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Krishna Malyala heads up one of the hottest startups in the real estate space dealing with big data. Featured at Inman Connect as one of the “New Kids on the Block”, and selected to the Esri Startup Program, his firm, TLCengine, sees RESO Certification as a huge door opener for any startup in the real estate tech space.

His discovery of RESO was born out of the painful process he went through during product development. TLCengine uses “big data” and predictive analytics to estimate the actual total monthly cost of living homes listed for sale. Mortgage payments only make up about 50% of the actual cost of homeownership. The other 50% is home and lifestyle specific.

TLCengine makes calculations pulling from a variety of public data, based on each buyer’s unique lifestyle and the home they are considering. Before TLCengine, homebuyers have been unable to compare the true cost of owning one home versus another. Using TLCengine technology that integrates with an MLS, real estate agents can give consumers a better, more relevant way to search for a home based on affordability.

The immediate challenge Krishna and his team faced was the fact that different MLSs have different types of data. “Trying to standardize that data was a nightmare for us,” Krishna says. So when he heard about RESO and its efforts to standardize real estate data, Krishna went all in.

“I came from Citigroup where standards really helped to facilitate communications because we were all working on one standard,” he recalls. “Standards get rid of all the mundane tasks of coming up with your own schema. Standards are the foundation, the fundamental piece that allows the other building blocks to go on top,” he says. He uses this Lego analogy to emphasize his point: “If the pieces easily fit together, there is no need to retool. Having an organization like RESO makes sure that our Lego systems work together with their Lego systems. Standards are like Lego pieces – you don’t have to bolt stuff onto one another to make them fit.”

Krishna states that TLCengine has been ahead of the game compared with many other startups in the real estate space. “We see ourselves as innovators in the field, and if we see something is head towards where the future is, we latch on. We actually got RESO Certified at last year’s Spring Conference,” Krishna says. He sent his CTO, Jason Low, to the first PlugFest in Las Vegas.

“We were already working towards making ourselves RESO compliant and so Jason actually got us RESO client side certified (RETS v1.8) during PlugFest,” Krishna adds. “That goes to show you the power of RESO Certification; it tells all the MLSs as well as the MLS technology partners that you are going to be easier to work with.”

Benefits for startups

While TLCengine is one of the few real estate startups to become RESO Certified, Krishna is passionate in encouraging others to follow suit. The conference, he notes, is particularly welcoming to newcomers.

“The welcoming aspect of the people who attend is great,” Krishna says. “They are interested in getting to know your product. We not only got to meet with a lot of the top technical folks in the real estate industry who attend this conference, it also opened a lot of doors.” Just from the RESO conference, the TLCengine team set up a half-dozen follow-up meetings with potential clients and partners.

Currently one of the top offerings from one of the most innovative MLSs, NorthstarMLS, TLCengine is looking to expand to new markets and believes its RESO Certification will continue to help open even more doors. “RESO Certification is the industry’s seal of approval so to speak,” Krishna says.

Attending a RESO Conference is also very different than other real estate gatherings, Krishna points out. “Most of the time I go to CMLS or NAR, I’m meeting with the leaders of those organizations. Attending a RESO Conference, you are meeting with the tech folks, and they have their own particular problems. RESO really becomes a soundboard for CTO’s and the COO’s of many organizations, allowing them to come together and air their issues and share problems that they are having with their own organizations. It’s an enormous value to have that confluence of like-minded folks in the same area where they can share problems and together discuss solutions.”

“You also get to listen to the issues and problems that MLSs are having and that helps me address some of those problems. Being part of RESO helps to a leader in this space, and it also helped us solidify ourselves as a true contributing member within this organization. In just one year, we are actually going to be helping to be a part of the research group and the energy group to enhance the standard to integrate some of these things that we’ve already done in TLC at the upcoming PlugFest in Austin.” That, Krishna says, shows how welcoming RESO is to new members, giving everyone an opportunity to contribute immediately.

Because of its RESO membership, TLCengine is getting a chance to help shape real estate’s future, something few industries would afford any startup. “You can actually help guide new standards,” Krishna points out. He gives the example of energy data, required in the state of Illinois, as something that could be standardized, “then this type of information can be available everywhere.”

What is the downside of not joining RESO? “A startup that doesn’t join is going to work a lot harder,” Krishna warns. “My advice is join RESO to work smarter, not harder. When you are RESO Certified, it signals to all of the MLSs that they don’t need to embark on a long-term process to work with you; They know it is going to be easier to work with you. And I know for a fact that it opens many doors, and when you lead with the fact that you are RESO Certified they immediately feel more comfortable talking to you.”

DLU December 1st, 2016