For too long, commercial real estate players have struggled with efficiently finding vendors who can get the job done and have their paperwork straight -- and this goes double for real estate investors with multiple large properties or geographically diverse portfolios.
There are all kinds of locally focused networks to help homeowners find vendors for a wide variety of jobs around the house, but when it comes to the same for property managers of commercial real estate, good help is hard to find.
Luckily, the people at Jones saw a need and found a way to fill it, creating a whole network of preapproved vendors for commercial real estate. Jones not only helps match companies needing vendors with those people who can do the job but also ensures every person in their network is already prequalified and holds an appropriate certificate of insurance (COI) for commercial work.
It seems like a small thing, but this kind of vendor network will go a long way in helping all kinds of commercial enterprises -- from property-management companies to building contractors -- find the talent they need while maintaining optimal compliance. Everybody wins.
Founded in 2017, Jones has been growing steadily in the proptech space with their artificial intelligence-driven (AI) insurance compliance platform that also happens to double as a vendor marketplace.
Big names are giving Jones a boost
In July, Jones announced that it had just completed its Series A funding round, raising $12.5 million from some of the biggest names in the real estate business. JLL Spark -- the proptech start-up investing arm of Jones Lang Lasalle (NYSE: JLL) -- and Khosla Ventures led the pack. Other strategic investors included Camber Creek, Rudin Management, DivcoWest, and Sage Realty.
Many of these investors are also current customers, which speaks volumes about the product and how much they want to see it succeed and expand.
"We get excited about innovation in the proptech industry that turns problems on their head -- creating solutions while also creating new opportunities," Yishai Lerner, co-CEO of JLL Technologies, stated in a press release. "That's exactly what the Jones team has done by automating the insurance compliance process end-to-end, building a system of record that improves liability management, and creating a never-before-seen marketplace for trusted vendors. We're incredibly excited to continue working with Jones on their journey."
Thousands of property managers rely on Jones to help process vendor and tenant COIs across a billion square feet of managed commercial real estate daily. It's no small thing to process a COI in under an hour and achieve approval with a 99% accuracy rate in about 2.5 days. Compared to the traditional method, which requires almost two weeks of lead time for full approval, Jones' system is a total game changer.
The Millionacres bottom line
Obviously, a vendor network for commercial interests is filling a pretty empty hole in the industry. Otherwise, Jones wouldn't have been able to raise so much money, largely from existing clients. They see the product and want to support it because they clearly need it to get business done. And why not? Who doesn't want to be able to save time and frustration when it comes to vendors?
Having been a general contractor, I can attest to the frustration of finding out after-the-fact that your subs have let their insurance lapse in the middle of a job or have otherwise not completely represented themselves properly.
There's only so much you can do manually, and sometimes, you have a very small window to work within, which forces you to make some kind of decision. Right now, the construction labor market is crazy tight, making this kind of service even more important than ever before.
It's one thing for a small-scale property manager to have to verify a few COIs a year because of small but random repairs that pop up. They can make the calls and ask around, and they're local to the vendor in most cases. It's a very different situation, though, when you're talking about institutional landlords, large-scale builders, and property managers who are in charge of multiple large multifamily properties.
Jones has been a long time coming, to be totally honest, and all the support it has received just goes to show the quality of the product. JLL Spark has a track record of backing some pretty interesting and popular proptech start-ups, including a recent acquisition of Skyline AI, a start-up that aims to predict different real estate trends before they happen.
Jones isn't publicly traded yet, but keep an eye on this one. It's not a sexy company -- it'll never be glam -- but it serves a vital function and has managed to break down barriers that are absolutely vital to the success of commercial real estate property management and construction.