Zach Aarons has been working at the intersection of real estate and venture capital for the past decade. Specifically, Zach had an early pulse on the burgeoning PropTech sector, and is now one of the most active early-stage investors in the space.
A lack of effective communication between key stakeholders in the PropTech world led Zach to co-found MetaProp: an early stage accelerator, investment and advisory platform. We’ve been lucky to work with MetaProp over the past two years and were delighted to sit down with Zach to get his insights.
Why did you create MetaProp, and what problem are you trying to solve?
We created MetaProp in 2015. I had been investing in the space that we now call “PropTech” since 2010 and had noticed that there was not enough communication going on between the key stakeholders in the space: entrepreneurs, technologists, real estate professionals, and venture capitalists. My partners Aaron Block and Clelia Peters also had similar experiences—bemoaning the lack of information flow between these groups, so we decided to start MetaProp in order to fix it. Our first platform was the accelerator—but since then the company has grown to become a robust investment and advisory platform, with multiple venture capital funds, accelerator programs, and advisory clients.
Who is your ideal startup candidate?
Typically, in our space, the ideal startup candidate has the following components: a strong founder with startup scaling experience, a great technologist, and someone with significant domain expertise in the real estate business.
How is your relationship with your companies different from a traditional investor?
I am very transparent with every single entrepreneur we back during our first meeting about what MetaProp does and what we don’t do. We focus on distribution and growth within the real estate sector. We do it really well, and we don’t focus on much else. That means we are constantly training founders on how to pitch their products to real estate professionals, and then we are helping them attain meetings with those professionals so that they can close deals. It sounds simple but that training comes from many years of collective experience on how to sell into the real estate industry, as well as many years of networking to foster the relationships that count.
How many companies are you currently invested in and what are your plans for growth within the next year?
We are currently invested in over 40 companies across our two venture funds. We plan to fund approximately one company per month for the next year.
What’s your favorite MetaProp success story?
First of all, I love all my children equally, but since this is a Spruce blog, I’m going to go ahead and say Spruce. MetaProp had a thesis going back to 2015 that title insurance was an old, sleepy industry that was poised to get disrupted by technology. I was evangelical about it and spoke to everyone I knew. I was desperately looking for a company to fund. Finally, my friend Nick Chirls from Notation Capital introduced me to Patrick Burns. I met with Patrick and we started riffing on ideas for what ultimately became Spruce. We clicked instantly. We shopped the concept around to a lot of different people in the venture capital space who deferred to the opinions of incumbent title people and passed on the opportunity. We stayed the course and now I think we are onto something…
What gets you excited about coming into work everyday?
There are days when I get a call from a founder who tells me that they just closed a deal with a significant customer that I helped them get. For me, that is an amazing dopamine rush.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West by Malcolm Nance.
Coffee, Tea, Or Other?
I drink vast amounts of Kombucha tea and coffee every single day.
What’s your favorite part of working in New York?
I stopped believing in coincidences awhile ago, but when you really get into this city, it’s amazing how many people you can run into.