• Fri. Jan 14th, 2022

How two new entrepreneurs are revolutionizing the valuation of commercial real estate

ByWillie M. Evans

Nov 25, 2019

In 2015, best friends Noah Isaacs and John Meadows set out to bring the commercial real estate appraisal industry into the 21st century, even if they had to drag him there screaming and kicking.

The appraisal report is often the main bottleneck in a commercial real estate transaction, taking an average of 2-3 weeks to deliver. And during the laborious creation of an assessment, assessors spend about half their time on a busy job, having to use dozens of disparate tools and manual processes to complete a single report.

Bowery Valuation, the company founded by Isaacs and Meadows, improves the efficiency of the business valuation process by automating tasks such as formatting tables, creating charts, extracting and creating tax maps, search for comparables, etc. In addition, every piece of data that is found and used in Bowery Valuation reports is logged so that evaluators can use it in the future. This means the software (which includes a mobile inspection app, comprehensive database, and natural language generation) gets smarter every time it’s used.

Micah Solomon, Senior Contributor, Forbes.com: What brought you together as entrepreneurs?

Noah Isaacs, Co-Founder and Co-CEO: I’ve been friends with John Meadows (my co-CEO) since we grew up in Berkeley [California]. Our first collaboration, while still in college, was the creation of the California League Review, an online resource for researching information about college and minor league players in California, which stems from our mutual love. for baseball.

A few years after college, we were both in New York City, working at large commercial real estate appraisal firms. This is where we had our “there must be a better way” moment and decided to go it alone, working to create the assessment tools that we ourselves wish we had.

Solomon: Tell me about your pivotal moment. I’ve had a couple of dead-end “direct” jobs, but the only revelation I’ve ever had was, “I can’t do this all my life”.

Isaacs, co-founder and co-CEO: When I started in the valuation firm in New York, I was shocked to learn how archaic the systems used in the industry were. Evaluators would visit the same 10-15 websites over and over and manually enter the data into Excel spreadsheets linked to Word documents. Inspections were carried out using handwritten notes which then had to be manually entered into the computer when the assessor was able to return to the office.

Meadows: It seemed crazy that highly skilled reviewers were wasting maybe half their time on manual labor and data entry, and it took that long to get reviews out to clients. Noah and I believed there was a better way to use technology, and if we could implement it ourselves, it would revolutionize this industry.

Solomon: How did you start the project?

Isaacs: Well, we had saved enough money that we could – barely, but still – quit our jobs and embark on the project that became Bowery Valuation. But neither of us knew how to create the necessary software, so we solved the problem by partnering up with our third co-founder and CTO, Cesar Devers, who had the background and the skills.

Solomon: How did you go about raising capital?

Isaacs: We were fortunate enough to enter the MetaProp accelerator in New York and were able to take advantage of those connections to increase our round table after this program.

Meadows: From that point on, we took about 60 meetings in two months to lift our first round. We got really used to hearing the word no, but eventually a number of VCs gave us termsheets [nonbinding agreements prior to a formal commitment] and, finally, we brought together a really great group of early stage investors: Camber Creek, Fika Ventures, Corigin Ventures, Lefrak and Expansion Venture Capital.

Solomon: Explain to me a bit what makes your product such an improvement over the status quo.

Meadows: Here is an example. We spent almost two years working on validating the data and integrating it into public documents (land use maps, zoning maps, tax information, etc.), in order to save time for our assessors while we ensuring that every report our clients receive contains accurate information. data and calculations. When an address is entered into our platform, all of this public information is automatically entered into the assessment project. The evaluator is always able to modify the information if necessary, but the advance this integration allows can save our evaluators up to three hours per day.

Isaacs: On the inspection side, our cloud architecture allows us to integrate our mobile application into the office. While the appraiser is still on site, he can complete the report with photos, notes and other property information. This means that information is not lost when translating scribbled notes into actual report verbiage.

Solomon: How is it being co-CEO?

Meadows: Well remember we will manner back as friends. I can’t speak for the two of us, but for me, I find sharing power to be, most of the time, comfortable and natural. In terms of the business value of having two CEOs, what we found is that it makes us more efficient. Bowery Valuation is literally capable of having its CEO, one of its CEOs, in two places at once. As we open more offices, it allows one of us to take care of the new space while the other gets things done at the head office or makes an appointment with an investor. We work incredibly well together, and having two CEOs has really allowed us to do more than we could otherwise.

Isaacs: I also think it allows us to make smarter and more thoughtful decisions. We are able to explore multiple perspectives and really play devil’s advocate with each other, which leads to better results than in an echo chamber without checks and balances.

Solomon: What’s next for Bowery Valuation?

Isaacs: Our goal now is to continue to expand our reach in the market. We currently have offices in New York and Washington DC and cover the majority of the East Coast with these two offices, but we are constantly focused on expanding into new markets. But unlike most expansion plans, ours is more people focused than a specific market. We are focused on continuing to find the best evaluation talent to lead our new offices. We are less concerned with where that talent for evaluation is, geographically.

Along with the work on expanding into new markets / offices, we are planning to launch into new verticals as well as working on some product ideas which we believe will add even more value to our customers.

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Micah Solomon named “New Guru of Customer Service Excellence” by Financial post, is a customer service consultant, customer experience consultant, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Email her directly for an immediate response, or use her live chat feature to send her a real-time message.


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