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The Hottest Tech of 2014

May 09 2014

nar reachIn April, the National Association of REALTORS® announced the companies that have been selected to participate in their NAR REach™ accelerator program. The REach™ class of 2014 also doubles as a list of the "it" tech for this year. We're going to introduce you to these exciting companies and share some details about their products.

NAR REach™

REach™ was developed by the strategic investment arm of NAR (Second Century Ventures). The purpose of the program is to introduce innovative tech companies to the real estate industry. Participants are very carefully selected after a comprehensive review of their business, their management, and the potential benefit their products and services will bring to REALTORS®. Only a few companies are invited to participate, and they truly represent the "cream of the crop."

For more information on REach™, you can read the press releasepress release.

The Hot List

We know you're busy, so we'll provide a quick snapshot of all the companies here, but be sure to read on for further details!

  • Back At You Media: A hands-free, full-service, automated way to generate leads and maintain relationships on social media. www.BackAtYou.comwww.BackAtYou.com.
  • Deductr: Make tax time easier by automatically tracking expenses, mileage and time. www.deductr.com/NARwww.deductr.com/NAR
  • Desktime: Earn extra income by helping clients turn unused office space into cash. www.desktimeapp.comwww.desktimeapp.com
  • Fundwell: Helps commercial real estate professionals connect small business with prequalified lenders to fund real estate or business expansion. www.thefundwell.comwww.thefundwell.com
  • Goby: Tracks energy utilization in buildings to optimize efficiency and regulatory reporting. www.SeaSuite.comwww.SeaSuite.com
  • SendHub: From any mobile device or computer, REALTORS® can manage all of their client communication via voice calls and text messaging - so that the agent never misses a lead. www.sendhub.comwww.sendhub.com
  • SmartZip: This predictive marketing platform uses mountains of data and intricate algorithms to identify homeowners that are likely to sell, then targets these homeowners with effective Web and social marketing campaigns. www.smartzip.comwww.smartzip.com
  • WeVideo: Video creation made easy! Compelling videos created from any device, with automation options to save you time. www.Wevideo.comwww.Wevideo.com

Back At You Media

narreach 2014 backatyouBack At You Media is a complete lead generation and communications platform for social media. Their primary focus is on helping real estate agents generate leads and maintain relationships on Facebook. CEO and Co-Founder, Michael Glazer explains, "About 80 percent of REALTORS® have a Facebook business Page, but the majority of them don't have the expertise or the time to manage their Page effectively. We offer a full-service automated solution to help agents talk to clients and get leads on Facebook."

Until now, there has been no "one solution" for social media marketing. Glazer continues, "People don't just need to get more people to their page; they also need to have content on that page. Then they need the lead generation forms to capture potential customers." In the past, they had to find several technology solutions to address all these needs – but now there's Back At You Media, which can do it all. And apparently their model works, because they're already a preferred vendor for Keller Williams, RE/MAX and Berkshire Home Services.

Glazer says that inclusion in NAR REach™ is also an affirmation that they're "doing something right for the industry and that our technology is the most helpful to REALTORS®. NAR sees agents struggling with marketing and social media – and we're the solution."

What's next for Back At You Media? "We have a really great pipeline of products," says Glazer. "Our next roll-out will be a game changer for the way people use social media. It's really unique." The company also aims to be "social media advocates," and give REALTORS® - whether customers or not – helpful advice and best practices.

Learn more at www.BackAtYou.comwww.BackAtYou.com.

Deductr

deductrWhen you meet with your CPA at tax time, do you plunk a shoebox full of receipts and slips of paper with mileage onto their desk? Deductr removes the shoebox from this scenario, helping independent contractors and business owners be prepared for tax time by automatically tracking expenses, mileage, and time throughout the year.

The Deductr mobile app taps into the GPS on your phone to track mileage, syncs with your calendar to track time, and connects with your bank accounts to track expenses. At the end of the year, with a single click, you have access to everything you need to be prepared for tax time.

Tyler Thompson, VP of Business Development at Deductr, says, "There are a number of solutions available that track just expenses, just mileage, or just time. We've taken a really focused approach and limited our scope to small business owners and independent contractors - while expanding our visibility to include all three factors that matter to them: time, expenses, and mileage. And we automate as much of the process as possible, so that it's as simple as possible for users."

