Chetan Puttagunta and Ravi Viswanathan
At NEA, we have been excited about our thesis in vertical clouds, or enterprise cloud software solutions purpose-built for a specific industry or vertical. The really interesting verticals are typically massive markets that heretofore have had legacy or antiquated software (if any) or have been run very inefficiently. One such market is the residential real estate market. Buying a home is the single biggest financial decision that most Americans make in their lifetime. And to guide them along this journey to find the perfect home, almost all Americans turn to real estate agents. As a result, the real estate agent profession is one of the largest in the United States with over 1.1M agents.
However, real estate agents have had almost no purpose built software options even though they collectively manage a significant portion of the US economy. Instead, agents have had to hire software developers to pull together expensive solutions that don’t allow them to be agile, efficient, and reactive to the ever-changing market dynamics. They have begrudgingly relied on email and excel to keep track of prospective clients. And while they spend $25B annually on marketing, they haven’t had access to software that could evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising efforts.
Matt Barba, co-founder and CEO of Placester, went through the same struggle when he worked as a real estate agent in Boston while in college. It was Matt’s first hand experience with the frustrations and inefficiencies that real estate professionals deal with daily that led him to partner with Fred Townes to start Placester. Placester brings together the best functionality of horizontal software platforms, but is specifically purpose built for the residential real estate industry. The Company’s technology seamlessly integrates content management, marketing automation, and lead management into a single, easy to use platform that provides tangible value to real estate agents and brokerages.
Real estate agents and brokers alike love Placester. In our meetings with customers of Placester, we quickly realized that the real estate agents and brokerages saw Placester as a place where they could run their business more efficiently. Instead of spending several days each week working on their website or trying to understand how to buy advertising on Google and Facebook, Placester allowed agents to get back to what they are passionate about: help their customers find a home.
Placester is the newest addition to NEA’s investments in vertical clouds. We are firm believers that residential real estate is one of the many industries that sorely needs purpose built vertically integrated enterprise cloud software. We are excited to be partnering with Matt, Fred, and the rest of the Placester team to help them sustain their rapid growth and introduce new features that will continue to delight real estate agents and brokerages.