Interview: MassChallenge Finalist OpportunitySpace on Rebuilding Forgotten Spaces

| Kayt Racz


If you’re interested in civic technology, you will love OpportunitySpaceOpportunitySpace is an online marketplace that helps stakeholders discover untapped real estate opportunities for the purpose of rebuilding cities. They’re currently located in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Camberland in Rhode Island as well as Louisville Kentucky, and are in the midst of talks with city officials about coming to Massachusetts. 

One of the biggest challenges with under-valued spaces like vacant lots, brownfields, surplus government land/buildings, and more, are that they’re virtually invisible to the market because the data is hard to access. OpportunitySpace works with government partners to put information online in a user-friendly format—a set of tools that streamline information and make communication between decision-makers easier. These are the Opportunities.

Take a look at their website to get an idea.

We had the chance to chat with Alex and Cristina to find out what’s behind the OpportunitySpace vision straight from the source. 

What is OpportunitySpace?

(ALEX) A marketplace and online community that brings together the public sector, private developers and investors and the civic community to publicly unitize vacant land and buildings. We’re similar to a Zillow or a Costar but focusing on land and buildings that are not ready to market to the end user. The type of activity that we are encouraging is developing and positioning these properties in the market for maximum profit.

(CRISTINA) We target the forgotten spaces, and as we are going through the pilot program we are advancing tech, building partnerships and building an online community of people that care about investing and developing these properties to build places that people can work and play.

Our team has a fascination with development and city planning. Opportunity Space brings together design, data, creative thinking, public policy, and community development—on any given day we are facing a new challenge.

Who are the people actually using the product?

(CRISTINA) Architects and small housing specialists—forward-thinking developers. These people would have a hard time finding these properties on any other resource out there today. We want to inspire more people to take on the role to help cities.

Congratulations on being named a MassChallenge Finalist! What inspired you sign up for the program?

(CRISTINA) We’ve known a lot of other companies that have gone through the program and we are familiar with them through our work with the Harvard Innovation Lab—there are a lot of recruits from there, and they have been a helpful partner to help transition us to that next step. We had applied a year ago but didn’t make it to the finals. We are excited to be given this opportunity now.

OpportunitySpace is a contender for the Civic Tech Sidecar Prize. People have lots of different definitions of “civic tech”. How would you define it?

(ALEX) Technology that enables a civic process, existing or new. A collaboration across public, private and civic venues.

Get to know OpportunitySpace at the next Boston TechBreakfast this Tuesday, September 9th at Microsoft New England! 

Don’t miss the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, October 29th to find out which startup takes home our $50K Civic Tech Sidecar Prize!

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