022 – Naman Desai of Quo – Enabling Collaboration and Engagement

Real estate agent + client collaboration platform…

Naman Desai, Co-Founder at Quo (which simplifies real estate agent + client collaboration via a platform and mobile app) joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • A customer engagement tool that empowered brokers, allowing them to work closer with clients, increasing efficiency
  • How the app allows agents and clients to search and share listings together in one place, as a neat and organized way to keep track of properties they view, with the ability to take notes and store photos, better streamlining the process to make better decisions more quickly
  • Allowing the app to maintain a place as preferred place to engage and track real estate opportunities and clients
  • How Quo gives brokers an app to put in their clients’ hands, positioning the broker as more tech-forward
  • How Quo can help speed up process of scheduling a viewing, with automation, and reduces time lag
  • More feedback opportunities for the client, providing a good data and analytics resource
  • Building out algorithms to suggest properties actively
  • Obvious use case in New York City, but why in Cleveland?
  • Looking to integrate CSS, zero lag time
  • Is the tool more vertical vs. suburban?
  • Markets with a lot of buyer and seller activity
  • How Quo started as a concierge service for renters looking for new apartments
  • How the co-founders realized a lot of people had a similar knack for helping people in the real estate space to help with real estate process; and, as the company grew and looked to scale, it started doing focus groups and one was people helping with what worked for them — and the biggest was when they had a friend that helped them
  • Agents wanted the communication platform, not the concierge service
  • Pivoting to the communication tool
  • Data in which people said what they wanted and so Quo followed it
  • Not so stuck on idea that they wouldn’t listen, letting customers guide where they go
  • Getting consensus on a change in company direction, and how the co-founders were married to solving a problem — not on the way to solve it
  • The importance of continuing focus groups
  • The pushback from brokers — overcoming friction in getting clients to download the app
  • A must-have feature was a team collaboration piece
  • Being comfortable with changes in business, such as pivoting in his previous business ClassPass
  • Real estate as learned behavior vs. in the blood, etc?
  • Taking risk in business and startups
  • How finding one’s passion brings the opportunity to make more than anywhere else by doing what one thinks is right
  • Fear of missing out

013 – Jonathan Wasserstrum of Squarefoot – Now It’s Time for Commercial

Squarefoot

Transparent commercial brokerage with proprietary smart tools…

SquarefootThe real estate industry is antiquated. For most people they think of the residential real estate first, and that’s lagging enough. But technology and innovation in the commercial real estate space? That’s twenty years behind residential. An exception to this is Squarefoot, an online brokerage platform that enables companies to find commercial properties without going space to space.

SquarefootJonathan Wasserstrum, Co-Founder and CEO of Squarefoot (”a team of trusted commercial real estate experts armed with our own technology to help guide you from initial inquiry to lease signing and beyond”), joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • SquarefootThe state of affairs of commercial real estate today, two decades behind residential real estate, comparative sizes of residential vs. commercial
    Enabling tenants to find space more easily
  • The problem being solved by Squarefoot is offering transparency and technology, as a listings platform,
  • Squarefoot’s biggest size deal ever, and the average size and company needs commercially
  • Playing a role in helping solve real estate problems
  • How Squarefoot clients can see the inventory
    Squarefoot aligns better incentives between broker and client, instead of commission based on deal size, a flat fee per broker, a different comp model, so its not about steering toward biggest commission.
  • Most brokers aren’t still at the same brokerage after three years, and at Squarefoot the rate is better than the industry average
  • First efficiency, not having to prospect, how inbound people search online and wind up on the Squarefoot site
  • Offering further efficiency via tech and products in the space and discovery, and a proprietary app
  • Looking ahead to the next level: agency business representing landlords
  • Commission structure in commercial vs. residential similar, and how many buildings average landlord own
  • A lack of interest from Squarefoot in competing against CoStar — being just a channel for tenants to find space and landlords to market the spaces, not a current interest in data.
  • Is Wasserstrum a technology guy or real estate guy?
    Ample Hills ice cream makes a special appearance
  • Are most companies actually tech companies?
  • 20% of market is moving every year, but it takes 5 cycles for everyone to go through a new change of process/tech, with commercial taking even longer
  • The need to ask “how do I do it better”
  • Anything that can help increase the top line, and decrease expenses, should be a welcome thing
  • A lack of Houston TX accent
  • Houston’s lack of zoning

006 – Richard White of Goodlord – A New Set of Rental Rules

Goodlord

A platform for transactions and “paperwork” for UK home rentals…

GoodlordRichard White, CEO/Co-Founder of Goodlord (the first digital system that pulls together the whole tenancy setup process) joins hosts Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack from the United Kingdom. Recorded in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu. Special thanks to Tom Lambert of Global Founders Capital.

