Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Trackxi chosen for NAR REACH program

Second Century Ventures Announces 8 Companies for 2024 REACH Scale-Up Program

“Companies accepted to the 2024 REACH program are as follows:

  • Chirpyest(link is external): a social commerce marketplace that empowers real estate professionals to earn cash back when they shop and share their curated finds.    
  • Final Offer(link is external): a consumer-facing, agent-driven negotiation platform for residential real estate, delivering clear, real-time offer alerts to all interested parties.
  • Kukun(link is external): a real estate data, analytics and applications platform for homeowners and the industries that serve them.
  • Notable(link is external): simple pay-at-close financing for everything a client needs to prep their home for sale and get the most out of it.
  • Purlin(link is external): AI tools that convert client conversations into transactions by simplifying business dealings among real estate agents and settlement service providers.
  • Scout(link is external): helping agents find and engage homeowners with AI-driven automated personalized email outreach. 
  • Trackxi(link is external): a collaborative deal and task tracker for real estate agents, teams, clients and consumers.
  • Unlock(link is external): helping consumers unlock the power of home equity without interest charges or monthly payments.”
NAR REACH

No small feat. Out of 1000+ companies considered, 100+ applications, Trackxi is among the final 8 companies chosen for this great opportunity. Congrats to Vijay and his team! Good things ahead!

Celeste Starchild promoted to President of InspectionGo

Celeste Starchild

Real Estate Industry Veteran Celeste Starchild Promoted to President of InspectionGo

“In this new role, Starchild will now lead all of iGo’s business units, excluding iGo Academy, and will oversee Marketing, B2B Sales, Human Resources, Customer Service and Onboarding. She will continue to report to iGo Co-Founder and CEO John Russell, who will direct his efforts to drive the company’s strategy and revenue. Starchild’s promotion is the next step in iGo’s evolution to support the recent growth and rapid expansion of the company.”

InspectionGo

I’ve always been a big fan of Celeste. This news made my day. Congrats!

Ready to ditch your iPhone?

Pretty cool. A different approach from apps and screens. I know some people that have ditched their iPhones to flip phones just to get away from so many distractions. When I first saw a demo I was wondering what real estate use cases could be implemented and I made the mock up below.

Trackxi

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I really enjoy the beginning phase of starting a company.  Building a team, fleshing out the idea of a product, branding, positioning, pricing, billing, go to market, etc.  Once that part is done is more of a matter of managing and optimizing (which I kind of like too).  That’s why I always enjoy talking to new vendors, hearing their ideas, and if I like the idea/founder seeing if I can match them with the right people.

That’s exactly why I’m started working as an advisor with Trackxi.  Trackxi is a deal tracker software solution for agents, teams and transaction coordinators, it also so has light CRM.  It’s more a project management solution than a “transaction manager”, it doesn’t have any MLS integration or does it incorporate forms natively.  In that way it’s a very opinionated piece of software.  Trackxi is pre-loaded with deal workflows (tracks?) that agents can share with their clients and other people involved in the deal. It has a kind of “pizza tracker” data viz element that clients can view to see what tasks have currently been completed, what tasks are in progress, and tasks that haven’t been started. Which I think will be great for buyer’s agents showing their value.

You can use Trackxi to track pretty much anything.  One client used it to plan her wedding.  I think beyond tracking deals you can make templates like “First 90 days as a real estate agent”, “Kick start your real estate business.” , etc.

Another reason I’m working with Trackxi is their co-founder Vijay Gopalswamy.  Vijay lives in Portland, Oregon and  is bootstrapping the company.  Vijay started as an agent and later a broker team leader and Trackxi was born from some of the lessons he learned with starting that team.  Vijay is a pretty humble guy and has an interesting background. I interviewed him on Listing Bits that I will share later today.

I’m actually not sure what being an “advisor” really means.  But I am having super fun working with Vijay; brainstorming messaging, positioning and company strategy.  Our hope is that these discussions and work translate to getting Trackxi available to more agents.  To find out more about Trackxi please visit their website here.

Less software?

Next week Lone Wolf Technologies will reveal its new platform at the T3 Technology Summit, and I’m super excited about it. Why? Let me tell you a story.

At W+R Studios we were bootstrapped, so we needed to grow organically. Our product strategy centered around making core features of an MLS system better.

CMAs on MLS systems suck? Let’s make a better one. Enter Cloud CMA.

MLS system’s client portals and listing alert emails are ugly. Let’s make them pretty (and easier to use). Voilà , Cloud Streams.

Searching on MLS systems too complicated? Let’s make something simple. Boom, Cloud MLX!

