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The next frontier in real estate technology

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in affordable housing, Airbnb, Column, homeshare, loopnet, property, Real Estate, Trinity Ventures, Trulia, WeWork, Zillow | 0 comments

From entertainment to transportation, technology has upended nearly every major industry — with one notable exception: real estate. Instead of disrupting the sector, the last generation of real estate technology companies primarily improved efficiencies of existing processes. Industry leaders Zillow/Trulia and LoopNet* helped us search for homes and commercial real estate better and faster, but they didn’t significantly change what we buy or lease or from whom or how.

The next generation of real estate technology companies is taking a more expansive approach, dismantling existing systems and reimagining entirely new ones that address our growing demand for affordability, community and flexibility.

The increasing need for affordability

Home ownership has long been integral to the American dream, but for many young Americans today it’s an unattainable dream. A third of millennials live at home, and as a cohort, they spend a greater share of their income on rent than previous generations did — about 45 percent during their first decade of work. This leaves little money left over for savings, much less for home ownership, the largest financial expenditure of most people’s lifetimes.

The increasing need for affordable housing is driving some creative tech-enabled solutions. One segment of startups is focused on making existing homes more affordable, especially in high-cost markets like New York and the Bay Area. Divvy helps consumers, many of them with low credit scores, rent-to-own homes, which are assessed for viability by a combination of contractors and machine learningLandedfunded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, helps educators afford homes in the communities in which they teach. Homeshare divides luxury apartments into multiple more-affordable units, and Bungalow takes a similar approach with houses. Both companies have built technology platforms to manage their tenant listings and to allocate tenant expenses and streamline payments.

Consumers aren’t just craving affordability, they’re also seeking company.

Another segment of startups is aiming to reduce the costs of building new homes, such as with modular, prefab housing to reduce construction costs. Katerra, which just raised $865 million, is aiming to create a seamless, one-stop shop for commercial and residential development, managing the entire building process from design and sourcing through the completion of construction. Taking a “full stack” approach to every step of the building process should enable them to find efficiencies and reduce costs.

If the economy weakens, the need for more affordable housing will only grow, making these startups not only recession-proof but even recession-strong. Collectively, they’re helping Americans right-size their dreams to something more broadly attainable.

In search of community

Consumers aren’t just craving affordability, they’re also seeking company. More than half of Americans feel lonely, and the youngest cohort in their late teens and early-to-mid-twenties are the loneliest of the bunch (followed closely by millennials). Millennials are the first generation to enter the workforce in the era of smartphones and laptops. While 24/7 connectivity enables us to work anywhere, anytime, it also creates expectations of working anywhere, anytime — and so many people do, bleeding the lines between work life and personal life. Longer work hours make community harder to build organically, so many millennials place value on employers and landlords who facilitate it for them.

Airbnb and WeWork were early to capitalize on the demand for community, with one changing how we travel and the other redefining the modern office space. Co-working companies like WeWork, as well more targeted providers like The Assembly*, The Wing and The Riveter, offer speaker series, classes and other free member events aimed at building connections. Airbnb, once focused only on lodging, has broadened its platform to include community-building shared experiences.

Shared living and hospitality startups are also investing in community to attract and retain customers. StarCity provides dorms for adults, Common and HubHaus rent homes intended to be shared by roommates and Ollie offers luxury micro apartments in a co-living environment. These companies are leveraging technology to foster in-person connections. For example, Common uses Slack channels to communicate with and connect members, and HubHaus uses roommate matching algorithms.

Within the hospitality sector, Selina offers a blended travel lodge, wellness and co-working platform geared toward creating community for travelers and remote workers, complete with high-tech beachside and jungle-side office spaces. Meanwhile, experience-driven lifestyle hotel company Life House* connects guests through onsite locally rooted food and beverage destinations and direct app-based social introductions to other travelers.

Modern life requires flexibility

Life can be unpredictable, especially for young people who tend to change jobs frequently. Short job tenures are especially common within the growing gig economy workforce. People who don’t know how long their jobs will last don’t want to be burdened with long-term lease commitments or furniture that’s nearly as expensive to move as it is to buy.

