San Francisco-based real estate technology startup Openland announced on Friday the launch of a professional messaging platform to streamline communications between property owners, builders, investors, lenders, brokers and local officials during residential and commercial building projects.
“In recent years, messaging apps have transformed personal and workplace communications. Now it’s time to do the same for business-to-business interactions. A professional messenger for real estate has the potential to dramatically accelerate sourcing, negotiations, and closing workflows,” said Openland CEO and co-founder, Yury Lifshits in a prepared statement.
“We look forward to templatizing and automating every routine interaction in real estate project lifecycle.”
The desktop-only platform, which became publicly available on Aug. 31, has three main features:
- Invite-only channels where users can provide insider knowledge and market data
- A listings feature where users can publish, distribute and discover new projects
- Cross-organization chats where users can qualify opportunities and work on transactions.
To begin using Openland, users must create an account using their email, and then they can join and form groups based on their role (e.g. owners, builders, investors, lenders, brokers, local officials) and location. From there, they can post project opportunities, and if there is a match, the interested parties can begin a cross-organizational chat.
In a phone call with Inman, Lifshits explained that in a personal research project about the housing shortage in San Francisco, he found that, on average, it took anywhere from 5 to 10 years for a project to be created, negotiated and finalized, while it only took roughly 2 years to complete on-site construction.
“We actually realized there’s enough space in the city to build units, so it’s not that San Francisco doesn’t have space, it’s that we don’t have this kind of administrative efficiency to put the building in place,” he said.
“Communication is the key element,” Lifshits added while noting that response speeds during projects are slowed due to the number of “moving parts and players” who use multiple modes of communication, such as email and phone calls to get a deal done.
He hopes that Openland’s all-in-one messaging platform will cut the rigamarole and reduce the deal development process in half, so more units can be available quicker.
“I’d like that to be two years. Or if it’s two years then I’d like it to be one year, and it’s one year then I’d like it to be six months,” he said.
The burgeoning tech platform also secures $2.25 million in a seed funding round from 30 investors, including Gagarin Capital, Sinai Ventures, Soma Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Rainfall Ventures, and Y Combinator.
The money will be used to further develop the platform, which includes plans for a mobile app and the ability to send official offers, escrows, and signature support. Lifshits is also using the funds to grow his 10-person team to include a growth and product manager.
“Vertical messaging platforms are taking over customer service, sales, recruiting, and community management. The real estate industry is rapidly catching up with enterprise technology trends and is ready to embrace professional messaging,” said Jason Freedman, Peak State Venture Partner and Openland investor in a prepared statement.
“With the launch of Openland, it will be exciting to see all key stakeholders collaborating in one place.”