030 – Ryan Baxter of PASSNYC – PropTech, Education, and Going Big

Ryan Baxter

PropTech, education reform in New York City, and motivating innovation…

Ryan BaxterRyan Baxter, making NYC’s built environment more educational, Founder/Chairman of PASSNYC, Real Estate Liaison for MetaProp NYC, and Co-founder of PropTech Challenge, and former Vice President of REBNY, joins Tom Kutzman in the MouthMedia Network studio powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • Real estate tech/prop tech
  • Baxter‘s unique path to prop tech, how he started in a trade association, Real Estate Board of NY
  • His undying love for NYC, looking for way to work around that, loved lobbying as a concept
  • The opportunity to make lots of impact
  • How the Association is older than NYC, serves more than 17,000 members across real estate professions
  • How Baxter started a regulatory effort on changing how ConEd treats power plants within buildings, taught him a lot about how NYC interacts with and treats techRyan Baxter
  • Aaron Block, a founder of PropNYC,  knocked on door asking for help, saw them as distribution platform
  • How his work allows outcome beyond pursuit of wealth
  • Bing Co-Founder of Protech challenge, started last year grew to over 100 people from 47 companies,
  • Moving from personally-participated to virtually to impact many more people, to spur innovation, increase diversity, and create opportunities around the world
  • An augmented reality tool to overlay real time building information, helpful for engineers to know what a particular system’s flow of info in real time
  • A lack of agility and responsiveness in real estate is going changing
  • The need to understand that there are only five value propositions
  • A limitless opportunity for the human imagination
  • A $230 Trillion and growing opportunity worldwide
  • Developers should lean into PropTech
  • Why PropTech is years behind FinTech, yet broader than any other tech vertical we’ve seen
  • Is PropTech only one part of it, and a low hanging fruit, and limiting lens?
  • MetaProp
  • Starting with community building approach as a new fundRyan Baxter
  • Why learning the language across the industry is crucial
  • Promoting better educational access and equity using community organizing and coalition tactics
  • Why the tip of PropTech spear should be public schools, and how they can design the future
  • Enabling schools to be specialized, motivating participation and resource provision, and working toward continual desegregation
  • The debate on why specialized schools have value
  • The Empire State Building, Jay-Z, and a great restaurant

029 – Nathan Hirsch – FreeeUp Your Business to Succeed

Nathan Hirsch

Growing a team by utilizing a marketplace with highly vetted freelancers in a gig economy…

Nathan Hirsch, Founder and CEO of FreeeUp (FreeeUp is a marketplace offering pre-vetted freelance talent) joins Thomas Kutzman for a conversation about growing a business with the right talent. MouthMedia Network studios are powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • The gig economy, and accepting the fact that entrepreneurs are not equally good at every part of their business
  • How FreeeUp provides access to great talent all over the world to help build business
  • FreeeUp’s original start in ecommerce, then marketing, then real estate agencies (10-15% of their current client are in Real Estate)
  • An example of a virtual assistant
  • What’s driving the trend of freelancing
  • The way FreeeUp provides a lot of vetting, only takes the top 1%, and when they let them in
  • How FreeeUp started with $2k and grew to millions – only using freelancers from their own marketplace, and running a virtual company
  • How they didn’t look at FreeeUp company as a software business initially – looked at it as people who matched people — but when they looked at it as software and kept improving it, the company turned a corner
  • Why freelancing is part of the next wave of the business economy
  • How FreeeUp has a good foothold — pain points tough to fix, and hard to copy when fixed – looking at any competition in the business—and the vetting process is challenging to get right
  • Freelancers have multiple clients each with their own styles, agendas
  • Spending extra time at beginning setting best expectations will help save countless hours of clarification
  • Solid communication, feedback to freelancers is critical when employing them
  • The biggest error: assuming everyone’s expectations are the same
  • Diversifying is important different people for different functions
  • What would you do with extra hours?
  • An important business lesson, and how Hirsch’s entrepreneurial career began with — selling baby products out his dorm

