7 Tips for Getting Into MetaProp's Next Accelerator Cohort

7 Tips for getting into MetaProp's Next Accelerator Batch - whiteboard.png

The 2018/2019 MetaProp Accelerator at Columbia University applications are closing in two days. Our team is busy reviewing applications, interviewing startup founders and sending out offers to selected companies.It is an exciting time at MetaProp, but an even more exhilarating, if pressurized, time for PropTech startup founders applying for our globally renowned accelerator program

This blog post is intended to bring some transparency to our selection process for those of you who are currently finishing up your application or waiting to hear back.

After we receive your application on F6S, we will review your application and reach out to schedule an interview if we think your company might be a good fit. Typically, a CEO will be interviewed two to three times throughout the process by our ventures and acceleration teams that includes Zak Schwarzman, Aaron Block, Clelia Peters, Zach Aarons and Leila Collins. After the interviews, we conduct our standard due diligence process. If a company makes it through due diligence, we send an offer letter.

The entire process can sometimes take as little as two weeks or as long as a few months.. For any applications submitted recently, we will expedite the process and get back to you before the end of the month.

The interview process for the accelerator is different from our process for a fund investment because we are looking for more than just great investments -- accelerator companies need to be excellent investments AND a great part of the cohort. We have found that the best cohorts consist of companies that are ready to start selling into real estate and that represent a broad range of asset classes. It is extremely important to us to have a diverse group of founders with experiences and personalities that will compliment each other. For a cohort to be successful, we need each founder to bring a unique perspective to the forum and also to be supportive to the other founders. We work hard and our program is very serious, but we also care about building a lasting community with shared values.

Below is a list of some quick tips for a successful accelerator interview:

  1. Explain the problem. Make sure to fully explain the problem you are looking to solve early on. We want to make a bet on someone who is obsessed with solving a big problem — and willing to pivot to solve it.
  2. Be professional. This one may seem obvious, but make sure to respond promptly to emails, return requested materials quickly and show up on time.
  3. Make it a conversation. We are, at the bottom, investing in you and your team. The more conversational you can be during your pitch, the more you will connect with us.
  4. Talk about your team. We want to know you have the team to grow your company by 500% by February.
  5. Have a plan. Our team can help you the most if you are ready to grow very quickly. Show us that you know who you want to sell to and how you want to reach them.
  6. Be ready. We can move quickly, so have your basic diligence materials ready to go so you can send them to us right away. It shows us that you are professional and ready to fundraise.
  7. Know what you want. We are here to help you and we appreciate when you have already thought about how you would get the most out of our program.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Leila Collins. Good luck!

3 Reasons Branding Matters in PropTech

 By:  Ryan Coon , Co-founder of   Avail

By: Ryan Coon, Co-founder of Avail

Coca-Cola. Mercedes. Nike.

Each word brings to mind a specific product or lifestyle. Each brand appeals to a demographic, and that appeal doesn’t happen by accident.

From their recognizable logos to their consistent products, each company has created a unique brand. Branding goes beyond just consumer goods, though. It also applies to the consumer experience.

When it comes to PropTech, branding is essential. The right branding can convey in an instant whether your brand is approachable, consistent, and user-friendly. From your logo to your tagline, every aspect of your brand sends a message to potential customers, so it’s important to make sure it’s the right one.

With that in mind, here are 3 reasons why branding matters in PropTech:


1. Branding Aligns Your Internal Team

When you think of branding, you probably think of customer-facing assets like logos, colors, and taglines. That’s just one aspect of branding, though.

The most important aspect of your brand? Your people. Both your internal team and your customers are the most important builders, ambassadors, and followers of your brand.

Branding ensures your team is moving in the same direction. For this to work, though, you need your team to buy into your brand.

If your team is aligned with and enthusiastic about your brand, they’ll provide your customers with outstanding service and support. This leads to a business’ most important asset: repeat customers.

To create and communicate a consistent internal brand, there are a few steps PropTech companies should consider:


Define What You Stand For

An important aspect of your brand is the consistent experience people have surrounding your brand, which often comes down to how people are treated at every touchpoint. For example, you should consider:

  • How your team interacts with your customers
  • How your customers interact with your team
  • How your customers interact with each other
  • How your team interacts with each other

At Avail, we’ve written House Rules as a playful way to display our code of conduct. It also shows our customers that we’re a friendly, every-person brand. The House Rules are:

  • Be positive
  • Be honest
  • Be impactful
  • Be professional
  • Be understanding

Our team follows these standards, and also, our landlords and tenants know what to expect from their interactions with Avail and with each other.

"From the start of our first accelerator cohort, of which the then Rentalutions was a part, we at MetaProp knew that its founders had a brilliant idea, along with the drive and focus to build their PropTech startup. At the same time, we knew the company's name was not ideal. However, we all recognized that it was not the time to focus on that aspect of the business. Clients were being garnered and had to be serviced with excellence. When the time was right, the founders pivoted toward a branding focus and successfully re-branded the company as Avail. That's smart startup strategy!" -- Aaron Block, Co-Founder & Managing Director, MetaProp


Get Feedback From Your Employees

People tend to be resistant to change that feels imposed on them. Getting feedback from your internal team gives them the opportunity to shape your brand. If they help shape the brand, they’re that much more likely to support it and communicate that enthusiasm to  customers.

Open discussions with your team can also provide you with valuable feedback about your brand and how to improve it.


Communicate Your New Brand

Once you’ve created your brand, it needs to be communicated to your customers in the best way. On our team, we often say “communicate early and communicate often.” This is especially true with your brand. If you’re like us, and you’re going through a rebrand, you’ll want to communicate ahead of time, so that customers are not alarmed by the change. We told our customers about our rebrand 3 weeks before the launch. And then, as we got closer to launch date, we sent more emails letting them know that the changes were coming soon.


Once you’ve updated your logo, name, and any other changes on your site, you’ll want to send a final email to your customers letting them know that the change is complete. We sent out a blog post on why Rentalutions rebranded to Avail to address common questions and concerns ahead of time.


"Effective branding is consistency meets creativity. Understanding your target market and nurturing the relationships from the very beginning will pay off handsomely in the long run. People are busy and have short attention spans. You have less than 5 seconds to catch their attention or they'll swipe left to the next interesting thing."  - Deedee Chong, Director of Marketing, MetaProp

Another great idea is to host a brand launch party. It’s a fun way to bring your team together and get them excited about your company’s future.

Plus, with your internal team united and focused, they will be more likely to provide your customers with a high level of support that aligns with your brand.

2. Branding Increases Customer Satisfaction and Engagement

As you develop your brand, the first step should be having a clear sense of who your customers are and what they need. This will help you develop an emotional connection with your customers through your brand. Similarly, when your brand is well-executed, your customers get a consistent experience. Through that connection and consistency, you’ll increase satisfaction and engagement.


Understanding Your Target Market

Having a clear target market can help you develop a branding strategy that speaks to them. For us, our target market is landlords and tenants. It’s important to drill down further, though. At Avail, we focus on part-time landlords who may only own a few properties. It’s a clear niche with a need for tech solutions that streamline the rental process.

Once you know your demographic, you can create a brand that speaks to them. A clean, simple website communicates that you will make life easier for your property owners. An appealing logo can make your brand recognizable and communicate that you will be there to support them.


Creating a Consistent Experience

If there’s a disconnect between what your brand promises and what is actually delivered, it can lead to dissatisfied customers. On the flip side, if your brand promises a quality service and customers receive the level of quality they expect, they’re more likely to become repeat customers.

Those repeat customers are critical to the success of your business. Multiple studies show that it is almost six times harder to bring in new customers than to retain current ones. A consistent brand experience can build customer loyalty.


Building a Relationship

Your brand is about more than just how your PropTech company looks. It’s about how you relate to your customers. Taglines and logos set the tone, but ultimately, it’s about how you engage with your customer and build on that first impression.

