously expensive (and crowded) real estate market is inspiring an influx of tech-driven startups, which are unsettling everything from short-term rentals to commercial property.

We spoke with four founders about their vision for real estate in the city, and how tech can drive it to fruition.

Triplemint combines technology, data and a select group of real estate experts to help buyers and sellers make smarter real estate decisions. We spoke with Triplemint CEO and co-founder David Walker.

How has being based in NYC helped Triplemint grow as a real estate tech company?

NYC is the center of real estate, and starting Triplemint here has had a huge impact on our growth. We have access to all the major players, and the real estate tech community in NYC is as strong as anywhere in the country. NYC is also the hardest market to win, so it creates healthy competition that pushes us to innovate and improve faster.

What trends do you think you’ll see in the real estate tech space over the next year?

I think we'll see virtual reality become much more mainstream as the underlying technology becomes more mainstream and developers clamor to catch the eye of prospective buyers. I think we'll also see more of the actual real estate transaction become more platform-based, as email is still the default technology today, and that creates significant inefficiencies for the consumer. I expect to also see the overarching trend of artificial intelligence hit real estate tech in a number of different applications.

How do you think NYC’s real estate tech community will mature over the next five years?

I think it will continue to strengthen as more venture capital money pours into the space. We've seen a steady uptick in investments in real estate tech over the past five years, and I don't expect that to slow down. A number of real estate tech-focused accelerators have also opened in NYC, and I think that will cause a big uptick in the number of entrepreneurs entering the space at an early stage.

 

SquareFoot’s technology makes it easy to search for office spaces, providing online search and concierge services for businesses looking to relocate and expand. The company also utilizes a transparent brokerage service that walks customers through every step of leasing space. We caught up with SquareFoot CEO and co-founder Jonathan Wasserstrum to learn more.

How has being based in NYC helped SquareFoot grow as a real estate tech company?

It's been invaluable. NYC in and of itself is one of the best cities in the world to build a tech company. For a real estate tech company, it's surely the best. The concentration of real estate decision makers here is second to none, plus NYC by itself is one of the largest markets in the world. It's no coincidence that a majority of the commercial real estate tech companies are headquartered here. That also is great for the group of us, as we can hang out with each other on a somewhat regular basis.

What trends do you think you'll see in the real estate tech space over the next year?

I think that we will continue to see new companies popping up that are going after all of the different parts of the real estate value chain. Groups like MetaProp tackle everything that touches the built space, including companies that go after everything from title insurance to appraisal to energy management.  

How do you think NYC's real estate tech community will mature over the next five years?

The NYC real estate tech community has grown substantially in the last five years, and I expect it to outpace that growth in the next five. More and more landlords and traditional players in the industry are looking for new ways to leverage technology in their daily operations. That, coupled with additional investment dollars looking to back real estate tech deals, will lead to increased velocity all around.

 

 

OffrBox is a residential investing platform that lets users search properties, make offers and close deals within hours. The company launched in beta in July 2016 and has become one of the largest online real estate marketplaces for residential investors. We spoke with OffrBox founder and president Eric Andrew.

How has being based in NYC helped OffrBox grow as a real estate tech company?

My passion for real-estate investing started in NYC. I purchased my first property with student loan refunds while attending college at Columbia. As OffrBox.com has grown, I have been able to leverage the real estate and tech community for advice, support and collaboration. New Yorkers love talking real estate, so it has been very natural to find talent who understand the challenges we want to solve and join our journey. The biggest benefit of being in NYC is the access that being in NYC provides. Whether the need relates to human capital, growth resources, learning and collaboration opportunities, or raising capital, New York City has provided excellent access to all of OffrBox’s startup needs.

What trends do you think you'll see in the real estate tech space over the next year?

