Proptech startup sets its sights on MLS innovation, integration
Ocusell developed a single-entry platform for agents to more easily connect with MLSs. Now, they seek MLSs to connect with their idea.
- The company's platform lets real estate professionals list properties on multiple MLSs through one interface.
- “We want to be that bridge. We are trying to streamline the process for everyone,” said founder Hayden Rieveschl.
- Ocusell also aims to solve the problem of MLS business rules that don't align and integrate with their technology.
Hayden Rieveschl wants to "open up the innovation landscape" at the nation's MLSs. It's an ambitious goal, but the founder of Ocusell believes his company is up to the challenge.
"There are so many startup proptech companies that go under because of the struggles and difficulties to integrate. We are trying to break down that barrier. And, I think we are going to do it," Rieveschl said.
Ocusell's solution was to create a platform with a single entry point that connects agents and brokers with MLSs. The Ocusell platform lets real estate professionals list properties on multiple MLSs using what the company describes as a simple, easy-to-use interface.
"We have modernized the process," Rieveschl told Real Estate News. "You can publish listings to multiple markets to which you are members."
But convincing MLSs to adopt their platform is a challenge for the young company. While it has several prospects expected to sign on in 2023, it is currently only operating in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.
Rieveschl acknowledges that Ocusell, established in 2019, is "very much an emerging company," and it will take time to make inroads into the vast landscape of MLSs, which vary by leadership, size and service. Ocusell's strategy is to make itself indispensable, he said.
One of Ocusell's breakthrough moments came about when the team realized that MLS policies and practices often do not align with business rules embedded in the MLS online system, Rieveschl said.
"I asked myself, 'How do we reliably deploy this technology and eliminate very tough integrations?' And as we began to talk with MLS executives, one of the main questions we asked was: 'Do you document your business rules?' "
The Ocusell team often got a response that was equivalent to a blank stare. "The overwhelming answer was, 'No, we don't document our business rules.' And that was the 'Eureka!' moment for us, because we know the backend of an MLS system extremely well," Rieveschl said.
"We can extrapolate those business rules and put together readable documents for staff and members that allow them to seamlessly integrate with other technologies, solving a big problem for them and for us, because we have to do it on the front end anyway," Rieveschl said.
So the company quickly branched out to offer MLSs business rules and process audits as a service to the organizations. Rieveschl described the response as "enormous." MLS executives are beginning to embrace Ocusell's offerings, and more than a dozen are interested in moving forward, he said.
For Ocusell, the work will enable the team to build trust and a working relationship with MLS leaders. The company's ultimate goal is for its platform to be widely adopted.
"We want to be the front end of choice for brokers to leverage and publish their listings in the MLSs, as well as to update and promote those listings across multiple social media channels," Rieveschl said. "We want to be that bridge. We are trying to streamline the process for everyone."
Rieveschl said that the tradition-bound real estate industry has gone through a transition — which he described as a "huge recognition" — that it needs to be more "tech-forward and progressive."
Said Rieveschl: "I feel extremely excited because of the response we have received" over the audit proposal. "It is notoriously difficult to get an MLS's attention. They are dealing with a lot, with thousands of members and with managing those relationships. It is an honorable place to be and makes it much easier to deploy our product in the future."