The next frontier in real estate technology is as boundless as it is exciting.

Companies like FeatherFernish and CasaOne rent furniture to people seeking flexibility in their living environments. Among consumers ready to buy their homes but looking for some extra help, Knock, created by Trulia founding team members and which recently raised a $400 million Series B, provides an end-to-end platform to enable home buyers to buy a new home before selling their old one. Also emphasizing flexibility, OpenDoorvalued at more than $2 billion, pioneered “instant offers” for homeowners looking to sell their homes quickly, leveraging algorithms to determine how much specific houses are worth.

It’s not just residents who seek flexible leases; many companies do as well, particularly those accommodating distributed employees or experiencing periods of uncertainty or rapid growth. To enable flexibility, several commercial real estate technology companies have developed platforms that balance pricing, capacity and demand.

Knotel, a “headquarters as a service” for companies with 100-300 employees, builds out and manages office spaces at lower risk and with more flexibility than is typically possible through commercial real estate leases, enabling tenants to quickly add or shrink office space as needed. WeWork allows members to pay only for the time periods when they come in to work. Taking flexibility to an even greater level, Breather lets workers rent rooms by the hour, day or month.

The next frontier in real estate technology is as boundless as it is exciting. A whole new generation of startups is designing innovative solutions from the ground up to address our growing demands for affordability, community and flexibility. In the process, they’re fundamentally reimagining how we live, work and play by transforming the modern workplace, leisure space and even our definition of home. We look forward to seeing — and experiencing — what lies ahead.

*Trinity Ventures portfolio company.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Trulia crowdsources neighborhood reviews so you won’t regret your move

Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 in Apps, Real Estate, TC, Trulia, Zillow | 0 comments

Trulia, the online real estate site owned by its former rival Zillow, wants to give you a better idea of what a certain neighborhood feels like before you move there. To do this, the company today launched Neighborhoods, a feature that brings together direct reviews and feedback from residents based on the existing What Locals Say tool, data and images from Trulia’s own team (including drone shots), as well as more general information about other neighborhood highlights and safety info.

This new feature is now available for 300 neighborhoods in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Austin and Chicago, with 1,100 more planned to go live throughout the rest of 2018. These new neighborhood guides are available in Trulia’s mobile apps and on the web. However, the feature is a bit hidden and will only pop up when you search for a neighborhood in Trulia. I also had no luck bringing it up on the web, but the mobile version is quite nice. It’d be nice to be able to pin a link to a neighborhood guide somewhere in the app, though.

The overall idea is solid. The neighborhood you buy in matters, after all. Indeed, Trulia says 85 percent of homebuyers say that the neighborhood matters as much to them as the house itself. You’ll still want to spend a bit of time in the neighborhood you are looking at, but tools like this can give you an early feel for what’s right for you. Combined with Trulia’s existing data about things like commute times and local crime, if nothing else, you can at least cross a few areas off your list with this.

“Prior to Trulia Neighborhoods, there wasn’t a resource that showed consumers what life is really like in a neighborhood,” said Tim Correia, senior vice president and general manager at Trulia. “Our research found consumers were determined to find this type of information and even developed a series of hacks to source these valuable insights. It was clear it was time to rebuild the home and neighborhood discovery experience from the ground up and empower consumers with all the information to make the best decision for themselves.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Pan-European seed fund firstminute hits a final fund close of $100M

Posted by on Jun 11, 2018 in Airtel, appdirect, Atomico, Autonomy, Barack Obama, Betfair, Brent Hoberman, Carphone Warehouse, Europe, founders factory, Google, heineken, lovefilm, Microsoft, OLX, SeedCamp, Skype, Skyscanner, supercell, TC, Trulia, wayve | 0 comments

New UK early stage VC firstminute Capital launched in June last year to the tune of $60m, with Atomico Ventures as it’s first cornerstone investor. They were joined by 30 unicorns founders form Europe. Last September they brought in the huge China-based company, Tencent, reaching a fund size of $85m.

Today firstminute capital, the London-based pan-European seed fund announced a final close of $100m, and detailed its first batch of early-stage investments made since September.

