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January 21, 2021 9:38 am

What Pandemic? Israeli Proptech Companies Eager to Make It in the Big Apple

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avatar by James Spiro / CTech

The USNS Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, March 30, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar.

CTech – “The global pandemic is shaking some long-lasting paradigms and conventions in the real estate world, forcing players in this industry to be more open than ever to transformation and the role that technology can play in these changes,” said Ori Kaufman-Gafter, Head of International and Tech Banking at Bank Leumi, USA when discussing proptech and Israel’s natural attraction to New York City.

Speaking at PropTech Zone in NYC, leading industry figures gathered to discuss Israel’s ever-growing presence in New York City as it related to the Proptech sector. Guy Franklin, Founder of Israeli Mapped in NY, was joined by PropTech Zone’s Michal Gologorsky, Tulu’s Yael Shemer, and Knock’s Erez Cohen, among others.

“New York is the center of the world, real estate wise,” said Amir Zwickel, Co-Founder & Chief Real Estate Officer of Showfields. “It’s a place where talents from all around the world come to in order to innovate. For Israelis, there is a huge advantage to doing proptech in New York. Apart from the fact that it’s the largest Jewish city in the world, there is a big network of Jews and Israelis doing proptech there.”

Franklin added that “New York is the largest real estate market in the United States and in addition, New York is a leading innovation hub, so naturally, when the two meet, something big happens. … These companies developed technological solutions in a very conservative industry, where in many cases the potential clients are commercial or residential real estate owners.”

According to Israeli Mapped in NY, which tracks and highlights Israeli startups in New York, there are around 25 Israeli proptech companies in the city — a vast increase from a total of 60 Israeli startups in the city from 2014 across all industries. Today, there are a total of around 350 Israeli startups in the city.

Some of the prominent startups that Franklin mentioned were real estate technology company Compass, which is now valued at around $6 billion; Showfields, which helps online brands move into physical brick-and-mortar stores; and Skyline.Ai, which uses AI to outperform real estate investments.

Of course, New York was not immune from the devastating impact that Covid-19 had on cities, notably in the business and real estate sectors. According to DIY moving company U-Haul, arrivals to New York City were down 35% year-over-year, with many moving to neighboring states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Despite this, Israelis kept their boots on the ground.

Israeli companies in New York are combatting some of these issues by seeking new growth opportunities in an otherwise turbulent market. According to Tomer Shani, Managing Director at Israeli law firm Meitar NY, the pandemic is only strengthening efforts to prop up the property sector.

“We have seen a sharp rise in real estate and proptech investment volumes since the outbreak of the pandemic, which seems to be driven by the understanding that the needs are changing and both Covid-19 times and post-Covid reality will require new tech and financing solutions,” he said. “We anticipate that changes in the work environment and financing challenges that the post-Covid world will present to individuals and companies are likely to cause a significant increase in investments in prop-tech solutions, and many Venture Capitals that in the past showed no interest in prop-tech have started to actively look for prop-tech investment opportunities.”

PropTech Zone is an innovation partner for real estate companies and industry players based in Tel Aviv. It provides access to and implementation of real estate solutions and has a dedicated program helping entrepreneurs find solutions for the real estate industry.

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