If you live in South Florida, chances are you have experienced some sort of real estate saga. Forbes calls our region “a real estate investor’s dream,” but for some it is more of a nightmare characterized by soaring valuations and an all-but-inevitable climate crisis.
Native South Floridian Grant Weiss is keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities present in the real estate market. When in college studying real estate, he began to notice that the digital solutions used in the industry lagged behind. “You ended up using 10 different platforms that are not talking to each other,” Weiss explained to Refresh Miami.
“You missed out on data insights because you were constantly going through all these different providers,” he lamented. It’s a common story of many industries that are yet to be developed from a technical perspective: one laiden with inefficiencies and multiple versions of emailed Excel spreadsheets.
After college, Weiss resolved to develop a better system. Eight years ago, he taught himself the ins and outs of coding, data analytics, and machine learning and began to work on what would become Rockval, a PropTech SaaS company focused on the commercial real estate industry.
Rockval helps its users make data-driven decisions about real estate investments. “Going back eight years, the platform was basically a fancy calculator,” Weiss said. “Now it’s a lot more intelligent,” leveraging AI that ingests and analyzes data such as sales prices, tenant profiles, recent lease transactions, and foot traffic.
That idea is that real estate professionals can use this data, which Rockval sources from an ever-increasing number of partners, to secure the best deals. Crucial to Rockval’s offering is its reasonable price: plans start at just $10 per month.
While Rockval has been developing the platform in earnest for the last four years, it has been in the market just for a few months. However, the startup is off to a strong start, having raised funds from employees of some of the world’s largest corporate real estate companies, the likes of CBRE, JLL, Citigroup, and Cushman & Wakefield.
Weiss has set out an ambitious growth plan that includes a plan to attract 100,000 users between this year and next. He has expanded the team to 10 employees (pictured above), most of whom are based out of West Palm Beach innovation hub 1909. The startup recently onboarded marketing professional Vanessa Calás, formerly of Boca Code.
“We aspire for Rockval to be the Robinhood of commercial real estate,” Weiss said of the company’s goal to democratize access to investing in this asset class, which is dominated by a few major players.
“The beauty of real estate is that you can touch it and feel it, and feel part of your community,” underscored Weiss. “This investment vehicle enables investors to utilize leverage to make substantially more returns” than alternatives like the stock market.
In that vein, today Rockval launched an equity crowd raise. Weiss said he hopes to raise funds from 1,000-plus people in the industry. This broad of a buy-in will, in Weiss’s estimation, cement Rockval as a community-backed platform. He noted that platforms with a strong community around them benefit from increased brand recognition, while also ensuring that the startup is creating software that its clients are passionate about using. That said, Rockval is also in early talks with venture capital firms to explore the possibility of a seed raise as well.
READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI:
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- Amid pandemic, 1909 innovation hub ramped up programming to help more businesses
- Boca Code’s diversity scholarship program grows through partnership with Microsoft, Miami EdTech