When it comes to the property tech, or proptech, startups, New York City reigns supreme. It's only natural that the city is a natural breeding ground for proptech startups thanks to the fact that it's the largest metropolitan real estate market in the country. In recent years we've even seen many large companies relocate to NYC, preferring it even to Silicon Valley. Today we're taking a look at the homegrown real estate startups you should have on your radar.
The first startup on our list is perfect for anyone looking to buy or sell some furniture. Kaiyo is a digital marketplace for buying and selling furniture that is all about providing a great user experience. They do this by handling marketing as well as furniture pickup and delivery themselves.
If you’re buying furniture, you do so with the knowledge that Kaiyo has already inspected the furniture. And whatever your style the Kaiyo marketplace has all the top brands from Restoration Hardware to Design Within Reach to Knoll and Herman Miller, often at significant discounts. Buying used furniture on Kaiyo is undoubtedly a major step up from craigslist.
If you’re selling Kaiyo will pick up the furniture and store it until it sold, making them perfect for anyone that needs something gone in a pinch. Then they’ll take professional photos of the furniture and adjust pricing based on how many days it’s been on the market. While this does mean you have less control over pricing and may receive fewer proceeds from the sale, the convenience is simply unbeatable.
This startup is a little unusual, and you might be wondering what it has to do with real estate. According to their website, AI Space Factory is “a multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency founded to build a better future - on and beyond Earth.” Their team of architects, technologists, artists, and engineers work towards integrating sustainable technologies into the way we design and construct buildings.
Their crown jewel is TERA, a unique eco-retreat nestled in the woods of upstate New York, that can be booked through IndieGoGo on a nightly basis. It was built using the same 3D printing technologies and compostable materials that AI SpaceFactory used for their NASA-award-winning MARSHA project on Mars. The company claims that the material used is at least 50% stronger and more durable than concrete, which could revolutionize the way homes and commercial buildings are constructed by eliminating the industry’s waste of unrecyclable materials.
Landis was founded in 2017 and is a platform that helps renters make the transition to homeownership - the ultimate American dream. Customers can select their dream home, rent it, and then purchase it anytime within the following 12 months. During this time, the Landis team works closely with the clients to improve their credit score and build up their down payment, so that they can purchase their home hassle-free.
Before you start the 12-month period, the team will pre-qualify you to make sure that you’ll be able to make the purchase. However, if something unexpected comes up or you change your mind and move out, Landis will refund you half of your Homeownership Credits.
The Landis team prides itself on using the latest technologies to improve their customers’ financial profiles, and their social mission is to make sure that everyone has the possibility of owning their own home.
Founded in 2017, Astorian is an online marketplace that helps you organize the capital spent on services, supplies, and utilities for U.S. buildings, whether you’re working with trusted vendors or looking for new contractors. The company’s CEO, Victor Hunt, grew up in Queens and founded the company with his co-founders at Yale after growing up homeless, which inspired his focus on improving the housing industry.
Since its inception just two years ago, Astorian has raised over $2 million in funding with a user base of over 1,500 NYC buildings and contractors who have done millions in business together and saved over $3 million in that time. Clients include Restoration Corp, the St. Nicks Alliance, Shinda Management, and many more.
Brick & Wonder
Brick & Wonder was founded in 2016 as a premier marketplace for professionals and consumers in real estate and design. At its core, the firm is a selective community of professionals who work in the financial, legal, or creative roles of real estate transactions and building projects.
For consumers, Brick & Wonder represents an online source to find and hire experienced and trusted professionals for premium real estate design and build projects, driven by reputation and smart referral mapping. As the website states, Brick & Wonder “help de-risk one of life’s biggest spending decisions.”
The company is aware that real estate projects are often highly complex, requiring multiple specialists to partner together, and finding collaborators who are qualified and trustworthy is very challenging. By creating a network built on referrals and trust and curation for industry professionals, they assure a higher level of confidence and open up a new stream of potential business opportunities.
Last but not least, the Brick & Wonder team believes that “sharing resources and work opportunities with trusted colleagues leads to better work and more joy.”
CompStak was founded in 2011 and has since been transforming the way the commercial real estate industry makes investment, leasing, and asset management decisions, by gathering information that is hard to find and creating transparency. It operates a massive network of more than 20,000 commercial real estate brokers, appraisers, and researchers, and is regarded as a reliable and unique data source for the industry. The CompStak team has built a comprehensive proprietary database that includes detailed transaction information not found anywhere else.
CompStak’s platform has over 2 million analyst-reviewed comps, which include detailed commercial lease comps (including tenant information, rent escalations, and concessions), accurate sales comps (including NOI, Cap Rate, and price per square foot), and critical property information, and a robust analytics layer that sits on top of all of this data.
The company does all this through a unique two-sided platform. CompStak Exchange is an exclusive platform for CRE professionals to get analyst-reviewed commercial lease comps, sales comps, and property details at no charge. CompStak Enterprise provides access to granular CRE transaction information and market analytics for lenders, landlords, and investors.
