Redbud VC is an early-stage venture capital fund and studio investing monetary and social capital in early-stage tech founders.
Note: Scale is now Redbud VC
Appreciate, a vertically integrated software and services company solving the incentive problem between Property Managers and Real Estate Owners, just closed their seed round faster than you can screw in a lightbulb! Is this the next multi-billion dollar unicorn out of Columbia, Missouri?
Nick Farquhar, a prior Mizzou student, is a real estate investor with deep knowledge of the industry and years of experience. During his time managing a multi-million dollar portfolio he encountered many frustrations with the Property Managers of real estate units, causing real estate owners to lose significant amounts of money annually. These frustrations are what fueled him to build what he has today.
In February 2022, during Columbia’s 11th Annual Startup Weekend, Nick was working 70 hours a week running his own blue-collar business in the real estate industry. Initially, Startup Weekend wasn’t on Nick’s radar, with his focus primarily being on scaling his business at the time.
On February 25, 2022, Nick, with no ticket, showed up to Startup Weekend, took the initiative to pitch his idea on the spot, and at the end of the weekend took home the gold. His initial idea for a tenant scoring platform was aimed at increasing the reliability of renters, and with the help of Redbud, evolved into so much more.
Initially, Nick wanted to help great renters get better rates and to help landlords retain great tenants, thus aligning incentives for everyone. Although, after diving deeper into the problem at scale, Nick discovered the core issue was found in the incentive structure between the Property Managers (PMs) and the Real Estate Owners (REOs). This problem being much bigger now, Appreciate wanted “the whole pie”, so they set off to build a better solution.
Historically, PMs receive compensation as a percentage of revenue produced per property. Meaning, PMs profit from tenant turnover, property improvement, and maintenance, often to the landlord’s bottom line detriment. In tenant turnover alone, landlords lose ~$6B per year, while PM brokers made over $109B in revenue in 2022. Additionally, REOs remain in the dark about incidents at and repairs to their property due to poor communication with PMs, losing confidence and business from tenants.
Appreciate ‘2.0’ is focused on solving the misaligned incentive that results from PMs receiving compensation as a percentage of revenue produced per property. In hopes of helping REOs receive fair compensation and profit, Appreciate is building an REO-centric platform providing real-time insights into operations, and labor.
Brad Siegler, the Co-founder of the unicorn EquipmentShare, realized the potential of Appreciate at Startup Weekend. After deep discussion with Nick, Brad saw the potential of his business and him as a founder, and joined the team as COO & Co-Founder. Brad brings his experience of building vertical teams, for 8 years, and his capability of leading technical teams to the table.
“Brad sees how large the PM problem is and after taking Equipment Share to multi-billion in AUM, being a builder, he was looking for his next venture,” said Nick.
With the current state of the industry and their connections, Nick and Brad believe they have what it takes to dramatically change the traditional PM model for years to come.
After receiving term sheets for $1.71 million in October, Appreciate decided to accept 650k with Dundee VC leading the round. The reason for this is the confidence Nick and Brad have regarding the growth of Appreciate. With over 100 properties under management and 360 under LOI, Nick is confident they’ll hit their monthly revenue target very soon; and are happy with accepting less.
Through Scale’s accelerator, Appreciate was able to hit the ground running, making the right connections, and hitting the right targets. A few targets Scale helped with include:
Utilizing the Scale ecosystem and network to connect Nick with the proper investors for the round, including Dundee VC.
Building Nick’s operating model, which has laid out how he plans to grow Appreciate and who he needs to hire over the next 18 months.
The sourcing of a CTO to help take Appreciate to the next level of its success
Product Discovery & Customer interviews
Building the deck and framing the story for investors
Being in Scales’ 2nd cohort, with the backing of a strong team and advisors, Appreciate was able to benefit from the total operating knowledge on team building and common pitfalls when it comes to starting a company with equity. Nick doesn’t believe that they would be where they are today without the help of Scale and its deep resources.
“I think I needed the right people in the right industry around me to see the potential long term and truly look at this as a billion-dollar business,” said Nick.
So, what do you think? Does Appreciate have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Columbia unicorns, Zapier, and EquipmentShare?
Watch out for the ticket launch for Columbia Startup Weekend on March 10, 2023.
Co-Authored by Brett Calhoun and Yahav Sal