The real estate industry is being redefined by a generation of innovative young companies. Proptech funding has surged in recent years, with VC-backed real estate companies raising a combined $10.6 billion in the first half of 2021 alone.
One proptech company that is leading the way is Place.com. Founded in 2020, this startup quickly gained traction, raising $100 million in 2021 at a $1 billion valuation.
Also in 2021, the company purchased Place.com for a reported $3 million, upgrading from its previous PlaceInc.com in the process. Here, I chat with Place's co-founder, Ben Kinney about Place's journey and the acquisition of the phenomenal Place.com domain.
Can you tell me about your journey as an entrepreneur and how you came to create Place?
Both my co-founder, Chris Suarez, and I started out as real estate agents and grew very large, scalable and profitable real estate businesses across multiple states. We then started building technology solutions to solve the challenges that we - and our agents - face on a daily basis.
What Does Place aim to do?
PLACE helps the nation's top sales people become owners of great businesses. We help them solve the most common problems that hold real estate businesses back: finding and hiring talent, retaining their top producers, implementing technology and systems, increasing per-agent productivity, and driving growth and profitability.
We do this in two ways:
- Helping real estate professionals and their staff eliminate up to 75% of their daily tasks so that they have more time to help buyers buy and sellers sell.
- Helping consumers experience the dream of homeownership by providing everything they need for their home all in one Place and with significant savings.
How did you come up with the Place brand name?
PLACE best captures what we actually do.
Our technology and business service platform brings everything a real estate agent needs for their business and a consumer needs for their home, all in one place.
During the last two years, the world has taught us that every single human being needs a "place". A meaningful by-product of creating a business services platform is one of the greatest benefits for our partners - a "place" to collaborate, build community and learn from each other. While this is not the purpose of the brand, serendipitously, it has become part of the overarching conversation about what PLACE is.
In a recent GeekWire article, it mentioned that Place paid $3 million to acquire Place.com. How did you go about assessing the value of the domain name to your company?
There was no question that we were willing to invest in our brand and what our brand represents. A premium domain sets the expectation for the premium value that we deliver to and through top real estate professionals.
Based on what we were willing to invest, we clearly communicated to the world our commitment to a consumer brand. We wanted one simple word that means something to anyone who has ever wished to own a home and owns a home.
How did you first find out Place.com was for sale? Was it a simple process to acquire the domain?
Not everything you wish to have is for sale until you begin a conversation. PLACE.com was not for sale. So, just like consumers using trusted real estate consultants to purchase their homes, we used a trusted domain consultant to purchase our online home, PLACE.com
Was your decision to buy Place.com directly influenced by your successful Series A funding in November 2021, or were you always planning on acquiring the domain?
The Series A funding did not have an influence on the purchase of PLACE.com. We acquired the domain well before the funding.
What does Place.com offer your brand that your previous domain, PlaceInc.com, didn't?
Place.com is clearer and easier to remember.
Why is owning Place.com critical for your business?
PLACE is short, simple, meaningful, and memorable - truly category defining. It captures what we deliver - everything for a real estate business and homeownership all in one place.
What do you feel that Place.com adds to the Place brand?
It demonstrates our commitment to our real estate agents that we are willing to do whatever it takes to cultivate even stronger consumer loyalty through our platform. It signals our commitment to be a true consumer brand.
As the co-founder of a Unicorn company, what advice would you give to any founder considering acquiring a premium domain name for their company?
Don't be afraid to ask for help from an expert or someone who has been in your position before. As a founder, there is something new each day. When we set out to acquire our domain, we looked to experts to guide us.
Your domain directly impacts the brandability of your company. When you believe in your mission, your partners and your team's ability to execute, think of your domain as a long term investment that will allow you to differentiate yourself in your space.