Ira Zlotowitz Teams Up With Customers Bank in New GPARENCY Venture
Ira Zlotowitz is linking up with Customers Bank as a strategic partner in his newly launched company that aims to create a seismic shift in the commercial real estate brokerage industry, Commercial Observer can first report.
The former Eastern Union founder and CEO announced Monday the official launch of his new firm, GPARENCY, which is designed to enable developers to work directly with banks without the need for a broker. Zlotowitz has raised $15 million in venture capital for the business with Customers Bank, the first of dozens of banks that he said is committed to being part of the platform.
“We already have 45 banks that are interested in joining the platform alongside Customers Bank, which is one of the strategic leads because they understand technology and what can be built and we’re going to start building it together,” Zlotowitz told CO. “We’re a real revolution as we empower the banks to be able to market themselves directly to clients, with no need for any person in the middle.”
Representatives for Customers Bank did not immediately return a request for comment. The West Reading, Pa.-bank had $19.6 billion in assets as of June 30, 2021.
The Real Deal first reported Zlotowitz left Eastern Union, the firm he founded and where he was the CEO, to start his own company. Abraham Bergman, who has been a managing partner at Eastern Union since its founding in 2001, was named the commercial brokerage’s second-ever CEO.
Zlotowitz is targeting 50 banks by the end of the year with plans to launch an app for clients to track deals sometime in the first quarter of 2022 spearheaded by a new head of product who will be joining GPARENCY next month. The company has thus far secured investment commitments from 125 commercial real estate professionals and investors, according to Zlotowitz.
Joining Zlotowitz at GPARENCY from Eastern Union as senior funding coordinators are Michael Wyne and Asher Samberg. Wyne was a top broker at Eastern Union in the role of capital market specialist, while Samberg ran the brokerage firm’s banking operations.
“They both are coming along with equity in the company, which is extremely important because when it comes to this business, the challenge that all the tech companies are having when they’re trying to revolutionize the space is that they don’t have the relationships to get things done,” Zlotowitz said. “Between myself, Michael and Asher, everyone knows they will have the same exact quality they were used to dealing with when we were at Eastern. They get the same thing, just priced differently to start, and eventually whatever could be digitized will be digitized.”
GPARENCY, which is operating as a remote company for now, is debuting with around 40 staffers, with plans to ramp up to around 70 by the end of the first quarter, according to Zlotowitz.
The new CRE financing model GPARENCY is looking to spearhead was based on research Zlotowitz undertook which showed that only 20 percent of borrowers exclusively use brokers while 80 percent want to work directly with banks. The company is charging a flat fee of $5,000 per deal while offering a banking team to underwrite, shop and negotiate term sheets.
Once a deal is finalized, borrowers will have the option to continue working with the bank or with GPARENCY for $500 per hour with a cap of 30 hours, which Zlotowitz described as a billing model commonly used by lawyers and accountants. Zlotowitz said he eventually would offer long-term plans for clients providing all data and tools directly to them through a subscription-based service called LANDSCAPE that supplies information on banks and all sales brokers in real-time.
“We’re going to allow banks to market directly on that platform to the clients and provide the technology for the client, similar to Robin Hood or Rocket Mortgage,” said Zlotowitz, who prior to founding Eastern Union was a partner at Meridian Capital. “I’m revolutionizing the pricing and how someone pays for a mortgage.”
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