Art Carter doesn’t think the problems we face in real estate are that different from what other industries are facing or have been facing. That’s the central premise of CMLS 2014, the premier MLS industry event being held in Huntington Beach, California next week.
To prove his point Art (current President of CMLS) has gathered speakers from all over, including Zappos, Yelp, USC, and salesforce.com (just to name a few). This is a big change for a CMLS conference and I think will be a big hit with attendees. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing on the agenda for industry specific topics, but I think the central theme here is still geared toward outside perspectives.
But lets face it, CMLS is about people. It’s about community. It’s about lobby bars and great conversation. The real estate market is back, some of us made it through the valley, some of us didn’t. It’s been a tough time and I hope that we’ve learned a lot through those tough years. From what I hear CMLS 2014 will be the largest attended CMLS conference in history. Maybe its the location, the market, whatever, but we are back baby, stronger than ever.
To me this CMLS conference represents the first time the industry has turned corner on Zillow and Trulia. Its become boring to me to focus so much energy on whether or not these companies are good or bad for the industry. They are just another vendor, and they will be measured by their actions, not conspiracy theories. I hope we have finally gotten over it.
The Realty Alliance
Last year’s conference ended with Craig Cheatham, president and CEO, of The Realty Alliance proclaiming “you have 10 days!”, which expressed the large broker community feelings of unhappiness with the MLS industry. And lets face it, no matter how much back pedaling was done later, it was a threat. This caused a lot of MLS execs to retreat to hallways after the session to call on TRA members (many who served on their boards), to ask the question, “Are we cool?”
So, CMLS 2014 ends with the session aptly titled, “The Realty Alliance – One Year Later”. So it seems the tables are turned, so let me make the statement: “Realty Alliance, you’ve got 8 days.” Was it all just bluster? Are you upstream without a paddle? I can’t wait to see what ought to be a spectacular tap dance.
So CMLS 2014 seems to have it all. The sun, the sand, the surf, good friends and Mr. Bojangles.
I can’t wait!
Recently we (W&R Studios) made Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. Dan and I first made the list with our software company IRIS, LLC. We, along with our partners Edward Ureno and Maggie Etheridge, were listed #193. The year was 2000 and we had just sold our company to HomeSeekers.com (but that’s another story). It was also special because Inc. Magazine featured us in the actual Inc. 500 issue. They wrote an article about our story, and sent out a photographer to take pictures of us. it was very cool. They apparently were fascinated that we were all equal partners and didn’t have a CEO.
After we left HomeSeekers.com, Dan and I joined Stu Siegel, Dave and Jerry Meyer, at eNeighborhoods. eNeighborhoods had a great team they were re-building after selling, and then later getting back, the company they had sold to HomeStore (but that’s another story). We also brought a lot of our crew over from IRIS. At the time they provided neighborhood reports for agents to hand to their customers. We had the simple idea of adding MLS data and expanding the reports to include CMAs and such. We figured in doing so we could raise the price as well. Stu was the first to really understand the power of subscription based software sales. eNeighborhoods was doing this pre-internet. Instead of updates via the net they would mail CDs with new data each month. Long story short, we executed and sales just took off. eNeighborhoods made the list at #84. Along the way Dan and I learned a lot from Stu, Dave and Jerry.
eNeighborhoods was sold to Dominion Enterprises, who also had bought, Advanced Access, and Homes.com in 2007. Great timing it turned out (but that’s another story). Dan and I started another company, W&R Studios, our first product was called Dwellicious. Dan wanted to scratch his own itch. He thought that social bookmarking and real estate was a perfect match. We got a lot of publicity on the major sites like Mashable and TechCrunch and were on our way. But the agents didn’t understand what social book marketing was and a clear revenue model wasn’t apparent. We later sold Dwellicious to a company in Chicago called, VHT, Inc. I thought some of the features from Dwellicious would be a great fit for an online CMA. Dan agreed and we began working on what we would later call Cloud CMA. I started blogging about our experience building Cloud CMA and in late 2009 Lauren Hansen from IRES, LLC, an MLS provider in Boulder Colorado, said she was interested in a site license of Cloud CMA (and we still hadn’t launched it yet). I never forget when Lauren asked if it was okay to pre-pay for the first year of the site license. As a young self-funded start up is was music to my ears.
