The Real Deal New York

Honest Buildings gets millions in VC financing

Website, co-founded by former Tishman Speyer exec, features 600K-plus building profiles

September 11, 2012 09:00AM
By Leigh Kamping-Carder

Riggs Kubiak, co-founder of Honest Buildingx

Honest Buildings, a social network of sorts for properties, completed its first round of financing today — with venture capital firms RockPort Capital and Mohr Davidow Ventures injecting millions into the online data provider.

The service, co-founded by Riggs Kubiak, the former global head of sustainability at Tishman Speyer, launched in March. Honest Buildings aggregates public, proprietary and crowd-sourced data on 600,000 buildings across the U.S. – including 250,000 in New York City – and allows property owners and residents to connect with contractors, vendors, brokers and other real estate professionals.

Though the company declined to disclose the terms of the deal, spokesman Joshua Boltuch said the investment was in the “seven-figure” range.

The funding will allow Honest Buildings to hire several more engineers and business development employees, and will expedite its expansion into other additional cities.

Along with New York City, the site covers multi-family and commercial buildings in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Dallas and Houston. The company also announced a launch in Portland, Ore., today, with profiles of 37,000 buildings in the area.

Kubiak spent five years at Tishman Speyer learning firsthand how time-consuming and costly it was to find “sustainable” contractors to work on his projects. In a recent interview at Honest Buildings’ headquarters at the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator at 137 Varick Street, he recalled spending weeks crafting, photocopying, mailing, and waiting on responses for requests for proposals – generating five-foot high stacks of paper in his office in the process.

“The Honest Buildings network brings these formerly offline relationships online, creating value for every stakeholder,” he said in a statement today. Riggs founded Honest Buildings in 2011 with his sister, Garrett Kubiak, and Cody Roberts.

While any user can access the data for free, real estate professionals pay for premium memberships – ranging from $3,000 to $100,000 – to show up higher in search results and to access requests for qualifications, Kubiak said.

The data itself comes from public sources, such as city property records, as well as proprietary sources and from users and building owners who upload information on past projects, he said.

“Honest Buildings has identified two large problems for millions of real estate professionals: finding accurate information about buildings and generating targeted new business opportunities,” said Dhiraj Malkani, a partner at RockPort Capital, a venture capital firm based in Boston and Menlo Park, Calif., that invests in “cleantech” startups.

“We were attracted by the team’s approach to applying social networking and big data strategies to a real estate industry that is still very fragmented and offline,” said Marianne Wu, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, which invests in clean tech, Internet technology and life sciences companies.

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