Block – Find homes with SMS and machine learning

Block – Find homes with SMS and machine learning


Name: Block

Legal Name: Block HQ Inc

Location: Los Angeles

Founded: 2016

Founder(s): Nick Dazé


Social Media Following: 373 Followers on Twitter, 33 Followers on Facebook, 115 Followers on Instagram

INDUSTRY – Conversational AI Software

Size: $4.2B in 2019 (Global) (Source: Markets and Markets)

Projections: $15.7B by 2024 (CAGR of 30.2%) (Source: Markets and Markets)


Currently in R&D but open to users for free (at the moment), Block helps prospective renters moving to LA find homes that suit their needs by learning as much as possible about them through a series of SMS-based conversations, and then matching renters with properties. They send renters one listing a day based on the information provided and claim that they “regularly” find renters homes within a week, whereas the average time a person would spend looking for a home without the app is supposedly 45 days. 

Founder Nick Daze says that 25% of Block’s users come from out-of-state, looking to move into LA, and their most effusive reviews and feedback come from out-of-state users. 

The Product

Block uses machine learning and AI to analyze the information collected from users, particularly in areas like image classification and recognition, to streamline the process of finding the perfect home that would appeal to different kinds of renters. They also employ on-the-ground Scouts, who visit rental properties to take reliable stock, high-quality images (including 3D models) of the spaces available, to provide as comprehensive an idea about the home as possible to the prospective renter, and to avoid customers facing the unpleasant experience of viewing a home that looks nothing like the pictures in a listing.

Block also collates self-reported data that renters provide through the process, including after having found their perfect home, to monitor generational shifts in housing preferences (like shorter Lyft wait times, walkable neighborhoods, and access to public transport), indicating that its an app aimed at younger prospective renters. 

Origin and Founding Team

Founder Nick Dazé completed his BA from USC in 2006 and has since worked as a product designer for various companies, including Pose, Bit Kitchen, Fullscreen and Faraday Future. He is also the founder of an iPhone app called Happy Hour. 

Dazé says that he was motivated to start Block after a ghastly experience moving cities with his wife and 5-month-old child, which was when he realized how difficult the experience was, and how much potential there was for a product that could streamline and revolutionize this process. 

Performance and Trends

Block is associated with LA-based startup incubator Viterbi Startup Garage, and relies on them for mentorship, guidance, and expertise, and Dazé says that they’ve thus far raised a “modest amount” from angel investors. 

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