Fast-food chain Wendy’s Twitter feed is a powerful example of building on a brand. They know who they are and have a clear voice. They promote their brand’s value to customers, engage them through retweets, and consistently respond to complaints.

As you build and promote your brand, it’s important to keep a close eye on customer satisfaction and engagement. Customer satisfaction surveys can show you how their experience aligns with their expectations. Being present and active on your support channels and social media gives your brand exposure and gives you the chance to interact with your customers, engaging them, and increasing their sense of loyalty.

Your brand promises a relationship, and that relationship is critical to your success.


3. Branding Increases Referrals

A PropTech company’s branding sets customer expectations. When those expectations are met or exceeded, customers are going to be loyal to your brand. With the right branding, your customers may go beyond just being loyal. They may be proud customers who share their experience with others, which leads to referrals and more business.

Referrals should be an essential part of your marketing plan. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is by providing your customers with valuable information and making that information shareable. A PropTech company might post educational articles to their blog and promote their posts via social media. Customers can easily click and share those posts with other potential customers, increasing your brand recognition and bringing in new customers.

You can also implement a more formal referral program that aligns with your brand. You could offer a discount on your services for referrals, or use your email list to encourage customers to refer their friends.

As you develop your branding strategies, you should keep referrals in mind.

  • Your logo should be recognizable
  • Your content should be engaging and in-line with your brand messaging
  • Measure the level of customer engagement with your content, emails, and other marketing assets
  • Make adjustments to your marketing assets and referral program so they’re more engaging and shareable


Tell a Story

Ultimately, your brand should tell a story. For example, Avail was founded because, as rental property owners ourselves, we didn’t have the technology available to us that we needed to streamline our rental process. We decided to create the technology and make it available to other property owners.

In telling this story, we’re showing that we understand the problem, and we’re providing a solution that we know works because it’s worked for us and thousands of other landlords like us.


Authenticity Matters

Customers are also drawn to an authentic voice. Wendy’s twitter feed is appealing because it feels like there is a real person behind it. As you develop posts and interact with your customers, your authenticity should come through. People are going to be more comfortable referring their friends to brands that care about their customers.

It’s hard to understate how important your authenticity and branding is to getting referrals. A study by Ambassado shows that 82 percent of American consumers get recommendations from family and friends before they make a purchase, and 67 percent say they’re more likely to purchase something a friend or family member shared on social media.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to PropTech, your branding makes a promise to your customers. It’s up to you to live up to that promise. With branding, you can create a consistent message and voice that’s carried out by everyone in your company. This consistent, high-quality experience will create loyal customers who speak highly of your brand.




Until now, landlords with less than 10 units haven’t had access to online tools designed specifically for them. Avail is an intuitive app that helps you advertise vacant units, request rental applications and credit reports, sign an online rental agreement, and collect rent — all online. Today, 80,000 landlords use Avail because it’s the only end-to-end platform that helps them scale from beginner to professional with tools, support, and education.

MetaProp’s Next Chapter: MetaProp Ventures II


Since inception, MetaProp has been dedicated to one thing: connecting talented PropTech founders with the knowledge, network and resources that they need to grow their businesses and meaningfully impact the real estate industry.

Four years ago, my partners, Aaron, Zach and Clelia---themselves investors, entrepreneurs and practitioners at the intersection of real estate and technology--saw the need for a firm dedicated to bridging the gap between emerging PropTech startups, their real estate customer base, and the broader venture capital community. Since then, MetaProp has continued to drive the PropTech market forward, evolving and iterating around that central mission in what has become a rapidly changing market.

Last week, we had the pleasure of sharing the next milestone in MetaProp’s evolution with the announcement of our second venture capital fund, MetaProp Ventures II.

There is perhaps no better representation of just how far the real estate industry’s interest in innovation has come in a short time than the truly fabulous group of blue chip firms from across the real estate industry who are joining us for this journey. Fund II’s LP base represent the largest consortium of early adopter and enthusiast investors in the real estate industry, including asset managers, top tier private equity firms, all of the largest global brokerages, international and U.S. owner/developers, world class construction and engineering firms, maintenance services firms, and more. Among the much longer list of notable Fund II LPs are RXR, PGIM Real Estate, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, JLL Spark, Mitsui Fudosan’s 31VENTURES, and Altus Group. More than marking an affirmation of MetaProp's mission to identify and support the next generation of elite PropTech startups, their partnership will be an industry best asset in helping us fulfill it.

True to MetaProp’s DNA, Fund II is purpose built for the needs of today’s early-stage PropTech market. Below is a brief overview of what you can expect from our investment approach as we continue to deploy Fund II.

  • Early-stage focus: With our second fund, MetaProp continues and expands on our firm’s successful history by focusing exclusively on early stage (generally pre-seed through Series A) PropTech startups. Our unique position in the market enables us to identify emerging PropTech opportunities and invest with conviction early in a company's maturity.
  • Full PropTech investment scope: We invest in next generation innovations using software, hardware and technology enabled services to improve and/or rethink every aspect of the global real estate market. This includes companies that impact every asset type within real estate and every function or task that a real estate professional performs during the lifecycle of a real estate asset--from dirt to disposition.
  • Access to customers: All told, Fund II’s LP base offers PropTech startups a pilot- and test-ready “sandbox” that spans more than 15-billion-square-feet across every asset type and global market. Combined with our additional reach through the RE200 Mentor Network, and MetaProp’s advisory, events and media platform, MetaProp provides unparalleled industry access and exposure for our early stage PropTech portfolio companies.
  • Access to capital: Our team has closed more than 90 PropTech investments with a broad coalition of strategic and venture investors from around the world. Our peers in the investment community know us as a partner who can help with market de-risking pre-investment, and early distribution, product refinement, and top real estate talent post-investment. It’s a value prop that has resonated strongly with founders and investors to date and one that we are proud to carry forward into Fund II.

While we are sharing the Fund II announcement today, we have already made the first 10 Fund II portfolio investments. Early Fund II portfolio names include: Workframe, WhyHotel, Irene, Locate.ai, Jones, Travtus, Doorport, Hoozip and OnSiteIQ. Reflective of our investment scope, these investments represent a broad cross-section of the PropTech market--from frontier areas like AI-powered property management or retail site selection, to the improvement of friction-filled real estate processes like office construction management, to new models to better utilize and monetize space. We expect to add roughly 25 additional names to the Fund II portfolio and are inspired but the diversity, sophistication and ambition that we see amongst the next generation of PropTech startups.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Fund II’s investors who have placed their trust in us, along with you and the entire MetaProp community for your continued support. Since the outset, MetaProp has been dedicated to bringing together the strongest community possible to help the next generation of PropTech startups grow. We are excited to carry that mission forward with Fund II.

MetaProp, PropTech and Me

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Hello, MetaProp Community!

As you may know, a couple weeks ago I joined MetaProp as an Entrepreneur In Residence (EIR).  I’ve been involved in real estate and technology for years and, while I will spare you a full recitation of my biography in this post, I’ve had an interesting run touching many areas at the intersection of real estate and technology.  I’ve started tech companies.  I’ve started real estate companies.  I’ve led the development of physical projects around the world, overseen deployment of billions of dollars in assets and companies, managed thousands of employees, and built lasting brands. And I’ve had the rare (and I think unique!) privilege of leading innovation strategy at not one, but two, market-leading publicly traded global real estate companies.  

In all of those positions, I have had a passion for helping build companies, especially young companies – whether they are my own creations, companies with which I’ve invested or partnered, or the countless companies to whom I’ve provided counsel, guidance, and occasional tough love over the years.  Ask around, and you’ll find that at one point or another, usually in their early days, I worked with and advised a great many of the companies that are leading the current wave of real estate tech.  So, with the next waves of innovation forming, I can’t imagine a better place than MetaProp to apply my energies right now.

