Company: Honest Buildings
Source: Honest Buildings
Dhiraj Malkani Explores the Intersection of the Physical and the Digital
Trained as a mechanical engineer, it makes sense that Dhiraj Malkani emphasizes the importance of things—the real, the physical. But after interacting with tangibles for seven years in product development, the realm of the digital beckoned. “I got the startup bug,” he says, explaining why he joined Boston University’s Photonics Incubator, where he helped faculty members build startups. But he still felt the pull of things—call it gravity.
At Rockport Capital, Dhiraj has found the perfect balance, helping companies bring the physical into the digital domain. Six years ago, he and his colleagues at Rockport put together a thesis predicting that the low cost of mobile technology and hardware would soon bring physical assets into the digital world. So when he discovered Honest Buildings in 2012, it seemed like a natural fit.
Meeting Riggs and seeing his ambitions for disrupting the real estate industry sealed the deal and made Honest Buildings one of the only companies Rockport has invested in after one meeting. “You invest in people more often than not,” Dhiraj says, emphasizing that a clearly articulated vision and bold ideas are essential to entrepreneurs. “Are they really going to transform an industry, or make an incremental change?…We were excited about his vision to change a large industry that hasn’t adopted technology as much as it should.”
As Dhiraj sees it, the real estate industry has been slow to jump on the digital bandwagon because, frankly, they haven’t had to. “Why fix what isn’t broken? It’s the number one rule of business,” he explains. Add to that the enormous amount of capital at stake, and you get a highly risk-averse industry. But there’s change afoot, change that mean enormous possibilities for companies like Honest Buildings.