With Syndication Deals, we set out to streamline the way real estate syndicators raised capital from private investors in a world where platforms are dated, cumbersome, and have high barriers to entry that disqualify the majority of syndicators (leaving them to establish their own capital raising systems from ground up).
I was the lead researcher, product designer, and developer for this project, collaborating with design, marketing, and engineering support.
Our goal is to create a marketplace that democratizes raising capital for real estate investments.
When it comes to investing in real estate, there are various ways to get started—you could buy an apartment building and manage it yourself, or you could participate in a real estate syndication as a passive investor.
A syndicator is someone who sources and structures these investment opportunities for passive investors to participate in—they find the deals, market them, raise capital, and once the deal is closed, execute on the business plan and distribute profits back to the investors.
Using Syndication Deals, people who raise capital (syndicators) from private investors in order to buy real estate could create beautiful marketing materials for their offerings and begin raising capital in minutes instead of weeks.
It also allows real estate investors to browse through deals, place soft capital commitments, and partner with syndicators on those deals.
- Project Planning
- User Research / Competitive Analysis
- Design Direction (Branding / UX & UI Design)
- Front-end / Low-code Development
- Marketing Automation
After conducting 200+ interviews, we crafted our brand identity, UX/UI design, and built this platform using a stack of no-code tools—going from idea to a functional prototype in just under four months.
1. Discovery, Research & Interviews
We interviewed two hundred real estate syndicators on LinkedIn and video calls to learn about challenges they faced when raising capital to purchase real estate.
Interviews, along with competitive research, allowed me to find all of the platforms in existence that let syndicators to promote their real estate investments online.
I've uncovered the various limitations that currently exist in the niche:
- As a syndicator, you have to have $100MM in Assets Under Management (AUM) to be considered, which disqualified beginners.
- As a syndicator, you had to wait at least 30 days for your deal to get posted while it underwent committee reviews. Many transactions only allow a 60-day period to raise capital, with a non-refundable deposit at stake.
- As a syndicator, you ran into cumbersome, poorly-designed experiences that produced less-than-attractive deal presentations. As well as allowance for only one active offering at a time.
Our thesis was to see if a design-centric syndicator and investor real estate marketplace experience would encourage more investment transactions, resulting in more deals closing, faster.
We created the following personas for our project:
2. Brand Identity Design
To brand our effort, we created the name, Syndication Deals, based on verbiage that would be instantly recognizable in the space, as well as the name's .com availability. Right away, real estate investors and syndicators would know what the platform is about.
The color treatment as well as the font choices were borrowed from The Digital Collective's visual identity, as a way to promote and give homage to its creators.
The wide variety of colors allows us to communicate a wider gamut of messages to our users, utilizing a neutral palette with a variety of accent colors used for utility.
We liked Montserrat for this project for it's low profile, high-contrast, modern design. This open source font provides geometric variance that makes it interesting while keeping it super readable, and is inspired by urban development.
Logo Design Process
For the logo design process, I collaborated with a designer who was a previous student of mine, Sam Novak .
We underwent a couple of rounds of iteration for the logo, looking to create an icon that depicted "real estate", was simple yet elegant, and scaled well.
The Final Design
All of our logo ideas, reduced to just the essence.
The icon cleverly spells out an abbreviated version of the platform's name, including the "C" from .com—SDC. The negative space created from the "C" is an accent mark that could be colored in for effect.
The logo icon is geometric, and looks great at all sizes.
3. Planning & UX Design to Outline the MVP
With our branding in place, we then set out to create a functional prototype of a lightweight tool that allows syndicators to simply create beautiful real estate deal presentations, while offering investors the most frictionless experience in participating in those investment opportunities.
We created a list of requirements for this initial launch and mapped out the sitemap, userflow, and wireframes for each page.
A closeup of some of the wireframes from the web app, particularly the Syndicator Profile, Create a Deal, and Deal pages:
3. UI Design & Development
For the User Interface design, we wanted to create a layout that feels high-end, given that most of these real estate investments start at $50,000. It was important that the design of the interface builds trust.
Syndicator Profile Page
A Syndicator Profile page serves as the central hub for the company page. Within, investors will find a description of the firm, their list of investments, as well as a way to subscribe to receive the syndicator's email updates.
Based on user feedback, every profile page includes sections that describe how the investment process works, as well the benefits of investing passively in real estate.
Create a Deal Page
This is the experience that allows syndicators to quickly post their deals for investors to see. The data collected here should be readily available to any organized syndicator raising capital for real estate, allowing them to post their deal in just minutes.
A video walkthrough of the Create a Deal experience:
Deal Presentation Page
The data collected from the syndicator when creating a deal is displayed here for investors in an easily-consumable way.
Throughout the page are calls-to-action inviting investors to place a soft commitment, which introduces the investor to the syndicator and let's the syndicator know how much the investor is thinking about investing in this deal.
A video walkthrough of the Deal Page experience:
Body Copy: Montserrat Medium
After laying out the userflows, wireframes, and individual page designs for the web app, we used a no-code stack of tools to create a functional prototype—a minimum viable product (MVP).
No-code tool stack used to build out the prototype:
Leveraging these platforms allowed us to go from sitemaps to launch in just under two months, and is a great way to test an idea without investing many resources.
We invited a group of early adopters to list their real estate deal with us to observe their progress and gathering feedback to drive future iterations.
After building the functional prototype and conducting user testing, my findings validated that the Syndication Deals marketplace was best-suited for these two sets of users:
- Beginner real estate syndicators who didn't have a website and were looking for a quick way to get started raising capital
- Experienced real estate syndicators with an existing online presence who were looking to tap into a new pool of investors
To make a product successful in the passive real estate investment market, it must offer more than an investor-first experience, but also a simple, yet robust back-end experience for syndicators to manage their investors and their deals.
Because the tasks of managing a deal and its investors warrants its own platform, our sole focus with this experiment was to build out a prototype for the investor-facing, marketing experience for raising capital.
Moving forward, our plan is to partner with an existing investor portal platform that handles the management of real estate deals and their investors, while supporting them on the marketing front-end.
Until we're able to build out the full suite of tools, Syndication Deals offers the simplest, most cost-effective way to set up a beautiful deal presentation and get started raising capital from private investors to purchase real estate.
"I can't wait! This will save me so much time on pitch decks!"
"Just made a quick offering. Love the flow."
"Looks great! Really appreciate the UI/flow of it. I look forward to seeing what's in store for this."