Entrepreneur In Residence is a pretty amorphous term, giving me and my partners at MetaProp wide latitude in choosing where to direct my efforts.  To clear up some common misconceptions, let me tell you a couple things it’s not.  It’s not a full-time job, or even technically a job at all – I won’t be offended if you think of it as Gainfully Unemployed.  It doesn’t mean I’m moving back to NYC full time, at least not yet, but I will be traveling from my home in Dallas more often.  And it doesn’t mean that I will necessarily launch a new company out of this engagement – but don’t count it out either.

What my EIR position IS, however, is a structured relationship with a MetaProp team and ecosystem that is at the leading edge of the next wave of PropTech, that has a sterling network of industry and financial partners, and an incredible pipeline into and perspective on early stage companies.  In addition to their position at the wide end of the funnel of companies, I chose to work with MetaProp because we share common core values: listen to and be respectful of one another; understand that good ideas can come from anywhere; value, respect and nurture relationships with strategic partners and investors; put founders first, and do everything we can to help young companies define their vision, improve their execution, and begin to scale their business.  All of those things are core to the MetaProp team and culture and resonate deeply with me.  It’s simple really - just do the right things, with the right people, the right way.  Easy peasy!

During my time as EIR, I will be working across each of the three primary arms of MetaProp.  In the venture capital arm, I will assist the capable team in sourcing, evaluating and underwriting new deals, building investor syndicates and strategic relationships, and helping portfolio firms grow.  In the accelerator programs I will be helping young companies hone their business models and pitches, and strategize about how to go to market.   And I will be assisting the advisory and events team with strategy, promoting the MetaProp brand, and contributing content to events and thought leadership pieces.

I will also be using my time at MetaProp to develop some ideas of my own, try to listen and learn as much as possible, and continue to advise and support the portfolio of companies and projects with whom I’m already working.  I have a number of fascinating projects in-flight and as much as I’m supporting the MetaProp platform, that platform is supporting my endeavors.  It’s a win-win-win, for me, MetaProp, and our collective ecosystem of companies and partners.

I believe that we are at an inflection point in the adoption of real estate and tech.  In all my years in the business I’ve never seen so much capital flowing to so many great ideas, or so many major industry participants so focused not only on innovation, but also on driving change throughout their businesses.  In addition, I’m fascinated by the many disruptive technological and sociological factors that are changing the very fundamentals of how people utilize, value, operate and trade real estate.  One thing I’ve been thinking, writing and speaking about for years is the emergence of ‘radical mobility’ and declining structural costs of moving data, people, and stuff within and between urban environments. These forces are, in my mind, a fundamentally disruptive convergence – and one which will be both enabled and better understood by the incredible amounts of data and the new analytical tools that are coming to market.  It is an incredible tipping point in the history of our business, and I’m tremendously excited to be with MetaProp in the eye of the storm.

It also means that, for the foreseeable future, you unfortunate souls are going to be treated to semi-regular ramblings from me on this forum.  I expect to cover a number of topics here, including reflections on my diverse experiences building and helping growing companies, what the startup ecosystem looks like from the corporate perspective, occasional crazy anecdotes from some of my wild years in the business, attempts to share hard-earned lessons from my successes and failures, my observations on the present state of play and the various companies with which I’m working and, when the spirit strikes, my wild and (hopefully) semi-accurate prognostications about the future.  

More than anything, dear readers, I hope these posts will be a starting point to provoke a conversation with all of you.  In the words of David Bowie “Knowledge speaks, but Wisdom listens.” I look forward to doing a little bit of speaking, and a whole lot of listening.

It’s gonna be fun!


  Elie Finegold  EIR  Email

Elie Finegold

EMEA PropTech Startups Accelerate North American Expansion

We are proud to announce the first cohort of the MetaProp Bridge at Columbia University. Our first ever cross-border program, the MetaProp Bridge, connects leading early-stage PropTech companies in EMEA to customers and capital in North America.

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This was one of our most competitive application processes ever with over 100 applications and fewer than five spots. Our first open application process exclusively for EMEA companies, we learned a great deal about the EMEA market. As we expected, there are many great companies with very well developed technologies. At the same time, funding EMEA companies has different challenges from funding in North America because EMEA companies typically have much stronger boards and less autonomous executives. Furthermore, there is much less funding at the institutional seed stage.

Ultimately, we selected four EMEA PropTech companies.

The 2018 MetaProp Bridge at Columbia University cohort:


Paint that transforms an ordinary wall into a
natural air purifier.

UK, Switzerland and Italy



Business intelligence for real estate agents




Cloud based analytics service that turns high quality environmental data into healthier facilities with happier tenants.




Technology hub for short stay rental owners



The companies were selected based on our analysis of their viability in the North American market. We looked at several factors including existing traction in EMEA: the founding team; the technology and tech team behind the product; the size of the problem, and the competition in the North American market.

Alain Kapatashungu Frontdoor.jpg

Alain Kapatashungu,


CEO of Frontdoor

Alain Kapatashungu, CEO of Frontdoor, explained that he joined the Bridge program because “we cannot approach the American market as we approached the European market.” The MetaProp Bridge is designed to support EMEA companies as they navigate the different real estate and venture capital landscape in the US.

Henry YourWelcome.png

Henry Bennett,


CEO of YourWelcome

Henry Bennett, CEO of YourWelcome explained that he joined the Bridge because, “YourWelcome is currently headquartered in the UK, but has more than 600 US companies as customers and 70 percent of growth is also in the US. YourWelcome will be opening a US sales office in Q3 and the program offers great access to a network of potential clients and investors.”

We are already halfway through the London portion of the program. So far, we have matched the companies with mentors, invited several speakers to the program and are planning the North American go-to-market strategy. At the beginning of June, we will travel to NYC for intensive customer meetings and pitch preparation. The program culminates in July with an intensive five-city roadshow across North America.

Since landing in London, we have been lucky to have the support of the London tech and property community. Concrete VC, DLA Piper, KPMG, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, Amro Real Estate Partners and many more have been invaluable friends as we set up shop in London. MetaProp is based out of one of our sponsor’s beautiful coworking spaces, Fora, in Clerkenwell.


Based in EMEA and want to get involved? 

Name *
 Leila Collins Senior Associate

Leila Collins
Senior Associate

4 Perspectives on Office Tech

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How do architects, PropTech energy and amenity startups and workplace brokerage experts view the interface of office space and technology? Last week I moderated the Reinventing the Modern Office panel at ConnectNY, held at Brookfield Place in Manhattan, and I got some perspective into that question.

Unsurprisingly, each panelist from these real estate disciplines had unique experiences in creating office space for clients, but all shared some commonalities, as well. Chief among those common themes is working with landlords and tenants who have vastly varying degrees of PropTech knowledge.

In broad strokes, up until about a year ago, all of us on the panel had found the residential sector running ahead of commercial in the tech learning curve. However, commercial has clearly narrowed the PropTech adoption gap, and in more and more cases, is equalling or surpassing residential use. Interestingly, size doesn’t matter in successful PropTech adoption, as the largest real estate companies may be throwing significant amounts of money toward startups, but don’t necessarily have more success than small, more nimble, competitors.

 From left to right: Phil Russo, Partner at MetaProp, Francesca Loftus, CEO & Co-Founder at hOM, Rachel Robinson, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Design Director at Ted Moudis Associates, Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder at Heat Watch and Tamar Moy, Senior Managing Director at Newmark Knight Frank.

From left to right: Phil Russo, Partner at MetaProp, Francesca Loftus, CEO & Co-Founder at hOM, Rachel Robinson, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Design Director at Ted Moudis Associates, Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder at Heat Watch and Tamar Moy, Senior Managing Director at Newmark Knight Frank.

Here are the panelists’ takeaways:

Francesca Loftus, CEO & Co-Founder, hOM
“Our panel connected four relatively disparate corners of the modern office industry -- consultancy, energy, design and tenant experience -- yet found so much overlap in client relations and vision of technology. We're clearly all very focused on the power of data at the moment.”


