Startup groups homebuyers by neighborhood
A startup is developing a web platform to help homebuyers “create momentum” in neighborhoods by coordinating their purchases together.
Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said this month that it will make an initial $5,000 investment in the in-development Gridbygrid.
With the group collaboration and emphasis on community building, the idea is to reduce the amount of risk associated with the direction of a distressed area in the beginning stages of revitalization.
Ross Kraynak, founder of Gridbygrid, said he refers to the collaborative groups as “grids,” and the platform would connect users to real estate agents who specialize in the desired neighborhoods.
“Rather than just one home buyer purchasing a property and hoping the neighborhood’s economic outlook improves, she or he can create momentum by investing in the neighborhood with many other individuals,” Kraynak said.
Kraynak said the overall audience for the platform would include those who are interested in urban real estate and investing and focus on three target markets: first-time home buyers interested in living in an urban environment; former residents who are looking to return home; and current residents who want to invest in their local community.
As a former resident of Saginaw, Kraynak said the concept of Gridbygrid developed after he re-visited his childhood neighborhood several years ago and recognized the opportunity for investment.
“The area has experienced decline for the past couple of decades, but I still see potential in it,” Kraynak said. “There are many current residents who care about their neighborhood. It is located near downtown, and there are several large employers nearby. I remember driving past my old house thinking, ‘It would be great to invest in this neighborhood with a group of people.’”
Gridbygrid will use the Start Garden funds to finalize an interactive landing page, enabling users to test the platform’s functionality. People would be able to create and share grids via Facebook during the pre-launch.
“The investment will help speed up pre-launch market research,” Kraynak said. “The first version will be web only, but later versions will include a mobile component. Right now, Gridbygrid is at the prototype stage. Professional graphic designers are being hired to spruce up the user interface.”
Gridbygrid is required to return to a monthly Start Garden Update Night event after a couple of months to present on its progress to be considered for further funding.