When Constance Freeman of NAR’s strategic investment arm Second Century Ventures convened this morning’s session showcasing the hottest technology companies in the real estate sector, she had a game plan. First was to talk about the REachⓇ program, and next to talk about innovation more generally. The panel, made up of major players in the market space, was glad to oblige, bringing unique perspectives on the present and future of technology in the property business. They were:
- Alex Perriello, CEO of Realology Franchise Group
- Steve Berkowitz of Move, Inc, operator of Realtor.Com
- Gino Blefari, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
- Mike Ryan, EVP Global Communications And Branding, RE/MAX
- Elie Feingold, SVP Global Innovation & Business Intelligence, CBRE
Because technology is transforming the business of real estate, the goal of REach and Second Century Ventures is to ensure that REALTORSⓇ stay in the center of the transaction. And each of the showcased companies hit that mark with a variety of offerings and tools that worked to make the practice of real estate more convenient and give professionals greater reach.
The Commercial Entries: Desktime and FundWell
While a large grouping of real estate technologies were shown off (and will be covered in later posts here at The Source,) here are the two enterprises that squarely face the commercial market space: Desktime and FundWell.
Desktime is another in a series of “matchmaker” plays in the technology space where a marketplace is created by finding sellers and buyers and connecting them with a web application. In the case of Desktime, the buyers and sellers are the small leads in the commercial real estate space – 500 square feet or smaller.
Desktime cofounder and partner Sam Rosen presented the business and its plan, targeting the 30 million (very) small businesses and 40 million freelancers who he shaped his company to serve — small operators, typically computer-based, who are in need of modest desk space. The listings for these aren’t found in CoStar or Loopnet – while the inventory is huge, the lead is too small to monetize and manage.
Desktime works by turning empty space into cash as a commercial coworking space – even residential. This idea grew from Sam’s own background building a digital agency in his own Chicago home. When the time came to expand, Sam created unused short-term space, which effectively left that space off the market due to its being too small to handle. Desktime makes that match and allows formal commercial brokers to stay close to leads that are too small to handle otherwise.