Rachel Robinson, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Design Director, Ted Moudis Associates
“Technology has enhanced the designer’s vision to see design in a 3-dimensional manner, which allows for a more creative design and to physically build spaces in a more organic direction.“


Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder, Heat Watch
"Many of our biggest and smartest customers -- like Related, Lefrak, Lemle & Wolff --  are realizing that saving money, reducing emissions, and providing more comfortable spaces for their tenants is an increasingly critical competitive advantage. Using technology to run boilers and heating systems efficiently (and reduce fuel usage by 25 percent) is starting to become a baseline requirement for any smart owner/manager in the city."


Tamar Moy, Senior Managing Director, Newmark Knight Frank
“Digital technology is crafting new expectations for how we experience our surroundings, and the built workplace must address evolving expectations to influence experience. Traditional workplace strategies that only consider the space are ineffective. We must consider the workplace ecosystem with all of its experiential factors.”


As AI, AR, VR and other tech tools for conception, design and execution of new and revived office space continues to develop, the already hard to keep up with future of the modern office will accelerate even faster. Similarly, as landlords and tenants struggle to find the right mix of virtual officing, hoteling, flex-space, quiet rooms, common areas and the other options desired to varying degrees by the young and talented employees they seek to recruit and retain, their decision-making will become increasingly complex, demanding the best tech-infused insights of all parties involved in creating the workspaces that work best.

How the various real estate disciplines represented by our panel will deal with integrating the technology currently available, and that which bubbles up on a continual basis, into their work, along with how those groups interact with each other on tech platforms, will be fascinating to watch going forward.

  Philip Russo  Founding Partner, MetaProp Advisors

Philip Russo
Founding Partner, MetaProp Advisors

MIPIM 2018: PropTech Takeaways

  Photo courtesy of Propmodo

Photo courtesy of Propmodo

MIPIM was, as always, a week of great networking and learning. PropTech is increasingly prominent, but has not yet permeated all industry conversations. Expect that to change in the coming 2-3 years as we see technology become nearly as critical as location to our industry discussions.

Click to read a great PropTech summary of the week from Propmodo and the insightful Twitter insights from the always forward-thinking Dan Hughes.  

In the meantime, we’re pleased to share some of our favorite PropTech highlights:

  • Best startup: Sweden’s Disruptive Technologies taking first place in the Global Startup Competition.  Presentation here.
  • Best media moment: EG’s announcement of their new PropTech magazine before a thoughtful international PropTech panel
  • Best presentation: CAA’s Leonard Brody talk during the first PropTech Lab about innovation and how will continue to impact the real estate business
  • Best hair: Magnus Svantegards
  • Most fun party: Lennar International and MetaProp NYC’s annual

We’re all looking forward to MIPIM PropTech Europe in Paris this June.  In the meantime, stay tuned for some major announcements about NYC Real Estate Tech Week 2018 and MIPIM PropTech New York!

  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

Strongest Class Yet for Startup Competition Finals at MIPIM 2018

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For the third consecutive year, MetaProp is proud to be a global partner for MIPIM’s Startup Competition, unveiling the most innovative PropTech startups on the market. Each startup thrives in tackling some of the largest urban challenges faced throughout the world.

MetaProp has helped lead a fierce semi-final round of pitches and competition which took place in a number of cities around the world including New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The MIPIM Startup Competition Finals, one of the can’t miss events in Cannes, will take place on March 14th starting at 4pm in the Grand Auditorium.

With the upcoming group of finalists being the strongest ever, I’m honored to serve as the Master of Ceremony. I will be accompanied by a superstar jury committee, all of whom are real estate leaders and trailblazers including James Dearsley, Dan Hughes, Sandy Jacolow and Joern Stobbe.

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This year’s top 9 finalists have already survived a round of intense competition and are demonstrating some of the highest potential within the PropTech startup world. Again, this will be an unforgettable and monumental event taking place in Cannes on March 14th from 4:00 - 7:00pm. Following the event will be a Yacht Party co-hosted by MetaProp and Lennar. Additional details can be found here.

Details on the Finalists include:

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Makes setting up a new home a one-click affair, with all of your required services automatically signed up to and trackable.

Disruptive Technologies
Radically accessible and complete solution for sensing the physical world.

Grid Edge
Changing the way that people use energy by putting intelligent control into the hands of commercial energy consumers.

The first and only company to provide completely transparent windows, which generate data by sensing the environment and convert sunlight into electricity, simultaneously.

Changing the construction sector sustainably through optimizing workflow and reducing costs up to 70% through new server optimizing tools.

The first online marketplace for commercial real estate debt financing that connects borrowers with a network of lenders who want solid returns.

An application where you can find your flat (apartment) for rent with an agent without fees as well as get paid 15% of the rent when you move out.

Connecting the service technician and the customer on a simple interface integrating innovative features.

Ensures quality care that is everywhere and helps prevent workplace injury prevention with the industry’s most respected therapists across the country.


Looking forward to unveiling the winner on March 14th!

  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

What We Learned From the Tel Aviv Roadshow


The third roadshow stop for the MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University took our partners to sunny Tel Aviv, Israel.  It was particularly exciting to visit during the widely celebrated Purim holiday.  Amazing costumes everywhere!

We’ve had our eyes on the Israeli PropTech startup market for a couple of years now and are very impressed with its recent development.  During our short visit, we met almost a dozen real estate tech companies and many industry enthusiasts, mentors and investors.

We thought our readers might appreciate some quick observations from the road show trip:

  • Cybersecurity, computer vision, robotics, and, quite frequently, automotive were the most commonly mentioned local industry clusters generating buzz.  For more information on what’s happening on the ground, we recommend checking out Forbes’ “The Tel Aviv Tech Startups To Watch In 2018.”

  • While “Startup Nation” has long been a hotbed of technology and innovation, VCs, corporate R&D, innovation and venture arms are all further increasing their presence in Israel - from Haifa, to Herzliya, to Tel Aviv, to Beersheba.  We frequently heard names like Intel, Microsoft, HP, Volkswagen, etc.--along with many other corporate names that one might not traditionally associate with technology (e.g. insurance, infrastructure and CPG companies)--cited as players increasing their local activities. Tech is on everyone’s mind.

  • Startups naturally remain very interested in growing outside of Israel.  The most common expansion locations we heard were North America, China and Western Europe. Read Forbes’ “Israeli Entrepreneurs Are Shaking Up The American Real Estate Market.

  • We saw tremendous interest in the PropTech space - especially Construction Tech (Astralink, Siteaware, Beyon3D).  This makes sense as the country is experiencing an enormous real estate boom.  There are more cranes flying in Tel Aviv than Aaron has seen since his time in Moscow in 2006.

Special thanks to our friends who supported and hosted during the trip - especially the entire executive team at market leading PropTech firm BMBY!

  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

  Zak Schwarzman  Partner  Email

Zak Schwarzman

Location matters: NYC is the best place to raise money


New York City is a great place for PropTech startups to grow. We believe, in fact, that it is the best place. We’ve designed an entire accelerator program around that hypothesis. Our Bridge program is designed to bring companies from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to NYC to raise money and grow their revenue.

Although there is more venture investing than ever before, it is still hard to raise the money needed. The ability to raise additional funding rounds is often what can prevent even great companies from progressing. There are many things that make NYC a good place for ambitious and young startups, one of the most notable is the volume of venture capital activity. It is easier to raise money in NYC than anywhere else in the world. 

Fred Wilson, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, touched on this the other day in a post on startup funding by geography. (Fred Wilson has a daily email blast that is fantastic, if you don’t already get his emails, you should sign up here.) He explains that raising gets harder with each round, “Getting VC/angel funding is hard, but even if you do secure it once (1st round), the probability that you will secure it again is only 50-70%, and the probability that you will secure it five more times is between 0-5%.”  