Two institutional investors have now joined. Henkel, the €60bn publicly-listed FMCG giant, is making its first investment into a European seed fund, and Lombard Odier, one of Europe’s largest private banks, also joins.

The fund has three partners: Brent Hoberman CBE, Spencer Crawley and Henry Lane-Fox. Hoberman is chairman and co-founder of Founders Factory, a corporate-backed incubator/accelerator based in London, and also of Founders Forum, a series of invitation-only, but influential annual global events for leading entrepreneurs. He co-founded in April 1998, and sold to Sabre for $1.1bn in 2005. Crawley is co-founder and General Partner was previously Business Development at AppDirect (a San Francisco-based cloud commerce platform provider, backed by Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital, latest valuation $1bn+), Investment Associate at DMC Partners (Goldman Sachs spin-out Special Opportunities fund), and Analyst in the Moscow office of Goldman Sachs. Lane-Fox is a partner at Founders Forum, Co-founder and CEO of Founders Factory, Co-founder of, and previously part of the founding team of

Hoberman said: “We’re excited to reach a significant milestone for firstminute, that helps us continue to support the most ambitious entrepreneurs globally. The latest investors to get behind the fund further increase our ability to have real impact, and we are buoyed by the rapid progress our portfolio founders are making. With our young and hard-working investment team, and our invaluable venture partners, we are hopeful that we can make our brand promise – of aspiring to be Europe’s most helpful seed fund – a reality. We were aiming to raise $60m for our first fund, and so to have closed our first fund at $100m is a strong signal for European technology.”

The link to Founders Forum is not insignificant. Hoberman curates an eclectic mix of founders investors and new entrepreneurs which has allowed him to tap a wide range of enthusiastic investors to his fund. These include the co-founders of, Supercell, Skyscanner, Trulia, Skype, Autonomy, Betfair,, BlaBlaCar, Qunar, Carphone Warehouse, Datamonitor, PartyGaming, Tradex Technologies, Net-a-Porter, Capital One Bank, Fox Kids Europe, Webhelp, Airtel, PartyGaming and others, alongside other successes such as Marketshare, Ticketbis, Nordeus and LoveFilm. Tommy Stadlen, author, former Obama campaign speechwriter and co-founder of Swing, which exited to Microsoft, is both an investor in firstminute and a venture partner.

firstminute says it has a European focus – with the flexibility to follow local lead funding events in the US and Israel – and says its typically plans to invest $1m into seed-stage businesses.

There will be a sector agnostic remit for the fund, but wil take a particular interest in Robotics, vertical AI, Healthtech, Blockchain, SaaS, Cyber, Gaming and D2C.

The fund also released more details of its portfolio companies to date including:

• Cambridge self-driving start-up Wayve<br />
• Fuel delivery business Zebra
• Wireless charging platform Chargifi
• ICO exchange Templum (which has raised an additional $10m).

Firstminute says three of its portfolio have raised subsequent rounds within 6 months of firstminute’s investment.

The geographic spread of their 17 investments to-date has been UK, Germany, Portugal and Israel, as well as four investments in the US.

Family offices also feature heavily in the fund.

These include the JCDecaux family (€6bn market cap business), Baron Davies of Abersoch (former Labour minister and Standard Chartered CEO & Chairman), Sir Paul Ruddock (former CEO of Lansdowne Partners and Chairman of Oxford University’s Endowment) and Alex de Carvalho (founder of and Heineken non-executive director).

Firstminute is also now introducing its full-time operating team consisting of six investors: Lina Wenner (Cambridge, BCG), Camilla Mazzolini (OLX, Berenberg), Elliot O’Connor (founder of Code at Uni), Sam Endacott (Goldman Sachs), Anais Benazet (Founders Forum) and Clara Lindh (former freelance journalist).

Finally, three venture partners complete the set-up. Steve Crossan, formerly of DeepMind and Google and co-founder & CTO of, currently also an XIR at Atomico; Arek Wylegalski, formerly of Index Ventures in London, and currently exploring opportunities in the blockchain space; and Tommy Stadlen.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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