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Few startups go from a small, stealthy team to views of Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin in the course of a year. But that’s the case for Opcity.
The fast-growing real estate tech company in May announced a $27 million Series A, one of the largest early-stage rounds for an Austin startup in recent memory. And it plans to hire more than 200 people in the next year.
Opcity picked a downtown office building at 200 West Cesar Chavez, which is also home to Spredfast, for its headquarters. The space, which houses about 100 employees, is coming together piece-by-piece as the last remnants of another company are shuffled out.
The office is a reflection of the company’s remarkable growth, with temporary signs indicating the location of some departments and teams. Opcity is hiring so fast, co-founder Ben Rubenstein told me, that it is doing hiring and training in batches of 10 to 15 people. And the office is only temporary.
“A year from now we will not be here,” he said. “We won’t be able to fit 300 people in this space.”
Opcity is different than many tech startups in that it is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, since it’s real estate and many home buyers and sellers are available in the mornings, evenings and weekends.
That’s one of the reasons Opcity has a quiet room, where people can grab a nap, Rubenstein said. For example, there’s a 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift that continues from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. So there’s a gap mid-day for employees to go to the gym, grab a nap or whatever they need to do.
Rubenstein said company culture and integrating fun opportunities is key to the company’s growth. The company has catered lunches brough in every two to four weeks, and provides a ton of snacks and drinks for employees to grab whenever they need. And they recently rented a party barge and hired a band for a night floating around on the lake.
“Culture is incredibly important for recruiting and also to make sure people are happy and excited to be here,” he said. “You spend more time at your office than you do with your family, your friends or than sleeping. So we want this to be a super fun and exciting place to work.”
Rubenstein said Opcity is hiring a culture officer to design contests and other competitions to create a fun and motivating atmosphere. Yodel had a similar position called “queen of culture.”
Opcity is also trying to communicate internal business metrics and projections so every employee is aware of the company’s trendlines.
Jason Goldberg, head of engineering at Opcity, used to work at Able Lending, an Austin-based startup. He said that while he was at Able he got a closer look at Yodle’s sales team — Yodle being the company Rubenstien co-founded years ago.
Goldberg said what he saw there impressed him so much, so when Rubenstein was starting Opcity, he wanted to be part of it.
“There was something very special going on,” he said of Yodle. “This call center was this huge orchestration of all these sales reps making calls. To be able to grow a sales team to that scale, is just an incredible feat of human engineering.”
As he learned more about real estate and the problems in the industry, he felt Opcity had a real chance to be a major disrupter.
But he digs the fun, too. He said he enjoys going out on social meetups with his co-workers. But he said really the best part is being somewhere he doesn’t get bogged down in meetings and gets to work with smart people.
“This is a truely diverse company,” Goldberg said. “A lot of people pay lip service to that. But this is the real deal here.”
Samantha Wilson, broker operations manager at Opcity, has been working with Opcity almost since its launch a year ago. She used to work in commercial real estate, and she said she loves having more creative license and working at a startup.
Wilson said she has a lot of autonomy to make an impact and bring her ideas and questions straight to the executive team.
“I was very nervious to go to a startup coming from a corporate enrvonrment,” she said. “But it’s like the best decision I’ve ever made.”