By Riley Kaminer
When most kids her age were reading cartoons, Ali Nichols was scouring a different section of the newspaper: the real estate listings.
“I would circle open houses in the neighborhood where I grew up and force my parents to take me to each house,” she told Refresh Miami. Once there, she would discuss the relative merits of investing in one property over another.
Fast forward a decade or so, and Nichols found herself in the consulting world right out of college. But when the Portland native moved to San Francisco, she got bit by the startup bug – and hasn’t looked back since, especially since it brought her right back to her real estate roots.
In early 2022, Nichols landed in Miami as part of the eastward expansion of proptech startup Bungalow, where she served most recently as the company’s VP of Growth and Real Estate Strategy.
But in June, Nichols left Bungalow to co-found real estate investment platform Getaway alongside Amr Shafik, who was Bungalow’s Director of Product.
With as little as $100, users can invest in a short-term rental real estate property. These investors then earn a portion of rental income every quarter, while also benefiting from the property’s appreciation when it is eventually sold. All of this happens with minimal hassle: no fees, paperwork, downpayment, or landlord duties.
A key differentiator for Getaway is that investors can actually enjoy these properties themselves. Depending on how much the user has invested into the platform, they are provided with up to a 30% discount for renting out all the homes on Getaway’s platform – not just the one they partially own. This could be a potentially significant savings, considering properties cost around $400-500 a night.
“One thing that we’re really excited about is this idea that your investment isn’t just into an app or a website,” said Nichols. “But you can tangibly go enjoy and experience what you’re invested in. We really hope that drives pride of ownership.”
So far, Getaway has acquired two homes: one in Little Havana and another in Scottsdale. This is just the beginning, however, with Nichols and team having their sights set on expanding to more top tourist destinations around South Florida, Arizona, Southern California, and the Rockies.
This fall, Getaway raised a $4.4 million seed round from venture capital firms and angels, plus an additional venture debt line of $1.5 million. Nichols explained that these funds will go towards building the platform and infrastructure to scale to their first 50 homes on the platform.
When it comes to finding new homes, Getaway leverages a hybrid computer-human process. First, the team inputs the various parameters they are looking for such as homes in the $500k-$1M range with a relatively large number of bedrooms. Once their digital system comes up with a list of potential properties, Getaway’s staff begins to more closely vet these opportunities.
Apart from Nichols, Getaway’s five full-time employees are currently distributed around the world. But Nichols expressed a desire to expand in Miami, noting that the company will soon be hiring locally for marketing, operations, and accounting/finance roles.
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