moderne ventures

A San Francisco firm's IPO pays off for Chicago investors

A San Francisco firm's IPO pays off for Chicago investors

How did association get in so early? It did a small investment and an exclusive partnership with DocuSign to offer its software for digital signatures to member Realtors, according to securities filings. It's quite a home run for Constance Freedman, founder of Chicago venture fund Moderne Ventures. 

Reuters: Moderne Ventures Selects Companies for its Hypergrowth Industry Accelerator

"Moderne Ventures™, a real estate focused technology investment fund, announced its new Accelerator Class today, a select group of startups looking to affect change in the multi-trillion dollar marketplace that represents over 600,000 small and medium sized businesses and 20 percent of the U.S. GDP.

Moderne Ventures believes that when the right connections are made, success is inevitable.  The Accelerator partners with the most influential corporations to launch technology companies into the industry.  The Accelerator kicked off at a private event this month at Realogy's headquarters and debuted publicly yesterday at real estate's premier technology conference, Inman Connect..." Read More

Built in Chicago: Chicago real estate-centered accelerator announces inaugural class

"Moderne Ventures, a Chicago-based early-stage venture fund that focuses on tech startups in the real estate space, announced the launch of its Accelerator Class today. Members include Chicago startups UrbanBound, Growth Geeks and Purchasing Platform, along with 5 other startups from across the country..." Read More

ChicagoInno: Moderne Ventures Announces First Full Class of Startups For Its Real Estate Accelerator

"Moderne Ventures, a new early stage venture fund that focuses on real estate tech startups, announced the first full class to its accelerator program Wednesday.

Based in Chicago, Moderne Ventures launched last year and aims to fund companies in real estate, mortgage, finance, insurance, and home services. The fund was started by Constance Freedman, who formerly ran the National Association of Realtors' venture fund and accelerator.

The Moderne Accelerator consists of eight companies ranging from seed-stage to companies with more than $20 million in funding. The accelerator, which meets roughly once a month over the seven-month program, aims to provide startups with guidance and expertise, mentorship, and help them expand their customer base. The accelerator members include..." Read More

Forbes 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs

"Matthew Marshall, Brett Hagler, and Alexandria Lafci started New Story with cofounder Mike Arrieta. The company collaborates with local partners to build homes for families in developing countries. So far, they've built 151 houses in Haiti. New Story takes pride in transparency -- individuals see where every dollar they donate goes. It's paying off; New Story received over $1.2 million in donations since last year." Read More

News Wrapup from October, November & December

From Accelerator news to award nominations, October, November and December have been filled with milestones. A few highlights:

Moderne Ventures Announced as a 50 on Fire Finalist

In October, Chicago Inno’s 50 on Fire announced the finalists for its list of visionary individuals and companies disrupting and innovating Chicago’s top industries. Moderne Ventures was honored to be among them.

First Two Moderne Accelerator Participants Accepted

On November 17, Moderne Ventures announced the first two companies to be accepted into the Moderne Accelerator, which provides resources and guidance to help launch technology companies in to the tech marketplace. This included Growth Geeks, a marketplace that connects businesses to freelance marketing talent, and UrbanBound, a service that helps companies provide new hires with relocation assistance.

Founder Constance Freedman Named to the Inman 101

In December, Constance Freedman was named one of the Inman 101, a selection of what the award calls “rebels, CEOs, power brokers, misfits, deal-makers, newbies and innovators whose ideas and actions will influence the way homes are bought and sold.” 

Moderne Accelerator Application Process Closes

December 15 saw the deadline for applications to the Moderne Accelerator. This means that in just one short month, the full class of participants will be announced at Inman Connect, real estate’s premier technology conference. The conference takes place in New York City on January 26–29.


The Real Disruptions to the Real Estate Industry

On October 19, 2015, CBInsights posted an article that detailed the venture-backed startups responsible for disrupting the multibillion-dollar real estate industry. The full article can be read here. The following is a response from Moderne Ventures founder and Managing Partner Constance Freedman:

The companies mentioned by CBInsights are making a difference for sure, but it’s important to note a whole host of other companies disrupting the industry—not necessarily "disrupting" the industry in the way we traditionally think of it (i.e., companies trying [to no avail yet] to disrupt the agents), but rather disrupting the way the industry does business. Real estate is an industry of 100,000 brokerages, a.k.a. 100,000 small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).  When you fold in its adjacent industries like mortgage, finance, insurance and home services, that number grows to 600,000 SMBs and comprises well over 20% of the US GDP.  Tech companies that are focused on B2B services like marketing, transaction efficiency, credit scoring and financial transactions have the power to impact this industry far more than the "real estate-focused" startup.

 By example (full disclosure, I’ve invested in most of these):

  • DocuSign: creating a paperless transaction. Imagine getting rid of the reams of paper that come along with the rental or purchase of real estate. DocuSign’s kill-paper campaign changes how we do transactions (in real estate and beyond).
  • Notary Cam: fulfilling the final mile of paperless as an enotary
  • GrowthGeeks: providing agency-quality marketing professionals to SMBs that can’t afford an agency. $72B of marketing spend can get much more targeted.
  • August Home: changing home access for consumers, realtors and property managers
  • Loop & Tie: changing the lame corporate gift/closing gift experience forever
  • Better Mortgage: taking a mortgage closing from 45 days to 5 days

What else has affected real estate?


The Uberfication of everything: Knowing that a Zipcar or Divvy Bike is across the street changes whether someone needs a garage; knowing a room can be rented on AirBnB can impact how much one is willing to pay for a mortgage or rent; and knowing that with a click of a button TaskEasy can send me someone to mow my lawn or plow the snow can make a difference between deciding on a condo or single-family home, while TaskRabbit can make sure those IKEA furniture sets get put together right or get a that fresh coat of paint on the wall to make a home the buyer’s own.

Alternative financing solutions a la Patch of LandAsset AvenueRealty MogulRealConnex and others may (or may not) disrupt traditional financing, but they are causing traditional PE firms to put their assets online, changing forever the insight that investors have into their investments.

On the commercial side, companies like Field Lens are changing the way construction sites are managed, saving millions in cost and months of time in a construction project, not to mention insight that was previously unattainable by project crews and asset managers.  Drone Base makes it possible to capture images for real estate without having to have Drones and pilots across the globe. A simple marketplace makes it possible to outsource this need.

At first glance, the CB Insights list of companies changes how real estate is done.  A deeper look shows that tech companies improving and approaching the B2B and B2B2C markets at large actually have a far greater impact on the real estate industry, its players and ultimately the consumers’ overall experience.      

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