Top 15 Most Influential People in Real Estate Technology 2015

In honor of our upcoming 2015/2016 Demo Days, MetaProp NYC presents:   

The first annual list of the most influential in NY real estate tech:

  1. Jared Kushner of Kushner Companies and Josh Kushner of Thrive Capital

    • These two power brokers control millions of square feet in NY, and are among the earliest adopters and champions of all things real estate tech including startups like: WeWork, Compass, Cadre, Honest Buildings, and WiredScore.

  2. Zach Aarons, Clelia Peters and Aaron Block of MetaProp NYC

    • The most prolific angel in real estate tech, one of NYC’s top residential brokerage minds and an ex-Cushman executive teamed up with REBNY, ICSC, the NYCEDC, Warburg Realty and Zillow to launch this real estate tech startup accelerator and the #1 global RETech seed fund.  This team also produces NYC Real Estate Tech Week.

  3. Nick Romito of VTS and Brandon Weber of Hightower

    • Founding entrepreneurs and competitors who are lighting the commercial real estate tech world on fire. Future of CRE could be here.  Both companies have activated old-line institutional partners (Blackstone, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Corp, etc.) and have raised significant Series B capital from blue chip venture funds.

  4. Robert Refkin and Ori Allon of Compass

    • Ex-Goldman Sachs and ex-Google founders who built a tech enabled residential real estate brokerage powerhouse.

  5. Susan Daimler of StreetEasy/Zillow

    • One of the previous generation of real estate tech entrepreneurs who remains as relevant and influential as ever.  Currently GM of top residential listings site.

  6. Steve Schlafman of RRE

  7. Rich Sarkis of Reonomy and Michael Mandel of CompStak

    • Big shots taking on the goliath, publicly traded deathstar CoStar.  Michael’s CompStack democratized leasing “comps” and Rich’s Reonomy just completed a massive Series B with investors like Bain Capital.

  8. Michael Rudin of Rudin Management

    • 4th gen Exec who helps spearhead the 20m sqft portfolio's tech investments.  Incubating their own DiBoss building operations platform.

  9. Dave Eisenberg of Floored and Red Swan Ventures.

    • Widely recognized as one of the smartest entrepreneurs in the space.  The authority on interactive 3D graphics and space test fit technology.  Also investor in Hightower and other technologies through VC Red Swan Ventures.

  10. Bill Field of LeFrak Investments, Ryan Melohn of Expansion VC, Michael Milstein of Millstein Properties, Grand Central Tech incubator, and Circle Ventures, and Ryan Freedman of Corigin Ventures

    • Not as well known as the Kushners and Rudins but still very influential strategic investors.  These gentlemen invest real estate family money and help new technologies access pilots within their vast portfolios.  Local portfolio companies include Honest Buildings, Radiator Labs and LogCheck.

  11. Ryan Baxter of REBNY and Sarah Malcolm of ICSC 

    • You can't ignore the influence of real estate associations in the future of our industry.  Ryan Baxter is a lobbyist and liaison to the real estate tech community for industry association powerhouse REBNY.  He's recognized as a Crain’s NY 40 under 40Sarah Malcolm runs digital strategy for the global retail real estate association ICSC and maintains tight relationships with the local venture, start-up, media and real estate communities.

  12. Erik Levy of DMGI, Brad Svrluga of Primary Ventures,  and Jordan Nof of Tusk Ventures

    • Erik leads investments for the deepest investor in the real estate tech data space.  Holdings include Trepp, SiteCompli, and Real Capital Analytics.   Brad has been an early champion of real estate tech and investor in local startups Reonomy, Fieldlens, and TheSquareFoot. Jordan served as a director at Blackstone and now leads investments at Tusk Ventures.

  13. Riggs Kubiak of Honest Buildings

    • Ex-Tishman Speyer executive who invented the real estate market’s leading procurement and workflow platform

  14. Caren Maio of Nestio

    • Top female founder in today’s crop of real estate technologists.  Created NY’s leading residential listings system for residential real estate professionals.

  15. Ashkán Zandieh of CRE:Tech and Falkon

    • Founder of CRE:Tech research and consulting and property research app Falkon.  One of the original advocates for real estate tech in New York City. 

Utility Billing and Invoicing Technology: The Next Frontier?


Any retail landlord will tell you that he or she has three main priorities: getting paid on time, keeping the retail space looking fabulous, and keeping tenants happy.  True retail landlord nirvana occurs when all three of these tasks are accomplished in unison at all times.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world and although everyone tries their best, things are bound to happen: pipes burst, sidewalks crack, tenants miss payments, landlords bill incorrectly.  So, given that we live in an imperfect world, is there a way to use software to make tenant interactions with landlords more frictionless?  I believe there is and the place to start is with simple utility billing.

Many landlords across the country operate their retail spaces under Triple Net (NNN) leases.  This means that the tenant is responsible for paying all expenses in addition to their base rent: this includes operating expenses, property taxes, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses associated with the property.

