Open data is enabling a new class of startups, but good ideas aren't enough

Insights from SoftBank Capital's Josh Guttman

With New York City and other big cities around the country joining the “open data” movement and giving software developers easy access to public records, a new class of startups has an opportunity to do “interesting things” in real estate — tapping into the $4 billion market for real estate research tools in the process, says Josh Guttman, general partner, SoftBank Capital.

Since technology is not necessarily “in the DNA” of real estate professionals, SoftBank is looking to invest in startups that not only have great ideas but have proven that they’ve got the ability to execute on them.

“If somebody comes to us with idea, most often I’ll probably send them back to the drawing board and say, ‘Go build the software product, go build the tool, and come back and show us,’ ” Guttman says. “Or if it’s something that requires a lot of adoption, go acquire 100,000 users.”