Looking to solve the problem of extreme lack of transparency, which he himself experienced whilst looking for an apartment during his university days, John Puma co-founded Wizio, a startup that provides virtual reality tours of rental properties using high-definition 360-degree photography.
These VR tours, Puma said, allow renters to view an apartment as though they were standing there, and can save time in finding the right property—particularly if they’re from out of town and can’t visit the unit before signing on the dotted line.
Wizio primarily works with property managers and brokers in the Boston area but has recently expanded into the Houston market. The startup lists properties with virtual tours on social media and charges its clients a fee when it creates a virtual tour, which typically takes 24 hours.
Wizio is now developing what it calls a “virtual agent service,” which will automate the process of filling out an application form, getting your credit checked, and submitting payments.
Wizio has created nearly 5,000 virtual tours since launching in 2015. One of its first clients was Encore Realty, which was co-founded by Brian Kitchens, who graduated from Northeastern in 2007 with a business degree.
Wizio has created around 200 virtual tours for Encore over the past couple of years. “As a real estate agent, it’s filled a gap for us,” Kitchens said of Wizio’s virtual tour technology. “I’m an advocate for what they’re doing.”
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