Spokane Journal of Business

Collabra Technology looks to grow following merger

TourFactory, Proxio combo leads to global platform

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-—LeAnn Bjerken
Collabra CEO Janet Case says that prior to the merger, TourFactory was looking for a larger audience. Meanwhile, Proxio wanted to reach more real estate agents.

TourFactory, a Spokane company that developed virtual home tours, has merged with Proxio Inc., a global marketing and networking services company based in Santa Clara, Calif.

The two have combined to form a new software company known as Collabra Technology Inc., which offers a collaborative marketing and sales platform that generates project-specific analytics.

Although she declines to disclose terms of the merger, Janet Case, co-founder of Proxio and the CEO of Collabra, says the union was mutually beneficial for the two companies, as both are innovators of technology platforms that support the real estate industry.

Proxio’s digital marketing and sales platform is designed to engage sales teams and real estate agents in the marketing process, while TourFactory provides photography, video, and other raw content for marketing.

“TourFactory produces media content, and Proxio’s platform uses that content to create material, distribute it, and then track that distribution,” she says. “In combining these platforms, we form a very integrated, complementary relationship.”

Originally known as Home Debut Inc., TourFactory was founded in 1996 by former Spokane residents Anne Sperling and Stacy Morse. Sperling, who co-created and holds the patent for the virtual home tours technology, now serves as Collabra’s chief visionary officer. Morse remains a shareholder in the company, providing key insights as a TourFactory visual media provider in the greater Seattle area.

Founded in 2007 by Janet Case and Peter Spicer, Proxio has provided real estate network and multiple listing services through a cloud-based platform that allows real estate professionals worldwide to share market listings. Case now serves as Collabra’s CEO, while Spicer is the company’s chief technology officer.

Following the merger, which was finalized March 15, Proxio moved its four California-based employees to TourFactory’s headquarters in the Fernwell Building, at 505 W. Riverside in downtown Spokane.

Case says Collabra Technology Inc. currently employs 44 people here and occupies about 9,400 square feet of office space on the second and third floors of the Fernwell Building, in addition to about 20 more employees at various office locations worldwide.

Case says the merger has enabled the two companies to combine their respective offerings into one larger platform that provides customized marketing materials to clients around the world.

“In this merger, TourFactory was looking for a way to leverage Proxio’s global presence and reach a larger audience with its media channel,” she says.

Meanwhile, Proxio needed more access to agents in the field who would be interested in buying its platform technology, Case says.

“In combining our companies, not only can our clients buy media products from TourFactory, but they can now use the Proxio platform to present and promote those products to a larger audience, as well as track their sales results in real time,” she says.

The platform is secure, can be viewed in multiple languages, and offers real-time analytics tools that showcase views, shares, and potential leads, enabling sales teams to easily track and share information, as well as streamline their marketing to better connect with clients, Case asserts.

Collabra serves a wide variety of real estate industry clients ranging from single agents and brokers to developers, builders, and large, branded real estate companies, she says.

“Prior to the merger we didn’t have much overlap in our respective client bases,” she says. “We’ve since rolled all of our clients into one, so we’re offering both our same services as well as new services to all of our clients.”

Case says media services previously offered by TourFactory are still sold individually either by use or by subscription, while Proxio’s platform is offered as a subscription service.

For now, Case says, Collabra continues to offer technology and visual media services under the Proxio and TourFactory brands to the real estate industry, but over time, both brands will be absorbed into the Collabra name.

“Our companies each have a certain level of brand recognition in their respective markets, so we wanted to make sure the name transition was done slowly, so as not to create confusion,” she says. 

As a benefit of the merger, Case says brokers and agents who currently use TourFactory can incorporate high-resolution photography, videography, and other media from TourFactory’s channel marketing network and 450 visual media professionals into their global marketing platform from Proxio.

In combining their resources and expertise, Chase says the two companies eventually hope to offer Collabra’s multilingual platform to companies in a range of industries that have distributed sales teams and a need for visually compelling digital marketing.

“Right now, we’re focused on trying to make it easy for agents to present information well and get it into the hands of consumers,” she says. “Eventually, we’d like to offer new customers a variation of our existing platform that’s been adapted to suit their industry needs.”

She says the platform will be marketed initially to other real estate industries, such as brokerages that market commercial and rental properties, followed by other outside industries that rely on visual components for sales, such as yacht and luxury boats, classic cars, tractors, and used farm equipment.

“Our current focus is residential real estate, but this technology isn’t limited to that,” she says. “It’s a powerful tool because it’s digital, and the analytics can be tracked. Really this could be adapted to work for any sales market that desires to distribute information broadly.”

Case describes the platform technology as an empty bucket that’s just waiting to be filled with specific content.

“In real estate, the content includes pictures, virtual tours, and property information,” she says. “For other industries, those details would match whatever product they’re selling and be distributed accordingly to interested buyers.”

While it’s still too early for her to predict the new company’s potential growth, Case says Collabra is open to opportunities that will enable it to keep expanding.

“Media is constantly changing, and we want to be able to adapt to those changes and continue to grow,” she says.

“We are and intend to be global in scope, so we’re open to conversations with potential foreign partners who are looking to reach beyond their local markets,” she adds. “But those relationships might take the form of partnerships rather than mergers or acquisitions, as we’re mostly looking to help connect buyers and sellers.”

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken is the most recent addition to the Journal's news team. A poet, cat lover and antique enthusiast, LeAnn is also an Eastern Washington University alum.

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