“I saw an opportunity to apply AI and large language models to the homeownership experience”

An interview with ICV Creative Resident and Terrace founder Regy Perlera

IDEO CoLab Ventures
IDEO CoLab Ventures

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Photo of Regy wearing earbuds while looking at the camera with text: “Creative Residency Interview with Regy Perlera”

Hello again! Welcome to the second installment where we get to know our creative residents more closely. (Check out our first Q&A with Mike Bodge here!)

For those not in the know, the ICV Creative Residency is where wild ideas are nurtured. Over the course of three months, we provide brainstorming buddies, creative support, and a stipend to some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers — and wait to see what they do with it. Their work will push the boundaries of art, technology, and human interests to discover something that will (hopefully!) change how we think about the world we’re collectively building.

In today’s installment of this series, we’re talking with Regy Perlera. A product designer turned founder, Regy is building Terrace, a platform that promises to change how homes are bought, sold, and lived in — using AI and large language models to make the experience more transparent, equitable, and manageable. Keep reading to learn more about his work, his approach to finding inspiration, and what’s next for Terrace.

Hi! Can you share a brief introduction — who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Regy Perlera. I’m a digital product designer by trade, and I’ve been designing interfaces, apps, and websites for the last ten plus years. Most recently, I was a designer at Snap working on AR interfaces and experiences. Prior to that, I started a fashion company in New York, and spent some time at Nike.

What are you currently working on as part of the residency?

I’m building an app called Terrace, which analyzes your home inspection report using Al. Terrace organizes all your home details and expenses into a personalized dashboard that provides insights that help save you money and avoid unnecessary surprises as part of the home buying process.

Terrace homepage. Headline: A homeowner’s best friend.
Terrace helps homeowners avoid unnecessary surprises.

Where did the inspiration for Terrace come from?

I recently moved from New York to Atlanta. In the process of buying a house here, I learned how complicated the process is. For example, I got a home inspection report and I didn’t know how much it would cost to actually fix anything on there. There’s no standard formatting for a home inspection report, and there are hundreds of thousands of home inspectors across the United States. Everyone has their own kind of way of doing things — it’s kind of hectic.

Additionally, when I was renovating my house, I relied on Notion to keep track of all of the projects, materials, and services I was using because I couldn’t easily find a product that would do that for me. Terrace’s dashboard centralizes all of the information you have across PDFs and even paper files. It helps by recapping everything you need to know about your home’s details — the foundation type, what kind of electrical system you have, HVAC, everything — and then couples that with large language model insights.

Looking back, I saw an opportunity to apply AI and large language models to the homeownership experience. That took me down a rabbit hole which brought me to what I’m building with Terrace today. Terrace starts out by analyzing your inspection report, but then later it takes in all this data and forecasts issues before they come up. The model is very similar to the way we approach health care today. It’s preventative versus reactionary.

Where do you hope Terrace will lead? What do you want people to do with it?

I hope Terrace helps people organize their home details today and make better predictions about repair costs tomorrow. My vision is that in the future, whenever anybody goes to buy a home, they can access the home profile digitally and see everything there is to know about the property — a detailed history of who had lived in it prior, what work had been done in the past, what materials were used. It would be great to have this digital ledger be a part of the buying and selling experience.

What kinds of collaborators or resources are you looking for to bring it to life?

I’m really inspired by other companies innovating in this space, like Roofer, which uses drones and AI to analyze the state of a home’s roof while minimizing the amount of dangerous labor involved. I’m also just looking for community — other people in this space looking to build something new, or even folks looking to buy their first home. If you’re looking to connect, reach out to me on Twitter or at regy@useterrace.com

You’ve been a product designer at companies like Snap and Square, and a design consultant for Travis Scott. What was the jump to founding companies like?

I fell into it! Back in 2015, I co-founded an app that let you share track lyrics from your keyboard, and it went viral. That experience introduced me to the world of founding and fundraising. I’ve learned a lot about the process with each subsequent company I’ve founded but I’ve always loved building products and ideas.

How do you find inspiration for what to work on?

Lately I’ve been super focused on building products that actually solve a problem. I’ve had a lot of fun building consumer social products, but my career has shifted towards practicality and wanting to build something that’s really useful for people. And that inspiration can come from anywhere, what matters is how you apply it.

