Real estate startup offers 'Zocial' platform, buyer rebates

Brokerage profile: ZonicRealty.com Inc.

Editor's note: The following is a real estate tech company profile.

Before forming ZonicRealty.com Inc., founder and CEO Eric Eckardt served as founder and president of Empire Home Realty Inc., a brokerage based in Sarasota Springs, N.Y. That company was acquired in 2009 by Hunt Real Estate ERA, where Eckardt served as general manager and partner until November 2011.

The following is a Q-and-A with Eckardt:

Q: What idea launched the company?

A: After selling my independent brokerage firm, which I founded in 2004 to a nationally ranked Realogy brand in 2009, and then managing that "traditional" model over two years, my thoughts were validated that our industry is going through a necessary correction.

Specifically, social media technology has redefined our industry, while consumer behavior has changed (and) traditional firms were trying to justify their relevance.

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Company name: ZonicRealty.com Inc.
Website: www.zonicrealty.com
Email: info@zonicrealty.com
Launch: Jan. 1, 2012
Founder: Eric Eckardt
Headquarters: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Number of sales associates: 20
Number of offices: 0

Therefore, I wanted to launch a brokerage, ZonicRealty, that would leverage every medium while ... utilizing an online platform and an "in-house" social platform, Zocial.

This, combined with assembling a strong leadership team with proven business development experience, allowed me to finally launch ZonicRealty.com with an aggressive growth strategy to scale quickly and disrupt traditional markets.

"Zonic" was chosen because we believed it was "futuristic" and resembled technology, versus a typical name like John Doe Brokerage.

ZonicRealty.com screen shot.

Q: What are the major products and services offered by your company, and the cost of these products and services?

A: (ZonicRealty offers) real estate brokerage services, providing significant cost savings per transaction through buyer rebates and a lower commission structure for homebuyers and sellers, respectively.

The commission rebate is for buyers, where we rebate 20 percent back to the buyer at closing. (Sellers) can list (for) as low as 4 percent (commission) while still receiving maximum exposure and professional service. 

Q: What is the company's core business model?

A: Our core business model is a residential, consumer-centric real estate brokerage utilizing an online platform that leverages social medial and technology. Our business model generates revenue (gross commission income) through buyer and seller representation.

We offer buyer rebates to consumers to qualify and save thousands on the sell side while offering them a wealth of services, including an aggressive online marketing campaign for each respective home. Our sources of revenue will be through ancillary partnerships, although our primary source of cash flow is gross commission income.

Q: What makes the company's product and service offerings unique?

A: ZonicRealty.com's product and service offering is unique due to the following attributes:

  • Social platform, Zocial (derived from the word "social" and "zonic," hence "Zocial"): inspiring collaboration between all market participants (and) links to Facebook. We are steering our ... homeowners to post about their home, neighborhood, schools, etc., from their perspective -- encouraging collaboration and market insight.
  • Buyer rebate: offering the opportunity to earn 20 percent back at closing with no diluted requirements (such as a minimum commission) or fine print.
  • List online: Sellers can list online through our website, creating efficiency and minimizing a traditional role in the process.
  • 3-D virtual environment: Through our intranet site, ZonicCloud, our agents can collaborate through (an online virtual) environment across all markets.
  • Leadership: Proven real estate professionals that have business development experience at the executive level.
  • Paperless transactions: Our agents can manage their business (and) deals in the "cloud" through our platform.
  • Scale: In seven weeks, we (were) in three separate markets in Long Island, Syracuse and the Greater Albany Capital Region in New York state, with Florida pending in the Tampa-Sarasota region. (In) other markets we have secured partner agents in advance of our formal launch(es).
  • Disruptive: We are targeting "traditional markets," providing consumers with a viable option.

Q: As the founder, what is your background?

A: I started my career on Wall Street in investment banking, where I worked for more than eight years, providing senior bank financing for acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and general working capital needs for Fortune 500 and middle-market companies.

After departing investment banking in 2004, I launched an independent real estate and mortgage company that I ultimately merged into a joint venture with one of the leading real estate firms in the country in 2009.

I stayed with this company (Hunt Real Estate ERA) as the general manager and partner for our region in New York state growing revenue by more than 400 percent in less than two years by executing organic and acquisition initiatives. (I) departed ... this traditional firm in November 2011 to launch ZonicRealty.com.

I've also been involved in several other startups since 2004, including a crowd-funding platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Q: What is the amount of outside funding received to date?

A: ZonicRealty.com is self-funded, although (I) had preliminary exploratory conversations with (a) venture capitalist and angel investor regarding an equity injection to accelerate our growth initiatives. As the sole shareholder, I'm on the fence with regard to diluting my equity position with a (venture capital firm), unless it is a strong strategic partner.

Q: Is the company profitable now? If not, when is it projected to reach profitability?

A: No, although our break-even will be within the second quarter of operations, given our pipeline of business and low cost structure (no brick and mortar).

Q: What are the company's growth plans for the current calendar year?

A: Outside of penetrating several markets in New York state, which we already did within two months in Syracuse, Albany and Long Island, we are launching in Florida and several other states.

Q: Which technology trends and market trends is the company watching most closely?

Outside of specific technology, we are focused on consumer behavior.

Q: What new products, product features and services is the company investing in most heavily?

Social media and technology.

Q: Any upcoming releases/developments?

A: ZonicRealty Inc. is launching in Florida around April 1, pending application status, in addition to other markets outside of New York state. Again, we are currently conducting business in Syracuse, Long Island and the Greater Albany Capital Region in New York state, with teams in place carrying our flag, ZonicRealty.com.


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