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So what can increase a company's chances of follow-on funding? It seems like location is a determinant of fundraising success. Fred Wilson referenced a great report from CB Insights that surveyed 8 tech hubs: Silicon Valley, Boston, NY, LA, China, Germany, India and the United Kingdom. US-based companies were far more likely to raise a second round, according to the report. Furthermore, the report found that within the US, NYC and Boston were the best cities to raise a second round. Even more surprising, NYC companies are the most likely to exit with a stunning overall exit rate of 35% -- even higher than in Silicon Valley.

Although Silicon Valley may produce more unicorns than any other region, NYC is the best place to raise money.

  Leila Collins  Senior Associate  Email

Leila Collins
Senior Associate

MetaProp Accelerator Graduation: Exit Interview with Ardalan Khosrowpour, CEO & Co-Founder of OnSiteIQ

Last Thursday, we graduated seven of the best PropTech companies from the MetaProp Accelerator at Columbia University. This year we added an Open House before our New York City Demo Day as well as an Investor Lunch before our West Coast Demo Day. In total, over 1000 people registered for the graduation events.


Leila Collins, Senior Associate at MetaProp interviewed Ardalan Khosrowpour, CEO and Co-Founder of OnSiteIQ to learn more about his experience of the program.

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Ardalan, why did you decide to apply to the MetaProp accelerator?

I was constantly looking for advisors and mentors who could help me navigate through the construction and real estate industry. For example, I needed to understand the construction insurance underwriting process to get my business to the next step. Since MetaProp is the main hub for PropTech, I was hopeful that I could develop a network of advisors, customers and investors through the program.


Specifically, what goals did you have for the program?

I wanted to grow the number of pilots, sell more and attract strategic capital.


So, in reality, what did you get out of it?

By the end of the program, we had full sales infrastructure in place, had increased our outbounds by 9x and increased our sales by 6x.

As a direct result of the program, OnSiteIQ got multiple contracts, sales and investment. Perhaps most importantly, Joe Charczenko was assigned as my mentor and became the best possible advisor. "Joe got us in front of literally every insurance carrier. Without him, we could not have established insurance partnerships." 


Tell us a little about the graduation, what happened and what came out of it?

The Demo Days and particularly the Open House exceeded my expectation. At each we were approached by several highly qualified potential customers and investors. For example, after presenting at Demo Day in NYC we were approached by several real estate VCs who were uniquely positioned to invest and advise us.


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Leila Collins
Senior Associate

Third Annual MetaProp New York City Demo Day Grows with 2017-18 Accelerator Startups

Last week, MetaProp NYC and our partners -- NYCEDC, REBNY, RICS,  DLA Piper, EisnerAmper, Millennium Partners, Silicon Valley Bank, Warburg Realty and Zillow -- proudly presented the third annual MetaProp Accelerator @ Columbia University New York City Demo Day. The full-day event was bigger and better than ever. Congratulations to the 2017/2018 class graduates!

In addition to the media and venture community, our startups mingled with top executives from Blackstone, which graciously hosted NYC Demo Day, as well as with Ackman Ziff, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Kimco, KPMG, Millennium Partners, Partnership for NYC, REBNY, Related, Savills Studley, Toll Brothers, Warburg Realty and many more.

The day kicked off with a first-of-its kind Open House for the general public and broader PropTech community. MetaProp portfolio company Spacious hosted the event in their gorgeous HQ on 53rd Street.  Guests were treated to coffee, live demos and casual networking.

Video: 2018 MetaProp Open House

In the evening, our startups revealed their progress to the world during the third annual NYC Demo Day.   Some pre-presentation highlights:

  • MetaProp partner Clelia Peters welcomed international guests;
  • Blackstone’s Tyler Henritze gave an overview of the firm’s PropTech innovation strategy;
  • MetaProp partner Zak Schwarzman shared the latest venture capital and market trends;
  • MetaProp partner Zach Aarons shared his annual “Bold PropTech Predictions;”
  • MetaProp partner Aaron Block gave an update on MetaProp’s three business lines:
  • Venture Capital Investments, Advisory Services and Startup Acceleration.

Video: MetaProp Demo Day at Blackstone

Of course, the majority of the NYC Demo Day was spent hearing from the graduates. Some presentation highlights from social media:

We will distribute summary videos in the coming days so make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter. In the meantime, please join our West Coast Demo Day on February 8 in San Francisco! Limited tickets are still available here.


  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

2017: A PropTech Year in Review

In summing up 2017, it was a big year for the global PropTech community.  Some of my favorite highlights included PropTech IPOs/exits for Redfin, Qube, Real Matters, and ForRent; high profile equity rounds for PropTech leaders like WeWork, Cadre, Compstak, Honest Buildings, Convene, Common, Compass (All NY based) and Nested, and new venture fund announcements from FifthWall, Aurum, PiLabs and Navitas.

Additionally, 2017 was also one heck of a year for MetaProp NYC and our portfolio companies. Here are some of my favorite highlights:


  • Team highlights

    • Added key players, including Marketing Director Deedee Chong, Associate Director of Operations and Events Evan Petitt in addition to a number of internal promotions.  
    • Special mention to our former fellows and interns securing big jobs at Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi, Moelis & Co. and other prestigious shops.

I’m so impressed with the overall PropTech community. However, I’m beyond proud MetaProp’s partners, directors, associates, fellows/interns, investors, mentors and supporters for making so much magic in 2017.  

Look out 2018!!!



  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

MetaProp’s Global Expansion


Today, I’m pleased to share that MetaProp is going global.  We’re starting with EMEA  -> North America early next year and will expand via Asia -> North America in 2019. See the exciting specifics below.


Some Background

Over the past 2.5 years, our investment and innovation activities (including the MIPIM Startup Competition) have spanned the globe. MetaProp partners have explored PropTech scenes in much of North America and quite a bit of Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. During this time, we’ve witnessed demand for international expansion from some exciting real estate technologies. Most obviously, established goliaths like WeWork and MRI are moving into key international markets from their US homes. Additionally, emerging category killers like VTS, CompStak and WiredScore are expanding their influence into Western Europe. However, most interestingly, we’ve seen startups in Europe tackling new markets outside their home countries. Examples include our own portco WeSmartPark, plus dozens of other high-potential, tech-focused startups including Appear Here, Medici Living, and Industrious.


The Problem

We all know that crossing borders is difficult; our friends at OpenView Labs have a lot to say about this subject.  International growth is restrained by time zones, legal peculiarities, including privacy and culture differences and localization challenges (language, currency, etc.). There are also back-to-basics commercial challenges. The usual “build” and “partner” options may be viable, but rarely can a startup “buy” its way into a new market. Emerging CEOs have to redirect an existing (frequently under-qualified) employee, or recruit a new local growth leader who can identify sales prospects, distribution partnerships, human capital pools, capital sources and media relationships.  Historically, the PropTech community has offered little help.


The Opportunity

In listening carefully to local innovators, we’ve learned that EMEA PropTech startups crave proven teams, programs and networks to assist with new market entry. The new MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University was conceived to speed and facilitate cross-border PropTech into North America. Startup needs we expect to address include:

  • Acquiring tests, pilots and customers across North America,

  • Securing new US venture and strategic capital, and

  • Quickly recruiting new key employees in the US in major markets like New York and Silicon Valley.