Although Deductr is leveraged in a variety of industries, the solution has always been focused in large part on real estate. Inclusion in NAR REach™ allows Deductr greater access to real estate professionals, so that they can hone their product's features and their messaging for our specific industry.

What Thompson particularly points out is that Deductr is not a replacement for accountants. Rather, it is a partner for business owners and accounts, making tax time easier for both. The solution is also profoundly useful to REALTORS® who do their own taxes, and Deductr has built relationships with many personal finance management tools.

Right now, Deductr is offering its solution at a 50% discount only to NAR members. You can check it out at www.deductr.com/NAR.www.deductr.com/NAR.


Desktime

desktimeOver 43 million Americans identify themselves as a freelancer or independent worker. These professionals represent an underserved community when it comes to real estate. After all, commercial real estate is built for long-term, secure leases; there aren't many options for the "little guy." That's where Desktime comes in. With Desktime, freelancers can find short-term, affordable office space and companies can monetize their unused square feet.

Sam Rosen, co-founder of Desktime, explains, "Desktime is an online marketplace for commercial real estate that connects independent workers with short-term, on-demand space that's available by the day, week, or month. We help people find a place to work and we help folks who are sitting on extra space to turn it into cash."

The biggest value in NAR REach™ for Desktime, Rosen says, is helping them understand how they can be a partner to commercial brokers. Rosen continues, "As we see it, we can help brokers primarily in two scenarios. First, let's say a broker has a client that needs 7,500 square feet, but there's a really fantastic building that's 10,000 square feet. Desktime gives the broker a way to help clients get the building they really want and can give them time to grow into it. Second, imagine a broker that's getting calls from people who are looking for small amounts of short-term space. That may not be an economically viable lead for the broker. Rather than throwing away the opportunity, the broker can refer them to Desktime. We will track the prospect and report back to the broker if the business is growing and might now be a viable lead."

Relationships are the cornerstone of commercial real estate, and Desktime helps brokers maintain relationships with current or prospective clients.

To learn more, visit www.desktimeapp.comwww.desktimeapp.com.

Fundwell

FundWellFundwell is an online marketplace that connects commercial brokers and their clients with prequalified lenders that will fund their real estate needs and business expansion plans.

Commercial real estate brokers often have a difficult time getting deals done because their clients don't have the capital they need to complete a transaction. "That's where Fundwell comes in," says Chinwe Onyeagoro, CEO and Co-Founder of Fundwell. "Our simple, online tool provides information on how much financing a commercial real estate client qualifies for, at what interest rate, and how quickly they can access the money."

Transparency is important to Fundwell, so your clients will always know where they stand - what it will take for them to be eligible for the financing they need and whether they are getting the best deal. Another high priority for the company is establishing long-term relationships with their real estate broker partners. "We don't just work with commercial clients to secure financing for real estate transactions, we also help them obtain working capital and expansion financing to ensure their total project needs are met. Once they have completed a transaction, we stay in touch with them, monitor their performance, and inform them about refinancing opportunities that will lower their existing rates." In addition, their real estate broker partners are compensated for ALL referrals they send to Fundwell.

Fundwell is also beginning to implement technology for real estate brokerage websites that will enable their commercial clients to get prequalified for financing within minutes.

Learn more at www.thefundwell.comwww.thefundwell.com.


Goby

narreach 2014 gobyGoby's SeaSuite platform is an energy management and regulatory compliance app created for commercial real estate professionals looking to save their clients, tenants, and owners time and money. CEO and co-founder Chris Happ explains, "Our SaaS platform helps building owners and managers run better buildings by capturing and distilling multiple building data sources into simple, contextualized dashboards, tasks, and reports. SeaSuite outputs ensure compliance with the rapidly changing regulatory landscape and institutional reporting requirements. It has been fine-tuned to support the best practices, reporting needs, and operational efficiencies of leading owners, service providers, regulatory bodies, and certification systems across North America based upon more than 300 customers and more than 250 million square feet of real estate."

Happ explains that experience, customer base, and industry-specific vertical knowledge gives Goby their edge. Some credit is also due to their brand. "Our mascot, the Goby fish, is known to build mutualistic relationships within its environment," Happ says. "Like the Goby, we look to build relationships which benefit our customers, employees, and the environment."

Goby is particularly excited to be included in NAR's REach™ program as it will give them the opportunity to make the SeaSuite platform available to REALTORS® in a simple and cost-effective way. The team also hopes to learn how to extend their product support for agents and brokers as they look to help their clients find the most energy efficient and healthy space.

