Mario Varón, a trailblazing visionary and the CEO and Co-founder of ImagineX, brings to the table a wealth of expertise fueled by his impressive academic background and entrepreneurial spirit. With a B.S. in industrial engineering and an M.Sc. in computer science, Mario's educational foundation is rooted in the realms of technology and innovation. This foundation, paired with his entrepreneurial acumen, has led him to a remarkable journey of reshaping the real estate landscape.
Mario's journey as an entrepreneur is marked by significant accomplishments, including leading a successful exit and co-founding two startups. Notably, his innovative mindset is underscored by his ownership of three patents. His insatiable drive to innovate and disrupt industries has carved a niche for him within the tech-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Over the past five years, Mario has channeled his expertise towards revolutionizing remote real estate transactions. His unwavering dedication to enhancing user experiences has propelled him to the forefront of leveraging immersive technologies. He envisions a future where individuals can seamlessly buy real estate from a distance, bridging the geographical gap with immersive tools. Mario's ambition to create frictionless, immersive experiences has positioned him as a trailblazer in the real estate sector, a visionary who is not just embracing change but shaping it.
ImagineX, under Mario's visionary leadership, stands as a testament to his commitment to innovation. This groundbreaking venture harnesses the power of digital twins for new construction projects, offering an unparalleled pre-construction exploration experience for stakeholders. Developers, brokers, and realtors can now delve into properties virtually, leveraging accurate virtual replicas to make informed decisions. The result? Enhanced collaboration, reduced delays, and an entirely new dimension of efficiency in project development and marketing. Mario's unique Multi Technology approach, combining VR, AR, and web platforms, further cements ImagineX's position as a standout innovator in the market.
As a featured participant in the NAHREP REACH Labs Innovation Showcase, Mario and ImagineX are at the forefront of shaping the industry's future. Let's delve into Mario's journey, the profound impact of ImagineX, and his insights into the intersection of technology and real estate.Congratulations on your achievements and ImagineX's groundbreaking work! Could you share how your background in industrial engineering and computer science has shaped your entrepreneurial journey, particularly in the real estate sector?Mario:
Sure, the industrial engineering gave me the business insights to understand how to run a business and the Computer Masters provided me with a unique hard skill to understand the deep tech knowledge required to create high-tech products. It's an amazing combination whenever you are running a tech-based startup. Once I realized there was an untapped problem in the real estate industry when it came to experiencing unseen properties, I put my skills to use in creating ImagineX.You've displayed an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, leading a successful exit and founding startups. How have these experiences influenced your approach to innovation within ImagineX?Mario:
I busted my first two startups, then my third bootstrapped company was extremely successful in my home country. Understanding the reasons behind your failures plus the learning I got from running a bootstrapped company was critical to securing a smoother path for ImagineX (VC-backed). The most important underlying factor behind successful entrepreneurs is the number of startups they’ve operated and crashed. The average sits around 2.5 before you can do a proper exit, thus, before enjoying the fruits of success you will need to endure a lot of pain and frustration. Resilience is the key here, never give up!ImagineX is reshaping real estate with digital twins. Could you elaborate on how this innovative technology works and the transformative effects it brings to project development and marketing?Mario:
Different from a high-definition render or a virtual tour a digital twin is an exact virtual replica of an unbuilt or existing property. The twins are animated, interactive, and customizable—enhancing the user experience by 10X. These features allow end-users to pick between finishes and furniture, understand sunlight conditions, play with objects inside the property like doors and windows, get an assisted audio tour and even get a real-time mortgage prequalification inside the twin. On top of that, you can walk through the 1:1 space from your own place by using our augmented reality feature.
This will be the one-stop shop real estate experience in the future where end-users will find all the deal flow stages for their new place inside a friendly twin with a gamification experience.Your commitment to remote real estate transactions is remarkable. How did you identify the need for immersive technologies, and what challenges did you aim to overcome?Mario:
Think about the regular process the end-user must endure to buy a property remotely. The customer journey begins with a search on a marketplace (i.e Zillow), followed by sorting those of interest. Then, the lead, based on what it’s available on the website, name it, photos, videos, or virtual tours, vets the property. The appeal of the property is based on the techs to showcase it. This step is a dealbreaker. You either commit time to do a follow-up process or simply discard it. If the property is unbuilt, you will need to either visit the model house or the sales room and based on floorplans and posterior mind tricks you will make the call. If the property is built, then you will have to spend time and money visiting a floppy deal. Once you secure it, mortgage approval and some other post-mortem issues will arise from it. It’s evident the process is extremely inefficient and needs to be reshaped by tech.
Our twins are extremely handy when it comes to vetting properties. Instead of having to waste important resources, you can experience real estate in your own place, making the process easier, cheaper, and faster for everyone involved in the transaction. Same as it happened with e-commerce, we are still struggling with market adoption as our technology is very disruptive.ImagineX's unique Multi Technology approach is captivating. How do you see VR, AR, and web platforms synergizing to redefine how we experience real estate?Mario:
There was a lot of Hype around the VR/AR tech during 2018 and 2019. We actually started as VR-based startup. What investors didn’t see during that time was the insufficient use cases for this tech to drag users in. Moreover, the clunkiness of the hardware and an extremely unfriendly user experience put the nail in the coffin for most of the startups in the industry. Nowadays, and still with the huge leap forward these technologies have had, we are first a web-browser-based company. VR and AR are very cool perks to have, but everyone has a mobile device with access to a web browser. Our digital twin experience is consistent between mobile and desktop and we still feel there’s a lot of potential to unfold for web browsers. Medium term and while the technology becomes more user-friendly and accessible, we envision VR and AR getting a solid grip on the real estate purchasing experience. The NAHREP REACH Labs Innovation Showcase marked a significant moment. How did your participation in this event contribute to ImagineX's vision and mission?Mario:
First, we appreciate NAHREP for having us on stage. It was exciting and an honor to pitch in front of so many seasoned and outstanding realtors.
