Interviewed on April 15, 2021
Interviewed by Yingying Zhu
Sara Maffey is the Head of Industry Relations at Local Logic, where she combines her passions for real estate development and placemaking with data analytics and PropTech. Before that, Sara was the Managing Director of Placemaking and on the board at Transwestern. She has deep experience throughout the built environment lifecycle from site selection and economic development, to construction management and commercial asset strategy. This background allows her to provide strategic real estate insights and develop interconnected ecosystems of place and experience at many levels.
Sara studied Urban Design and Architecture at New York University and received an MBA from Yale University’s School of Management. Sara is a certified yoga teacher, loves to travel internationally, and is passionate about local makers.
Congratulations on joining Local Logic! Can you let us know what Local Logic does? Local Logic is a location intelligence company. We provide our insights at different levels to provide an ecosystem of solutions and ways of understanding cities to give our users the ultimate edge in real estate. In addition to our data APIs and web tools, our most recent product is our Local Analytics platform, which allows developers and investors to search markets by investment criteria and deep dive on the location characteristics, market comps and demographics for specific sites. As the Head of Industry Relations, I am focused on our expansion throughout the US and Canada, building awareness within the developer and investor community, and gathering feedback on industry needs.
Can you give us an example how the platform can add value for multifamily developers? Right now we offer the ability to search for sites that meet developers’ investment criteria, including walkability, restaurant density, proximity to schools and grocery stores, transit options and demographics. We also provide our proprietary Location Scores for sites, neighborhoods and cities throughout the US and Canada. Our Location Scores use data to quantify a location’s character, considering factors such as amenities and services, historical buildings, cultural activities and others, a sense of place that has historically been understood with “boots on the ground”. At the end of June, we expanded our market data and comps everywhere in the US and Canada. We have a robust roadmap of additional data and features we will be adding to our platform in response to the needs of our Early Adopters and the industry.
How does Local Logic differentiate from other property data platforms? Our Location Scores are a major differentiator for us. When I was working in CRE and saw that Local Logic was using data to quantify those factors that have typically been so subjective, I knew it was a gamechanger for the industry. We also have a unique perspective on the market. Our original products have 90% market share on home search sites like Royal LePage and Sotheby’s in Canada and we’re rapidly expanding in the US. This means we know what prospective residents/consumers want from their location and we can use those insights to inform developers and investors.
Who are your clients? Our clients include home search portals like Zillow, Realtor.ca and Remax as well as developers and investors like DevMcGill, Ivanhoe Cambridge and Sonder. Our Local Analytics platform is particularly helpful for developers and investors who are expanding into new markets and need to understand the character of the location and market dynamics. Our Location Scores speak about the experience of a place and are useful across asset classes and for both the consumer and investor
What message are you trying to convey to your clients and what do you observe as the biggest hurdle? Many developers and investors are operating with about half of the data that is actually available to them, typically with information about onsite property characteristics.. Our location scores provide the other half, using data to quantify those value drivers around the site and what has historically been understood with gut feel or subjective opinion, to help make fully informed decisions and de-risk the investment. Real estate firms know they need to start using more data and there is a lot of interest in AI-powered insights, but many lack the capacity in house to evaluate, choose and implement the wide array of proptech solutions that are available. I see my role as a bridge between the CRE and proptech industries, helping each decode the needs and drivers of the other for greater tech and data adoption.
Any pandemic specific factor that has affected your product? With so much more time spent at home, the ‘15-Minute city’ concept became closer to a reality and necessity for many. With people working, shopping, playing, and driving within a much closer radius of their homes, there has been more focus on the amenities and services that are within close proximity and our Location Scores have become prescient in their value. With the rapid changes to our behavior over the course of the pandemic, we have also seen an increased need to understand how neighborhoods have evolved in closer to real time than traditional data sources. This is something we are currently researching and building AI-driven insights on.
“We are building AI-driven models to predict how neighborhoods will change over time. Those insights will inform site selection and assessments, as well as prescribe what should be built, how it should be priced, and who it should be built for. It’s the holy grail or the “Moneyball” of real estate and a lot of our early adopters are excited about it”
Congratulations on closing the Series A round of funding in the middle of the pandemic. What is next for Local Logic? Thank you! I joined Local Logic at a really exciting time for the company. We are focused on developing our Local Analytics platform (which was in Beta at the time of our raise) and expanding into the US market. We are building AI-driven models to predict how neighborhoods will change over time. Those insights will inform site selection and assessments, as well as prescribe what should be built, how it should be priced, and who it should be built for. It’s the holy grail or the “Moneyball” of real estate and a lot of our early adopters are excited about it.
How did you decide to join Local Logic and what attracted you the most? I got to know Local Logic through Shadow Ventures, one of our lead investors in Series A. I was immediately hooked by the analytics platform. The potential use cases for our predictive and prescriptive location insights as a tool to solve the needs of the CRE industry are huge and I knew I wanted to be a part of our growth story.
What about Local Logic’s team excites you? Our team is one of the things I love the most. It is made up of brilliant urban planning, AI, data and real estate experts. We are incredibly diverse, but we all share a nerdy interest in the built world around us and we have a real culture of kindness. I love being in an environment where everyone understands what it takes to build something new and to iterate and learn quickly. It has been energizing for me to work alongside these like-minded people towards our industry changing goals.
Was there any hurdle when you decided to jump into a startup world? Very interesting question. Many of my previous roles involved starting something brand new within an established organization. I founded a new department at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and built everything from scratch, from team to processes, within high stakes and time constraints, as we were responding to a major disaster. I’ve founded my own company and launched my micro-placemaking product, Localhippo. Most recently, I began the placemaking service line at Transwestern, helping our clients reposition assets and create ecosystems of tenants and amenities. I love being on the bleeding edge of change and innovation, so the startup world, specifically in proptech, is a place I really enjoy.
“Today I have years of yoga and mindfulness practice under my belt and I am fully immersed in the startup culture. I have embraced the idea that everything is a learning opportunity - the fail fast, fail often ethos is how we grow and improve at Local Logic and it’s a truly freeing mentality that has permeated how I approach my personal life as well.”
Any advice for young professionals looking to do something creative? When I was starting my career and perhaps because I was in slower-to-change industries, I really tried to get things right the first time. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for trial and error. Today I have years of yoga and mindfulness practice under my belt and I am fully immersed in the startup culture. I have embraced the idea that everything is a learning opportunity - the fail fast, fail often ethos is how we grow and improve at Local Logic and it’s a truly freeing mentality that has permeated how I approach my personal life as well.
Edited and condensed for clarity.