Matchmaking marketplaces, real-time data and streamlined transaction processes. During the next year, the trends we expect to see in real estate tech are an increased focus on data, improving the real estate transaction process, and the continued evolution of marketplaces. Up until now, finding the perfect property and closing the deal has been a manual and time-consuming process. Our goal at OffrBox.com is to empower real estate investors with the type of transparency and efficiency that maximizes their investment returns. OffrBox has been laser-focused on integrating these key benefits into our product. OffrBox is the first marketplace to digitize the purchase offer process via an Amazon-style point-of-sale framework, and our upcoming product release will allow buyers and sellers to handle every aspect of the purchase and sale process (from offer to close) online and via mobile.

How do you think NYC's real estate tech community will mature over the next five years?

I expect significant growth in the number of real estate tech startups.  As more millennials become real estate owners and investors, they will naturally want to build products that improve their experiences and reduce wasted time and inefficiency. Compared to other tech sectors, the NYC real estate tech ecosystem remains small. The growth in accelerators, incubators, angel syndicates and conferences will provide more opportunities for entrepreneurs to create and collaborate on new products. The real estate industry is long overdue for radical change and disruption. Its practices have remained relatively unchanged by technology. NYC is creating the perfect cocktail of interest, opportunity and resources to move real estate tech forward.

 

Nestio offers a marketing and leasing management solution for residential landlords and brokers. From top national management companies to boutique brokerages, thousands of multifamily professionals rely on Nestio’s software to manage their inventory from one place, optimize the tenant experience from prospect to close, and drive more revenue. We spoke with Nestio CEO and co-founder Caren Maio.

How has being based in NYC helped Nestio grow as a real estate tech company?

NYC has always been the real estate capital of the world, so it was a natural decision for us to launch here. Since we started Nestio, we’ve seen the real estate tech scene explode into the vibrant ecosystem it is today. This growth goes beyond the massive uptick in VC investment; it also includes a major boost in the number of prospective employees who maybe weren’t drawn to this sector before. We’ve seen growing interest in real estate tech from high-quality talent in other industries and across multiple disciplines, from product and engineering to sales and marketing. There are also more companies in the space, many of which are based in NYC, due to the increase in VC dollars and even accelerator programs, like MetaProp, focused on funding innovation in real estate technology. I’ve personally been able to enjoy the camaraderie that’s come along with that, and the increase in knowledge-sharing from other founders who have started their companies here.

What trends do you think you'll see in the real estate tech space over the next year?

There has and will continue to be a massive focus on data — from professionals in real estate to companies in real estate tech to other entities, like the city itself. There has been a great effort to unlock important datasets and make them more accessible. That’s step one — the ability to get folks to care and, where relevant, offer up data accessibility. We’re now headed into step two, answering the natural next (and important) question, “Now what do I do with it?” It’s not enough to just provide raw data. As a technology partner, companies like ours need to do the upfront work to package information for customers in a way that's easy to digest and, most importantly, helps them gain insight to take action. The real estate professional’s mindset is changing, and more and more are leaning in than ever before to ask how they can use this type of information to differentiate themselves in the market and get ahead. I think we’ll see the community welcome interesting products from new and existing companies that meet that need with open arms.

How do you think NYC's real estate tech community will mature over the next five years?

If the past five years were any indication, it will look a lot different. The companies that have launched or are launching have the opportunity to cement their place within the industry, to make their mark and ensure that the real estate tech sector remains a force to be reckoned with. My hope is that we’ll have some big success stories within the space (and that Nestio is included among them, of course!) Obviously, given the nature of startups and early-stage companies, there will be varying degrees of success for these companies — some will have huge wins, some will combine forces, some will roll into larger, long-standing real estate entities, and some, unfortunately, won’t make it. Regardless of any individual company’s outcome, I truly believe that we’re all making history right here and now. It’s an incredible time to be part of the real estate tech community, and I’m really excited for what lies ahead.

 

Images via featured companies and Facebook. 

Have a tip? Let us know or tweet us @builtinnewyork.

 

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