Software Incubator Inc., a real estate data and information technology firm that has kept a fairly low profile since its founding in 2000, is stepping into the light with the launch of a tech accelerator it calls “Innovation Incubator.”
By participating in the accelerator, companies can leverage Software Incubator’s deep data reservoirs and IT guidance, along with a financial investment from the firm, to build their products in exchange for equity, said Matt Kumar, founder and CEO of Software Incubator.
Software Incubator has provided white-labeled foreclosure data, programming and IT services, and public records data, to firms like Zillow, Redfin and ZipRealty in the past, and currently has a stable of approximately 300 employees in the U.S. and India who provide similar services to clients like Black Knight Financial Services (formerly Lender Processing Services), DataQuick, RealtyTrac and others, Kumar said.
Currently, there are no formal application guidelines to join the accelerator program, but the firm is actively looking to speak with interested parties about establishing a partnership in the program, according to Kumar.
By launching an incubator-like program, Software Incubator joins the handful of real estate-focused tech-support programs that have cropped up in the last year. Other real estate tech incubators launched recently include Realogy’s “FWD” competition and “Hackathon,” the National Association of Realtors’ “REach” program and Inman News’ Inman Incubator program.
Innovation Incubator is guided by a set of six real estate predictions the Manhasset Hills, N.Y.-based firm made for 2014:
- Consumers’ current mobile-based digital experience will become more like gaming.
- Lender and real estate vendor home value estimates will converge.
- Indices and calculators will give way to predictive analytics.
- Open standards-based data models will gain ground over more closed-off models.
- Global-local marketplaces will continue to replace local-only marketplaces.
- Businesses that shift from house-centric models to those that consider a consumer’s full real estate lifecycle will thrive.
“We think the next big hook will be the marriage of real estate data with social data,” Kumar said.
Innovation Incubator currently has three “software-as-a-service” projects in the works, all developed and run by Software Incubator:
- Project Seer, a program that mashes up social media and transaction history data to suss out and rank high-quality leads for agents and brokers.
- Information-rich websites for agents and brokers that combine Internet Data Exchange (IDX) listing data, information associated with virtual office websites (VOWs) and additional data from sources like new-home builders and county tax records.
- Project Grassroot, an information program that taps into the “collective intelligence” of homebuyers to provide insights to real estate pros.
Project Seer, which has spurred interest among some large real estate firms like Trulia and Move Inc., is the furthest along in development, Kumar said. The other two projects are in the very early stages, and all three are open to input and investment from other firms, he said.
Seer, a representative of the type of product the accelerator hopes to target, has three main components, said Tony Das, a product manager at Software Incubator, who overlooks Project Seer.
First, Seer tracks data from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and popular forums, and by analyzing behavior patterns and transaction histories, predicts which consumers will be more likely to buy or sell in the near future, Das said. It ranks those leads and sends them on to brokers and agents.
In addition, the platform, by analyzing geocoded social media data, determines the general real estate-related sentiment and popular topics associated with a particular locale. This gives an agent insight into whether a neighborhood is considered up-and-coming or not by consumers, Das said.
Second, the Seer platform — again using geotagged social media data — gives users insight into what real estate pros are saying about different markets, he added.
And third, the platform creates a Klout-like social index for individual real estate pros, giving users an idea of where they rank by social impact in the real estate field by location. The social tool also helps users convert leads by serving up info — built from its predictive analytics platform — it thinks will be persuasive in closing a lead, Das said.