Founded in 2014, Diggz is a roommate marketplace that aims to cover all of your bases. Their platform allows users to search rooms for rent, find roommates for an empty room, or partner up with someone to find a new place to rent. Aside from the roommate finder service, Diggz also offers a robust rental search platform covering more than 13,000 rentals and co-living spaces across NYC, and it’s free of charge. Its proprietary matching algorithm connects you to like-minded prospective roommates with similar lifestyle attributes and preferences, so you have a better chance of finding the ideal roommate.
The site has a wide selection of potential roommates to choose from, but for the added trust, it’s easy to discover those that share mutual friends or are from the same hometown or country. Behind the scenes, Diggz employs A.I. as well as human eyes to detect suspicious profiles and scammers, keeping the platform safe and sketch-free.
RealBlocks is one of the most exciting proptech companies in NYC. It was founded by Perrin Quarshie in 2017 as a modern blockchain investment network providing global access and secondary trading for alternative investments, including real estate funds. The platform democratizes access to alternative investments by digitizing shares of the funds over a blockchain-enabled network that is designed to create unmatched levels of liquidity and transparency. This enables fund managers, financial intermediaries, and investors, to have greater control and impact over the performance of their alternatives.
RealBlocks uses a proprietary 30-second, blockchain-based subscription process that enables efficiency and access, allowing investors worldwide to own micro-shares of assets using either fiat or digital currency. Following a purchase, the platform enables the execution of secondary trading, addressing any liquidity concerns associated with alternative investments.
In January 2019, RealBlocks announced a $3.1 million seed round co-led by Science Inc. and Morgan Creek Digital, with participation by Ulu Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, and Cross Culture Ventures.
ManageGo was created in 2009 as a smart all-in-one tool for property managers. Their aim is to simplify property management by integrating online rent payments, maintenance requests, scheduling, rental applications, alternative apartment security deposit, parcel tracking, and more in a single platform.
More than 9,000 multifamily buildings in New York City use ManageGo to manage residents and services, and 72% of their clients reported a better resident-management relationship after using the tool. The team is headquartered in Brooklyn and is led by co-founders Lazar Waldman and Naftali Klein.
Having been started back in 2003, CityMove is the granddaddy of New York City's moving company bidding sites. If you're looking to move all you need to do is spend a few minutes uploading your moving project which will instantly get shared with moving companies that put in their quotes, monitor their competitors' prices, and adjust to try to win your business.
According to CityMove, they've had almost 60,000 jobs posted on the platform, from 35,000 users. With so many past moves on the platform, CityMove has a massive amount of verified reviews, so you'll have in-depth ratings and reviews at your fingertips when choosing a mover. You can even see what kind of jobs and what prices the movers have done in the past (without personal information or exact addresses).
Like CityMove, Moved is another bidding site for moving companies, but they've taken things a step further as they hope to become your "moving concierge". Their goal is to make moving easy and to be your one-stop-shop for all things related to moving, allowing you to sit back and relax while the team gets the job done.
From booking movers to forwarding your mail and everything in between, Moved acts as your free personal concierge in the moving process. They also ease that process by helping you plan your move ahead; you can use their platform to let them know your projected move-in date, and they will contact you six weeks prior to that date to get the process started.
Spruce is a modern title and closing company that’s on a mission to create the new standard in real estate transactions. They believe that buying and selling real estate should be simple, affordable, and effortless for everyone involved.
Spruce offers a complete title and closing API solution, which makes their lender and real estate partners more efficient. Moreover, their proprietary digital homeowner dashboard allows buyers and sellers to view documents, link their bank account, and schedule their closing with ease. All of this is backed up by Spruce’s team of title experts, who are headquartered in the heart of New York City. Consequently, they have deep local expertise, but also a national reach. Bessemer Venture Partners, Collaborative Fund, and Omidyar Network have invested in Spruce, and the company is now one of the top startups to watch in the industry.
EverBlock Systems is the maker of modular plastic blocks called Everblocks. For the uninitiated, these are basically giant lego blocks, which are perfect for building temporary walls or other structures. Everblocks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, making it easy to construct structures of virtually any dimension.
You can purchase Everblocks individually or go directly for a kit. Furniture kits range in price from the low $200's for small shelf and tv console kits to over $1,000 for 8-foot sofa kits. Most wall kits are priced between $1,000 and $1,500, similar to what it would cost to have a wall-company put up a pressurized flex wall. Everblock Systems also offers rentals of Everblocks as well as installation services. But let's be honest, do you really want to give up the chance to build your own lego furniture?
ROOM was established in 2018 in New York City, with the ultimate goal of reinventing the modern workplace. Offering modular and creative office solutions, ROOM helps companies of all sizes build a better work environment and enhance productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.
Their flagship product is a soundproof phone booth that brings privacy back to the noisy open office. Each booth is engineered with soundproofing materials made out of over 1,000 recycled plastic bottles, and it’s easy to assemble and move around the office. Additionally, ROOM ships flat directly to businesses with a focus on simple and functional design to keep costs low. It has thus become the first company to solve the problem of noise at scale. They also have locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Richmond, Va., so you can test out their products first-hand.
*This article's hero image is courtesy of Room.