WeWork Joins $4.6M Funding Round For Compliance PropTech Firm
Jones, a New York firm, takes the insurance certificate process and digitizes and streamlines it. The firm has closed on a seed funding round of $4.6M, led by Hetz Ventures, with investments from JLL Spark, WeWork, MetaProp Ventures, GroundUp Ventures and 500 Startups.
Jones' software-as-a-service compliance platform isn't the sexiest pitch, but Jones founder Omri Stern told Bisnow this week it has quickly resonated with property managers, building owners and tenants alike.
"It touches every area of the value chain. It's a cumbersome, analog process and a huge nightmare for everyone involved," Stern said. "If you’re a property manager, you have hundreds of service providers coming into your property. There’s just a significant amount of time wasted going back and forth getting insurance certificates approved, and no service provider can do work without one."
Jones is deployed in 500 properties, Stern said, and adds a new one every hour. Each property's insurance certificate is different, and each vendor who does work in a property — from installing art and plants to handymen — needs to be able to comply. He faced the issue firsthand when he worked for an energy management services startup and ran into insurance compliance issues with almost every client.
Insurance certificates might have been Stern's way of getting off the ground, but his ambitions are far bigger. Eventually, he envisions Jones as a "compliance network" that touches every transaction in real estate.
"We’re positioned at a moment, we’re building trust between our users, giving them real value immediately, and we believe that this is really important for the future of commercial real estate," he said. "When we’re in thousands of properties, we can power every transaction between owners, vendors, tenants and managers. It’s not just insurance, but other barriers to reaching simplicity and on-demand immediacy."
WeWork was the only new investor in Jones' latest round — the 21-person company has raised $8M to date — and it invested through its Creator Fund. Stern said he sees an opportunity for Jones to deeply penetrate the coworking market, and he said WeWork agreed. He said his contacts at WeWork are still with the company, but declined to comment on WeWork's "internal machinations."
"The folks that I worked with at the WeWork Creator Fund were super professional and very diligent and thoughtful of understanding the process," he said. "I have a lot of respect for the fundraising process that they went through."
Jones will use its funding to target 3,000 properties over the next year, Stern said, and JLL "is taking a big role" in that growth. If Jones hits an undisclosed revenue milestone in the next year, it would pave the way for a Series A funding round, bringing its total investment into the tens of millions of dollars.
"We’re now in a position where we have product-market fit, very rapid adoption and we have the seed of our sales machine completed, and now we’re scaling that up," Stern said.