At Real Estate Connect New York City in January, Inman News founder and Publisher Brad Inman discussed how our country has transitioned to a cottage economy, and why small is beautiful again.
There is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs and small companies with limited resources to innovate, disrupt and make a big difference. Case in point: The popular photo-sharing startup Instagram, a company with 13 employees, was recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, while earlier this year, former photography behemoth Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
I’ve always admired the entrepreneurial spirit of startups and enjoyed following young companies, especially in the real estate industry. In fact, "New Kids on the Block" has always been one of my favorite segments at Real Estate Connect. It’s an opportunity for startups to take the stage and pitch their product or service to some of the industry’s best.
Providence, R.I., is home to Betaspring, a startup accelerator program with a simple but bold mission statement: "Start a company. Change the world." (Disclosure: As a Betaspring "mentor," I advise companies on their technology offerings and business plans, a service for which I am not compensated.)
Startups from around the country come to Providence for Betaspring’s intensive 12-week accelerator program. Betaspring says its full-immersion program, which runs in both spring and fall, "enables teams with a strong start on a high-growth venture to rapidly transform into fundable, scalable companies."
Just last week, Betaspring completed its latest launch showcasing 16 new companies hoping to make a dent in the universe. These new startups have created products for various industries including education, medical, gaming and, of course, real estate.
Since 2009, Betaspring has accelerated 44 startups with a few of them being real estate-related companies. Two recent graduates of the program that are aiming to bring value to real estate brokers and agents are Mosec and Nest4Less.
Mosec, Mobile Secretary, is an Android-only mobile app that helps build stronger business relationships by automatically organizing your communications. I’m a die-hard iPhone user, but, as Inman News columnist Teresa Boardman pointed out in a recent column, "Android’s a viable option for real estate pros," many smartphones run on the Android OS — which means more choices, options, prices and flexibility.
Mosec is co-founded by David Pham and Bernard Huang. The app is pretty straightforward. Whenever you talk, email, text or schedule appointments, Mosec will sort your communications into a searchable history for each contact. The app includes notifications and analyzes lags in communications threads and will prompt reminders to follow up with clients.
"Don’t worry about managing your address book anymore. Mosec will give your address book superpowers," said Huang.
Another Betaspring startup from Providence is Nest4Less. Nest4Less provides Realtors with a unique social marketing platform that enables them to add value to their customer database.
Brokers and agents can invite their preferred vendors to provide discounts on products and services needed to buy, furnish and maintain their homes.
The platform offers vendor discounts to Realtors’ contacts, who can distribute the discounts to their friends through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. All vendor discounts are linked back to the originating Realtor, who can also benefit from an automated, co-branded, weekly newsletter with timely home-related discounts, deals and tips.
"Through Nest4Less, Realtors can create and grow a dynamic customer database and increase their referral network," CEO and founder Jesse Kenner said. "It’s a high-touch, value-added vendor program aimed at strengthening relationships between Realtors, their contacts and their local communities."
Nest4less has recently launched in Rhode Island and has an aggressive rollout plan to markets across the U.S. and Canada. They will also be participating in Startup Alley this summer at Real Estate Connect San Francisco.
It’s an exciting time with so many new startups challenging the status quo and traditional models. The explosion of social and mobile platforms such as iOS and Android has sparked incredible innovation and business opportunity. What will be the next Instagram or even Pinterest? Stay tuned.