Commercial Real Estate (CRE) RE Hacker Challenge

Real estate technology startups shined at RE|Tech‘s first annual Hacker Challenge, held at WeWork Charging Bull in New York City on June 24. The Challenge lauded the efforts of products and services that offered new ways for B2C or B2B professionals to engage and enhance the experience in one of the following areas in commercial and/or residential real estate: Leasing, Brokerage, Property Management, Investment Sales, Appraisal/Valuation and Development/Design/Architecture.

Grand Prize? $20,000 and a booth to demo at the 3-day Urban Land Institute (ULI) Fall National Conference in NYC, which draws over 30,000 real estate owners, brokers and Venture Capital investors.

The competition consisted of four rounds in which eleven startups challenged each other, and judges included Jared Kushner of Kushner & Co.; James Nelson of Massey Knakal; Alexander Pease of Union Square Ventures; RETech founder Ash Zandieh; Chase Mattison of; WeWork Labs co-founder Jesse Middleton; and Dmytro Pokhylko, Director at the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“We work in [a real estate] industry that isn’t technology forward, but that’s what we need,” Kushner told the crowd at the start of the ceremonies. “Building owners have to start behaving like technology companies.”

And the startups on-hand were prepared to help property owners and managers do just that. The big winners, as described by BetaBeat, were:


The keycards that many modern pencil-pushers use to get into their office can get lost, stolen, can’t be tracked, and generate no data. In the Internet of Things, we can’t have that. Kisi allows your phone to become your key, unlocking not just your buildings and offices, but eventually bicycles, garages and cars. Their service includes a software dashboard for landlords and tenants to manage digital keys online. Kisi’s list of happy clients — WeWork, AlleyNYC, Techstars, and NYU Polytechnic — along with a fun presentation helped win approval from the whole audience.

2nd PLACE: EZbldg EHS

Building owners are often caught in expensive, semantic snares — not because they don’t care, but that they aren’t always aware of the thousands of pages of shifting regulations. EZbldg EHS generates a custom, idiot-proof checklist for property managers so they can follow all of the laws precisely. Legislative compliance may not scream “hot tech product,” but when the team put the potential savings in real dollar amounts, they had the judges’ full attention.

3rd PLACE: Vrban

Vrban is building a platform where you can use Oculus Rift to explore a new development before it’s built to see what the potential impact ahead of time. They’re looking for funders to give their business an early boost, and given that they won the Techcrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon last month, we don’t suppose they’ll have much trouble. Bonus points go to Vrban for using a Zoolander clip in their presentation.

The New Funnel also had boots on the ground to catch all the action live and described the event as “a landmark night for the appreciation of the field of real estate technology!” (Click here to read their play-by-play!)