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2023 Future of Real Estate Competition: Innovation Challenge

2023 Future of Real Estate Competition

Undergraduate and graduate students from the Ross School of Business and across the University of Michigan presented innovative solutions to challenges facing the real estate industry in the third annual Future of Real Estate Competition: Innovation Challenge.

Hosted by the Weiser Center for Real Estate, this competition connects the next generation of real estate professionals with the tools necessary to positively impact urban systems, including buildings, infrastructure, financing structures, the environment, and more. Students were challenged to research the real estate industry, discern challenges, and create an innovative solution supported by a comprehensive business plan. With the support of the Weiser Center, students competed for a grand prize of $8,000, ultimately impressing judges with their inventive and contemporary solutions to real industry challenges. 

“As the next generation prepares to enter an industry traditionally known for its resistance to cutting-edge technology, this year’s case challenged students to introduce innovative ideas into the built environment through Property Technology. The real estate industry is like any industry in that disruptive technology has the potential to revolutionize how business is done.  We wanted to put our students in a position to deeply investigate the industry's challenges and produce scalable solutions.” said Jake Albers, managing director of the Weiser Center.  With the support of the Weiser Center, students leveraged their educational and life experience to present innovative solutions and their ideas of what Property Technology looks like.

Growing from 15 teams in the first year of the competition in 2021, this year nearly 30 teams submitted proposals to compete for the grand prize. These teams, composed of students from Michigan Ross and other schools across campus, spent eight weeks collaborating and bringing together their ideas. Along the way, the teams were supported by a national network of industry advisors. In the end, three undergraduate and three graduate teams were selected to present before a panel of judges. This interdisciplinary panel, comprised of real estate and technology professionals from across the country, rated students based on the clarity, uniqueness, feasibility, and market analysis of their business ideas. 

The winning teams were announced after their presentations at the Future of Real Estate Pitch and Awards Ceremony at Michigan Ross. The undergraduate winner, Lev Sklar, BBA ’25, presented his idea, M-Vertex, a program that analyzes data to assist low-income housing developers with site selection by identifying available public incentives. The graduate winners, Vaibhav Mittal, MBA ’24; Rohan Narang, MBA ’24; and Nate Fisher, MBA ’25, presented KeyChain, an apartment rental solution designed to save time through a universal background check and common application.

“This competition was an incredible opportunity for me to capitalize on my interests in real estate by analyzing a side of the industry I typically wouldn’t venture into,” said Sklar. “Spending time ideating Property Technology solutions for real estate was definitely challenging, but ultimately deeply rewarding as I learned a ton about alternative business practices I was previously unfamiliar with.”

Regarding the competition, Albers said, “The Future of Real Estate Competition continues to foster interdisciplinary collaboration with students from a wide range of academic backgrounds participating, which is a central facet of the Weiser Center’s mission. By bringing together a panel of judges from across the industry, many of whom were alumni, our students received feedback and insights on their submissions from those in the field, another key focus of the center.” 

Weiser Center for Real Estate