Overcoming industry fragmentation, whether the UK market is more receptive to innovation, and umbrella agencies vs. agents

White discusses taking on a great opportunity, and initiating what he believes can be a global movement, the nature of the rental market in the UK, the changing rental experience, what he saw as an estate agent, how in this day and age so much of the rental market is “super fragmented”, the continuing use of antiquated processes such as fax machines, questioning why the industry is not more modern, and his determination to do something about this. He reveals how he looked at discovery, how to find property, how manage it, but no one making transaction easy or tying it all together. He and his co-founder figured it was the right place to start, from signing, to exchange of cash, to due diligence. Why the UK may be more receptive of real estate tech than other markets. The Goodlord software platform, its segments including emerging (1-3 offices), then 3-13 offices, and 13+, and the division based on how big the agency is and how many transactions. White describes how in the UK there are more umbrella companies, not individual agents.

Building a new set of rules, creating ease and transparency, and finding a co-founder

Next, White reviews the goal, how Goodlord can’t sell product only to estate agents, how they need to take key stakeholders and establish an understanding of a new set of rules. Plus, the challenge of having to convince people that electronic signing was legal. The impact on the industry, driving things forward, and the effort to making people raise their game, making renting as easy and transparent as possible for everyone, going from 11-130+ people in the business, how scaling a business is difficult, finding his co-founder via serendipity from renting a house together, and the dynamics of friends vs. family as business partners.

Working with investors, selling the vision, and cryotherapy

How a large investment changes the dynamics of business operations and focus. Selling the vision, getting the MVP out the door, and dealing with potential investors. Personal questions cover struggles with school, learning problem solving, a surprising app on his phone, cryotherapy, football and cricket, Outward Bound, and white water canoeing. And, taking stock of assets, how a business owner is the biggest asset, and the importance of developing an arsenal of thing you know.

005 – Fraser Patterson of Bolster – Constructing a Full Stack Experience

Bolster

Transforming home remodeling into a safe and hassle-free process…

BolsterFraser Patterson, Founder/CEO of Bolster (a soup to nuts renovation platform built atop a powerful new process. offering the best architect and general contractor for your home renovation project and together use a suite of budget & project management tools) joins hosts Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

Traditional vs. marketplace, from online selection to a detailed call, and catering to flexible needs

BolsterPatterson reviews marketplace vs. traditional approaches. Traditional involved finding a contractor – a marketplace model can do a disservice to homeowner, not trying to solve the problem downstream but instead solving a matchmaking need; with the model aggregating demand and selling leads to professionals, creating a competitive environment bad for service people and with the homeowner getting less info. How Bolster is different, overcoming the usual Illusion of choice in marketplace. Consumers get direct matches, better than just a marketplace. How Bolster knows what a homeowner wants from an architect or contractor, allowing the homeowner to identify online and auto select in a qualification process, discovering things they need to know about their project, then jumping on a detailed call with specialist. How Bolster offers a wide range of opportunities and types of jobs and contractors. The opportunity to cater to several types of needs: flexibility of scope of work and budget, with others on a fixed budget but flexible on scope, and then those with strict scope of work but a more flexible budget. And, how it all comes down to educating the consumer.

Cost overruns, reality shows, and saving real money

Examining the average cost overrun of 60% in NYC, which is usually not planned for. How one can probe in advance, slowing down before construction begins, getting the right info. How, if done properly, constructions can be very plug and play, and how with Bolster across projects they boast a mere 0.1 % cost overrun, which Bolster absorbs. How most consumers can’t enjoy results emulating construction-themed TV reality shows, and how Bolster can save the average homeowner $59k/project as well as time.

Yorkie Bars, a price guarantee, and scaling nationally

A special snack offering of Yorkie Bars, how Patterson started as a carpenter, and has a mathematics degree. Direct/indirect costs of builds, and a detailed review of all of the elements of the construction process and budget. The importance and desire for transparency and Bolster’s cost guarantee, thanks to their insurance partners. How Bolster offers what can be seen as a full-stack experience, and the offer of a best price guarantee. The plan for scaling nationwide, news of recent major acquisition, and following a calling to solve this problem by building this business.