As landlords, we typically pay these expenses up front so we don’t get hit with any late payment fines from governments or local utility providers, and then we have the task of figuring out which tenant owes which portion of these bills.  When utilities are sub-metered, like electricity, this process is easy.  Tenants receive a separate bill each month that they are responsible for paying.

Conversely, many utilities like condenser water are not sub-metered and the landlord is responsible for figuring out each tenant’s pro rata share of the total payment and then billing it out to the tenant.  This takes time and energy every month.  In many cases, large national retailers contract out with third party vendors to handle their utility bills.  Cass Utility Information Systems is a leader in this field and contracts with many large retailers. 

So, sometimes a very small utility bill can become a very large time suck for many different people.  The bill is seen by at least four parties: the utility, the landlord, the retail tenant, and the third party utility vendor.  With different people at all of these companies, often times bills can slip through the cracks or get lost while they move through this process.

Although I haven’t found it yet, I believe there is a software program out there that can fix this problem and save everyone including landlords, retailers, or vendors both time and money.  If it doesn’t exist yet then someone should build it as soon as possible and let the team at MetaProp NYC help take it to market. 

Enterprise software platforms like SageYardiMRI, and Realpage make it easier for landlords to create dynamic invoices for tenants so that all categories of bills including rent, operating expenses, utilities, and other expenses can be included on one invoice.  This is a huge innovation and saves landlords and tenants lots of time (and ultimately money) not having to sift through a plethora of different invoices every month for the same property.

That said, what I propose takes the billing process one step further.  There should be a software solution that through natural language processing can scan a utility bill, instantly calculate a retail tenant’s pro rata share of that bill, and then automatically generate an invoice to send to the tenant.  With a click of a button upon receiving a bill from a utility provider, a landlord will know how much each tenant owes for each utility for that month.  Also with one click, the landlord will be able to invoice the tenant the correct amount.

On the tenant side, this type of process can save time and money as well.  With this level of dynamic invoicing, there is no reason why a landlord couldn’t automatically generate two separate invoices: one invoice would have every expense that is billed to the tenant including rent and operating expense, and the other invoices would include just the utilities that the third party vendor was responsible for paying.  This way, instead of waiting weeks before the third party vendor even receives the invoice, they could receive it almost instantly, just minutes after the utility company generates it.

While this is certainly not the most glamorous part of real estate, getting paid and keeping tenants happy is arguably the most important part of real estate.  While real estate technology continues to innovate in areas like leasing, marketing, property management, and financing, we need more innovation in areas like retail utility billing.  This will save landlords and tenants alike both time and money, and provide everyone with piece of mind and potential retail landlord nirvana. 

Margaret Porres, Founder and President of Newcastle Realty Services

The Innovation Conversation is a series of Q&A sessions between the real estate technology industry's top leaders and MetaProp NYC Co-Founder and Managing Director Aaron Block.  Topics include thoughts on the future of property and technology, corporate innovation activities,  and executive development in the real estate technology space.

Margaret Porres, Founder and President of Newcastle Realty Services

What are your day-to-day responsibilities in your organization?

Being the President, I oversee all aspects of the business.

Describe how you became interested in real estate technology and innovation.

To my mind, it is the logical progression and so it has always been of interest. I think since college I have been exploring technology and the built environments intersection, either through advanced computer modelling software, photovoltaics, wireless technologies or even advancements in operating systems.   

How is today’s real estate technology different from when you started your career?

If we could speak in lightyears…but when I started, technology meant an accounting software or lease modelling; now it truly touches all planes.

What is the most important innovation and technology-driven initiative in your organization today?

Important is hard to define, so I’m going to go with the greatest positive impact on our environment as the definition of important, and therefore the answer is: wireless controls and gauges. This applies to an ever increasing arena within our industry and company, from watering systems, to heat systems to lighting. Reducing the use of natural resources is both good stewardship of the environment and good for the bottom line.

What do you do to stay on top of cutting edge trends and developments in real estate technology? 

Newcastle prides itself on staying not just with, but ahead of the trends in technological advances in the real estate arena. As such, we routinely send our employees to trade shows, on occasion, we have participated on panels involving green technology, and we explore through trial, and constant innovation and research thereof. We are constantly looking for how to do it better, be it through reduced emission production to energy tracking to app development for management in the field, we’re open to all ideas.

As a mentor, what is the #1 value you bring to a high-growth real estate tech start-up?  

I truly enjoy the intersection of real estate and technology and respond well to positive innovation.

Who have been your most important mentors and why?

Mentors are meaningful to me when they have the ability to give their honest feedback. I also find that kindred spirits who are intellectually capable can be great mentors even if they come from very different walks of life.

What is your favorite business book?  

I don’t read many, but prefer trade magazines. However, I recently read Profit from the Core.

What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t already know?  

I love Halloween.