The next step for Goby? Changing the world. Happ continues, "The built environment is one of the largest contributing factors to usage of natural resources. This will only grow with the rise of economies like India, China, and beyond. Our platform enables contextualization of the near infinite amount of data in order to protect the finite resources available to the planet."

Learn more about Goby at www.SeaSuite.comwww.SeaSuite.com.

SendHub.com

narreach 2014 sendhubIn most cases, the first agent a prospective customer contacts is the agent they choose. So what happens if the agent misses the call? They could very likely lose the lead. With SendHub, that call can be routed so that it's never missed.

SendHub is a phone system that was designed with real estate professionals in mind. Their software can be accessed on a mobile device or computer, and offers REALTORS® the ability to manage all of their client communication via voice calls and text messaging so that the agent never misses a lead. The easy-to-use system also offers enterprise analytics and an audit trail of communications.

Garrett Johnson, Co-Founder of SendHub explains, "We allow real estate professionals to set up in a matter of seconds for free. And they only pay if we actually help them make money. So we offer an amazing experience with no up-front costs. Some industry blogs compare us to 'what Google Voice should have been.'"

What's next for SendHub? Johnson says, "We're preparing for the NAR Midyear conference in Washington, DC. We are looking forward to interacting face-to-face with real estate professionals! We'll also be launching new features like conference calling and other exciting upgrades in the coming months."

Learn more at www.sendhub.comwww.sendhub.com.


SmartZip

narreach 2014 SmartzipSmartZip helps agents win more listings by identifying and marketing to homeowners that are most likely to sell in the near future. WOW, right? In an industry where generating leads is a major hurdle, this is an incredibly valuable tool.

As Avi Gupta, Ph.D., President and CEO of SmartZip explains, "We're looking at history to predict the future." A combination of many triggers may cause a homeowner to move in the near future. These myriad triggers are considered in SmartZip's complex algorithms (yes, that's plural; SmartZip has more than 100 different models to ensure they are accurate for the area). The algorithm is then applied to data in an agent's target area. SmartZip licenses and aggregates data from a variety of sources about a variety of factors - loan details, census data, school profiles, crime statistics, industry, population trends, and much more.

Once you've identified the homeowners in your target area that might be selling in the near future, SmartZip can help generate leads with marketing campaigns. SmartZip matches offline data (such as name and address) with an online profile (cookies on an Internet browser). Once they know who to target and where to reach them, they post ads online and on social media.

Gupta explains, "Our marketing is intended to put the agent's brand in front of people that are likely to sell, oftentimes even before these homeowners know they're going to sell. We call it 'pre-targeting.'"

With close to 100 million homes in their database, SmartZip is a compelling option for agents all over the country.

Learn more at www.smartzip.comwww.smartzip.com.

WeVideo

narreach 2014 WeVideoDeveloped initially for children and educators, simplicity is the name of the game for this video creation tool. If you're over six years old and have an Internet-enabled device, you can create compelling video content with WeVideo. From a Smartphone, tablet, or computer, agents can use WeVideo to quickly and easily create videos for listings, market updates, self-promotion, and customer testimonials. Brokers can use WeVideo to create videos for recruiting, training, team building, and event announcement.

WeVideo CEO and co-founder Jostein Svendsen explains the importance of video in real estate. "In any industry, video is essential. Research shows that video is 53 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google search results and increases the likelihood of closing a lead by 75%. In real estate, 73% of sellers would like their agent to use video, but only a small percentage of agents can satisfy this need. We call this an 'expectation gap.'"

WeVideo makes it easy for agents to close this expectation gap and deliver the high-quality video content that consumers expect. With much of the process automated, creating a listing video is as easy as selecting a theme, entering the listing data, arranging the video, and then publishing it. You can then follow-up on the video by checking the viewership metrics and sharing the video with clients and on social media.

"Our platform was built to be generic, but NAR REach™ is enabling us to optimize it for real estate," says Svendsen. "We are working closely with industry leaders to tailor it specifically for the real estate industry." To further this goal, WeVideo is currently being offered at special pricing to REALTORS® who want to be on the cutting edge of technology and would like to help refine the WeVideo product. Imminent integrations with MLS and data providers will only make the WeVideo platform more valuable, and are made possible through the REach™ program.

Learn more at www.WeVideo.com.www.WeVideo.com.

Other articles of interest: AgentOffice | MLSFinder.com