Introducing the MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University

What: The first ever cross-border PropTech accelerator. The 20-week MetaProp Bridge at Columbia University connects up to 6 select PropTech startups from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to award-winning investors, experienced mentors and diverse real estate, technology and institutional partners in North America.  Detailed benefits for participating startups include:

  • Up to $250,000 investment from MetaProp and partners as well as other corporate perks;
  • Intensive enterprise business development and consumer tech coaching from MetaProp partners;
  • Introductions to the real estate, technology and PropTech communities across North America, including broad exposure via a five-city roadshow;
  • Access to Silicon Valley and East Coast-based venture capitalists, as well as to strategic investors from the major North American gateway cities;
  • Individualized conferences with experienced, cross-border executive mentors from MetaProp’s RE200 network;
  • RE301 education sessions with topics ranging from US business protocols, real estate markets, marketing/sales/business development, business strategy and media relations;
  • Temporary workspace in New York City’s Silicon Alley;
  • A community of other international entrepreneurs facing similar business challenges.



The MetaProp acceleration team, led by me, Zach Aarons (Millennium Partners), Clelia Peters (Warburg Realty), Phil Russo, Leila Collins and Columbia’s Josh Panknin has a proven track record. Additionally, MetaProp is  now investing out of our second venture fund, backed by world-renowned LPs, including a who’s who of the US and global real estate industry. Moreover, we have a support network of startups, mentors and partners (most notably Columbia University and, of course, our global industry partner, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).  In particular, we’re supported by MetaProp’s 20+ new, cross-border experienced mentors from the UK, US, Western Europe, Israel and beyond, including top UK PropTech influencer Dan Hughes (RICS), Leon Shpilsky (Oxford Sciences), Ben Lerner (MRI/Qube), Julia Arlt (PwC), Lisa Shaforostova (CBRE), Mark Zeevi (BMBY), venture czar Taylor Wescoatt (Concrete, SeedCamp), UK accelerator pioneer Juliette Morgan (British Land) and many more.


Where & When

The MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University begins in early March 2018 and ends in mid-July. The first 6 weeks will be spent in London preparing each startup for serious international expansion. The remaining 14 weeks of intensive programming will be based in NYC’s Silicon Alley (Manhattan), which acts as a launching pad for developing business in additional North American markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto. Startups then have an option to extend the NYC portion of the program by an additional 12 weeks.  Important 2017-2018 dates include:

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Want more?

Interested startups, partners and investors can meet key MetaProp partners and learn more about the MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University during road shows in London (January 15 - 17), and in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv (mid-February).  In the meantime, please contact us below:

For Startups


For Corporate Partners & Sponsors


For Investors

Finally, watch out for the MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University’s expansion into Asia in early 2019!


  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

7 Ways Startup Founders Grow and Scale Their Businesses

Nail it and scale it. That term is thrown around loosely when it comes to building out successful startups and companies but what really goes into ‘scaling it’?

We’ve surveyed seven successful Real Estate tech entrepreneurs to understand the key operational moves they made which allowed them to successfully scale and grow their sales and marketing operations. The founders surveyed represent every major type of business model you can think of: B2B, B2C, Marketplace, SaaS and etc. In this research paper, we will discuss the key findings which should provide a roadmap of the key things to do when entrepreneurs move from finding product market fit to scaling their sales and marketing efforts.

Finding #1: CEO’s better be selling! There are no exceptions to this


It doesn’t matter if you are technical or not, the CEO must represent the person on the team best suited to sell. They must have a holistic view of the organization so they can organize teams to develop the product as needed for customers.

Seven out of seven entrepreneurs surveyed said they were in charge of sales in the early days, lending credibility to the early stage customer. Furthermore, early on the CEO should be the point person for product feedback and they usually know the pain point the strongest. The CEO has a few milestones that they can use to help them measure their product. The first being sales and will you get someone to pay you for the product? Second, can you find a way to replicate that? Third, can you outline the process so it can be handed off to someone else to execute?

Finding #2: Successful early sales teams hire generalists


Although it is tempting to hire a senior sale executive early on, a startup has limited resources in the early days (money, time and structure) and as a result, it needs people who can be flexible to handle a number of key functions.

Six out of seven CEOs brought in a junior hire to replicate theirs sales process once they had figured out the first version of how to complete a sale. A sales generalist for these teams would cover a number of different functions: prospecting leads, making cold calls, qualifying leads, setting up client meetings, accompanying CEO on client meetings and ultimately having the responsibility to close business themselves. In addition, these generalists are responsible for the Account Management work once the initial relationships are established. Interestingly, for some of the companies surveyed, 99% of the revenue occurred right at the time of the initial sale. For others, 99% of the revenue came after the initial sale as the company expanded their footprint with the organization.

Another interesting finding was that the generalists were usually junior hires. VTS hired very junior (a year removed from college) and put them through a real estate bootcamp where they learned everything they needed to sell successfully. They were then responsible for the whole sales process. My company, SpotHero had similar employees who were mostly under the age of 24 and responsible for similar deliverables.

Finding #3: Landing one big account is a game changer


One big account can change the trajectory of an early stage company.

Five out of seven entrepreneurs surveyed said that the turning point in their business was closing one big account. The consensus feeling is that credibility is key in scaling a business and one big account can be the difference between making it and not. Here are a few examples of landmark deals that changed the direction of a few of the companies surveyed:

VTS – Won a deal with Blackstone that was covered by the Wall Street Journal. Once other companies saw Blackstone publicly support VTS, they wanted to work with them as well.

Floored – Signed a large multi-year deal with Hudson Yards in NYC. Hudson Yards became a credible reference point that they could always point back to in future business development deals.

Finding #4: Successful teams specialize later in their lifecycle

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Although generalists are key in the early days, after a startup has traction, it is important to specialize sales team.

Six out of seven entrepreneurs surveyed said that they split the sales function up into specialized components at later stages in the company lifecycle.  There was no single specific point at which they did this, however, it does seem to be the case that as generalists started to become overwhelmed with work that it started to make sense to slowly specialize roles to help the organization keep up with the growing amount of work.

On a high level it seems like sales teams will inevitably split into a few of the different functional groups listed below:

  • SDR (or Sales Development Reps) - Prospect and qualify leads

  • Insight teams / Sales operations  - Demo the product and gather preliminary information for sales reps

  • Inside Sales - Sell products over the phone

  • Account Executives - Sell products in-person

  • Sales Operations - Gather data and help support the Inside and Outside teams to be ready to go when it comes to meeting time

  • Account Management - Handle the account once the relationship is closed. Their goals are sometimes revenue growth of existing book of business or client satisfaction

Finding #5: Founders have intimate knowledge of the pain point

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Three of seven founders surveyed had previously experienced the pain point in their professional life. Nick Romito from VTS was an asset manager who built the product for himself, Michael Mandel from Compstak was a broker who knew the frustration of trading data and Doug Chambers, from Fieldlens, was a Project Manager for a decade before founding his startup. The other entrepreneurs learned the pain points as consumers. Caren Maio from Nestio had been through the apartment search process near a dozen times and Jeremy Smith from SpotHero had accumulated $5,000 in parking tickets before each of them started their companies. If someone feels the pain, is trying to build their own solution because the market doesn’t have anything good and/or they are willing to pay money now for that solution are usually good rules of thumb to identify if the problem is worth solving.

Finding #6: Founders are often not technical

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It was also very interesting to see that all of the founders surveyed did not come from technical backgrounds. It could very well be that not having as strong of tech background limited the entrepreneur’s abilities to pivot into different business models the way other teams might. With that said, intimate knowledge of a pain point not only seems to help build the solution but it seems to help in the process of selling. If you’re coming from industry then you might know the key decision makers involved in a process or how to position a solution. It’s up to the entrepreneur to determine how much industry experience is needed to succeed but it’s clear that there are benefits of knowing how all the stakeholders are impacted by a product and why they need it (or not).

Finding #7: Managing Teams


Every team is going to have to determine their culture and managing style as they scale. It seems like meetings are a great alignment tool (when executed effectively) and should be a way of keeping your teams working toward the same goals. There is not one specific formula for how to manage teams but we’ve aggregated a few different approaches to help to provide a starting point on what to do.