028 – Omid Malekan – Blockchain Explainer-in-Chief


Blockchain explanation, applications, and possibilities…

Explainer-in-ChiefOmid Malekan, author of “The Story of the Blockchain: A Beginner’s Guide to the Technology Nobody Understands“, blogger, and Explainer-in-Chief at Triple Smoke Stack (a publishing, consulting and educational firm that specializes in bringing the latest advancements in blockchain technology to traditional companies) joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • Malekan on Blockchain – technology that gives digital items physical propertiesExplainer-in-Chief
  • Physical things can only exist in one place at one moment in time
  • Because of crypto tokens big public blockchains epxploded in value
  • More and more industries are looking at blockchain, including real estate
  • There are many applications beyond crypto currency
  • Before the Internet, restrictions of physical existence worked but blockchain reduces friction or restrictions
  • Digital items are replicable
  • Music is a great example of an application of blockchain that can be of value
  • Blockchain exists on a spectrum, with varying degrees of how to apply it, and is by nature often decentralized
  • A process to keep you honest
  • A consensus mechanism
  • Bitcoin is slow (only a few transaction per second)
  • Losing a key/passowrd to access, the value is lostExplainer-in-Chief
  • Real Estate doesn’t change hands without people knowing about it, likely a blockchain run by government for property in the future
  • Using blcokchain to potentially democratize ownership and mortgages
  • How REITs were like an early tokenization, good step in that direction
  • While REITS are cumbersome and expensive, can take the REIT model and issue tokensi instead, a tradeable avatar
  • A lot of creativity possible
  • Like a co-op model, real estate distilled down to shares
  • A home is an indivisible asset, tokenization can enable that, financing aspect – you go to one bank, one loan, future can offer breaking debt into pieces each with other people
  • Fractional ownership, fractional debt
  • Nomadic lifestyles enabled by fractional ownership shares in properties to live in places not regular residence, like a timeshare
  • Creatively applied can improve on good parts, lose bad parts
  • Airbnb a perfect example of Web 2.0 kind of business, someone builds platform, people use it, and most of value goes to owner of platform.
  • Whether a value of Blockchain can be to mediate disputes
  • How you can determine cryptocoin has value despite being digital
  • Becoming The Explainer in Chief
  • Model United Nations, learning to debate, valuable life lessons that it was a popularity contest, not all about substance, from moment you walk into the room relationships
  • Artifical Intelligence replacing jobs

027 – Joy Fan of Storefront – Short-Term Spaces, Long-Term Impact


Marketplace for short form retail and pop-ups…

StorefrontJoy Fan, Chief Creative Officer of Storefront (@storefront – the world’s leading online marketplace for renting short term retail space) joins Thomas Kutzman, Scott Pollack, and guest host Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • How Storefront “cracked the code” on short-term rentals
  • Real estate brokers have open arms for pop ups, changed from 5 years agoStorefront
  • How pop-ups and short-term rentals transformed from trend to strategy
  • Perfect timing, how Storefront rode a wave for the last 6 years
  • Demands of retail has changed
  • Bringing digital into physical
  • Providing pricing up front so anyone can see it and share it
  • Servicing both landlords and tenants
  • Why Storefront doesn’t own spaces, technology makes it easy for brands to search for space
  • Now in Canada and US, just opened Dallas and Austin, plus already in LA, NYC, SF, Chicago, Miami
  • Looking at events and experiential, but focus on storefrontsStorefront
  • A lot of long-term leases are coming up and vacancy rates have risen a lot in major metropolitan areas
  • Low cost at a conference
  • Retail on the rise in US, story-sharing
  • Making the physical experience feeling sensory like the online presence, creating addiction
  • The international opportunity – where there is retail and where there is storefront
  • Fan’s opinion on a brand that’s getting it done
  • The story of twins
  • Incredible donuts

026 – Doorbell Communities and VeryApt – Bettering the Rental Experience


Two startups sharing their company visions on providing a better rental experience…

Benjamin Pleat, CEO/Founder of Doorbell Communities (supercharging apartment living through curated event experiences) and Ashrit Kamireddi, CEO/Co-Founder, and Scott Bierbryer, COO/Co-Founder, of VeryApt (a trusted apartment review community for people who want to make sure their next apartment really feels like home) joins Thomas Kutzman on location at The Future of Real Estate Summit in Miami,FL. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • Conferences as a great opportunity to discover new ideas/innovators

Doorbell Communities

  • Looking at the experience side of things, not changing real estate, don’t redesign spaces, how the use of space is a platform for community creation
  • Leverage existing spaces from lobbies to community spaces
  • Creating meaningful experiences to cerate sticky communities
  • Work in best in class providers including local businesses, good to support local businesses and get them in building
  • Skepticism that neighbors don’t want to interact in a place like NYC, content gets them out
  • The business model, and expense structure
  • The value of software and analytics
  • Offering experiences from psychic mediums, pastrami tastings, coding classes, and more.
  • Currently in Boston and downtown Wooster
  • Challenges are in the real estate finance world, recurring fee treated as different kind of expense, and Class A vs. Class B
  • Avoiding technical debt, and how software augments experience without inhibiting, and enables community building and personal interaction
  • Affordable housing, offering the same experience or hurdle distribution and acceptance by community


  • A data-driven concierge rental platform that makes finding the perfect apartment effortless
  • Having very accurate data and content, making the ecosystem transparent
  • Not just scraping listings, accurate [ricing/inventory, data from tenants talking about experiences in apartment
  • Unique IP on recommendation engine, able to highlight buildings
  • Concierge replaces much of the value of traditional agent
  • Owning listings, not just scraping and taking data feed
  • Trying to instill same culture and processing several markets
  • Building out the brand, opportunities tangential to what they’re doing now ,rental insurance, figuring out moving
  • Taking infrastructure and help solving problems beyond the immediate rental part