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Accelerating OJO Labs’ ambitions to deliver exceptional consumer experiences, Chris Heller joins as Chief Real Estate Officer and Karen Starns joins as Chief Marketing Officer

Written by Posted On Friday, 19 July 2019 10:29
Chris Heller Chris Heller

AI technology company continues to stack its team with all-stars from diverse backgrounds

Austin, Texas, July 19, 2019– OJO Labs, which empowers consumers to make better decisions through its conversational AI (artificial intelligence) platform, “OJO,” announced today that two top industry leaders who have led at the highest levels in real estate, financial services, consumer products, and enterprise technology joined their executive team. Real Chris Hellerestate industry leader, Chris Heller, former CEO of Keller Williams, the largest residential real estate brokerage in the world, and most recently CEO of mellohome, joined as OJO’s Chief Real Estate Officer. Consumer brand trailblazer, Karen Starns, who most recently led brand and customer experience at Amazon for Echo, Alexa, FireTV, Kindle, and the portfolio of Amazon smart home devices, joined as OJO’s Chief Marketing Officer.  

OJO’s CEO John Berkowitz said, “Karen and Chris are uniquely equipped to bring OJO to consumers in a natural and delightful way while enabling realtors, loan officers, and other service professionals to act as superheroes for their customers. Hiring these two leaders is the perfect demonstration that due to the technology and strategy of OJO there doesn’t have to be a choice between obsessively serving consumers and helping the real estate industry thrive.”  

OJO, the face and personality of the company’s AI technology products, is fast growing across the U.S. quickly gaining trust and admiration from consumers navigating their home journey. The addition of Heller and Starns to its c-suite is a strong indication of the organization’s ambition to reinvent the home buying and selling experience for everyone and help accelerate the company’s mission to transform an industry.  

While serving as Keller Williams’ CEO, Heller helped increase profits within two years by almost one hundred percent and built the strategy to completely retool the company’s approach to technology. Heller took notice of OJO back in 2016 when he first met the company’s CEO, John Berkowitz, and Co-founder, David Rubin. “What really makes OJO stand out are its leadership, team, and capability to execute on its vision. OJO was the first company to come into the Real Estate industry and drive the innovation of an AI assistant for the benefit of consumers and agents alike. Since meeting the OJO team several years ago, I have seen them combine vision, operational excellence, creativity, and extremely talented leadership to bring an important and valuable product to market,” Heller said. “The foundation is assembled for us to continue building one of the more significant companies in the real estate industry.”  

As OJO Labs adds tens of thousands of new users, the conversational AI assistant helps inform, guide and equip customers with information to facilitate finding a home they’ll love, and making this major life decision with confidence. Armed with extensive brand and marketing expertise from leadership roles at Amazon and Microsoft, a track record of solving Karen Starnscomplex marketing problems, and deep consumer insight, Starns will develop scaled channels to continue to rapidly grow OJO’s user base while building a brand that consumers trust. “We have an exciting marketing challenge of educating and introducing consumers to a technology that solves real problems by meeting them where they are and redefining how they search for, buy, and sell a home,” said Starns. “What ignited my enthusiasm about OJO was the organization’s empathy for customers and their authentic and differentiated approach to the real estate industry. Boiling it down, I am a brand marketer at heart, and the best and highest impact roles I’ve held have been centered on building a brand that people love and can’t live without. That’s what we intend to do with OJO,” said Starns.  

With Chris Heller and Karen Starns joining OJO Labs, the quest to build an exceptional consumer product is accelerating. “The significance of having Chris and Karen on the OJO team is immeasurable,” said CEO, John Berkowitz. “We are extremely fortunate to have these two brilliant leaders buy into our vision and commit themselves to help us achieve our mission of empowering millions of people to make better decisions through the fusion of machine and human intelligence.”  

About OJO Labs Inc. - OJO Labs is on a mission to empower people to make better decisions through the fusion of machine and human intelligence. The company's unique, patented AI technology products can conduct text conversations with consumers at scale. By combining natural language understanding with data and personalization, the products allow consumers to deeply engage in a purchase process before interacting with a salesperson. OJO Labs is backed by the two most active VC firms in Texas, leaders in real estate and financing industries, as well as key industry executives. OJO Labs has recently been recognized among the “Best Places to Work” by the Austin Business Journal, a 2019 Austin A-List Award winner, an Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards recipient, named to Red Herring’s North American Top 100 list, and an AI Breakthrough Award winner for the Best AI-Based Solution for Real Estate. The OJO team has decades of combined success scaling businesses and deep experience in data science, engineering, product marketing, and operations.

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Kevin Hawkins

Experienced tech and real estate public relations pro for over 25 years: Strategic problem solver with a deep knowledge of real estate and mortgage industries. A member of the Forbes Real Estate Council, he was named as one of the real estate industry’s most influential leaders for by Inman News, the real estate industry’s leading source of news and analysis. Kevin is considered by many to be real estate's leading media relations expert. He is a skilled writer and storyteller, public speaker, media trainer and a technology-forward thinker. He helped renowned real estate entrepreneur Brad Inman launch and grow both his prolific Internet start-up, as its first Marketing Director (which was later acquired by a major media conglomerate), and establish Inman Connect (originally Real Estate Connect in 1997 at the San Francisco Hilton) as both Marketing Director and later as Executive Producer until 2002. 


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