The following is the script I used for our webinar, The QuantumListing Story, that we conducted on July 24th, 2019. As we approach the fourth anniversary of our launch, we wanted to take a look back at why we started on this journey, where we are today, and some of the plans for the future.
Today’s webinar came about because our customer success advocate, Julia, and I both read Amanda Bowen from ATYPICAL’s post about telling your brand’s story, and both of us had a really positive reaction to it and thought as we approach the anniversary of QuantumListing’s fourth year, it would be a great opportunity to have a look back at why and how QuantumListing came into being, where QuantumListing is today, and what is on the horizon.
But before we get to the journey, I want to make sure that those watching the video replay get a good understanding of what QuantumListing is today. Happily, almost everyone who clicks in to participate in our webinars stays with us all the way through. But when we recently did an analysis of the average viewing time of the replay of webinars, it is about 10 minutes before they move on. So, for those of you watching this on the elliptical at the gym or listening on your commute to work, here are some bullet points that distill the essence of QuantumListing:
Now, on with the show! Let’s go back 57 years (someone told me it was my Heinz birthday).
I was born in Newark, NJ in 1962, graduated from the Pingry School in 1980, and Brown University in 1984, where I concentrated in Economics and Comparative Literature. My parents are Milton and Harriet Perlmutter. All my grandparents emigrated from Ukraine in the early 20th century. If you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof, that was more or less my grandparents’ story. My fathers’ parents were Zionists and first went to what was then Palestine before moving to Newark. If you have read Philip Roth’s novels, then you know all about where my mom and dad grew up in Newark’s Weequahic section. My mom’s father had a butter and egg delivery business, her mom a children’s clothing store, and my dad’s father had a grocery store.
My dad served in the army as a military policeman during the occupation of Germany following World War II. Thanks to the GI Bill, he was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. After a brief stint working for Colgate Palmolive with a sales route in upstate New York, he returned to Newark to help my grandfather in his store. My father was bright and ambitious, and got my grandfather to agree to open a new store in partnership with a couple of other grocers. It was bigger and better than anything that they could have done on their own. A&P was the only big supermarket chain in those days, and they had buying power that could not be matched by smaller companies. So, a bunch of grocers, including my dad and grandfather got together and formed a co-op, called WakeFern, which operated stores under the ShopRite banner.
My father’s Wharton education was not wasted, and his company leveraged the public debt markets and ultimately went public. Their company was growing rapidly and they split off from Wakefern in 1968 and started operating as Pathmark. There were a lot of reasons why they did this, but the one that sticks in my mind is their desire to give their customers great value. As an example, in those days, you might be able to get three cans of tuna for 99 cents, but if you only wanted one can, you had to pay 40 cents. My dad wanted his customers to be able to buy one can for 33 cents. That concept of value is part of my business DNA.
Another important lesson I learned from my dad at an early age was that it was much more cost effective to keep a customer than to try to get a new one. If a customer brought something back to the store, they’d give you a refund or replacement, no questions asked. There were no online social networks in those days, but an unhappy customer is sure to tell their friends about a bad experience, as would a happy and satisfied customer about a good experience.
The reason I mention these things is that they were formative experiences for me, and consciously and subconsciously inform my thought processes, decision making and the respect that I have for our customers and visitors.
The following are excerpts from the first press release we issued, on the launching of the QuantumListing app:
White Plains, NY - (August 5, 2015) Jeomark, LLC announced the launch of QuantumListing, its crowdsourced commercial real estate listing app for iOS. The app employs a "freemium" model, so downloading it is free, as is Basic Membership. Premium Membership, available at low introductory rates, activates advanced features, and is available on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
With Basic Membership, users can browse and search listings, and contact listing members via phone or e mail with the tap of a button. Premium Members enjoy all the features of Basic Membership plus they can post listings and share them via social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as email and text them.
Jeomark's principal, David Perlmutter, said of QuantumListing's genesis, "This app resulted from a need I perceived in the real estate market - access to listings when I'm out on the road - and sufficient technological evolution to satisfy that need in a cost effective manner. When I started as a real estate salesperson in the mid 1980's, the fax machine was an expensive novelty, which then evolved into an inexpensive commodity. I was the first person at the place I worked to use a personal computer. I've run an independent real estate brokerage company since 1989 and have always used new technologies to be competitive and offer services locally on a par with the large national companies. As a result of the consolidation in the real estate information sector, information service pricing is spiraling out of control. As a result of the high prices, those companies often seem more like acerbic partners than service providers. They are rich data sources, but too often, most of that information is not required on a day to day basis, and to use their mobile solutions, users have to pay an even higher premium. Our goal is to provide the information people really need, where they need it, at an extremely cost-effective price. Today's smartphone and cloud technology gives agents and owners the perfect tools to accomplish this goal."
It’s a lot of fun for me to look back at some of the other early blog posts. It brings back memories of the early struggles to get the software right, and to get it in front of people, get them to use it, and give me feedback on how to make it better.
One of the lessons I learned early on was captured in a blog post titled, The Second Half of the Battle Will Be Much Longer Than the First. It starts:
Coming up with the idea for a CRE app, and executing it is only half the battle. Once your app is available, spreading the word and convincing people to adopt your app is a gargantuan task. It takes a combination of email, social media, word of mouth, real estate and tech conference attending, publicity and print advertising to let people know your app exists and is worthwhile. You have to give yourself a couple of years to become an overnight success!
I think I was being optimistic on the “couple of years.” We’re four years into this now.
