Vancouver-based Flat World Apps recently launched VIDA, a condo demo iPad app that allows real estate developers to showcase their new developments to potential buyers as an interactive tablet brochure. The company’s platform is targeted at developers, realtors, and buyers, giving developers a way to showcase new projects, and also allowing them to manage the sales cycle from the back-end. The company is currently working with developers in Vancouver, and expects to be used in 2-3 new development projects by the end of the year.
VIDA founder Melissa Kwan worked in real estate for three years before making the jump to SAP, and aimed to bring the software and real estate worlds together with the launch of VIDA. ”It provides real estate developers a necessary upgrade to drive the sales process, streamline productivity, and make an impression with their customers,” Kwan said in an interview, adding that VIDA isn’t meant to replace existing promotion methods including presentation centers, but rather supplement them. “It’s meant to drive sales by empowering sales team with information, and to differentiate the developer against their peers by delivering their marketing package to customers in an interactive and fresh manner.”
VIDA’s app allows developers to create a central hub for their condo developments, including price lists, amenities, unit availability and floor plans, which they can then use to track sales, demo to customers, and communicate with people who have purchased in that development. Salespeople can track client information, send VIP access, view price lists, and send in-app notifications to purchasers. Developers also have access to an online dashboard where they can manage content and promotions.
Potential buyers can download a developer’s app and see photo galleries, floor plans, a feature sheet, color schemes, maps, and other development information. Depending on how the developer customizes the app, users can go as far as seeing how furniture would look in their potential new home. Realtors and developers can also send updates, promotions, and push notifications to their clients to notify them of changes to the project.
VIDA allows developers to set access controls for the different parties in the chain, from in-house sales teams and project managers, to realtors, and to end-consumers. ”A lot of marketing companies and developers don’t have IT departments, so if they wanted to have an in-house application that only their sales team could use, they need someone to maintain it inside without putting the app on the App Store,” Kwan said. “Everybody can download it, we manage it from our end, and they don’t have to worry about it. They give us their creative assets and we tailor the app for them and we launch on the App Store for them.”
After a developer sends their creative assets and project information, VIDA produces the app (Kwan said it takes about five days), tests it, and then submits it to Apple (with the developer’s branding, not VIDA’s). Right now developers pay a base setup fee, though eventually pricing will be vary based on additional features, including adding augmented reality feature to allow users to point their iPad on the construction site and have a rendering of the building pop up on their screen.
Competitors include Toronto-based Cordon Media’s CondoApp, which provides interactive digital marketing tools with an emphasis on motion graphics and interactive designs. Potential home-buyers can chose an interior design scheme, move their iPads around the space and see the screen populate furniture and other household items. They also offer similar features that allow for the further digitization of the condo show room.
Flat World Apps is looking to lock down some big name developers in Vancouver for the time being, with their eyes set on expanding to Toronto and other cities with a strong presale culture including New York, Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The company also plans to raise external funding to expand on their augmented reality features. With startups increasingly looking to bring the real estate process online, it makes sense that developers would look for new ways to woo potential buyers, beyond their project websites and new development databases like BuzzBuzzHome.