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01 Jan 2017

Doing It My Way, and Loving It

I started this thing (QuantumListing) my way, and that's how I'm doing it. I didn't quit my "day job." I'm still running Perlmutter Properties and still making commercial real estate deals. In fact, I...

sinatraI started this thing (QuantumListing) my way, and that's how I'm doing it. I didn't quit my "day job." I'm still running Perlmutter Properties and still making commercial real estate deals. In fact, I'm looking at expanding that business. I'm pretty sure that the tech start up rule book says you're supposed to quit your job and devote yourself entirely to your start up. Sorry, no plans to do that at this point.
I don't have a technical partner. In fact, I don't have any partner. I'm pretty sure that the rule book says you are supposed to have a technical partner. I do have a fantastic independent contractor team that I've been working with for almost two years. I've never met the head of the team, Lao Hu, face to face. When we started working together, he lived in China. Now, he is headquartered in Bulgaria. It would be fun to go to Sofia and meet him, or have him come over here, but no plans for either at present.
How about funding? So far, I've been funding this venture myself.  I read recently in an article that corporate real estate tech funding peaked in 2014 at almost $275,000,000. This year's projection is $68,000,000, quite a drop off. That's nothing to sneeze at, not even during hay fever season. There are a lot of smart people investing in other smart people's deals. I think that's great. I hope that the folks getting the money are treating it with the utmost level of fiduciary responsibility. I hope that they are getting the most out of every dollar, and make it all back with interest. Maybe I'll do that one day, but for now, I'm content to squeeze all the value out of every dollar I'm putting into my venture.
So, how am I doing it? Time I might have spent reading the New York Times or surfing the internet in the morning while I drink my coffee is instead spent reading articles and blogs by people who have gotten a head start on real estate tech ventures. Or, I'm planning that week's email campaign. Or, I'm learning how to create banner advertising. Or, I'm writing a blog post. Or, I'm working on creating a social media presence. Am I out of my comfort zone, am I doing things I've never done before? Yeah, but that's what makes this so exciting. It reminds me of what it was like to start out in commercial real estate in 1986.
Between now and the end of October, I'm going to three different real estate tech events, starting with iGlobal Forum's Tech Reboot 3.0 on October 13th, followed by The Intersect by CRE//Tech on October 22 (gotta leave early for a family party, though), and then doing a 45 second pitch and exhibiting at Disrupt/CRE in Boston on October 29th. Excited, nervous, PUMPED!
What's my pitch? Still working on it, but something like: QuantumListing is a crowd-sourced commercial real estate listing service. We've started as an iOS app, and will be rolling out an Android version and web portal as well. As a broker, I've not been satisfied with the ease of use and expense of the existing options. QuantumListing is designed to take advantage of the things you already have: a highly capable smart phone and listing photos and PDFs. Basic members can search all of the listings, and Premium Members can post an unlimited number of listings. And, since we're rolling out on a shoe string budget, we can deliver our product at an exceptional price. While we're ramping up our user and listing base, we'll give early adopters a full year of free Premium Membership.
Are there things we want to do to improve QuantumListing? Sure! You don't spend as much time with something like this without being acutely aware of how you want to keep on making it better. Some of it is do-able now, some of it will evolve with emerging technologies (3D, baby, yeah!). In the meantime, I think we've provided a really good user experience and an easy to learn interface. And I try to listen to criticism with an open mind.
Our primary challenge now is acquiring new users and getting them to input their listings. Getting people to change their habits and try something new will take time. But, time is something we've got. When I took my broker's licensing class at the NYU Real Estate Institute (since rechristened as Schack Institute of Real Estate) back in the 1980's, one of the instructor's favorite maxims was that our time was our stock in trade. Well, now QuantumListing is our stock in trade, and time and effort is what it is going to take to reach our goal. How do I feel? Excited, nervous, PUMPED!
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