What You Missed at Inman Connect 2014

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Ah, Inman Connect in San Francisco. It’s always great to get away from the summer heat in NYC and this year’s Inman was a busy one. A few terms/phrases that seemed to come up in multiple conversations were: predictive modeling, the uberfication of real estate, and hyperlocal content. Some innovative companies I noticed at Inman that are advancing the real estate technology space within these highlighted concepts are: OpenDoor, CurbCall, Wiki Realty, and Placester.

Open Door - Eric Wu, who sold his previous company to Trulia, recently helped create OpenDoor. Along with some strong venture backing by Keith Rabois' Khosla Ventures, the OpenDoor team has set out to identify and purchase properties within three days, instead of the typical 90 day transaction period. They also hope to increase the liquidity of a real estate investment, making the use of predictive modeling and data/analytics essential to OpenDoor going forward.

CurbCall - Created by Seth Siegler, at the Realology/Retsly co-sponsored hackathon last year, CurbCall is bringing Uber to the real estate world. Seth built the first iteration during the event. This year, CurbCall had a display at Startup Alley and it was a busy booth revolving around the uberfication of real estate. But what does the uberfication of real estate mean?

“The uberfication of the real estate industry is a bridging of the gap between the consumer and product while eliminating issues the consumer faces in the purchase decision. e.g. Uber removes the open transaction issue of payment and tip at the completion of the ride, then emails a receipt for expense purposes.  It's also an on-demand service that provides live interactivity throughout the experience.  Updates are frequent throughout the transaction from identifying the wait time and ordering a ride, to emailing the receipt and grading driver performance.”

-       Rick Zaccari

Relationship Manager, Onboard Informatics

 In terms of CurbCall, a brokerage can license the tool for its agents. Once in front of a house, an interested buyer can open the app and request a realtor to show them the property. The nearest agent or the one who is able to arrive the fastest will get the hot lead. This is the beginning of the uberfication of real estate.

Wiki Realty - Wiki Realty was also on display at Startup Alley. Sanjay Kuttemperoor founded this site with the vision of building an online town square where people can gather to exchange local knowledge. The idea is to allow people to share and find hyperlocal information that will lend true insight into an area. Sanjay believes that there is a mess of data in the real estate space and his plan is the help sort it out with the use of crowd sourcing. As put by Onboard Informatics Relationship Manager, Rick Zaccari, “it’s an exciting integration of technological ecosystems into the real estate space”. Today, hyperlocal content is more important than ever and the Wiki Realty team is leading the charge.

Placester - Additional to these three companies, I feel Placester also deserves mention for their recent advancements in real estate. Right now, Placester is continuing to rise in the IDX/website provider sector. The brainchild of Seth Price, Matt Barba, and Frederick Townes, Placester has become a powerhouse in this area of real estate. They announced a new vertical a couple months back. They will be entering the publisher space by powering newspaper websites. This will only serve to strengthen their already massive network of sites.

Each of these companies is continuing to innovate and drive the real estate tech space forward. There were many other great companies at Inman SF this year and we’re excited as ever for the next Inman Connect. As said by Onboard CEO, Marc Siden:

“For those of us not so new to Inman or this space, we have actually seen, heard, or created a lot of what is going on today.  It reminds me that timing of ideas is so crucial, and so are the people that build them into reality but most of all, build a marketplace that is prepared to embrace the energy and genius that is upon us. On the other hand, just build it and Zillow or Trulia will buy it.”

As far as the real estate technology industry moving forward, Rick points out two powerful industry predictions Trulia CEO, Peter Flint relayed during Inman:

  1.  The next 10 years will be focused on using technology to transform the agent and broker experience.
  2. There is going to be a strong focus on bringing new mobile applications to RE professionals

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Image Credit: Wikipedia