A few months into this journey, I published a blog post, 10 Things I’ve Learned. Rereading it after almost 4 years, I have to say I was a quick study and most of the things are pretty much true. I am going to share it with you now, with a few editorial comments:
Here’s part of the pitch I gave at Mariel Ebrahimi’s Disrupt CRE in Boston that was mentioned previously. My late brother Frank was nice enough to help me hone my pitch and joined me at the conference to lend his support. By the way, Julia, our customer success advocate is Frank’s daughter.
“Are you tired of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for real estate information? Hi, I'm David Perlmutter, and I've owned and operated an independent commercial real estate brokerage for over 25 years, and I wanted a better, more cost-effective mobile solution for searching, posting and sharing commercial real estate listings.
The result is the QuantumListing app, which harnesses the power of your smartphone so you can search, post and share listings from anywhere. You use your existing PDFs or photos as the centerpiece of your listing. Just add a few additional property details (title, location, asset class, for lease/sale) and you're done! It's available now for iOS and is coming soon for Android. Anyone can download it and search listings for free, anywhere in the country. The listings are crowd-sourced by owners and agents, which requires a Premium membership.”
Hopefully you now have a good sense of who I am and why I felt compelled to start QuantumListing. About eight months or so after we launched the app, we unveiled the first version of the QuantumListing website. As much as people love their phones for just about everything, they don’t necessarily enjoy it as a data entry device. The website also makes your listings available to those who don’t have the app and permits us to expand the array of features available to our users which we’ve done pretty consistently. We added things like the ability to add private notes to listings, our networks and groups, as well as peer to peer and group chat. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to access the information you need and give you options so you can find information in a way that suits your style.
As we move forward to the present, I have to say that I really enjoyed going through the almost 400 blog posts that are on the QuantumListing blog. At first, I wrote all of them, then my son Ben wrote a lot, and now Julia and Andres from the team are becoming regular contributors as well. I am proud of the evolution of our blog. We keep trying new ideas. We’ve done polls and surveys, featured listings and markets, started the Quantum Lister series that highlights individual members, done recaps of our Let’s Get Smart speaker series, summarized webinars where we’ve had guests talking about the major pain points that are shared by CRE professionals, including marketing, social media, lead generation, networking and even workplace bullying. We also like to write about our new features.
We’ll be conducting a webinar in a couple of weeks on August 7th about our newest features, but I would like to spend a few minutes talking about them. Some of them are already live on the site.
In May, we added a Lead Capture service. For an additional $10 a month, you can pick a town or city for which you’ll receive leads generated from our landing page. You can find more information on Lead Capture in our How It Works section and in our blog post, A Missed Lead Is a Lost Opportunity.
We just added an email blast feature, but it is quite different than most on other listing services. I have long resisted sending out individual listing emails through QuantumListing, even though it is a sure source of revenue. Why? Every day in my brokerage business, I get hundreds of listing emails from all over the country. My brokerage work is focused primarily in the New York suburbs, so a listing in Paducah is not particularly relevant to me. So, instead of taking a shotgun approach, we’re letting you send your listings to your targeted email list, one that you send via a fast and easy process which lets you upload an XLS file of the addresses to which you want it sent. We’re not copying those lists and then using them for our own purposes. We don’t need to. You’re bringing people to QuantumListing to see the property you are marketing, and if they like it, hopefully they’ll sign up on their own. You can ead more about our email blast feature in the How It Works section and in our recent blog post, It’s a Blast Blast Blast.
On August 7th, we’ll be conducting a webinar on our new suite of paid on demand advertising services. You’ve always wanted a bespoke suit or pair of shoes, and now you’ll be able to afford it with the deals you’ll be generating with these a la carte advertising options. With Promoted Listings, you’ll be able to make sure your listings show up at the top of relevant searches. Brand promotion will keep your pipeline full by adding your custom ad promoting your company or personal brand at the top of searches in the market you choose. The other on demand advertising option is really exciting. With just a few clicks, you’ll be able to advertise your listings on our Google advertising network. I’ve been testing this, and my listings are getting more views than ever before.
I know you are going to like these features because they put you in control of which listings you want to promote and how much you want to spend. On demand is the way of the world now, whether it is through transportation, meal delivery, entertainment, or advertising your listings and your brand. You’ll be ready, willing and able to kick that one size fits all CRE information service to the curb once you give it a try.
Thank you so much for your time today. I also want to thank my team members, Andres and Julia for their help in preparing for today, my tech team at RexSoft and the SEO team, and all the countless people that have helped me on this amazing journey. At the risk of omitting some, thanks to Linda Day Harrison, Andrew Bermudez, all the folks at the News Funnel, especially Sarah Malcolm, Michael Beckerman, Amanda Bowen, Lauren Leal, Howard Kline, Lao Hu aka Louis Clark, the team at Buildout, including Ewa, Alan, Sonni and Vishu, Brendan Hotchkiss over at Leavitt Digital, Tim Milazzo at StackSource, Andreas Senie at CRE Collaborative, Duke Long, Travis Barrington and Franco Faraudo at PropModo, all the wonderful people who I’ve met at various trade shows, our recent webinar guests including George Kruse, Melissa Alexander, and Casey Flannery, all of you who participate during our webinars, and of course, all of the members of QuantumListing. Thank you to Rick Recckio and his team for all their help testing our new features. And thanks to Barry Endelson for his feedback and support as well. I especially want to thank my wife Sara, and my kids, Ben, Clara, Billy and Laura for their unwavering support. Apologies to anyone I’ve unintentionally omitted. This continues to be an exciting journey, and it is incredibly rewarding to have so many in my corner. Every day I feel like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.