Texas-based OJO Labs raises $20.5 million to bring AI to real estate

A group of real estate, financial services, and home services companies are joining together to help bring artificial intelligence to real estate and beyond.

Austin, Texas-based OJO Labs announced on Friday that it raised $20.5 million in Series B funding, which it plans to use to “supercharge” the development of its AI products.

OJO Labs first offering is “OJO,” an AI-based assistant that is currently being used in the real estate industry. According to the company, OJO “can understand a user’s intent and preferences to answer almost any real estate related question.”

The program interacts with consumers on behalf of real estate agents and brokerages, and is available around the clock to help consumers with questions, home search needs, mortgage information and other resources related to buying or selling a home.

According to OJO Labs, engaging the consumer in a two-way dialogue over an extended period of time provides the AI assistant with “key insights that it can then share with a real estate agent when the consumer is ready and chooses to connect.”

Last year, loanDepot, a retail mortgage and nonbank consumer lender, reached an agreement with OJO Labs to act as the mortgage provider of OJO.

This artificial intelligence technology combined with loanDepot’s digital lending platform mello will allow homebuyers to access real estate and mortgage information, help them get pre-qualified and guide them through an entirely digital, mobile-first experience.

And now, OJO Labs wants to grow the program and extend it to other industries.

Helping it along the way will be Royal Bank of Canada, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, and ServiceMaster, all of which took part in the capital raise.

Also taking part was Realogy, which is the largest owner and operator of real estate brokerages in the U.S. and the parent company of the Better Homes and Gardens Real EstateCentury 21Coldwell BankerColdwell Banker Commercial, ERA, and Sotheby’s International Realty real estate brands.

This is the second time that Realogy has invested in a technology company this week.

Earlier in the week, Realogy participated in a $20 million round of funding for Notarize, a digital platform that allows for legal, online document notarization.

As for OJO Labs, the company is now poised to grow its AI offerings. According to the company, since raising its Series A funding in 2016, OJO Labs has undertaken a “rigorous process of testing and optimization, including processing millions of pieces of photographic and conversational real estate data.”

Texas venture capital firms LiveOak Venture Partners and Silverton Partners also took part in the funding.

“It has been three years since we founded OJO Labs and laid the foundation for our vision of a customized experience for millions of consumers. In that time, we have made significant progress in solving the hard technical and operational barriers prevalent in our space, and this has led to considerable competitive advantages today,” said John Berkowitz, CEO of OJO Labs.

“While we are proud of our progress to date, creating a conversational AI that has access to the best data and human experts will be a challenging journey,” Berkowitz added. “Thankfully, we have an unrivaled team, a considerable head start and the will to accomplish our vision no matter the difficulty.”

With this latest round of funding, the company plans to grow its product, data science and engineering teams.

“Consumers will not engage with these technologies unless they are personalized and intelligent, but to make the system intelligent requires millions of conversations,” said David Rubin, co-founder of OJO Labs.

“Our unparalleled, real-time supervised learning platform solves this problem,” Rubin said. “By combining natural language understanding with unique visual experiences and personalization, the product allows consumers to deeply engage in a purchase process prior to interacting with a salesperson.”

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