Here’s one sign investors are hot for real estate tech: A new real estate accelerator found and recruited one startup off social media. John Henry, program director of real estate tech accelerator AREA, said he’s “proactively sourcing” startups. He uncovered Spacio, an app designed to help agents milk open houses for more leads, by surfing Twitter.

  • AREA is at least the third real estate startup accelerator to debut in the last year and a half.
  • Three members of the Rose family, a New York City real estate dynasty, are behind the venture.
  • Open house app Spacio is part of AREA's latest class, while BrokerlessNY belonged to a previous cohort.

Here’s one sign investors are hot for real estate tech: A new real estate accelerator found and recruited one startup off social media.

John Henry, program director of real estate tech accelerator AREA, said he’s “proactively sourcing” startups. He uncovered Spacio, an app designed to help agents milk open houses for more leads, by surfing Twitter.

Spacio is one of six startups to join the the latest class of AREA, at least the third real estate tech startup accelerator to publicly debut in the last year or so.

The founders of AREA are members of one of New York City’s most prominent real estate dynasties, the Roses. And they hold the same conviction as entrepreneurs that have launched similar accelerators: that the real industry is tantalizingly ripe for innovation.

Many startups have taken a crack at real estate, with those that link arms with the industry tending to fare better than others. But from Henry’s perspective, the sector “has generally been untouched.”

What do the class members get — and who are they?

John Henry

John Henry

AREA will provide mentoring, office space and $50,000 in seed funding to every class member in exchange for a 5 percent ownership stake.

Besides Spacio, the other members of AREA’s third class — which is now in session — are AtlasX, a provider of property acquisition and management software; Tobly, a construction-equipment rental marketplace; Urbanr, a rental search, application and payment platform; Zoner, a provider of zoning-analysis software for architects and developers; and Founder House, a “co-living community” for innovators.

AREA previously nurtured two startup cohorts under the radar to “validate [the] concept.” The accelerator only recently decided to launch publicly after “it became very clear that there’s an incredible opportunity here that’s worth taking a proper swing at,” Henry said.

Graduates of AREA’s last class include BrokerlessNY, a FSBO service that lets sellers list on the MLS for as little as $99; Whose Your Landlord, a property search and reviews site; and My Homepayge, a property management software provider.

The Rose connection

AREA is chaired by Daniel Rose, the patriarch of the Roses, a New York City real estate dynasty. The family business, Rose Associates, purportedly oversees 26,000 units in New York.

AREA’s managing partners and co-founders are Daniel’s son, David Rose, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of startup crowdfunder Gust, and David’s daughter, Lauren Rose, who Henry said is an “experienced real estate professional.”

The business acumen and wherewithal of the Roses, Henry said, offer a unique advantage to AREA.

Henry also brings expertise to the operation, having worked in the startup space since he was 18.

The recent emergence of several operations dedicated to cultivating real estate startups reflects a pivot by an element of tech investors towards the real estate sector, which they increasingly see as fertile ground for innovation.

Two of AREA’s competitors, Moderne Ventures and MetaProp NYC, have sprouted only in the last year and a half.

The founder of Moderne Ventures, Constance Freedman, previously launched what is perhaps the most established real estate tech accelerator, NAR REach, which is run by the venture arm of the National Association of Realtors.

Like MetaProp NYC, the makeup of AREA’s classes appear to suggest a slant towards the rental and commercial space, which would make sense given the Roses background.

But Henry says AREA is open to working with promising startups that focus on any niches in the business.

“We have our feelers out,” he said. “We’re keeping our ears to the ground.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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