Three Instagram collection screenshots featuring images of kitchens, bedrooms, and dining.
Recent Instagram inspiration.

Do you see your work as being in conversation with, or reaction to, anything?

It’s funny, I literally just thought about this the other day. I was like, how did I end up in property tech? But it was literally the progression of my life. If I hadn’t shut down Seasons, I wouldn’t have joined Snap and had the opportunity to qualify for a mortgage and buy my first home. If I hadn’t bought this house, I wouldn’t have seen the headaches of owning a home, and wouldn’t have been inspired to do this.

I often try to identify themes in my work but this one surprised me with how it aligned with my interests as a kid. As someone who loved Legos, I would always say I wanted to be an architect when I grew up, not really knowing what it entailed. I was reminded of that when I realized how much fun I was having renovating our new home. It almost feels like a natural extension to what I’ve been doing as a product designer, because there’s a lot of overlap between digital design and physical design.

Who and what are you inspired by these days?

Lately, my entire Instagram Discover feed is all interior design. I just think it’s so special to be able to design a space that somebody lives in and it makes them feel a certain way. If you can invoke emotion, if you can make someone feel happy and proud of their space when they come home, that’s a really powerful thing. Some more sources of inspiration lately:

Let’s talk about your process. How do you approach a new idea? How do you derisk or test concepts you’re not sure about?

I start with a prototype. To be able to put something in someone’s hand that isn’t necessarily real, but looks real — that’s a powerful way to get feedback. And that’s the process: you have an idea, you make the most basic version of it as possible, and you talk to people about it to collect feedback. You don’t keep that idea too close to your chest because how else are you supposed to figure out if there’s something there?

There’s also this framework I recently came across that’s helpful: vitamin versus painkiller. Does your product truly solve a problem, or is it just a nice to have? Will it really change people’s lives or just make things a little more pleasant? That’s the ultimate question to ask when deciding whether or not to work on something.

Let’s talk about tools. What’s in your stack?

Figma. Webflow. Midjourney. ChatGPT. Recently I’ve also used Rotato to generate 3D mockups.

Can you give us a brief tour of your work station?

Regy’s workspace photo collage showing a desk with a dog laying nearby, a camera on a stack of books, shelves of books and ephemera, and a wooden cup of pens.

How have tools like ChatGPT and generative AI changed your creative process?

Generative AI is great for outsourcing tasks quickly. For example, on the Terrace homepage, I created the isometric mockup of a home in Midjourney using photos from a real home inspection that I manually touched up in PhotoShop. That wouldn’t have been possible prior because of the amount of work that goes into 3D modeling, and how expensive it can get. But generative AI tools allow us to ideate and create creative elements rapidly — for branding, product design, copywriting, even legal text.

Mockup of hand holding a phone with Terrace open.
The isometric mockup of a home on the Terrace homepage was made using Midjourney.

What do you find most exciting about AI and ML? What do you find most worrying?

It might be the answer for both, but just the rate at which AI is moving. OpenAI recently announced today their video engine Sora, which is insane to think about. The rate at which this is moving is pretty terrifying, but also inspiring.

I’d be very curious to see where we are in the next five years. I have concerns around who regulates it and who puts safety protocols in place. It’s scary because it impacts a lot of people’s livelihoods. For the first time it’s tough to even theorize what happens next.

Any words of advice for other creators like yourself?

I was talking about this with Mike Bodge the other day. At this point of the process of what we’re both building, it’s very difficult not to be attached to an idea, but my advice is to just don’t be. Don’t be so attached to your original idea, because there should be room for change and there should be room for reaction.

Charlota shared an interesting article that was inspiring too. The gist of it was, you have to do this balancing act of building something for the short term, while still imagining it ten years in the future. You need to have that North Star, that long term kind of vision, but chip away at it day to day, month to month. Get from your starting point to your end point, and then be able to recalculate to create a new endpoint once you’re about halfway there. If you’re doing it right and you’ve spent five years working on something, the end goal should not be what it was when you started.

Stay tuned for more news from Regy as he finishes out his residency. Interested in becoming our next creative resident? Apply here.

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IDEO CoLab Ventures
IDEO CoLab Ventures

Where venture meets design. We invest in big ideas and good humans.