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NAR REach announces first company accepted into accelerator program, Pro.com

NAR REach has announced that Pro.com is the first brand to be part of their accelerator program, and applications end this week.

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The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures has announced Pro.com as the first brand that they have selected to be in the third graduating class of their Reach tech accelerator program.

Pro.com helps homeowners to price projects, find quality certified local professionals, and finish their home to-do lists, under the leadership of Matt Williams and his team of former Amazon execs. The home services marketplace enables real estate professionals to help homeowners get accurate pricing on home projects.

Transparency and timing

Just visit Pro.com and see that transparency is the name of the game – we liken the site to the TrueCar.com of home improvement projects wherein a sliding scale of prices is given for each unique project, right up front. The company is already funded to the tune of $17.5 million, and the site was born out of frustration with how much time and effort it takes to find out how much a project will cost (the first question anyone wants to know, and often what holds people back from embarking on any investment, large or small). They saw how fragmented the industry was, and how difficult it is to get quality work done, so they pounced.

The consensus with our team is that the timing is great for REach and Pro.com to be partnered, as transparency is no longer a buzzword, it is a requirement. As the large real estate portals draw their swords against each other, the industry often forgets that transparency can be about so much more than just listing data (just ask the CFPB), because transparency in any data is a top reason people don’t pull the trigger on a purchase (imagine going to Amazon and not seeing any dollar signs – you’d be out of there in a heartbeat).

NAR REach applications are still open

This is the first company to be announced for the 2015 Reach accelerator program, and applications will be open through March 19th. The remaining companies will be announced in April.

The focus of the REach program is to provide a platform from which technology companies can launch into the real estate vertical, most of whom are not real-estate specific. Past participants include Updater, BombBomb, SmartZip, and SendHub. Many other accelerators take ideas and turn them into MVPs (minimum viable products), but REach takes existing brands and skyrockets their potential footprint in the real estate industry.

Why is Pro.com perfect for REach?

In a statement, Williams said, “It’s an honor to be accepted into this year’s REach accelerator program – the knowledge, resources and support will be invaluable to us as we grow.”

“Pro.com is ideally poised to take full advantage of the REach program, as they and all participants will benefit significantly from access to real estate leaders – from education to mentorship to market exposure,” said NAR President Chris Polychron. “While Pro.com is applicable to so many individuals, it hits on a sweet spot in the real estate space, as in this day and age, Realtors® are going well beyond the transaction and often times act as an advisor to homebuyers and sellers, who turn to Realtors® when making improvements to their homes.”

Constance Freedman, Founder, Managing Director at REach(TM) and Managing Director, Second Century Ventures; Vice President of Strategic Investments, NAR tells us that Pro.com is an interesting addition to the REach program, “because of the fact that 54 percent of Realtors’ business is from past clients and referrals, and Pro.com can help Realtors add value, even after the transaction.” Bingo.

How this came to be, and what’s next?

Williams tells us that they heard about the REach program by participating in various real estate events, and considers this an opportunity to serve the industry even more deeply. Because most home improvement projects take place 90 days before or after a transaction, Pro.com believes that their site is an important tools for real estate professionals who are called upon to make these “deeply personal recommendations and referrals” – it’s much easier when the pros being referred are of vetted quality.

So yeah, yeah, buzzwords about transparency and quality, but what does that really mean? It means that no one pays to be featured on Pro.com, that they certify their professionals not only by verifying licenses, insurance, and bonding, but by actually calling their references of past clients. Williams says they’re similar to Uber in that consumers pay money for action, and they are actually helping as a service (whereas we look to home repair sites like Angie’s List that offers the opposite).

Williams encourages others to apply to REach, as it is “the best program for anyone looking to make inroads into the [real estate] industry,” and that it is “truly rare to have access to people with this much knowledge of an industry.” Williams also asserts that the available mentoring, resources, and events will help Pro.com to continue to “revolutionize” the space. In the future, they hope to have a Realtor-specific product.

Freedman says this is a tool that Realtors can leverage, and we suspect that with these two teaming up, this will become even more true.

#NARREach

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Technology

Transcribe your flood of meetings with Tony

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) With all the audio meetings that have to take place now it might be useful to get a transcriber, TonydoorAI is a free one that’s perfect for you.

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While meetings sometimes (rightfully) get a bad rep for being a waste of time, there are often moments where meetings are crucial for the betterment of your work. And, in these cases, meetings can be particularly daunting.

You’re worried about how to dress, what to say, and how to say it, all while retaining the information presented and taking helpful notes for your future self. It’s impossible to do all of that at the same time and feel like you hit it out of the park.

Even with our current world of video meetings from home, it can still be hard to manage all of those components and take detailed notes that will make sense in the future. However, there may be a friend who can help.

TonyDoorAI is an AI assistant for calls and video meetings. Users can turn it on to record meetings on Zoom or Google Meet.

