A site that could help real estate agents stay “top of mind” with clients even after they buy a home is the first company to be accepted in this year’s tech accelerator program from the 1 million-member National Association of Realtors.
Home improvement startup Pro.com allows real estate agents to help homeowners price out home improvement projects and find a “Pro” to carry them out. The site offers instant price estimates for projects and conducts background checks on the pros in its database, including license and insurance verification.
“While Pro.com is applicable to so many individuals, it hits on a sweet spot in the real estate space, as in this day and age, Realtors are going well beyond the transaction and often times act as an adviser to homebuyers and sellers, who turn to Realtors when making improvements to their homes,” said NAR President Chris Polychron in a statement.
NAR’s REach program, now in its third year, is a launch pad for more established startups to wade into what the trade group says are “trillion-dollar industries” — real estate, insurance, mortgage and financial services.
Seattle-based Pro.com has already helped more than 100,000 customers with home projects in a quarter of ZIP codes nationwide representing a total value of $250 million in home services, the company said.
Companies chosen for REach’s nine-month program get direct access to more than 250 mentors and advisers — including executives, digital entrepreneurs and investors — and product feedback from a panel of more than 2,000 real estate practitioners.
The “knowledge, resources and support” offered by the program “will be invaluable to us as we grow,” said Pro.com founder and CEO Matt Williams in a statement.
Williams was once CEO of social news aggregator Digg, and previously spent a decade working as an exec at Amazon, according to his LinkedIn profile. Pro.com’s team includes other former Amazon execs and is backed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
Pro.com has raised $17.5 million in funding from investors, including Bezos, Maveron, Madrona Venture Group, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint, Two Sigma Ventures and Sherpa Ventures.
REach is run by NAR’s venture capital arm, Second Century Ventures. NAR does not promise funding as part of the REach program, and companies are required to give Second Century Ventures an equity stake in addition to paying an up to $25,000 marketing fee. Nonetheless, NAR has backed at least two of its incubator enrollees, address-change app Updater and financial planning firm Planwise.
REach is still accepting applications on its website through March 19. The program seeks primarily software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based companies with applicability in real estate, financial services, banking, home services and/or insurance markets, NAR said.
Companies that publicly display real estate listings are likely ineligible for the program due to a noncompete clause in the realtor.com operating agreement between NAR and Move Inc., but companies are encouraged not to “self-select” out of the program, Constance Freedman, Second Century Ventures’ founder and managing director, has previously said.