In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with John Berkowitz from Ojo Labs.
Without further ado…
What do you do?
I am the CEO and co-founder of OJO Labs. I wake up every day focused on supplying the direction, resources, and autonomy to enable OJO labs to achieve our mission of empowering consumers to make better decisions. From the inception of the company, we have been working to solve the disconnect between the information consumers give up about themselves to companies, and the value they receive in return. We found early on that having one-on-one personal conversations and experiences combined with rich, deep data insights was the best way to help consumers make decisions with confidence. Playing on our early company learnings, we spent over 2 years building a truly-conversational AI platform that employs massive data sets to deliver real-time insights and information that is uniquely relevant to each consumer using the product.
The first application of our technology is for consumers who are navigating the home transaction journey. We have enabled consumers to have 24/7 access to an easy to use digital assistant named OJO, that makes maneuvering through a complex process and searching for correct, relevant information easier than ever before. Through my own past real estate transactions, I recognized opportunities to restructure the consumer experience earlier on in the process. We had a vision for serving buyers and sellers with reliable, exceptionally personalized and relevant information to give them confidence in their decisions on such a significant investment. OJO continually serves the consumer until the right time for them to connect with a real estate agent. Our process generates a more informed connection between the agent and the consumer, benefiting all parties.
We knew that what we were after would not be easy to accomplish, and required an extraordinary amount of research, experimentation and the deepest level of understanding our consumers’ needs and desires in order to develop this kind of world-changing product.
What problem does your product/service solve?
We’re revolutionizing the way people search for and purchase a home by inverting the current model and placing full-control back into the hands of the buyer. With the help of OJO, home buyers no longer have to feel the stress and pressure that comes with searching endlessly for a new home or speaking to a realtor prematurely.
Unlike other “assistants,” OJO is a conversational machine — backed by human intelligence — that learns about you to understand what you are really after, then proactively serves up insightful, accurate recommendations, all via text.
OJO can scan and analyze millions of listings and photos within seconds to deliver the best information possible to the user. Additionally, OJO is supported by an extensive network of actual industry experts who supplement additional data when needed, and continuously train the technology. This combination of machine learning and human interaction provides OJO with the necessary resources to track down information not readily available on other online property databases.
What I love about OJO is that regardless of whether the user is a serious buyer looking to transact within the next few months, or someone who is just casually looking around, OJO works to serve both to its greatest ability. It’s up to the user to indicate when they’re ready to move forward and speak with a real estate agent. When this happens, OJO connects them with an agent in the area they are searching and shares the home buyer’s preferences to continue the process without having to start from scratch. This warm introduction creates a stronger introduction between the buyer and agent. OJO helps minimize frustration for agents by doing the work to source, sift through and help them from overspending on thousands of leads to connect with consumers who are ready for their service.
What are you most excited about right now?
Our fast-paced growth that is showing exponential results from consumers conversing with OJO and agents connecting with ready leads. We have taken OJO from its early-stage release into being widely implemented by our strategic partners, Realogy and the Royal Bank of Canada, bringing our services to a large network across North America and Toronto, Canada.
And our phenomenal team. We have hired and are continuing to bring together the country’s top talent to solve hard problems, build exceptional products and significantly impact consumer confidence in crucial purchases. Our future is full of endless opportunities, and we are working diligently to ensure we seize every one of them.
What’s next for you?
Our main focus right now is continuing to progress OJO so that it can optimize and accelerate the customer experience, and truly transform the real estate industry in the most positive way possible. Expanding our relationships with our partners, building new partnerships and continuing to establish OJO as trusted consumer resource in the home journey are all core focuses every day. AI never stops learning, and neither do we. Our vision of creating the most powerful and conversational AI that inherently connects with consumers is our top priority.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I have a deep passion for helping children in need and as such have been an active board member, and financial donor to the non-profit CASA of Travis County which provides volunteer advocates for vulnerable children in our local welfare system.
Over the last few years I have held several executive board roles at CASA including Vice President, Chair of the Financing Committee, Chair of Governance Committee, and currently am the board President. In addition, I also take great pride in helping early entrepreneurs find their passion and get their businesses launched. I advise top entrepreneurs in Austin and meet regularly with them to help strategize how to scale their businesses.
Thanks to John for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).
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