The Notre Dame undergrads transforming commercial real estate investing

Author: Nicholas Swisher

Jakub Drwal, Andrew Vittiglio and Jack Wayman (L-R) Rising seniors Jakub Drwal, Andrew Vittiglio and Jack Wayman founded CR3 Markets

Commercial real estate investing has historically been opaque and illiquid. But a trio of ambitious University of Notre Dame rising seniors—Jakub Drwal, Jack Wayman and Andrew Vittiglio—are poised to disrupt this landscape with their new venture, CR3 Markets.

CR3 Markets enables commercial real estate asset management firms and developers to efficiently raise capital from the public for their properties, from industrial warehouses to multifamily apartments to any type of asset. In doing so, CR3 Markets enables anyone, from everyday investors to large institutions, to purchase and sell shares of a commercial real estate project via one’s traditional brokerage account, such as Fidelity or Schwab. But establishing the “New York Stock Exchange of commercial real estate” is an incredibly ambitious vision in a highly regulated environment.

Most entrepreneurs would avoid such a complex problem, but not Drwal, Wayman and Vittiglio, whose journey has been characterized by a relentless drive to succeed. Emerging from the IDEA Center’s student venture acceleration programs, the team leveraged the deep network of Notre Dame to raise capital from notable investors. Additionally, they brought on world-class advisors including the former general counsel of the New York Stock Exchange, a former Securities and Exchange Commission official who wrote the relevant regulations pertaining to CR3 Markets and secured an initial pilot with a South Bend-based developer. 

Drwal is an Evans Scholar and business major at Notre Dame, Wayman is a business major and Vittiglio is double majoring in computer science and economics. Drwal said that “while we were able to raise capital, attract initial customers and develop the necessary technology to operate CR3 Markets, we always knew that working with securities and regulators wasn’t something we should take lightly.” Wayman added, “given that the securities markets have monopolistic competition, we knew we had to recruit A plus talent in order to take our company to the next level.” 

It was at this pivotal moment that they collaborated with the 1842 Fund, a venture capital fund associated with the University of Notre Dame. While the fund did invest $250,000 in CR3 Markets, it aims to be more than just a source of capital. The goal of the 1842 Fund is to change the trajectory of every Notre Dame-affiliated business it invests in by providing hands-on support as an extension of the founding team, for example in recruiting talent, unlocking new customers and effectively navigating the venture capital ecosystem.

“Our conversations with the 1842 Fund were open and candid,” Wayman explains. “Prior to this we would too often hop on a call with a venture firm who would try to project a facade of confidence, pretending to have all the answers. However, Mike Joslin and Matt Gardner of the 1842 Fund were different. They took the time to learn about us and after a short while they quickly understood what we were doing and exactly how they could help us.” 

With the support of 1842, CR3 Markets was able to secure investment capital and the leadership necessary to navigate complex regulatory hurdles and industry intricacies. After an extensive CEO search led by the 1842 Fund Talent Team generated hundreds of qualified candidates, the three founders faced a fortunate, yet difficult decision choosing among multiple world-class operators eager to join the company. Ultimately, they hired Wyck Brown, a successful three-time proptech and fintech founder, who was appointed the company’s new CEO in early May 2024. 

Together, Drwal, Wayman, Vittiglio, and Brown are already securing additional asset managers and development pilot partners, many of which have strong ties to Notre Dame and the South Bend-Elkhart community. While the CR3 Markets team is still early in its journey to transform commercial real estate investing, their promising start demonstrates the immense impact that the Notre Dame family and community can have on student entrepreneurship.