Columbia University said its inaugural “Hacking for Real Estate Technology” course concluded this month with a number of student-led presentations pitching their newly-developed real estate technology ideas.
The program, which was co-taught by well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Zach Aarons and Josh Panknin, combines real estate, entrepreneurship and technology into a seamless learning experience. Throughout the course, students received guidance from both startup entrepreneurs and industry executives in order to help them foster their ideas.
One of the ideas presented by the student teams was Building Block, which is a Bitcoin-based crowdfunding platform for real estate investors. A second technology platform, SQRD (Synchronized QR Drawings) is described as a construction drawing management and approval software. Meanwhile Ameniscore is an interesting platform idea that lets people share characteristics of their apartment buildings and units that are not usually mentioned by landlords and agents, in order to give prospective renters more insights into “every day life” in a particular unit.
Another promising idea is Hacker Stay, which is a service that helps Chinese students coming to study in the U.S. find apartments that meet their needs. Finally, GreenTape is a software solution that’s designed to address inefficiencies in the building permit approval process.
“Zach and I have been in the real estate tech world for quite a while and we realized the need to try a new approach,” Panknin, an Associate Director and Adjunct Professor at Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate, told CRE Tech. “Columbia offered the perfect environment where graduate students who are eager to learn about emerging technology can gain access to experts within the industry.”
Meanwhile, Aarons, an early investor in PropTech companies like Flip and Breather, highlighted the student’s achievements, saying that they’ve “learned from experts, conducted field research, and in the end brought their fresh perspectives to create impactful solutions for the industry,”
Andrew Pandaleon, one of the students, said that after completing the course he’s learned how real estate technology solutions progress from ideas into real services and products. “It’s a doorway into Silicon Valley on the upper west side,” Pandeleon said. “This type of class should be a part of every higher level education program if it wants to be on the cutting edge.”
It’s not immediately clear if the students plan to bring any of their products to market at this stage.