On Tuesday evening, dot.LA hosted a Proptech Salon to create space and encourage proptech founders and investors to discuss how Southern California real estate startups are disrupting the industry. Over 70 invited guests gathered at WeWork’s Century City location, including Michael Martin of Avenue 8, Nick Marino of TruLiv and Andrew Swerdloff of StayOpen.
The event kicked off with a conversation with JoyHub co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Braman, who announced the data aggregation and business intelligence platform will soon change its name to Revolution RE. Prior to starting JoyHub, Braman spent time at crowdfunding real estate platform Realty Mogul as senior managing director.
Braman said the inspiration for creating JoyHub came from the problems she saw in the real estate industry around the lack of data consistency and the overwhelming amount of data that real estate operators of apartments and rental properties have to make sense of. She saw a need for a tool that could simplify the data for real estate companies so they could use it effectively.
“I learned that legacy technology created a lot of problems,” she said. “Proptech and all these new innovative solutions were compounding the problem by creating massive amounts of data silos.”
With any new venture or startup, there’s always a risk of it failing, she said:
“Anyone who tells you that starting a company during a pandemic is easy is not being truthful,” she said, adding that she was lucky that she was able to work with a team she already knew well from her first startup experience.
For much of the rest of the startup community, times are looking more challenging than they were not long ago.
“The high-gross C, D unicorn-type companies are having a very challenging time raising up rounds,” dot LA Executive Chairman Spencer Rascoff said. “And A and B—not so great.”
Rascoff offered some advice to young companies hoping to weather the storm.
“Realistically, you should try to tighten your belt as much as possible to extend the runway as long as possible so that if you can’t get a round done this year, you prioritize survival over growth,” he said. “Because there’ll be time for growth later.”
Another hot topic in proptech was virtual real estate. The concept of the metaverse has grown in popularity as new virtual environments go online. Celebrities like Snoop Dogg already own land in some of these new worlds. In December, one of his fans purchased a plot of land for $450,000 just to be the rapper-entrepreneur’s virtual neighbor.
As an investor, Rascoff said he’s skeptical about buying land in the metaverse.
“The big reason why I’m overall skeptical of this is for some of these things, you need counties to play ball,” Rascoff said. “But it’s fun and interesting to talk about how title might be disruptive through blockchain.”
The night was capped with a question from dot LA CEO Sam Adams:
“If given a million dollars to invest, where would that money go?”
Braman said she would have to diversify and choose cannabis along with venture funds.
Rascoff admitted his answer was less exciting, but said he’d would use the money to buy a “basket of growth tech stocks that are at two-to-five-year lows.”