A Northern Virginia startup that developed a platform to help commercial real estate developers find loans is looking to more than double the size of its team as it ramps up marketing efforts.
Tysons-based RealAtom offers a marketplace where anyone looking to acquire, refinance or build a commercial building can find loans through banks or other lenders, said CEO Yulia Yaani. The size of the loans can range from $500,000 to $75 million.
To narrow down the potential loans, the platform uses an algorithm to identify which loans match the criteria. Then, the borrowers can get multiple offers from lenders, and pick which one to accept. This is a shift from the current process that involves contacting lots of different lenders independently, and weighing options.
“Our goal is basically to use data and machine learning to make this match as precise as possible,” Yaani said, adding that it also speeds up the process.
Yaani and cofounder Masha Sharma, both of whom previously founded two startups each, initially got connected at 1776. Yaani was looking to pivot from a crowdfunding model, and found a good fit with Sharma, who is the company’s CTO.
Launched 18 months ago, the platform has built up a network of about 2,500 banks and alternative lenders, and has processed nearly 1,000 loan requests so far, Yaani said. RealAtom makes money from fees associated with the transactions.
The company is looking to grow its current team of 15. It recently closed on $3.7 million in seed funding with an option to accept another $500,0000.
For the company, the immediate focus will be on quickly building up its marketing team to stand out from other startups in the space.
“We want to build one of the most robust marketing organizations in the industry,” she said.
Yaani said startups have explored the idea of connection commercial real estate borrowers and lenders before, dating back to the late 1990s. However, there have been tech advances since then, and Yaani believes the generational shift toward comfort with two-sided marketplaces will translate to this type of lending. Additionally, she said, the approach brings more openness about what’s available.
“We think that transparency and technology that brings transparency is what’s going to change the game,” Yaani said.
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