Furthermore, helping Latin realtors to commercialize new construction projects with the use of our breathtaking technology is in line with our vision of enhancing the end-user experience for underrepresented communities across the US. On a broader level, being part of the showcase also helped us bridge technological challenges or gaps that realtors might have when showcasing new properties in the market.Your vision of seamless remote property buying is intriguing. How do you see this vision evolving in the next few years, and what role does ImagineX play in its realization?Mario:
Technology has disrupted industries everywhere and throughout time. Think about e-commerce. We were used to going to physical stores and the process was extremely inefficient. Today, e-commerce accounts for almost 20% of all retail sales globally. For 2035, it will be a third. The reason is quite simple, the online user experience is cheaper and faster. Nowadays, the customer journey for real estate buyers emulates what retail faced 20 years ago. At ImagineX we believe the market is subject to a profound transformation, especially when it comes to buying real estate remotely. Recent technological breakthroughs have allowed us to provide an amazing user experience while making the sales process cheaper and faster. So, it’s just a matter of time before the industry realizes the enormous value proposition that digital twin technology brings to the table.Innovation often comes with challenges. What were some of the key obstacles you faced while introducing immersive technology to a traditional industry like real estate?Mario:
There are many challenges that need to be overcome during the startup journey. It took us almost three years to create a seamless and cost-effective product. Then, we had to face the aversion from the industry as every other new technology must. Real estate worldwide is probably one of the most tech-laggard industries, and that’s due to its antiqueness. Think about this for a second, since the Middle Ages the process of selling unbuilt properties hasn’t changed a bit. Customers need to rely on mind tricks to figure out how their future place will look like. It has worked for thousands of years mainly because this is a highly localized product (i.e. people usually buy real estate close to where they live). Globalization introduced a significant disruption in the market as customers started to acquire real estate abroad. This condition created new problems for the industry, including the challenge of showcasing an unbuilt property through the internet. It’s not a coincidence that the 3D rendering industry (led by Autodes) took off during the late 90s and the virtual tour industry (until more recent technological breakthroughs happened) until the early 2010s (led by Matterport).ImagineX's impact is resonating across the industry. Could you share a success story or case study that illustrates the transformative potential of your technology?Mario:
Let me tell you about Azure Printed Homes. They are a Californian-based ADU manufacturer. Accessible Dwelling Units (ADUs) are those tiny houses you put in your backyard as a result of the housing shortage the US is facing right now. This type of product is highly customizable and there are no model houses to show as the unit needs to be built around your space. Their outdated sales process relied on floor plans and for the customization process, they had to rely on the customer's imagination. With our digital twin tech, the user experience has improved by 100X. Our tech allows the customer to customize the ADUs in detail, including fine details like light switches, faucets, and even countertops. With an API connection, we feed in real-time quotes to their CRM so they can close the deal on the spot. Finally, customers can visualize their customized ADU in their backyard with our AR technology giving a huge boost to client confidence and most importantly, creating an emotional connection with the end user.
Here are some numbers: they have received over 5K unique users, those have spent on average 8 minutes on the twin (8.5X increase to what they had before) and they have processed over USD 3.5M in quotes during the last two Quarters. The ROI is over 500. Try for yourself the amazing experience here: https://toursusa.imagine-x.co/AzurePrintedHomes/main.php
. As a forward-thinking leader, what's your advice for other entrepreneurs aiming to merge technology with traditionally non-tech industries? How can they navigate this exciting yet challenging journey?Mario:
Time and time again, I’ve seen hundreds of startups with amazing products being derailed from the market due to off-timing conditions. VR, Blockchain, AI, Big Data, and some other technologies are immersed in a lot of buzz but with so few real use cases that solve a pain point for the customer. My advice here to entrepreneurs is instead of falling in love with your solution, do it from your customer’s problem. In the end, your end-user doesn’t care if you are using quantum computing or an abacus to address his pain point. He wants a fast, cheap, reliable, and most importantly, friendly-user solution. If there are so many friction points for your product adoption, then is a no-go. Finally, try to build a product that delivers at least a 10X improvement on the status-quo (i.e faster, cheaper, User experience). That’s the number that makes switching costs turn a blind eye.If you're ready to immerse yourself in the future of real estate, Mario's journey with ImagineX is an inspiring testament to the power of innovation and determination within NAHREP REACH Labs. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and reshaping how we approach property transactions, Mario is leading the charge towards a more immersive, efficient, and seamless real estate experience.As we celebrate innovators like Mario Varón, within the NAHREP REACH Labs, we invite you to explore the limitless possibilities that ImagineX brings to the industry. Join us in embracing change, shaping the future, and experiencing real estate in ways you never thought possible.Immerse yourself in Mario's journey. Explore ImagineX. Redefine real estate with NAHREP REACH Labs.