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How to decide which company at Startup Alley is right for you

Options for your business, whether you want to maximize profit or increase revenue

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Take a deep real estate technology dive, Aug 7, 2017

This year’s Startup Alley at Inman Connect New York features tons of interesting technologies; however, no product or service is right for every agent. How can you determine what’s best for your business?

In part one of this two-part series, we went over the principles that guide all smart business decisions that require investment of your time and/or money.

Now we’re going to apply these principles to the opportunities and products at this year’s ICNY tech showcase.

Are you registered for ICNY yet?

The goal is to provide you with the tools to make a decision about these products and services with no regrets — and therefore navigate the conference offerings with ease.

Disclosure before we begin: I own one of the companies on this list, Parkbench.com.

Buddy Agent

buddy agent app

What is it?

  • Social and referral networking tool for agents within a brokerage
  • Gamification and analytics tool for the broker

Main benefit

  • Get leads and referrals from other agents
  • Give leads and referrals more quickly and easily
  • Review analytics about the performance of your brokerage

Constraint

  • Adoption. If not a lot of agents are using it, it won’t work as well.

Personality fit

  • If you’re social and have your own active network of Realtors to whom you refer business (perhaps on your phone), you might not need this.
  • If you don’t have such a network, this could be worth a look.

Skill fit

  • If you’re a slow smartphone user, calling and texting may be sufficient for you.
  • For brokers, if you are already trying to run contests and create games, this might help you increase your performance. If not, this might be a new habit in which adoption will be hard.

Marketing strategy

  • For Realtors who want more revenue, this is a great free addition to your plan. The downside is that you have no control over the number of leads and deals it will bring you.
  • For Realtors who have too many leads already and are trying to cut down to improve their work-life balance, if it’s a time-saver to use Buddy Agent to corral your leads and referrals, and you make the same amount or more money, consider switching your lead-giving methods.
  • Teams probably don’t need an app like this one.

Business fit

  • This app can help Realtors who want to increase revenue or lifestyle. Although they mention “increase profit” on their website, this solution doesn’t affect profit levers.
  • For brokers, if you want to increase your revenue, then take a look.

Homeview

What is it?

  • Data organization tool for homeowners, builders and agents. Just like you have a CRM for contacts, you can now have Homeview for home
    HomeView

    HomeView

    information!

Main benefit

  • If you want to take more notes about a home, and you do not have a good system for that, then this works!

Personality fit

  • If you’re not an organized person, this tool might hurt your brain. If you are, you might fall in love.

Skill fit

  • If you’re slow on mobile, iPads and desktop, then this will be too much of a time sink.

Marketing fit

  • If you want your brand to exude intelligence, precision, detail, then this app might be worth looking at.

Business fit

  • You can argue that having this app can increase your revenue or profit — keep in mind that if you scale your business and get more deals, you will have more work to do on this app.

Bank Shot

Bank Shot app

Bank Shot app

What is it?

  • App that allows agents to take photos of checks to get them approved by their broker, instead of having to drive to the office.

Main benefit

  • Save (driving) time and get the deal done faster!

Personality fit

  • This is like DocuSign for money deposits. It will start with tech-savvy individuals, and eventually everyone will jump ship to some digital service like this.

Skill fit

  • If you can take photos, you can use this.

Marketing fit

  • If you want your brand to appear modern and tech-savvy, look at this.
  • Very generic, serve-all service, no matter how you do your marketing.

Business fit

  • This app can help you increase your profit and lifestyle.
  • If your revenue is truly stunted by your capacity to serve more clients, then this will also increase your revenue.

HowLoud

howloud homepage

What is it?

  • Digital data analytics service that gives a score for how loud an area is — like WalkScore for area loudness.

Main benefit

  • More data and insight for buyers and sellers to help make better decisions

Personality fit

  • Analytical people will fall in love with this data. Everyone else will just add it for the sake of adding it — it’s free (for now).

Skill fit

  • You or your webmaster need to be able to install this — it’s just a one-time thing though.

Marketing fit

  • No matter who, what or where you focus your business, this data is useful.

Business fit

  • Marginal effects on revenue and profit.

Immoviewer

What is it?

Main benefit

  • Save time and money, and create convenience for everyone by going virtual and 3-D with your open houses.

immoviewer

Personality fit

  • Even if you love meeting people in the flesh at open houses, going virtual and 3-D will open your business up to a wider audience.
  • If you’re analytical or a driver, you’re going to love this service. The only question is if you want to DIY or pay a premium to get others to do it for you (like Matterport).

Skill fit

  • If you’re good at photography and videography, this will be easy. If you’re slow on mobile, then you might want to get someone to do this for you.

Marketing fit

  • For seller-focused agents who want to be tech-savvy and modern.

Business Fit

  • At first, Immoviewer will help you increase your revenue, and long-term, as more buyers start viewing 3-D VR, you will save time and money, and therefore profit more.

KoaWare

koaware

What is it?

  • Build custom websites for the home you’re selling, easily.

Main benefit

  • Your clients are happy because you quickly created a beautiful website for their home.

Personality fit

  • If you’re not tech-savvy, this will be a time or money sink.

