Why We Invested in Oda Studio
The problem of ugly real estate photos
If you’ve ever tried to find an apartment rental online, you’re probably well aware that the real estate industry is a laggard when it comes to digital marketing. Low resolution, poorly lit photos of messy interiors taken at odd angles abound, often forcing prospective tenants to stretch their imaginations to visualize what it would be like to live there. More savvy landlords or realtors invest in professional photography and staging, but these services can be expensive and are, as a result, often limited to select properties.
Although real estate operators see the value of improving their online listings, the digital tools available until now have been lacking — cumbersome, slow, and expensive. The result is that there are real estate photos everywhere… and almost all of them are ugly. Landlords leave rent dollars on the table, would-be tenants waste time in their searches, and realtors and brokers aren’t as effective as they could be.
Even as Proptech has matured and produced high-tech solutions in computer vision and 3D visualization (e.g., Matterport, Hover, Openspace, etc.), we see a need in the market for affordable, off-the-shelf tools specifically tailored for photo processing and virtual staging.
Oda Studio (“Oda”) aims to tackle exactly these digital marketing pain points for real estate operators, Realtors, marketplaces, and multiple listing services (MLS). Founded in 2019, Oda today provides an automated, API-based solution that optimizes property photos by cleaning up brightness, angles, resolution, and other image features; the technology empowers amateurs to turn even iPhone photos into professional-grade marketing images. Oda also offers performance analytics tools focused on image scoring and ordering for maximum online performance, further reducing the burden of real estate professionals to spend time sifting through photos.
The Oda team also plans to launch an API-based virtual staging product in Q4 2021 which will deliver automated, virtually rendered furniture and interior designs to customers at a significantly lower price point than industry average. Over time, Oda aims to become a key digital marketing platform for the real estate industry, rolling out additional products and services to help real estate professionals create, process, improve, and manage their digital marketing assets, driving overall portfolio and sales performance.
Photo processing magic
Oda’s automated image processing technology adjusts for brightness, angle, and resolution as well as image scoring, classifying and ordering listing photos for maximum online engagement.
Oda’s virtual staging solution will significantly decrease cost per photo, while providing a flexible tool to real estate operators, sellers, and end customers, allowing for various style pallets and a higher degree of configurability than existing solutions offer.
Why we are excited about Oda
Navitas has been a longtime believer in the power of computer vision and visualization for real estate, having backed Matterport (NASDAQ: MTTR) and OpenSpace at the early stage. While we immediately recognized Oda’s potential to leverage these technologies in digital marketing, several other factors make the business a compelling investment opportunity.
· Highly technical team. Mert, Oda’s CEO, comes from a background in data science and analytics (as does his COO, Mine) while Ege, the company’s CTO, previously worked on autonomous driving, becoming deeply familiar with AI and computer vision technology. The Oda team’s unique background combining data science and visualization technology gives it a critical technical advantage to creating best in class tools for the industry.
· Degree of automation creates cost advantage over other solutions. Oda’s offering is differentiated from others in the market by being truly automated and API-based, capable of delivering enhanced images and virtual renderings back to customers in ~1/10th the amount of time as competitors (in minutes vs. days) and at a fraction of the cost. Through superior tech, Oda avoids having to do the manual adjustments that incumbent image enhancement providers undertake. That means the platform can be used to improve photos at a volume not otherwise possible, and enables other functionality in the future, like photos auto-tailored to customer preferences: Think an apartment listing knowing the viewer has 4-year old twins, and staging the extra room in the basement as a playroom instead of a guest room.
· Scalable solution and massive market. Oda’s automated API approach makes the platform fundamentally scalable at a global level. Several of Oda’s early pilot customers include marketplaces and operators in Germany, Turkey, Thailand, and Mexico.
With over 6 million homes sold annually and 48 million rental units in the United States, we see Oda’s initial target market as a large opportunity. Recent reports have also estimated the ad spend from real estate agents and property managers alone to be $13B annually.
· Opportunity to transition from product to platform. Over the long run, as Oda expands its product offering and builds e-commerce functionality into its platform, we anticipate an opportunity to monetize the sale of furniture, home décor, and interior building materials (e.g., cabinets, doors, windows, etc.). This retail model could drastically expand Oda’s addressable market and lead to opportunities for enterprise agreements with adjacent companies across retail, construction, renovation, and design.
Other future potential opportunities include commercial and industrial real estate marketing, vacation rental and hospitality marketing, and other e-commerce applications.