Technology

Hacker Seth Siegler on the accident that led to Curb Call

The Realogy hackathon that changed Siegler's life

CEO and founder, Curb Call Technologies

Time at Curb Call: One year and three months.

Describe what you do: I lead a team of three people, code, help with sales, make sure we’re on track with our programming schedule, and code when I can fit it in, which is mainly at night.

Age: 34

Degree: College of Charleston (South Carolina), B.A. in media communications with a minor in meteorology (mostly just physics classes!)

Location: San Diego

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Social media: LinkedIn and Twitter

I’ve always been a coder, but my first post-college career was as a real estate agent. That was my full-time gig for eight years before I made the switch to the entrepreneur life when I started a company that provided a neighborhood recommendation tool that agents could have on their sites. That company was acquired in 2011 by San Diego-based Showing Suite, where I worked for a year as chief technology officer.

The sale of my first company meant that my then-girlfriend and I were moving from Charleston, South Carolina, where we were then living, to San Diego. Not only were we set to move, but I also decided to propose to her the week before we left. She said yes (luckily) and we got married about nine months later. So the West Coast has been an entirely new life.

After Showing Suite, I did a bit of freelance app development and had plans to start a new company that wasn’t related to real estate. The only problem is that it’s hard for me to stop thinking of real estate ideas. And when I made a prototype of Curb Call at the hackathon hosted by Realogy and real estate startup Retsly at the National Association of Realtors’ expo last fall that won second place, I accidentally started my next company.

My family was always involved in real estate and so I was always exposed to it. Having the experience as an agent and programmer gives me a pretty complete perspective of things. There’s a lot of friction for agents and clients in so many parts of every type of transaction, and I really enjoy trying to fix them by applying technology in different ways.

Siegler's workspace.

Siegler’s workspace

 

Favorite Twitter account?

I find myself clicking the most links from the Hacker News account, @newsycombinator, but nobody is more entertaining than Aaron Levie, @levie.

Favorite food?

My favorite thing to eat is generally Chinese food; the subpar choices for Chinese food is is one of my few gripes about San Diego. Pizza is a close second, and though it’s no New York out here, I have found a few good places to satisfy my pizza fix.

Favorite video game?

I’m a Madden (football) guy. Every few years I get completely hooked on it again, especially if anyone I know locally shares the bug.

Favorite city?

I grew up on Long Island, and so I still think New York City is my favorite city to visit. That being said, after 2 1/2 years in San Diego I’d choose to live here, hands down, again and again. However, I love to travel, though, and there are a lot of cities I’ve yet to see, so I’m keeping an open mind. …

Favorite band?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, and these days it would be pretty much impossible to choose one band as my favorite. Over the course of two months, my wife and I will have seen live shows by: Arcade Fire, The Dig, Cut Copy, Future Islands and Paul McCartney. Earlier in 2014 we saw Schoolboy Q, Eric Clapton, Caveman and Wild Nothing.

What do you hate about technology?

I think the only thing I hate about technology are the buzzwords that always get associated with it. If I hear of another “blah” product being described as “game-changing,” “disruptive” or even “innovative,” my ears might fall off. The worst part is that I sometimes run out of words to describe what we’re working on, because all the good ones have been blown out!

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

There are a number of different things I’d love to somehow fix for the real estate industry, but the main thing I’m focused on now is helping to solve some of the historical friction that exists between agents and buyers. There’s a diametrical opposition that exists with agents who are working hard to become “the” agent for a buyer and that buyer who is trying to avoid contact or commitment with an agent until they need one (later in the search process). That friction leads to a lot of wheel-spinning for agents and major annoyance and ill will from buyers.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Technology can definitely change the industry. The easy example is the evolution and adoption of buyer search tools from big players like Zillow. Where agents used to be responsible for finding the home for buyers, that is more often done by the buyer themselves now. This changes the role of the buyer’s agent. I’d like to see more technology that makes the real estate profession safer. That’s a major priority for my team and I right now. Prospects that come through an app or Web portal carry a digital fingerprint, and that fingerprint should be maximized to decrease anonymity, which will drastically increase safety compared to legacy methods of contact like phone calls or walk-ins.

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?

Besides the obvious one of WTF happens to my missing socks in the dryer, the issue I’d like to help tackle one day is making education more relevant for kids. I’m not sure what I can do to help but I do know that a lot of time was wasted when I was in school, using antiquated one-size-fits-all techniques, to teach outdated skills and technologies, and that doesn’t seem to be changing at all.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by building a life with a good work-life balance and getting to do something that I believe in. I’m a competitive person, but I don’t think about the bottom line, money-wise, much. It’s more important to me to work on something that’s challenging and that has a chance to make something much better. Variety also keeps me motivated and fresh. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys getting to the office the same time each day and doing the same thing again and again. I like opening my computer each morning and having little idea about what the day might have in store for me.

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