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The industry’s hot new entrepreneurs

Date: 10/01/2013

Company: Honest Buildings

Source: The Real Deal

The tech startups to watch, and how they’re changing real estate in NYC

October 01, 2013 – By Hiten Samtani

Compared to other major New York City industries, real estate is notoriously slow to innovate. A conservative business dominated for decades by the same handful of families, real estate hasn’t developed the equivalent of high-frequency trading, which rocked the securities industry, or BuzzFeed, the news-and-entertainment website that’s shaking up media advertising.

There are, however, some new kids on the block who are successfully challenging the way the real estate business is done. Manhattan-based company Floored, for example, is using advanced vision science to give brokers and developers a new way to showcase their listings, while the crowdfunding company Fundrise has built an online platform to help developers gain support from both investors and their communities. And the much-hyped startup Urban Compass is aiming to make the hectic world of Manhattan residential rentals less painful for consumers.

This month, The Real Deal looked at some of the most promising and innovative industry startups launched in the past three years, and examined how they are changing New York real estate.

LinkedIn for real estate: Honest Buildings

Manhattan-based Honest Buildings is an online network that connects developers and landlords with engineers, architects, designers and other vendors. Essentially, it’s “LinkedIn for the real estate industry,” explained founder Riggs Kubiak, who was the global head of sustainability at development giant Tishman Speyer before leaving in 2011 to start his own venture.

Kubiak got the idea for Honest Buildings, he said, because he was frustrated with how inefficiently real estate players go about finding vendors for their projects.

“Hiring decisions [in real estate] for the last 2,000 years have been based on ‘who does my friend Jim know down the street?’ ” Kubiak said. “It just blew my mind that every other industry uses tech to catalyze transactions and make better decisions.”

With Honest Buildings, he set out to create a more systematic way for commercial and residential developers to find the best vendors for their projects, he said.

Here’s how it works. A developer or landlord submits their project details into the “HB Match” online platform, along with criteria for what they’re looking for in a vendor, such as years of experience or expertise with specific materials. The site then searches for matches based on those criteria, and comes up with the short list of vendors appropriate for the project. Analysts check the references of the vendors on the list, then introduce them to the client to kick off the bidding process.

“We use our technology to get them most of the way,” Kubiak said, “and then our team does the rest.”

Read full story at The Real Deal

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