Editor’s note: In this four-part series, we highlight four of the finalists for the 2005 Inman Innovator Award and profile their contributions to the real estate industry. This year, 66 real estate, technology and media firms have made it to the final nomination round and will compete for the coveted awards. (See Part 1: Give us this day our daily leads; Part 3: Search real estate and ye shall find ‘WhereToLive’; and Part 4: Giving credit where credit is due.)
As the company where Marc Siden and Jonathan Bednarsh first worked together was slamming on its brakes from the fast-track dot-com glory days, the two put their heads together, picked up some of its ashes and built a whole new venture, which thrives today.
That’s the story of data provider OnBoard LLC’s beginnings three years ago. Siden and Bednarsh first met at MonsterDaata, a data company Siden founded in 1997 that closed its doors in 2002. Bednarsh was among the company’s first employees.
Like other typical dot-coms of its day, MonsterDaata was backed by loads of venture funding that quickly dried up, according to Siden. The New York-based company was already heading south when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred, said Siden, who left shortly before then.
“John (Bednarsh) stayed and contacted me when Monster started selling its assets and said we should talk,” he said.
“The model we had at Monster was very sound and the market was in need of high-quality real estate information, so there was potential for it to move forward,” he said.
Siden and Bednarsh had a meeting “that lasted five minutes,” according to Siden, because they knew they wanted to work together again. They immediately started making phone calls and leveraging relationships they had formed while at MonsterDaata.
MonsterDaata was an information company that housed a library of more than 3.5 billion records in the United States, according to media reports. The company provided information on demographics, cost of living, quality of life, crime and consumer behavior, among other things. Today, MonsterDaata helps power a service called RealMega, which offers home selling, home buying, personal finance and news information.
OnBoard provides data to real estate professionals who then display the information on their Web sites as a useful tool for consumers looking to buy a home. The company provides the data in way that is customizable to each company or agent’s needs.
“We don’t necessarily come up with new rocket fuel, but enable our clients to come up with their own rocket fuel so they can create at the end of the day their own application (for the data),” Siden said.
OnBoard’s first client was CNN’s Money.com, which launched its “Best Places to Live” feature based on OnBoard’s data. Money.com still publishes the list each year based on OnBoard’s data, Siden said.
Today, the company’s data is used by Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, HomeGain, Advanced Access, Weichert and Money Magazine, to name a few.
OnBoard’s major content categories used on real estate Web sites include crime statistics, cost of living data, recent home sales, public and private school information, neighborhood amenities and demographics, weather and environment information.
Bednarsh and Siden noted some interesting, off-the-beaten-path uses for the data OnBoard collects. For example, one of the company’s employees created a breakdown of the male-to-female ratio of Manhattan neighborhoods. “He was looking for an apartment in Manhattan with a high female-to-male ratio,” Bednarsh said.
The two also noted quirky data breakdowns such as U.S. towns with the highest consumption of hot dogs. “There’s really no one who can’t come into our door and come up with their own use of our data,” Siden said.
OnBoard LLC in April launched Neighborhood Navigator, which combines its real estate information and data services under a single platform. Consumers visiting a real estate Web site powered by the platform can access community and other information they may be looking for. And real estate agents can use the Neighborhood Navigator to track potential leads and take steps to convert them to clients, according to Bednarsh.
The Neighborhood Navigator features more than 18 million recent home sales across the United States, including ability to plot recent sales on a map for easy reference; profiles of more than 60,000 communities; a database of more than 1.8 million local business and other neighborhood establishments and the ability to map these locations; and detailed school information.
OnBoard LLC in June partnered with MapInfo to power the Neighborhood Navigator platform. Real estate brokers can place geographically relevant comparative home sales data at the fingertips of potential customers, and position the technology as a lead generator for future business.
OnBoard LLC is privately held and privately funded and is based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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