Pete Flint co-founded real estate search company, Trulia, with Sami Inkinen in 2004 while they were studying for their MBAs at Stanford University.

Flint and Inkinen say they worked closely with real estate agents and brokers to understand their needs as well as leading computer scientists to build the service.

Flint was born in London, and has also worked for, Europe’s largest online travel service, IBM and Battery Ventures. He holds a master’s and first-class undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Oxford and an MBA from Stanford.

Flint will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 31-Aug. 3.

Here are his answers to a set of questions posed by Inman News:

What was your first job?

My first paycheck was for delivering local newspapers in the U.K., where I was born. I used to ride around on my bike to make some pocket money. If I ever managed to save anything, I’d try to buy the latest gadget.

What sparked the idea to start Trulia?

I moved to the Bay Area in 2003 and shortly after that I was looking for somewhere to live. As many people who have relocated have experienced, I had no idea about the local real estate markets, neighborhoods and the home-buying process. I first went to the Internet to find out information and was thoroughly disappointed with the online experience. After discovering that I was not alone with my frustrations, I vowed to try to solve the problem and Trulia was born!

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?

There are two major challenges we’ve faced.

One has been getting my head around the subtleties of the real estate industry. We’ve been lucky to have been able to surround ourselves with some industry veterans who have been amazingly generous with their advice. As relative newcomers to a complex industry, it’s been a steep learning curve and we’re always looking to learn from the best and the brightest.

The other has been hiring the best and smartest people we can find to join our team of Trulians! We have a very high bar for people to join us and are constantly recruiting more rock stars on the east and west coasts. Nothing is more important.

If you had one thing to do over again, what would it be?

Take more vacation before founding a company! I absolutely love my job, but as an entrepreneur who is constantly connected to the Internet, I have not managed to take as much vacation or time off as I’d like. Seems to be a familiar problem to many people I speak to, something for me to work in before the next Inman event.

What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?

I live in an apartment in the center of San Francisco. It’s a fairly modern condo with a great view. I’m a sucker for views.

What worries keep you awake at night?

Not building a world-class team to enable us to execute on our vision.

Describe your dream home.

It changes with the seasons: a ski house in Tahoe; a townhouse in San Francisco with views from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge; or a beach house in the South of France.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

The quality of the team and the culture of an organization is the single largest factor in its success. It doesn’t matter if you are a real estate brokerage or an Internet startup.

What’s the strangest thing you ever packed in a suitcase?

I moved to the U.S. from Europe with four suitcases full of pretty much all my possessions. I can’t remember everything now, but I’m sure there would have been a few surprises for the baggage checkers.

What would your second career choice be?

Architect or astronaut.

What kind of music do you listen to?

All sorts, but mostly British rock, which brings back memories of my university days.

Who is your hero?

All the players at Arsenal Football Club in London, my football team in the U.K. (That’s soccer to everyone who was born in the U.S.)

Hear Flint speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 31-Aug. 3. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.


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