Skill fit

  • If you like website design, photography, videography, and you serve higher-end homes and properties, this might become a standard tool for you.

Marketing fit

  • If your client’s home is not in the luxury market, this might not be up your alley (pun intended) — if it is, Koaware might be a must!

Business fit

  • If you want to close more listing presentations in the luxury market, this tool might help increase revenue. It’s not likely to increase profit.

OpCity

opcity

What is it?

  • Lead generation service for agents and brokers

Main benefit

  • No upfront fees for the lead. You only pay when it closes.

Personality fit

  • If you don’t mind “just being an agent” to get deals through leads, then why not try this new service out?

Skill fit

  • If you know how handle leads (i.e., call within two minutes, at any time of day), then you can use this.

Marketing fit

  • If you want more deals, and don’t care much about the niche or type of business, this is good.

Business goals

  • If you want to increase revenue, this is good.

Parkbench.com

Full Disclosure: I own this company :)

What is it?

  • A marketing system that comes with a tool (a Parkbench Neighborhood Website that is built and managed for you) and coaching to help with execution.

parkbench

Personality fit

  • Expressive types who like talking to people and learning about their stories will probably enjoy this product.
  • Parkbench is not a fit for people who like to be behind a computer or keep to themselves.

Skill fit

  • You need to be able to talk, listen, write, take pictures — and if you want, you can interview people and businesses in your community via video.

Marketing fit:

  • Parkbench.com is for relationship and referral-based Realtors who want to build their brand and business in a specific geographic area: neighborhood, ZIP code, small town, rural county.

Business goals:

  • In the first couple of years, this marketing strategy is for Realtors who need to increase revenue and are not afraid of working hard.
  • Long-term, this marketing strategy is for Realtors who want to profit more and work less once they reach their desired income level — but this is delayed gratification.

Preclose

Preclose file

Preclose file

What is it?

  • Automation software

Main benefit

  • Save time during the “pre-close” stage of a deal.

Personality fit

  • Analytical people and A-types will likely love this new technology.

Skill fit

  • You need to like using new technology. It will take some getting used to.
  • If you have a transaction coordinator, get them to take a look and see the impact it will have on them.

Marketing fit

  • If you want to appear more organized and tech-savvy, then take a look at this.

Business fit

  • If you want to increase profit and efficiencies, this could be a fit for you.

RealMailers

What is it?

  • Complete direct mail marketing service

Main benefit

  • Save time creating and sending direct mail, and be smarter with your direct mail targeting.

realmailers_listbuilder

Personality fit

  • Expressive socialites likely don’t like doing direct mail.
  • Analytical people will like their technology, and drivers won’t mind paying a premium for convenience.

Skill fit

  • You need to like and be good at designing and creating print marketing campaigns.

Marketing fit

  • For Realtors who do or want to focus in a specific geographic area

Business goals

  • If you want to increase revenue, this can work.
  • If you want to increase profit, this might not be for you.

Relola

relola logo

What is it?

  • Social networking portal for real estate

Main benefit

  • Agents can demonstrate their knowledge about properties (branding)
  • House hunters can view agents’ thoughts about properties, gaining knowledge on the property and knowledge about an agent.

Constraint

  • Chicken and the egg. If not a lot of agents are using it, it’s not valuable for the homeowner. If not a lot of house hunters are using it, it’s not that valuable for the agent. If it becomes the new real estate portal, amazing concept!

Personality fit

  • Expressive social types will like to blog and comment online will enjoy this.
  • Analytical types who like to write will enjoy a new outlet to demonstrate expertise.

Skill fit

  • If you like social media and are good at it, check this out.
  • If you don’t like writing, maybe pass.

Marketing fit

  • If you want to build your brand as a local real estate expert, then this tool can help.

Business goals

  • This system requires a significant investment of time upfront with lots of indirect communication. Over time, it will likely enhance your brand and generate leads and deals with a high profit. How much and how fast is the concern; however, like social media, it can work with a long-term mindset and consistent action.

TotalRER

What is it?

  • National listing service
  • Back office business management tool

Main benefit

  • MLS information, for more industries (for example, commercial) and for less money.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-10-52-35-am

Consideration

  • Data quality

Personality type

  • Everyone? I’m stumped here.

Skill fit

  • If you don’t like your MLS or want to supplement it, then take a look.

Marketing fit

  • If you are trying to do residential and commercial and agriculture, or some combination, this could be a fit.

Business goals

  • If you want to save money and focus on profit, take a look!

Closing remarks

There are many other companies at ICNY — including six more recently announced Startup Alley attendees —  so here are some high-level bullet points to remember for them:

World-class business owners want:

  1. Control. If you can’t control the outcome for any investment, it’s not good. The only exception is if you want to learn and experiment — and therefore, you are financially and mentally at peace with getting zero money back.
  2. Automation. This is a major marketing trend in 2017, and one you should jump on in every way possible.
  3. Consistency. If you can’t commit to using any tool or marketing system for at least six months, if not one to two years, then don’t do it.
  4. FUN! Because passion produces.

Trust your gut!

Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of Parkbench.com and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter @GrantFSofficial.

Email Grant Findlay-Shirras.