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.