Caren Maio, Nestio, Woman Entrepreneur
My first experience as a mentor at Techstars was a great one. I sat down the first day and met with a handful of companies. On the first go round it really is about the people. I loved Caren and her partners. They all clicked so well together, they were friends and it was obvious that they spent a lot of time together before creating a company. I felt like I was sitting down with some new friends myself...so needless to say I stayed connected and ended up being one of their mentors.
Nestio makes it easier to find an apartment. Simple to use, efficient and organized. Timing in life is big as people have attempted to do this before but based on their traction and the other opportunities out there, the timing appears to be right on.
Caren grew up in Monmouth County, NJ. No surprises, her father was an entrepreneur. He has a business in management waste, recycling. Caren is the oldest of three kids. After graduating from high school she jumped across the river and went to college at NYU. She was accepted into the Gallatin School of NYU where you get to really plan your own curriculum, aka an entrepreneurial education. Caren took full advantage. She always knew she wanted to own her own business so she took as many courses as she could that would help her lay the foundation for her own biz. Although she was writing pitch decks at 18, her parents said, graduate from college first and then we can talk.
She had majored in brand building and publishing and after graduating college decided to take a job at Nike doing corporate sales and marketing thinking about understanding brand building and wanting to learn more before going out on her own. After a year she left. Wasn't what she wanted to do. Next stop was into publishing at the Wall Street Journal in sales. Her father said, and I totally agree with him, learning sales is key as it will help you in a variety of other ways as you grow your own business. She was selling to large financial companies such as Barclays, Morgan Stanely and the NY Stock Exchange. She continued to get promoted up the ladder eventually doing sales in luxury tech in Latin America and Europe but she kept thinking that she had to start her own business.
Personally she kept moving a lot. She was frustrated by the real estate market as we all are. There had to be a better way. She had met Matt, one of her partners about four years back and over the years they kept talking about businesses that they could build together. Caren finally figured out what she thought she wanted to build which was a company originally called Urban Apartment and asked Matt if he wanted to join. He had worked building brands such as Red Bull, Nike, Esquire and Lexus. He said yes and introduced Caren to Matt who was the tech guy who worked with him doing the back end. Perfect partners, a back end tech person, a front end product person and Caren the biz person.
In the summer of 2010 they closed all their legal documents with no funding and began to build out the company. They decided to apply to Techstars and got in. The first day they looked around and thought to themselves, boy are we lucky we got in to this. Your game improves, your ideas improve, your businesses improve when you spend every day for 3 months with other smart entrepreneurs...doesn't hurt to have the tech community checking in on you every day either.
Their tech is clean and simple. Caren is sharp as a tack and I love her team. She was named one of the 15 women to watch in tech from Inc magazine. The needs of real estate are scattered and Nest.io is moving them to one simple place. An old school business that finally woke up and is taking the real world online. There is tons of data there to be used but that is part of the evoling story....and btw, I am investor.