When Pete Flint went house hunting on the Internet in 2004, he was so disappointed with the tools available to consumers at the time that he ended up co-founding the company behind what’s become one of most popular listing portals in the world: Trulia.com.

Flint became aware of the potential for the Internet to revolutionize the home search process while pursuing his master of business administration degree from Stanford University.

After voicing his frustrations about the tools available to consumers, an acquaintance gave Flint a ticket to the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco. It was there, he says, that the ideas and connections that would become Trulia began to percolate.

 

When Pete Flint went house hunting on the Internet in 2004, he was so disappointed with the tools available to consumers at the time that he ended up co-founding the company behind what’s become one of most popular listing portals in the world: Trulia.com.

Flint became aware of the potential for the Internet to revolutionize the home search process while pursuing his master of business administration degree from Stanford University.

After voicing his frustrations about the tools available to consumers, an acquaintance gave Flint a ticket to the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco. It was there, he says, that the ideas and connections that would become Trulia began to percolate.

Eight years later, Flint would bang the gavel at the New York Stock Exchange to kick off public trading in shares of Trulia following an $89.3 million initial public offering.

A London native, Flint will talk about his path from immigrant to CEO in a presentation, "The Road from Immigrant to Stanford to NYSE," on opening day of Real Estate Connect New York City, which takes place Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York.

Flint says that from the beginning, Trulia’s mission has been to empower consumers.

The website layers market statistics, neighborhood, crime and commute data on top of listing information, and Trulia claims to offer the largest collection of user-generated content of any property search site. Real estate professionals contribute their insight, and Trulia provides brokers and agents a valuable tool to generate and close leads.

"We’ve been in hyper growth mode," Flint said. In addition to going public, Trulia this year grew its paid subscriber base to 22,763, and launched a program to give brokers more data, such as on-demand listing analytics.

Trulia co-founder and CEO Pete Flint bangs the gavel at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Sept. 20 2012. Photo credit: Ben Hider/NYSE Euronext.

Trulia’s headcount passed the 500 mark, with employees working out of offices in San Francisco, Denver and New York City. The company honed in on mobile, developing agent-focused apps, rolling out Trulia Mobile Ads and updating consumer-facing apps.

"Mobile is front and center to everything that we’re doing at Trulia," Flint said.

It’s hard not to compare Flint, 37, to Spencer Rascoff, 36, the head of Trulia’s larger rival Zillow.

Zillow is similarly focused on mobile, and both companies have signed up a comparable number of agent advertisers (Zillow had 26,703 as of Sept. 30, about 4,000 more than Trulia, according to the companies’ third quarter financial statements).

Zillow and Trulia are also one-two in national Web traffic for real estate-related websites, according to November stats from Web metrics firm Hitwise. Hitwise shows Zillow leading the way with nearly 32 million visits in the month, and Trulia following with close to 26 million visits.

Flint and Rascoff — who posed for a snapshot by Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky at a party in October — even have the same favorite TV show, Showtime’s CIA spy thriller, "Homeland."

Despite the similarities with the head of his company’s rival, Flint says he and Trulia are focused on what’s next.

In addition to growing its mobile presence, Flint said Trulia will focus in 2013 on corralling all the data it collects into insights that consumers can use to find a home they’ll love, which member brokers and agents can use to drive more leads to closing.

Pete Flint will be a featured speaker at Real Estate Connect New York City, which takes place Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York.

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