The problem was two fold. In order to grow we needed to add new products (more software) and at the end of the day is that we had 3 different software apps, each of them great in their own right, but they didn’t really work together. Also if you wanted all three you had to buy each one separately, and have 3 separate logins, and 3 separate onboarding scenarios, 3 different times you entered a credit card number, and 3 separate…you get the point.

We solved most of this by creating the “Cloud Agent Suite“, but really only scratched the surface of what was possible, then we were acquired in December 2020.

So this problem of “simplifying real estate” has been on the minds of our (W+R) design team for a very long time. How do we bring all of this together to create an end to end solution that makes sense, and still grow? Can “less software” be the answer?

Turns that the problem was about to get bigger. Starting in 2020 Lone Wolf acquired 5 companies in 9 months (including W+R); HomeSpotter, LionDesk, Terradatum and Propertybase. Now you had 9 (at least) separate logins, 9 separate… you get the point.

Sean Wheeler, CTO Lone Wolf
Sean Wheeler, CTO Lone Wolf

When I left Lone Wolf I was starting to see the green shoots of this work. Most of it on the backend led by Sean Wheeler, Lone Wolf’s CTO. One login, one credit card, one database of contacts for all products, etc. Jimmy Kelly, Lone Wolf’s CEO, talked about their effort and the concept of “less software” on a post on Inman News titled “Real Estate Doesn’t Need More Software“. I was also privy to see some of the earlier mock ups from the design group, which were super impressive.

Jimmy Kelly, CEO Lone Wolf
Jimmy Kelly, CEO Lone Wolf

But, like any good meal it all comes down to ingredients. Lone Wolf from my estimation has the best ingredients in the market. The products they acquired (and the teams behind them) are not only best of class but have high adoption rates and great partnerships. Now it comes down to presentation and taste. And I have full confidence in the design chops of the team behind this. I had a chance to interview, Damien Huze, who was W+R’s Chief Design Officer and now a principal designer at Lone Wolf on my Listing Bits podcast which should drop this week.

Damien Huze, Principal Designer Lone Wolf
Damien Huze, Principal Designer Lone Wolf

Am I biased? Absolutely. Am I still a fan of simple focused software applications? You betcha. But I’m a bigger fan of people. So I look forward to seeing how this particular group of talented people proves less software is better.

Mosaik, the future is now

One of the best things about publishing this blog for so long I (16 years baby!) is that a lot of early founders find me and I get to hear the ideas they are working on and see what they are building.  Sometimes they are looking for advice, or maybe an introduction.  Which I’m always happy to provide if I can.

In the past (I would say my generation) the typical real estate software vendor was a developer and maybe their spouse was a real estate agent or maybe he/she got frustrated buying or selling their home.  They had an itch to scratch.  Whether it was helping their spouse or themselves.  So they made something.  Maybe a small software program that managed  contacts (it always starts with a CRM, doesn’t it?) They bootstrapped their company.  The spouse would start using the software, maybe the broker noticed and asked if other agents in the office could use it, fast forward 3 years, and a company is born.

Nowadays typically I see young founders with funding from VC firms or other outside sources and they have ideas about some level of disruption of real estate.  Or they see the quality of some software applications and think that they can do better.  The biggest difference is the shear confidence, ambition and smarts these new generation of vendors have.   As a bonus they really have great taste in software.

Enter Sheila Reddy.  Sheila is the founder and CEO of Mosaik.  Sheila describes Mosaik as the “operating platform for agents, teams and brokerages”.  In the parlance of the broker/teams software world I would call this an “end to end platform”.  Due to this approach Mosaik really does a great job of focusing on the entire client experience.  Craig Rowe at Inman News did a really great review of the product you can read here.

Sheila came from the healthcare industry and saw a few parallels in software design/quality for the real estate industry.   She knew it could be better.  And to say Mosaik is ambitious is an understatement.  MLS data?  Yup.  Form integration.  Of course.  AI? Duh!  Client collaboration?  Absolutely. Schedule Showings? You betcha! Native mobile app? We got you!

Framing all this functionality is a beautiful and simple UI.  The biggest challenge she has is just the sheer magnitude of the feature set.  As someone who has always favored small simple “it does one thing and it does it well” type of software applications I am impressed with what she and her team has created.

The industry needs more founders like Shelia.  Their ambition, drive and optimism is just what the doctor ordered. If you are brokerage or a team you should check it out, the video on her website alone is worth the watch.

Listing Bits Episode 84: Enabling Collaboration in the Home Buying Experience – with Tom MacLeod of ZenList

In preparation for a move, Tom MacLeod and his wife were looking at properties in the Bay Area. Tom was on Redfin. His wife was on Zillow. And they were receiving listings via email from their agent.

But none of the applications talked to each other. So, Tom was making a spreadsheet when he thought, “There’s got to be a better way.”

Tom is Cofounder of Zenlist, an agent-to-client home search that enables efficient collaboration by putting everyone in the same space. 

On this episode of Listing Bits, Tom describes how @properties helped him develop Zenlist and what differentiates his app from Homespotter, RealScout and other competitors in the space.

Tom shares Zenlist’s initial growth strategy, explaining why it didn’t include targeting MLS customers and how that’s changed.

Listen in to understand how Tom’s team gets consumers to download an app and learn how Zenlist is facilitating collaboration in the homebuying experience.

What’s Discussed:  

How Tom’s experience with moving inspired him to build Zenlist

Why Tom made the decision to bootstrap Zenlist over taking venture money

How Zenlist facilitates collaboration in the homebuying experience

Tom’s experience of developing Zenlist with the help of @properties

Zenlist’s initial growth strategy and why it didn’t include targeting MLS customers

What differentiates Zenlist from Homespotter, RealScout and other competitors in the space

Tom’s ambition to serve both real estate agents and consumers

Zenlist’s mobile capabilities and how it was called into action during the Rapattoni outage

How Zenlist is overcoming the challenge of getting consumers to download an app 

How consumers benefit from using Zenlist vs. Zillow or Redfin

Connect with Tom MacLeod:

Zenlist

Email tom@zenlist.com 

Resources:

SNL Skit on Zillow

Leo Pareja at eXp

Trackxi

Our Sponsor:

Cloud CMA for Brokers

Bill Hurley presents 2,851 Miles

Do yourself a favor an watch this presentation given at the ALL-IN Summit by noted Venture Capitalist Bill Gurley. It only about 35 mins and worth the watch.

What lesson can we learn in our industry from the phrase, “regulation is the friend of the incumbent”?

Listing Bits Episode 82: Jeremy Henley of QuikFix

Dealing with things that come up during a home inspection is a challenge for all involved in a real estate transaction. 

But what if there was a way to get an accurate quote for home repairs in seconds? And then connect with licensed contractors who are available to do the work now?

Jeremy Henley is Founder and CEO at TheQwikFix, a proptech platform that leverages AI and predictive modeling to generate a quote for repairs based on the home inspection report.

On this episode of Listing Bits, Jeremy explains how his experience as a real estate investor inspired the creation of TheQwikFix and why contractors love getting work from its marketplace.

Jeremy describes who manages the process of using the platform to do home repairs, discussing how buyers can leverage TheQwikFix quote to negotiate—and then follow through on the repairs they care about after closing.

Listen in to understand why TheQwikFix doesn’t have issues with contractor availability and learn how Jeremy’s service makes life easier for contractors, buyers, sellers and real estate agents!

What’s Discussed:  

How Jeremy’s background in sales and cybersecurity led to founding a proptech startup

Jeremy’s experience as a real estate investor and how it inspired the creation of TheQwikFix

How TheQwikFix software generates a quote based on the home inspection report

Why contractors love getting work from TheQwikFix marketplace

The combination of AI and human confirmation TheQwikFix uses to generate a quote

Who manages the process of using TheQwikFix to do home repairs

Why contractors are willing to accept TheQwikFix’s binding quotes

How TheQwikFix does most of its business in SoCal but its service is available nationwide

How buyers can leverage TheQwikFix to negotiate and then complete repairs after closing

Why TheQwikFix doesn’t have issues with contractor availability

What Jeremy’s team is doing to help TheQwikFix stay top-of-mind with agents

The potential for TheQwikFix to handle ongoing home maintenance/repairs or remodels

Connect with Jeremy Henley:

TheQwikFix

Jeremy on LinkedIn

Jeremy on X

Resources:

TripIt

Expensify

1000watt

Proptech Buzz

I was catching up with Cameron Paine the other day he’s currently doing some consulting, and he told me about a new company he is advising called Proptech Buzz. The site launched only a couple weeks ago and is a free way for prop tech companies to launch their products and expose them to wider global audience. It’s social platform as well, so you can interact with real founders on the platform. Founded by Ravi Kumar, the process is pretty simple and according to Cameron it doesn’t need to be a new product.

Step 1 is you launch your product. You can include copy, screenshoots and video.
Step 2 you let as many people know about your product
Step 3 people can upvote your product and the highest voted products will see increased exposure

They have promoted over 100 products, have over 1000+ I’m told, and a few prominent VCs. Plus, there are other services than can be provided such as providing/connecting off-shore tech talent. If you looking for a free way to gain exposure for your product give them a try. I’m sure Cameron would also answer any questions you might have.

Sponsored By Giant Steps Advisors