Cofano started at Collabra this week, and told Inman in a phone conversation that he was drawn to the company’s vision, “smart technologists,” and goal of building a “systematized process” to help agents advertise. Collabra is currently building its technology and Cofano expects to launch “version one” of the product within the next few months.
“Collabra is well-positioned for significant growth with the pending release of its new digital marketing platform,” Cofano added in a statement. “With competition increasing throughout the industry, new business models taking hold, and buyers and sellers having more service options than ever before, the demand for enhanced digital marketing solutions is on a major growth curve.”
Cofano will be taking over for outgoing CEO Janet Case, who co-founded Collabra in 2018 and is now retiring. Case will remain on Collabra’s board and will continue to advise the company.
Cofano has been a fixture of the real estate industry for years. A decade ago, he served as the CEO of Missouri Realtors. He then went on to serve as a senior vice president at realtor.com operator Move Inc., after which he worked as the president and general counsel of eXp World Holdings between 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he joined app-based brokerage Real as its president and co-founder.
In 2019, Cofano revealed that both he and his wife had cancer. He decided at the time to step back from industry leadership positions, and instead said he planned to coach girls high school basketball while forming his own real estate team. This week, he told Inman he enjoyed coaching, but that he was now ready to get back into leadership and real estate tech.
“That was very rewarding, but also I feel like I’ve got some unfinished business in the industry that I want to accomplish,” he said, “and this is a great platform to do that.”
Collabra is poised to offer an “event-based” marketing platform. So for example, an agent might want to advertise a new listing in order to attract buyers, or a recent sale to bolster a brand image. Collabra’s platform will use multiple listing service (MLS) data to identify where in the process a property is and when they experience an “event,” or status change. The platform will then automatically craft marketing resources for agents based on those status changes, and agents can push those resources out on a variety of platforms such as social media apps like Facebook or Instagram.
Cofano said Collabra’s first clients will be MLSs, large teams and brokerages that can offer the product to their agents.
“We think those are three really fundamental markets,” he added.
Collabra is based in Spokane, Washington. Cofano will remain based in the Seattle area, where he has long lived, and will lead the company via a combination of remote work and commuting.
In a statement, Case praised Cofano’s work history and expressed excitement that he was coming onboard.
“With an impressive track record in the real estate industry and related businesses, Russ is a tremendous addition to Collabra,” Case said. “We are delighted that he has joined us to lead the company forward.”