In February of 2010 we launched Cloud CMA. Now we have over 110,000 active customers who have created over 2 million reports.
Earlier this month Inc. Magazine notified us that we were #644 on their Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. Although we didn’t break the 500 mark (damn!) we are still very honored.
Dan Woolley and I first started to work together in 1992. We are both very lucky to love what we do. From our first real estate software product, Lightning (which were sold on 5 1/4 floppy diskettes) to our latest, Cloud Streams. And we know that none of our success could ever happen without the support and friendship of hundreds of people, many of which reads this blog.
Thanks for making this happen.
My thanks for Reesio for sponsoring this month of Vendor Alley. I’ve written about Reesio’s CEO, Mark Thomas, in the past. These guys are seriously tenacious. Reesio aims to be “one stop shop” as a “CRM plus Transaction for the modern real estate professional”.
A recent post on Inman News put it this way.
“Reesio’s new CRM allows agents and brokers to upload their complete contact address book; create leads manually; forward emailed leads from other systems such as Zillow to Reesio to automatically create a lead; set up the processes, milestones, tasks, and rules that they want to repeat for each lead; and see lead details such as status and tasks to be completed. Brokers can assign tasks to different agents and monitor their performance in terms of conversion and time to close.”
I’m impressed with the software, they are solving a real problem. I’m usually not a big fan of “all-in-one” solutions but merging CRM and transaction management seems to be a no-brainer. And Reesio has done fantastic job of making all this easy enough for most agents.
Reesio is a sponsor of CMLS 2014 and will be exhibiting in Disruptor Alley, so go by and check it out and say hello to their team.
If you are going to arrive early for CMLS 2014 join Dan, myself and the rest of the W&R Studios gang for an Open House at the W&R Studios World Headquarters!
Tuesday night 9/23/2014
6PM to ??
123 Main Street, Suite 201
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
It’s about a 10 minute walk from the Hyatt. Or take a hotel shuttle to Main Street.
Booze, food, swag, vinyl records and a professional ukelele player? What more could you ask for?
If you’re interested please click here to register.
And don’t worry, you have my permission to GO BIG on the first night!
Inman News reports that Barbara O’Connor, MOVE, Inc.’s Chief Marketing Officer, is leaving for “family reasons”.
I also heard news that Beverly Thorne, Century 21’s Chief Marketing Officer, is no longer with Century 21.
I’ve written about decreasing the “friction” of customers signing up for your products and services. My company still does a lot of transactions at live events (demos and trade shows). I found its much better to close deals at the event and not rely on them signing up when they get home.
To do this we still have to rely on paper order forms.
This is due to mostly crowd control issues. If a single presenter is doing a Cloud Streams demonstration to 40 people in a room there is no easy way for those attendees to sign up for the service asynchronously other than a paper order form.
I see more and more REALTORS coming to events with their digital devices, but filling out an online form by taping on a screen (whether an tablet or iPhone) is still a cumbersome process.
Yesterday Apple announced a brand new service called Apple Pay. They are also releasing an API for developers. With this service you can order online product with the Touch ID button on your iPhone. No forms to fill out, and a receipt is emailed you automatically.
Imagine the scenario at a presentation where after your demo you direct an attendee to a website address and have them click a choice of Monthly or Yearly Plan and then use Touch ID to sign up. That’s it. Boom.
I get goosebumps thinking about it.
1. VP MPH. Nothing will help your product pitch better than working a busy booth. You quickly learn what features/benefits are a hit or miss with the agents. This is invaluable especially when launching a new product like our Cloud Streams. Reactions I get here will also overflow to our website landing pages and marketing materials.
2. More vendors, more better. The MLS/Associations/Organizations that put together a good trade show gather together relevant vendors. Stephanie Hill has done a great job here of bringing together some top industry vendors and the agents can tell.
3. Agents are buying.
4. Agents will take anything that is not nailed down to your table. It’s like some sort of twisted Halloween. “Excuse me Ma’am, but those are my car keys you putting in your bag.” Sheeesh!
5. I still get a rush every time I make a sale. There is something about the face to face, overcoming objections, banter, back and forth, asking for the order and getting it, that I will always love.