Silicon Prairie: Proptech firms catch fire in Chicago

Industry leaders say the city is a breeding ground for startups aimed at streamlining real estate investment and property management
June 14, 2019 12:00PM

Chicago's business district (Credit: iStock)

Chicago’s business district (Credit: iStock)

Chicago is shaping up to become the nation’s foremost breeding ground for new real estate technology startups.

About $14 billion was invested in real estate technology last year, compared to $2 billion in 2016, according to Moderne Ventures, an early-stage venture fund. A big chunk of that investment is pouring into Chicago’s exploding field of companies aiming to streamline real estate investment and property management, several industry leaders told Crain’s.

The city is “ahead of the curve” when it comes to nurturing new real estate startups, Bob Gillespie, executive director of the tech accelerator Reach Commercial, told Crain’s.

Burgeoning Chicago-based ventures like Avail, which helps small landlords collect rent and manage apartments, and Livly, the tenant-services app launched by Cedar Street Companies co-founder Alex Samoylovich, both scored multimillion-dollar funding rounds this year.

And digital commercial leasing brokerage Truss is rapidly expanding across the country, less than three years after it was founded in Chicago.

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel claimed credit for helping cultivate the city’s booming tech sector during his eight years in office, which concluded last month. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin