From the March issue: While OLR and RealPlus catered to the sales market, listings platforms for the rental market pretty much languished until 2011. That’s when Caren Maio and Mike O’Toole launched Nestio to address what Maio described as a “gaping opportunity” to bring modern technology to property owners and brokers who were manually tracking and managing rental listings.
“The incumbent was pen and paper, spreadsheets and people trying to utilize a database that wasn’t built for this segment of the market,” Maio said.
In 2015, Nestio raised an $8 million Series A round led by Trinity Ventures. What started as a tool for tracking rental inventory for landlords and owners now includes data, marketing, website and listing distribution services.
Today, the 30-person firm works out of a 6,000-square-foot Flatiron office where the main conference room doubles as a cantina and a birch-tree wall divides communal space from workspaces.
In July, Nestio began offering custom websites, including a scheduler tool that lets potential renters book an appointment to see an apartment. (On the owner side, clients include Two Trees Management and Olshan Properties, while on the brokerage side Compass, Keller Williams and Mirador Real Estate have signed on.)
Nestio estimates that it works with 10,000 agents citywide. Maio said the landscape in New York has changed, and one of the biggest needle-movers was StreetEasy’s $3-a-day rental charge. That added cost, she said, has prompted landlords and agents to reevaluate tools to help rent apartments most efficiently.
Maio said her clients are clamoring to stay ahead of the competition, which is at an all-time high thanks to the new development boom that dumped thousands of rental units on the market.
Nestio declined to disclose its financials, but like other vendors it derives revenue from subscribers — landlords and brokers — who pay a monthly fee that’s based on which services they use. Brokerages can use Nestio in two ways. Some rely on its listings database to access RLS inventory and input exclusives, which Nestio feeds to the RLS and other aggregators. Others — who may have their own platform — use its marketing and data services to analyze comps or get market information derived from the firm’s listings database.
“Our pitch to big brokerage firms who have their own system is, ‘We have the majority of the rental data on the market. We can pipe it into your database,’” she said.
Maio said the industry is turning a corner. “People are now starting to lean in and say, ‘How do I know if what I’m doing is working?’” she said. “That’s the next level of opportunity for companies like mine to provide insight there to say, ‘This is what’s working.’”