At a Brooklyn demo, five companies pitched their new platforms to improve building, buying, and selling

The startup Rhino changes the nature of security deposits, substituting insurance instead (Illustration courtesy of Rhino)

Built on lines of dense computer code, tech startups can seem ethereal and inscrutable. Real estate, on the other hand, is a more concrete business.

Joining these two seemingly disparate fields was the focus of a demo session this week at the Williamsburg Hotel, where five financial-tech startups pitched potential customers and investors on how their platforms streamline, open up, or otherwise improve the process of building, buying, and selling commercial and residential real estate. Hosts of the event were Totem, a Brooklyn-based real-estate strategy firm, and Heritage Equity Partners, which developed the hotel and other properties. Highlights:

For Betting Small on Real Estate

If your student loan debt is larger than your salary, investing in real estate might sound like a joke. But it’s doable, said Dave Conroy of the startup Meridio, a website in beta testing that lets users invest amounts of money that you might have in your wallet right now–even $20–into specific properties. Using blockchain technology keeps each transaction cost low, said Conroy, whose company is an offshoot of Bushwick-based ConsenSys, which is building myriad applications based on the Ethereum platform.

For investors, the service would reduce transactions costs and make a real-estate portfolio more liquid. For owners, it would unlock more capital and streamline transactions. While Meridio won’t provide market intelligence about properties to invest in, prospective investors can call on their own experience, says Conroy, who previously worked for the National Association of Realtors.

Having lived in three cities in the last five years, he said, “you can almost feel which neighborhoods are about to blow up.” With Meridio, small-dollar investors can bet on that hunch. You could even invest in the building you’re currently renting in, Conroy said.

fintech
Said Andrew Borovsky of Cadre: “It’s as close to Amazon as you can get” (Photo by Graison Dangor)

For Betting Bigger

In the same vein as Meridio, Cadre is a website that allows people to…