The story told by Alex Galt, the founder of Realiste :
I entered the real estate market when I was 12 years old. My family invested in land plots in the Moscow suburbs, and after school, I distributed flyers and showed the plots to potential buyers. When I sold a plot that no one else could sell, my mother told me, "You will either become a very successful used car salesman or a real estate tycoon in life." I still don't have a driver's license, so my path was predetermined.

In university, I created a student real estate agency, and within a year, it had about 100 people. I began investing in real estate. I spent 10 hours a day browsing through thousands of listings on websites, and then analyzing them in Excel. Out of 1,000 listings, I typically found no more than 10 suitable properties. Realtors sent offers, but the selection was 1 in 50.

I was amazed why the process of searching and collecting information is complex and not personalized. When I look at a plane ticket, the cheapest ticket is shown right away, rather than having to search for it all day. Real estate websites could do it 10 times better but they don't.

Then I realized it wasn't in their interest to create an excellent search feature because real estate websites sell advertising. Their business model revolves around me, as a user, calling realtors as much as possible since they sold users as unique leads to agents at least ten times, and the agents paid for it. I traveled to different countries, from China to the USA, and everywhere this business is set up the same way.

I started developing a product myself, but at that time, I didn't understand anything about IT, which led to failure. I spent all my money on development, and it led me to sleeping on friends' couches in New York, barely making ends meet to continue working on the product. After this failure, I assembled a new team, but this time, I learned the lessons. I returned to Russia, and the next day the pandemic hit.

We made the first version of the search in Moscow during the coronavirus for finding apartments below market price. I wrote an article about how the system is structured. The first 3000 users joined. Since we couldn't raise money from VCs in Russia, we were a week away from shutting down the business, but a group of users called me and offered to invest in the company. To my surprise, users started sending me money, and we raised $2 million in seed investments this way. From that day on, we got $7 million in investments from users, and now they own a stake in the company.

But then the war with Ukraine began, and we decided to abandon everything in Russia and move to Dubai to start over from scratch. In the UAE, we launched a new business model: on top of our data and AI estimations and forecasting, we created an e-commerce platform. On this platform, we list real estate only from reliable entities, such as developers and banks. So, the property information is always up-to-date and accurate. The AI evaluates the offers and shows buyers data tailored to their needs. For investors, it shows ROI and growth forecasts; for families, the AI sorts offers from most to least relevant to their request.

This changed everything. Buyers now quickly get what they want and are satisfied finding the best offers for them right away instead of after dozens of calls to realtors and hassle in an opaque market. And sellers are happy to pay per transaction, not for advertising.

In our first 1.5 years, we sold $200 million worth of real estate and closed 400 deals online. We discovered that people are willing to buy real estate online if they know all the information and have AI recommendations, and agents' services are not needed at all. After launching, many media outlets started writing about us and inviting us for YouTube interviews. This attracted entrepreneurs from around the world who started requesting our business franchise. To date, we've sold franchises for 15 cities.

We realized that the AI wave is driving demand for personalized real estate search, and people are fed up with the opacity of the real estate market, especially if they're familiar with the transparency and speed of the stock market. Today, the global residential real estate commission market is $200 billion. We are confident, and the numbers prove it, that within 10 years, at least 10% of real estate transactions will happen through e-commerce, and the fintech side, such as lending, will be integrated into a single online platform.

Our plan for the next 12 months is to cross the $1 billion GMV mark and enter the family office and fund client category. They also need our solution, and we're getting more and more registrations from them. Our clients today are real estate buyers with an average ticket of $1 million. In this category, we've achieved product-market fit, and client cohorts show a 500% lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratio (LTV/CAC) in the first year, with the earliest cohorts already exceeding 1000%.

Now we are working on a solution for customers to hold their real estate assets on our platform, buy in one click and list for sale in one click with stock market efficiency levels. We are launching the first version of this app next month.