Team meetings

For the entrepreneurs surveyed, the team meetings are a lot more thought out than the one-on-ones. Since they take up multiple people’s time they need to be and have a formal structure. A team lead will call a meeting and will serve as the point person and might also be responsible for the follow up that comes from the meeting. There’s also usually a goal to these meetings.  A team might use OKRs, or Mspot or any number of different goal setting methodologies but almost universally there is something to keep everyone focused on. Lastly, teams are mindful of who is in attendance. Having the people who are critical to accomplishing the goal of the meeting is a good starting point. Just ask yourself, “Given the goal, should this person be here?” as a starting point for determining if they should be there or not.


These are meetings that happen directly with a team lead and their direct reports. This is not just for CEO and direct reports but for VPs on down. The frequency is usually once a week. There is all different feedback on how to run the meetings. Some teams like to have the person requesting the meeting send out the agenda, others like to have their subordinates prepare an agenda ahead of time and then there are those who prefer a less structured free-flowing discussion. Reading between the lines, it seems like this time can also be used to understand how someone is feeling about things outside of work. Some teams like to have once a week, purely social meetings and others like talking about some of these social items in the one-on-ones.


All in all, there are a number of ways to build a successful business but a few things really hold true. Of the companies surveyed, each CEO had the responsibility of selling the product. For a majority of the companies that are bias toward sales led the company to making one large sale that ultimately changed the trajectory of the company. A number of the other milestones for the businesses surveyed came after having some of these early first customers, so it’s important to not overlook the importance of sales in the early stages. Later stages of these companies lifecycles are about specialization and getting the right people in the right places to be successful. Hopefully these lessons can help you figure out the blueprint for your next successful startup venture.


  Jeremy Smith  Entrepreneur in Residence  Email

Jeremy Smith
Entrepreneur in Residence

Portfolio Synergies

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Most established venture capital investors take advantage of economies of scale to help their startups grow.  Over the years, we’ve studied and taken cues from the way other venture funds bring together startups for their LP investor days. In addition, we love how investors like OpenView have created a "Labs" team to serve startups' needs..

This is even more pronounced with a domain-focused firm like MetaProp NYC.  Since we invest only in real estate technologies (“PropTech”), we have the chance to regularly serve the highest potential startups, individually and collectively, in ways that continue to pay dividends. The MetaProp world (70+ PropTech startups) is designed to be greater than the sum of any individual parts.At our firm, we call this “portfolio synergy.”

Some examples of our recent portfolio synergy initiatives include:

 Co-Founder Aaron Block presenting at Cushman & Wakefield Pilot Day

Co-Founder Aaron Block presenting at Cushman & Wakefield Pilot Day

  • Live presentations during public demo days, private pilot days and ideation/innovation workshops with top global real estate firms including Blackstone, Howard Hughes, Cushman & Wakefield, Zillow and more.
  • Speaking opportunities and discounted/free tickets to major and niche industry events around the world.

  • Establishment of a Slack channel dedicated to problem solving and lead sharing.

  • Implementing Young Presidents Organization-style “forum” norms to MetaProp Accelerator and MetaProp Pre-Accelerator @ Columbia University group meetings.

But, more importantly, our startups are connecting and starting to create synergies on their own.  Notable MetaProp “portfolio synergy” wins:

  • This week’s announcement that Jetty and LoftSmart launched a Security Deposit API partnership (first of its kind) to bring Jetty's security deposit product to the LoftSmart platform, saving college students everywhere time and hundreds of dollars: article here.
  • Fortunately for us, the partnership between Jetty and LoftSmart was not the first example of a MetaProp “portfolio synergy” event.  Earlier this year, tech-enabled title and escrow company Spruce worked with tech-enabled mortgage broker Morty to finance and close a residential home purchase transaction.


What do you see in the market? Any suggestions for ways to increase portfolio synergy or lift the tide for all companies in an ecosystem? 

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below!



  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

  Aaron Block  Co-Founder & Managing Director  Email

Aaron Block
Co-Founder & Managing Director

PropTech in Europe

Have you noticed an increase in PropTech programming at major real estate events in Continental Europe?

Earlier this month, I went to ExpoReal in Munich. ExpoReal is the largest real estate gathering in Central Europe, with over 40,000 attendees.

 Fortuitously, ExpoReal starts right on the heels of Oktoberfest.

Fortuitously, ExpoReal starts right on the heels of Oktoberfest.

This year, there was a new focus on technology and startups. For the first time at ExpoReal, an entire section was dedicated to PropTech programming. The programming included three days of panels and speakers focused on technology and investment. In addition, there was an ongoing startup showcase. MetaProp was asked to join a panel about PropTech and Accelerators with Fifth Wall and Concrete.

 Panel on VCs and Accelerators

Panel on VCs and Accelerators

Historically, the UK has been the center of both the European startup ecosystem and European PropTech. The European Investment Fund (EIF) was once an anchor investor into UK funds, providing €2.3 billion for 144 UK venture capital firms between 2011 and 2015. Since Brexit, however, the EIF has halted all new investments into UK funds. In order to fill the investment gap, Europe’s second and third largest venture ecosystems, Germany and France, will likely be boosted by a flood of redirected EIF funding. The effect of Brexit on the UK will be compounded as immigration barriers will make it more difficult for UK firms tech firms to attract top talent. Continental Europe is bracing for a startup boom.

As a direct result of a boom in Continental Europe, more startups from the region will be expanding into the US. Startups will have increased access to funding that will eventually allow them to reach the necessary maturation to expand to the US. However, the reverse is not true. Increased resources and interest in Continental European PropTech will not make an immediate impact on early-stage US PropTech startups looking to scale internationally. The property market in Continental Europe is extremely fragmented, with each country operating under different laws, regulations, and languages. Furthermore, many European countries have less transparency in property markets as compared to the US. It would be impractical for early-stage American PropTech startups to scale in Europe since the cost to enter each market is high and the market is relatively small.

On November 9th, I will be on another panel in Vienna and am looking forward to meeting more PropTech companies from Continental Europe ready to expand to the US.

Dispatch From The Future


I am writing to you from the year 2079.  We just experienced a total solar eclipse over New York City and it enabled us, along with modern technology, to create a brief time warp.  For some silly reason, people think that instead of hearing about our great medical advances over the past 62 years or the technology that enables us to travel through time, you would like to hear about how we evaluate complex real estate transactions in the future. 

My granddaughter just joined the real estate business.  Her first assignment is to conduct diligence and potentially acquire a development site on Mars.  We started successfully landing people on Mars in the 2030’s and the real estate business started to evolve in the 2050’s once we discovered sustainable water sources deep underground.  Crude “bubble cities” with poor vegetation eventually gave way to more developed urban areas with larger, more permanent structures. 

Mars is an interesting market, as almost everything is 3D printed using Graphene on site within days.  So, a project has to be fully baked, so to speak, and ready to go, as soon as it’s underwritten.  The days of change orders are long gone.  Therefore, one has to move fast in this market to win deals.

Although doing business on Mars has its challenges, it also has its benefits.  The land registry system on Mars was created in the 2050’s and was built on a best in class, scalable, blockchain based infrastructure.  People began creating copious amounts of data on each property as soon as the system was set up, so each token that represents a property can be seamlessly exchanged for multiple different types of cryptocurrency.  Tokens also contain detailed information on all the previous transactions of the property, as well as detailed environmental reports, surveys, and other key items. 

I have had my eye on one site in particular.  It is located close to a newly discovered source of Niobium, one of the most valuable metals on Mars.  I believe that this city will attract many new immigrants looking for work, and therefore I would like to build one of the first multi-family developments.

I tell my granddaughter about it and she gets to work.  I send her access to the virtual deal room.  Almost all diligence and valuation work nowadays is done within this environment.  She puts on a headset and finds herself staring at the site on Mars, which is currently a parking lot for mining equipment.  After getting a feel for it, she heads to the control center to do her fieldwork.  The control center looks like the cockpit of a spaceship, and she has 12 screens at her disposal, showing her the survey that is currently being conducted by a small army of drones in the air, and robots on the ground.  With the latest technology, a new survey and Phase I report can be completed within minutes, and automatically recorded on the digital token. 

