- Startups are taking the buying, renting, and managing of homes, offices, and warehouses online.
- We surveyed top VCs to pinpoint the most promising companies transforming real estate right now.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Real estate was long overdue for an overhaul.
Until recently, many processes that governed how physical spaces traded hands or were managed – not just buying, selling, and renting homes but also overseeing office towers and organizing warehouses – were only conducted via in-person deals or negotiations.
But a crop of companies focusing on real-estate technology, colloquially known as known as proptech, has emerged to modernize segments of the industry.
Take Beyond HQ, a San Francisco-based firm that harnesses proprietary technology to advise Bay Area companies when and where they should open new office locations. Then there’s MeetElise, an artificial-intelligence assistant (also known as a chatbot) that fields inquiries and requests from potential renters for landlords who own and operate multiple units.
Even before the pandemic, startups like these raised impressive sums. Then the coronavirus crisis hit. Social distancing made it even more essential to embrace new, virtual solutions for conducting the day-to-day essential tasks of the real-estate business. As a result, proptech startups – which made pockets of the sector faster, cheaper, and smarter – blossomed further. Beyond HQ raised $1.75 million, for example, while MeetElise pulled off a $6.5 million round in 2020.
To determine which startups are truly gamechangers, Insider reached out to venture capitalists to ask which proptech firms will continue to thrive in a post-pandemic world. We evaluated dozens of nominations for companies that are proving their relevance amid major cultural shifts in where employees live and what offices are even for. Also notable is increased digital adoption by everyday people buying or renting homes as well as industry professionals including realtors, landlords, office managers, contractors, and warehouse workers.
Weeks of careful vetting resulted in this list of the 31 hottest proptech startups right now.
Below, find two of the companies that VCs said have bright futures. Please see the full list for all 31 firms.
City: San Francisco
Year founded: 2019
Total funding: $1.75 million
What it does: Develops software to help companies figure out where and when they should open new offices.
Why it’s hot: Two years ago, Madhu Charmaty noticed that tech companies in the Bay Area had tapped out the area’s workforce. He figured they could use a tool to explore other locations to set up operations and recruit talent, and Beyond HQ was born.
Then the coronavirus crisis prompted a mass nationwide migration of employees freed to relocate by the widespread adoption of flexible and remote work schedules. Now a year of pandemic work-from-home trends could further accelerate adoption of the company’s software, which pools data from myriad sources to calculate how firms can create a footprint that best caters to a resettled employee pool and evaluate the costs and opportunities of entering new markets.
Beyond HQ’s 2020 revenue was $200,000, Charmaty told Insider, adding that he expects to o more than double — to $500,000 — this year. The company is also close to raising another round of funding in range of $2.5 million to $3 million from venture capital backers, a sum that would bring its total fundraising to nearly $5 million.
City: New York City
Year founded: 2017
Total funding: $8.4 million
What it does: Artificial-intelligence assistant helps owners of multifamily properties lease units faster and more efficiently by communicating with prospective renters.
Why it’s hot: Created by two MIT and Cambridge grads, “Elise” is an AI chatbot that can almost instantly answer prospective renters’ questions about apartment availability, floor plans, special rates, and more.
This digital communication frees up leasing agents’ time and can easily convert house hunters to applicants to residents. The technology — which modernizes a once tedious paper-and-people-based leasing process — is already in use at two giant property-management companies, Equity Residential and AvalonBay. The two rental juggernauts manage a combined 160,000 apartments.
MeetElise, led by CEO Minna Song, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding during the pandemic.