Investors believe in the need for an upgrade to the system. The outfit, now almost three years old, secured $5 million in seed funding, including from Cushman & Wakefield. The giant of real estate is using tech from the startup to optimize and automate its whole appraisal process, letting appraisers offer valuation services for multi-family apartment complexes for the first time.
This could be a big change for Cushman & Wakefield. The process for appraisal has been fixed for a while. It’s a time-consuming process of scribbling details, taking photos and going through an analysis that involves dozens of sites, taxes, zoning and land use.
Isaac and Meadows say they were familiar with the pain points that led to their innovation. While a university of Pennsylvania undergrad, Meadows was interested in real estate and was appalled at the antiquated methods used for appraisals when he started working at a large independent appraisal firm in New York. He kept notes, worked as a statistician for the Toronto Blue Jays thinking it would be the “coolest job in the world,” after reading Moneyball in high school. However, the job wasn’t all he had hoped it would be.
Later, Isaacs and Meadows worked at the same appraisal firm in New York, where they were both surprised at what goes into appraising properties. Once they had enough saved to live in New York for a year with no salary, they quit their jobs to create Bowery.
Move one: raise funds from friends and family to hire Cesar Davids, a Princeton grad who had been a part of startups in the past. Bowery was applying to a 5.5 month long accelerator program called MetaProp within a year. MetaProp typically only accepts startups that already have a product.
“We went to meet with them, and they said that through their real estate connections, they help companies grow their sales and brand. But they were like, ‘We can’t do that for you,’ so we said, ‘Okay, fine,’” Isaacs said.
Bowery got accepted, and Meadows described it as “hugely valuable.”
“They get you thinking about strategy and the vision of your business and they help with building early relationships. When we went to raise an initial seed round, having their support was key,” he said.
From there, it has been a string of investments, expansions and improvements to appraisal techniques, data collection methods, and more. In the future, the company wants to expand to L.A., then maybe Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C..
“If you ask lenders what’s their biggest headache, if appraisals isn’t number one it’s at the top of their lists,” says Meadows. “We’re trying to turn that headache into an asset for them.”