After getting comfortable physically with the site, she imports the zoning code of this Martian city into her headset and gets to work creating massive studies of what can be built. 

The zoning allows for both office and residential, so she consistently toggles between each use case, while using her AI audio chatbot to solicit proposals from architects who would want to design either type of structure and general contractors who would want to build it.  Within two hours she has obtained three designs for each use that she really likes.  She is ready to start underwriting. 

Underwriting is now done in tandem with chatbots.  The bots pull data from the cloud on construction pricing, office rents, and apartment rents near the area.  They quickly scan expected macro trends for the area based on the expected influx of workers and residents and bump up the most recent comps accordingly.  After one hour of iterating with her chatbots on the best possible scenarios, she is ready to stress test it in the market.  She also obtains feedback from her construction team.

She creates a quick virtual flythrough of the presentation and sends it out to thousands of potential equity and debt partners globally.  Within minutes she begins receiving feedback messages on its viability, and then goes back and redesigns the building, tweaking a few assumptions.  Once she goes back out to the market, the response is positive.  Within one hour, she receives two term sheets for debt and three for equity. 

We are in business!  We still have a few more hours to bid on the property.  People are bidding from all over the globe so we hope we can secure this site.  If we win, the graphene will be shipped up to Mars within a few business days and they will begin the two-week construction process.     

Grant Wernick, The Art of The Pivot, and The Launch of My Career

Pivots over the years have become something of lore in Silicon Valley.  The mantra of “fail fast but pivot faster” is usually in the back of every entrepreneur’s mind as he or she looks to bring product to market.  In 2010, a shopping application called Tote was failing fast.  However, the app’s founders noticed that users were bookmarking images instead of buying them; the team decided to focus on the “pinning” of images and created a new platform called Pinterest.  When Evan Williams was not gaining any traction with his audio platform Odeo, he decided to shut it down, and soon launched a completely new product that eventually became known as Twitter.

These stories are now famous because the companies have become large and influential.  Over the years, I have invested in many companies that have pivoted their product and strategy into something more successful.  However, I have only once experienced a situation where almost the same technological concepts failed in one sector but succeeded in another.  This is the tale of a story that can only happen to who dream big, work hard, and get lucky.  

The year was 2011 and I was struggling to figure out what to do with my professional life.  I was in the process of winding down my walking tour business, Travelgoat, I was a student at Columbia Business School, and I was doing consulting work for Millennium Partners in Los Angeles, working on the Millennium Hollywood project.  Nonetheless, I was still yearning to build my own mobile application in the local travel space, and I was working with my friends at Gin Lane on wireframes for an artificially intelligent itinerary generator app.  Tourists (or locals) would input preferences and the application would spit out a perfect day in a city, with a mix of good meals, cultural activities, museums, parks, and other activities.  

I had started networking in the NYC technology scene and was planning to attend the TechCrunch Disrupt conference that year.  Unfortunately, I had an important meeting in Los Angeles during the conference so could not attend in person.  Instead, I would watch the videos of the startup presentations after work.  I watched many of the impressive presentations but there was one that left my mouth agape in awe and envy.  A new application called Weotta launched, and lo and behold, it was an artificially intelligent itinerary generator.  However, the difference between Weotta and what I was trying to build was that Weotta had a team in place of expert natural language processing and semantic search engineers; I had jack squat.  

After watching the presentation video, I quickly made two phone calls.  My first call was to my friend Dan Kenger at Gin Lane.  I told him to burn the wireframes we had been working on.  Instead of building my own thing, I had decided that I just needed to invest in Weotta.  I was determined to convince the CEO Grant Wernick that he needed my help to build his business, even though I was an unknown quantity in Silicon Valley at the time.  My second call that day was to my friend Rachel Bassini, who was working at NewsCred at the time.  I knew that she was at the conference and was also totally shameless, so I asked if she could introduce herself to Grant and start talking me up.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Rachel complied with my request, and within a couple of days we had scheduled a conference call with Grant.  I was able to impress Grant but to my mild surprise he was non-committal about allowing me to invest in his company.  He said he had to discuss my potential involvement with some of his advisors.  This type of business was new to me as I had come from industries where if people offered you money you typically took it.

A week later I received a call from Grant.  He told me that he wanted me to invest because he was sure I could provide value to Weotta, but others were nervous; after all, I was an unknown quantity.  He told me that it made some of his advisors skittish that I wasn’t a known entity in the Valley and that I did not have a presence on Angel List.  “Angel List?” I asked.  “What is that?  If that’s the only impediment to me investing, get me on the platform immediately.”  Grant explained to me that Angel List was a new technology platform he helped create where startups looking to raise money could meet angel investors looking to invest in startups.  He introduced me to their team and I was allowed to create a profile.  After that I became addicted to Angel List, but that’s another story for another day.

I took the plunge, invested in Weotta, and started to help the team on strategy.  The “special sauce” behind the Weotta application was its core semantic search querying capabilities, which were designed by the company’s co-founding CTO Jacob Perkins.  Within a couple of years, Weotta had built what I believed to be the best search engine for local data on the web and because of this Grant was able to attract investment from venture funds like Google Ventures and Data Collective.  Unfortunately, even though the product was used in 1000’s of U.S. cities monthly potential users of the app just didn’t seem to care how good the semantic search technology was.  

In the summer of 2015 Weotta was at a crossroads.  The company was running out of money and it’s only direct path to monetization was going the local ad route or selling data to hedge funds.  Grant knew that he needed to raise more money, sell, or pivot.  He put together a deck showcasing the technology behind the app.  He took a sample local query, like “What’s a great place to have tacos and Margaritas for Sunday brunch at 11 AM with my girlfriends?”  Weotta spit back multiple options of places that served tacos and margaritas, and was open on Sundays at 11 AM, just like magic.  The competitors, mainly Google, Bing and Siri, responded with disjointed and incoherent responses.  

Although investors viewed this demonstration as impressive, monetization around local search wasn’t compelling, given the grueling local sales efforts needed to turn a buck in in the space, and the issues the leaders in the space like Foursquare and Yelp have had. Grant knew local search wasn’t the path forward, so he started exploring taking their technologies to the enterprise. Right away there was a lot of interest around utilizing it for querying all sorts of data from CRM to logs. Through Data Collective, one of the investors in Weotta, this deck found its way into the hands of senior executives at Splunk, the publicly traded machine data and cyber security company.  They saw something that no one else did at the time; this semantic search technology, with a few tweaks, could become a powerful weapon to combat potential cyber-attacks at large organizations. Also, they saw an opportunity for meaningful partnership. Splunk is a super powerful product, but only a handful of people in any given organization could use it – could Grant and his team be the partner they had been looking for to unlock the value of Splunk?

After many interesting conversations and a small investment into the company from Splunk itself, Grant, Jacob, and the entire team decided they needed to make the hard decision and shut down Weotta, take a hard pivot, and become a deep enterprise product.  Despite the hardship, the team stayed together and launched a new company called Insight Engines.  Insight Engines would run on top of Splunk, and allow Splunk’s Fortune 500 CIO clients to query important information about potential cyber breaches in a faster and more efficient way.

When you visit the homepage of Insight Engines today, you can see an example of how the technology works.  


It’s obvious when looking at this query why a Fortune 500 CIO would be interested in quickly obtaining the answer from a cyber security perspective.  What’s less obvious is how similar this query is to a query that I would have asked on Weotta:

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The pivot has worked!  Their product is used daily by some of the largest organizations on the planet, they just raised a new round of financing, and they continues to push the envelope.  They are off to the races.  I couldn’t be happier for them as they stuck to their belief that this type of technology would prove valuable and they showcased a willingness to listen to the market.