Triplemint’s co-founder and CEO, David Walker, wants to shake up the brokerage model as venture capital continues to flood the real estate business (and perhaps before it dries up). When Walker, 30, and his former classmate Philip Lang launched the lead generation firm in 2013, their goal was to use predictive analytics to change the homebuying experience for both agents and consumers. The company pulls data from property registries and other public records and looks to forecast when sellers may list their homes before vetting potential buyer leads. “There are plenty of life reasons why people choose to move,” Walker said, noting that those reasons can be indicators for brokers. “We saw this as a data-science challenge.” Triplemint has raised roughly $7 million in venture funding to date — and, last year, Walker landed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in consumer technology. As the son of a commercial and residential developer, Walker’s interest in real estate started at a young age when he worked summer jobs in construction and office leasing. The Yale University graduate took a break from college in the 2009-2010 school year and worked at the electronics recycling startup YouRenew.com. That experience was his first foray into the startup world before he and Lang launched Triplemint. “Once I graduated, I just knew I had to do something [entrepreneurial] in real estate,” Walker said. He and Lang now employ roughly 120 agents and run their company out of a duplex office space at the Candler Building at 220 West 42nd Street. Walker and his wife, Maggie, live in an apartment they own in the West Village.
When Walker was a teenager growing up in New York City, his mother worked in advertising, and BMW was among the biggest accounts she oversaw. Recalling posters for the German luxury car company plastered on the walls of his bedroom, Walker said he was too young to fully understand his mother’s job. But when she took a vacation to Germany about two years ago, she bought and framed three BMW postcards as a gift. The frame has been hanging by the window next to Walker’s desk. Though admittedly not a car connoisseur, he said it’s “a very cool connection I’ve had with her work.”
Walker rowed from high school through college and this pin, in the shape of an oar, is a nod to his days on Yale’s crew team. He won a national championship in his junior year — after dropping out to work for YouRenew.com and then returning to Yale in 2010. Walker later joined the Yale Crew Association, an alumni network that hosts fundraising events and provides mentorship and job placement opportunities. Walker touted that he’s helped connect graduates with companies — as well as apartments — in the five boroughs.
Growing up, Walker spent summers working on construction crews and pitching in with leasing for his father’s business, Prospect Property Group. But Walker’s “side hustle” was selling his photographs and oil paintings. His visual sensibilities date back to photography classes he took in high school. And in Triplemint’s early days, Walker snapped some of the company’s marketing photos himself. “I’m certainly not a professional photographer, but I was able to put that skill to good use,” he said. He keeps his mirrorless digital camera close by since taking photos remains one of his hobbies.
When Walker and his wife visited Portugal in the summer of 2014, he became enamored with the architecture in the coastal city Porto. “Everywhere you walk, the outsides of all the buildings are covered in tiles,” he said. “It is stunning.” The tile magnet — which he bought during that trip — serves as a reminder of the contrast between New York City and many older cities. “It puts into perspective how we see space [here] so differently,” Walker said.
Two summers ago, Walker took part in an Ironman triathlon with friends from college. “I found cycling to be one of my favorite things to do in New York City,” he said. “You experience the city the way you don’t get to in a car.” As Triplemint has expanded, late days at the office have kept Walker from following a strict exercise regimen, so the Garmin Fenix 3 fitness watch on his desk provides a much-needed “guilt trip,” he joked.
A few of Walker’s favorite reads are stacked on his desk. One of his top picks is Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat,” which tells the story of U.S. rowers during the 1936 Berlin Olympics — against the backdrop of the Nazis’ rise in Germany. “It’s not really about rowing,” Walker said, “it’s a history book.” He also enjoys “Shoe Dog,” a memoir by Nike’s Phil Knight. “[Knight’s] undaunting belief in what they’re doing is what made them really stand out,” he said.