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At Columbia, Academy and Industry Collaborate for the Future of PropTech

At the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio, six PropTech ventures selected from over 100 applications gather to hear from some of the best minds in the industry, workshop their materials, share insights, and develop their innovations.

This is the MetaProp Pre-Accelerator program at Columbia, a joint venture between Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) and MetaProp NYC, connecting first-time, earliest-stage PropTech entrepreneurs (including students, recent graduates, and scholars from the Columbia ecosystem and beyond) to sources of seed capital, real estate and technology mentors, and deep technology education.

“Columbia has some of the best academic and technical minds in the world within institutions such as Columbia Business School, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Entrepreneurship, the Data Science Institute, and our own GSAPP, among others.” said Josh Panknin, Associate Director of CURE. “By joining forces with MetaProp, we are more effectively engaging the real estate industry to leverage our internal resources and create truly transformative technology for the built world.”

PropTech companies look to solve problems in the real estate industry with innovative technology. At this pre-accelerator, PropTech entrepreneurs are working on applied solutions to share home equity, senior care listings, next generation building access systems, location analytics software, automated commercial loan servicing, and even co-cooking spaces. By harnessing the interdisciplinary strength of the university with the industry expertise of top real estate tech accelerator, entrepreneurs look to grow their ideas, pivot where necessary, and leave the 8-week program with business plans that can take them towards full accelerators, funding, and launch.

“Not only has working with an extraordinary group of entrepreneurs on real estate innovation provided hard-to-find thought leadership in property technology, but the experience has been empowering because of the support we’ve received within the real estate community through MetaProp and Columbia,” said Amber Ju ’15BUS.

Teams have met with PropTech successes, startups, and funders such as Zillow Group, TheSquareFoot, CapitalOne, and Eisner Amper. Designer-in-Residence Adam Royalty has hosted a session, engaging the teams in design thinking to help them understand their target market.  In addition, Chris Mayer, Director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at CBS and Eugene Wu, Professor of Computer Science and member of the Data Science Institute, also participated in the program as guest speakers.

“The pre-accelerator program has really helped us develop structure around our concept and planning our next steps. In addition to the wonderful guest speakers, meeting weekly with other early-stage founders has proved to be invaluable in providing business insights as well as personal support,” said Phil Kim ’17BUS.

MetaProp NYC, founded by Zach Aarons ’13BUS, Aaron Block, and Clelia Peters ‘09BUS, have been enthusiastic about this year’s cohort, which bring unique perspectives having come from such institutions such as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Wharton, Google, and Columbia.

“MetaProp’s Pre-Accelerator at Columbia is the first time that anyone in PropTech has been able to institutionalize the help MetaProp has been providing to earliest stage entrepreneurs. The young founders in the Pre-Accelerator are the next wave of entrepreneurs who start with a great idea and turn it into a viable startup,” said Block.

“The beauty of MetaProp’s partnership with Columbia in this initiative is that we have fantastic access to a world-class academic institution’s array of intellectual resources across multiple disciplines, including but not limited to real estate, architecture, design, engineering and entrepreneurship. All of this priceless synergy has the added benefit of being located in the heart of the global real estate and PropTech community, New York City.”

“We’re extremely happy with the early success of the pre-accelerator and our partnership with MetaProp, which shows us the greater potential of expanding the program in the future,” said Pankin.

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