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Building Relationships First - Why We Took a Different Approach to Fundraising

Posted by Caren Maio on August 2, 2018
DSC_6352111 (1)Raising capital for a startup is never easy -- but completing Nestio’s strategic funding round earlier this month was deeply fulfilling. In fact, raising this last round of $4.5 million felt like the most natural thing in the world.

That’s because several of our long-standing clients are now also joining us as investors. Over the past couple of years, we’ve built relationships with some of the most storied names in the real estate industry, and we are fortunate that many of them are customers. These include Rudin Management, The Moinian Group, The LeFrak Organization, The Lightstone Group and The Durst Organization.

 We meet with our customers regularly to talk about how our platform can help them better manage hundreds of thousands of units and facilitate hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions. We’ve also had an opportunity to get to know the people who make these companies such fantastic organizations. Their feedback has been critical in helping us create and refine a product that’s having a measurable impact on the real estate industry.


Our data shows we offer concrete value to our customers — we’ve helped boost their revenues in real and sustained ways by reducing vacancy rates by 20% and accelerating how quickly they close deals. With this investment, our new partners will help us extend this value to more businesses in new markets, fueling the 250% growth on units listed on our platform in the last year. This funding will allow us to continue building cutting-edge technology to modernize an industry that, as our customers and stakeholders have told us, is in drastic need of an update.
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As a Nestio co-founder, this investment round is particularly special to me because each new partnership is a vote of confidence that we’re doing something right. It signals true product-market fit and the delivery of real ROI to customers — a dream come true for any entrepreneur.

 

The value of cultivating long-term relationships

Beyond that, Nestio’s latest investment round is proof that growing a business is about much more than one-time transactions and single-minded pursuit of a bottom-line. It’s about connecting with people on a real, human level and deepening mutually beneficial relationships. Venture capitalist Mark Suster famously advises people to invest in lines, not dots, and that’s exactly the situation we’ve created, not just with our customers but with institutional investors who participated in this round, such as Camber Creek.

What does it mean for people to invest in lines, not dots? When an investor meets an entrepreneur for the first time, that person is a single data point. There’s no firsthand data from the past to give a sense of the direction his or her company is moving in. But as the investor gathers more info over time, data points coalesce into patterns or lines. You can see the trajectory that the entrepreneur and her company are on.

For example, I met Jeffrey Berman of Camber Creek nearly three years ago at a networking function. As we shared our ideas about the convergence of real estate and technology, we learned we had more in common than just the way we looked at the industry. It turns out we share the same birthday, and had both once lived in the same apartment building. Beyond the strange coincidences and similarities between us, we hit it off right away. Over the years, I leaned on him as a friend, long before he expressed interest in becoming an investor. I’d update him regularly about my business and ask for his advice. He saw Nestio evolve, grow and take flight right before his eyes.

When I started to contemplate a strategic fundraise, my first call was to Jeff, who at this point had become one of my closest confidantes and mentors in this industry. Though the call was just to get input, it quickly became clear that now was the time for us to work together. By investing, Jeff could add the type of value Nestio needed to take things to the next level. He knew where I’d been and where I was going. It was a natural and logical next step.

Filling a need and moving forward together

This moment is enormously gratifying for me, as it validates the path Nestio has taken and shows how far we’ve come. I started the company because I was frustrated trying to find an apartment to rent in New York. I wanted to create a solution to make it easier. I soon realized I couldn’t do this without bringing apartment owners and managers on board. I saw they were practically working in antiquity: managing multi-million-dollar properties with spreadsheets.

In order to create significant change in this industry, we needed to give technology to the businesses that had been starved for it. Their excitement around our platform — and its impact on tangible business results — has been powerful validation that we’re on the right track. The fact that some of the biggest players in residential real estate development and leasing are now joining us as investors is proof that Nestio is providing real value.

Looking ahead, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved. This funding round will help us deepen our leadership group, enhance product development for our marketing and leasing tools, expand into other major target markets, and ultimately unlock even more value for our customers and prospective customers. Our new investors bring a wealth of frontline real estate experience in the country’s hottest markets, and their insight will enable us to create value at scale for the entire industry. We’ve tapped into only a fraction of what we think is possible for our company, and we aim to grow by continuing to work in close partnership with our customers, industry influencers and change-agents who are aligned with our vision and the value we provide.

I’m immensely proud to have earned the trust and confidence from people who know us, our product, and our company. They see us for what and who we are, and what we can deliver. In the end, it’s these kinds of relationships that the strongest and most gratifying businesses are based on — not simple transactions, but real partnerships built for the long haul.

Thanks for reading. Click here to learn more about what we're doing at Nestio!

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