NYC startup aims to reorganize brokers’ business
A former Aptsandlofts.com broker is betting he can reorganize the way New York City real estate agents manage leads and client information with a cloud-based customer management and social media database.
Netrieval, which officially launched today, allows brokers to enter details about a potential customer’s preferences, budget and interest in buying or renting, and receive a notification whenever a property comes available that fits a customer’s parameters. The broker can then notify those would-be clients with basic information about the listing, a link to images and the broker’s contact information for following up.
“If you’re out of your office you have no way of getting everyone who calls you,” Reginald Johnson, co-founder and chief marketing officer, told The Real Deal exclusively. “This allows you in three seconds to match everyone who matches that rental – it changes the nature in which real estate agents work.”
Brokers can also use the tool to follow up with customers when a lease ends or after a buyer has been in a home for a specified period of time, a rich area for possible business that Johnson said often goes overlooked.
“Most agents don’t go back to someone they rented to a year ago because they can’t remember who they rented to a year ago,” he said. “This cements a relationship and is repeat business.”
Johnson said that when he joined the real estate industry a year ago, he felt there was no affordable solution for agents to keep up with sales leads and calls, and build upon past deals. Most of what was out there, he said, isn’t specific to real estate agents, and so he decided to create his own product. Johnson teamed up with friend Fredrik Holmberg, a native Swede who is now the company’s chief technology officer. Holmberg comes from a total tech background, and formerly worked on digital outreach for H&M.
The initial seed money for the project came from Johnson’s own savings, and he said the product’s cost – currently $4.89 per month – fits in with his goal to achieve a “huge market saturation” with a low price point. In six months, he said, the aim is to roll out a second, premium product that will cost more. The company also has its eye on expanding to other urban markets as it solidifies a New York City base.
Though the broker database product is barely out of its beta testing phase, several customers at Aptsandlofts.com have already purchased Netrieval, Johnson said. Word leaked out before the official launch, he said, and several agents were eager to get the jump on its use.
And while the product is aimed at brokers themselves for the most part, Johnson said he envisions the possibility of eventually selling in bulk to brokerages.
Some firms already have proprietary systems that offer similar features to Netrieval. For example, Bond New York’s Bentley listing database feeds information to brokers from customers who register with the firm, and allows brokers to link listings to clients. However, Johnson said he believes brokers will value keeping such information private.
“Most brokers want to do it on their own as the data is so sensitive, but we do envision it’s possible that Elliman may want to buy in bulk for their brokers,” Johnson said. “In that case, we can give brokers a code where they can sign up themselves.”