The AI can transcribe in 120 languages and can summarize in two minutes with 95 percent accuracy. This is a largely untapped system of record that is designed with remote teams in mind.

The system also provides time-stamped notes and works to keep the communication between customers or employees smooth and transparent. TonyDoor has strong analytic skills built into the platform that track a conversation’s theme and structure – in only one hour, the system will review an hour-long meeting into your CRM.

There are plans tailored for all business types, including a free plan that offers four hours of transcription per month, records Zoom and Google Meet, provides time-stamped notes, and integrates with Slack and Calendar.

On the website, Tony states that only the user owns the data and that they do not sell or use data for their interests. Additionally, Tony explains the encryption of data as, “We encrypt your data at rest, including emails, calendar events and other personal identifiable metadata. We use a 256-bit AES encryption in storage and a 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption in transit. Our database is hosted in a Virtual Private Cloud with AWS.”

Tony sounds like an ideal helper for new client calls, interviews, and anything where you want to retain information. Give us your thoughts on AI transcription in the comments!

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Real Estate Technology

Toronto neighborhood of the future gets canceled, thanks COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Google partner company cancels technological utopia project in Toronto, Ontario, amid pandemic financial uncertainty. Damn you COVID-19!

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Sidewalk Labs has announced the termination of a new-age urban paradise to be built in the world’s societal paradise due to the pandemic-induced apocalypse: the new-and-improved Quayside, Canada will not be.

The project was a 12-acre technological utopian neighborhood on the Toronto eastern waterfront. Sidewalk Toronto would combine “forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”

The project was a collaborative effort between Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation company owned by Alphabet (the parent company of Google) and Waterfront Toronto, the local nonprofit steward of the area. Launched in October 2017, Sidewalk Labs committed to a $50 million USD investment for initial planning and testing.

According to the announcement by Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff, the work completed to date on Quayside “represent[s] a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability. This is a vital societal endeavor, and Sidewalk Labs will continue our work to contribute to it.”

Sidewalk Labs has made many a grandiose proclamation for the contributions of this project to inspire new models for sustainable transportation, waste management, and affordable housing. But the execution of this vision has not been without controversy. The project has been criticized over the years by Toronto residents for its dubious regard to privacy standards and personal data collection, such as motion-sensor cameras to track people’s movements and manage transportation accordingly. At one point, Sidewalk Labs proposed to expand the project to a 350-acre plot of undeveloped land.

Despite Sidewalk Labs emphasis on the importance of the project and its significance in the context of the social and physical shifts the world has made to adapt to COVID-19, the announcement gave no indication that the project will be reinitiated at a later time.

For now, the announcement only indicates that Sidewalk Labs will continue other internal projects and external investments. Some of Sidewalk Labs other projects include Proto-Model X (PMX), a digital model for manufacturing tall timber buildings, and a Clean Recycling pilot to help apartment habitants improve waste and recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs also invests in other companies working on the front lines of urban innovation.

While the world may be no worse for the wear without a heated-sidewalk Zion, the project cancellation is definitely a disappointment. I was really looking forward to moving to Google Town after coronavirus decimates my local population and economy.

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Real Estate Technology

Google Duo expands to support 32-people calls to compete in new Zoom world

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Google Duo is expanding to include 32 people on a call to compete with WhatsApp. Zoom had better watch out, here is another competitor coming up.

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Google Duo is expanding and at it couldn’t come at a better time for the renaissance of video calling. While social distancing is keeping us away from friends and loved ones, messaging services are keeping connections alive and remote working viable. Google Duo is making plans to expand group calls to accommodate 32 people, becoming a stronger competitor with Zoom and Google Meet.

Duo is catered towards families and friends through its features like doodles, masks, and the recently-launched Family Mode. Thanks to Google’s popularity with contacts and gmail accounts, it’s betting users will find convenience in the platform fluidity.

Well, WhatsApp didn’t take this challenge laying down. The app announced its moving towards support video calls with up to 50 people. The feature (currently in beta version in the desktop app), functions by transferring users into new Facebook Messenger Rooms. As of this publication, the WhatsApp mobile version only supports 8 users per call. Since it was purchased by Facebook, WhatsApp, combined with Messenger, could rise to become a widely utilized video call platform.

What’s a little confusing is why Google has 3 separate video conferencing tools at all. Google Hangouts, Google Meet, and Google Duo. Why is Google competing with itself? Surely they are splitting users between the 3 instead of backing 1 to take the top spot from Zoom. Which hand isn’t talking to a 3rd foot?

While more seems like a good idea, we’re all figuring out that there’s a critical threshold where online video call devolve into a garbled mess where people can’t get a word in or progress the conversation in a meaningful manner. Every company seems to be trying take away Zooms domination of the market by being able to add more people to a call, but why not better compression, more security, ease of use, better UI. These are the features we demand out of other programs, but I have only heard complaints, but seen no solutions.

In the meantime, we as consumers will have plenty of options to continue navigating communication and workflow in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

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