No one disputes that the use of technology has become particularly important in almost every business during 2020. The real estate business is no exception. American technology company Realtyna, which is exploring to establish a base in Georgia, has been working in this direction for more than 10 years. The company works with real estate professionals mainly based in the US and Canada, and it helps them to create a stronger online presence. What are Realtyna’s plans in Georgia and outside Georgia, Forbes Georgia conducted an interview with the company’s co-founder Giselle Abadi.
Realtyna products are being used in almost 95 countries. Which products and services are the most popular among your customers and which countries are represented most in your portfolio?
Realtyna Inc. is a US-based PropTech company that has focused on providing services to the real estate tech sector since 2011. We have more than 200K+ downloads worldwide and the majority of them are in North America. Our most popular product—WPL plugin —is our basic property display service that has a very flexible data structure, making it adaptable to different regional data settings. It also has the option to integrate any additional add-ons clients would like. Our customers also use our MLS integrated product, which enables them to aggregate property listing data from different sources which is an essential part of Real Estate business in the US/Canada. As soon as a property listing becomes available, or price changes, our technology updates our client’s databases, which makes their websites accurate and reliable for lead generation. The attractive thing about our new products is bringing various functions to the real estate tech industry and combining AI and machine learning with MLS functions.
The number of your users exceeded 100,000 worldwide. How do you acquire new customers?
Most of our users take advantage of our free offerings as our contribution to the real estate industry. They can download and use our free and open source software for their real estate startups. The vast majority enjoy the product and give us great referrals or they upgrade to our paid platform which provides more features and personalized support. We have a proven track record and a satisfaction rating of 4.9/5 across the board for our products.
Realtyna is mainly doing business in the US and Canadian markets. What are you doing in Georgia now?
For Bootstrapped software companies like Realtyna, Eastern Europe is very interesting. Currently, we are analyzing the situation in order to see how we can grow our BPO in Georgia. We registered our company here seven years ago. However, finding the ground for development was a bit challenging. We are encouraged by the ICC Georgia to check and evaluate if the country is the right one for us as investors in the IT and BPO sector. Now we see that the startup ecosystem is emerging in Georgia with great potential but definitely it needs to be improved. Still, there are some dots missing and we are aiming to address these challenges with the help of ICC Georgia. Many foreign businesses and investors, including us, have experienced these gaps and some have left. For example, one of the European investors was kept at the transit area of the airport for three days in July, without access to the self-paid quarantine. This was after the official announcement of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia about availability of self-paid quarantine for foreign investors. In countries such as India, Vietnam, Ukraine and Estonia, the BPO sector generates valuable income from foreign businesses and they treat investors very well with VIP hotline for any help that they need. According to the latest data, the export revenue of the ITeS and BPO segments in India generated $28.4 billion in 2018. We want to help economy of Georgia to grow too.
What prevents us, though, is the absence of proper structure, a full package that would be welcoming for the US and European startups. We are looking at a very good example from France. Station F, which is a very inspiring model, encourages local startups and at the same time hosts foreign tech companies. It helps to foster technology and capital exchanges in the right way. We are honored to help establish the Startups Commission at the ICC Georgia in order to prepare the groundwork for entrepreneurs and investors just like Station F does. This is what we are working on right now. The BPO sector is a multibillion-dollar opportunity for Georgia, if considered seriously, and it can change the dynamics of the country’s economy.
BPO is one of the fastest developing sectors in Georgia. What kind of opportunities do you see here?
Georgia is a land of hidden gems, the land of untapped opportunities. The country is full of smart and talented people who perform amazingly, but because of the lack of opportunities, they leave the country. So, it is a huge opportunity for companies like us to find such talents outside the United States. In the US, most people with similar experience go to talent blackholes like Facebook and Google. Through our work, we can prevent “brain drain” by developing the BPO sector and encouraging new startups and hosting foreign ones.
At Realtyna, we have outsourced our work to a lot of countries, and we have seen amazing expansion in our business while working in this way. We have found experts that are active in the field of AI and Machine Learning in the region including Georgia. We see a great opportunity for Georgia to become a hub for gathering such talents from the region which helps the international recognition of Georgia as a Startup HUB. Still way to go. Switzerland became Switzerland when it got recognized as the hub of finance. Such opportunity can be manifested here.
At the same time, we find our professional partners to be very supportive here. We cooperate with Georgian National Association of Real Estate, a bilateral partner of the US trade organization, the National association of REALTORS®. We were surprised to find that such levels of development in the real estate industry exist here and with the help of association chairperson, Mariam Demuria we have been able to expand our network on a global scale.
Georgia never stops surprising us. The country is ranked 7th in terms of ease of doing business according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. It has a simple tax code and as recently announced, the taxes for international companies will be decreased to 5 percent.
How did the COVID-19 crisis affect your business worldwide?
The software sector has actually grown since COVID-19 because a lot of businesses moved to the virtual space. When the pandemic started, we also decided to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Our business in the US is rapidly expanding. Just in the last 12 months we experienced an 86 percent increase in user traffic. We are also receiving more and more requests from international markets to use our platform for their online presence.
Technological solutions are becoming more and more essential in almost all businesses, particularly as a result of the pandemic. What kind of developments and tendencies do you see in this direction in the real estate tech business?
The real estate industry has been one of the slowest industries on the planet to accept online and technological developments. The reason is that it’s fragmented and huge.
Some agents are using outdated tools with dashboards similar to 2000 software platforms. A lot of real estate agencies cited keeping up with the rapid pace of technology as one of the biggest challenges. At the same time, younger generations are entering the real estate market and they will not accept old-fashioned tools. This is both an opportunity and a gap that Realtyna is filling.
You are working on the new Social Network, called Realtyfeed, tell us about its main essence and aim…
After a decade of first-hand experience and serving tens of thousands of clients worldwide, we are very close to launching a new Professional Social Network called RealtyFeed, which is an innovative platform based on AI and machine learning that integrates the best of social networking with property search portal. The platform is aimed to serve the whole ecosystem of the real estate industry in a B2B2C model. We have some surprises that we will announce as we launch this disruptive technology.
If we find the right grounds here in Georgia, we aim to transfer the technology base here, which means exporting software technology and artificial intelligence to the US, bringing good outcomes to Georgia.