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

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

Inkinen now serves as COO of Trulia. He will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008.

He answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2008?

It will remain "tough" by traditional economical standards, which means that the best-performing companies and agents will capture much market share from those who aren’t prepared for these times. In other words, a great opportunity for growth!

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?

Stop and think: Reduce "waste" in your marketing/investments/personal time use and focus on things that work and provide the best return. Tough times are the best times to get lean and mean and ready for the next upturn.

What was your first job?

Picking up trash from beaches in Finland, hired by the local municipality. About $4/hour.

What sparked the idea to start your company?

Personal pain point: Consumer experience in online real estate was left too much behind from any other verticals online in 2003/2004. We could change that and we did for the better for both consumers and real estate professionals.

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

Attracting (and retaining) the very top talent.

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

I don’t get back to earlier decisions that cannot be changed. Onwards!

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

I rent in San Francisco, Noe Valley.

What worries keep you awake at night?

Generally I sleep very well and deep whenever I have a moment to actually sleep. But attracting and retaining top talent at work is a top priority.

What lessons did you learn in the last year?

You can never listen to your customers too much. And hire very slow, fire fast.

What would your second career choice be?

Nuclear scientist.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Rammstein for workouts; house music for fun.

Who are your heroes?

My mother and grandmother.

Hear Inkinen speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.

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