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A venture fund owned by the nation’s largest MLS is staking $1 million for the development of artificial intelligence products to make real estate transactions smoother.
California Regional MLS, which has more than 110,000 agent and broker subscribers, launched the first venture capital fund created by an MLS, Venture MLS, in December. At the same time, CRMLS announced that its first investment would be in real estate data platform Perchwell, which is expected to launch to CRMLS users in first-quarter 2023.
Now, Venture MLS has announced that its second investment is in Styldod, a company headquartered in the United Kingdom, offers automatic virtual staging of homes and recently expanded its product line into AI. The transaction closed in early June, according to Styldod.
According to a press release, Styldod’s machine learning algorithms currently identify and extract information from listing photos, while upcoming products will process, tag and export that data in order to save agents time when uploading listings to MLS platforms.
“CRMLS users, including listing-side agents, brokers, and office staff, have expressed a desire for a shorter, simpler listing input process,” Art Carter, Venture MLS fund manager and CRMLS CEO, told Inman.
When asked how many CRMLS subscribers upload MLS listings themselves versus having an assistant or transaction coordinator do it, Carter said CRMLS didn’t have the exact percentages readily available.
Venture MLS believes Styldod’s products can “radically improve” how real estate pros do business, Carter said in a statement. He added, AI has “countless potential applications” in the real estate industry.
“We want to help build an environment where real estate professionals can focus on what they do best without having to expend resources on busywork,” Carter told Inman.
“Despite many recent advancements, people who work in real estate still have to perform repetitive tasks that AI can automate. We believe that the products the Styldod team are developing will make real estate transactions smoother, faster, and more fulfilling for professionals and consumers.”
When asked when the AI products will launch, Carter said, “Styldod’s more general AI capabilities are still in early stages. Their virtual staging products, featuring AI technology that targets a smaller niche, are available now. As with the Perchwell investment, Venture MLS is announcing its contribution today, with a further announcement about a CRMLS launch forthcoming.”
Styldod and CRMLS have not partnered before, so CRMLS users currently have the same access to Styldod as anyone else, according to Carter.
The AI products Styldod is currently developing can already tag and classify images, automatically correct them for visual imperfections, automatically describe listing images for social posts and videos, and automatically virtually stage them in multiple lifestyle aesthetics, according to Styldod CEO Akhilesh Majumdar. The products will launch to CRMLS users in phases starting in fourth-quarter 2022.
“We have spent nearly seven years producing a solution that lets enterprises and agents harvest the full power of AI to increase their productivity,” Majumdar said in a statement. “Today, we are closer to achieving this mission than ever before.”
“Styldod AI is a result of our deep passion for and desire to use cutting-edge technologies to solve the real estate industry’s murkiest problems,” Majumdar added.
When asked which problems this referred to, Carter said, “This industry faces plenty of problems that are difficult to resolve, including those that exist because of politics, business realities, or an inert resistance to change.
“We can’t solve all of them at once, but we believe Styldod’s technology addresses some of the industry’s technological roadblocks. Specifically, Styldod targets problems that we resolve today with excess labor, money, and brainpower.”
AI has yet to see broad user adoption in proptech, according to Carter.
“This may be in part because of the limited everyday applications of the products currently available,” he said. “As AI solutions show more value as part of common workflows, we believe that enterprises and agents will begin using them to save themselves time and effort.”
Venture MLS is not only investing cash in Styldod, but will also promote the company’s products directly to other MLSs — “a rare market advantage,” according to Venture MLS.
“We are delighted to welcome Venture MLS to the elite list of investors who believe in our vision of becoming an AI provider of choice for the real estate industry,” Majumdar said.
According to Majumdar, Styldod’s other existing seed-round investors include venture capital firm Prime Venture Partners; Manik Gupta, corporate vice president at Microsoft and former chief product officer at Uber; serial entrepreneur Shirish Nadkarni; and Srinivas Narayanan, former vice president at Facebook leading its AI Applied Research department.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Styldod CEO Akhilesh Majumdar.