Technology

Tyler Smith: ‘We should be guiding gut decisions with actual data’

SkySlope CEO talks fears and says one-click homebuying is the most overrated technology out there

Tyler Smith is the CEO of SkySlope.

Describe what you do in one sentence: I’m leading the transformation of the way transaction management information is utilized in the industry.

Age: 30

Location: Sacramento, California

Social media: Twitter, LinkedIn

Tyler Smith space

Smith’s office

What’s your favorite activity outside of work and why?

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I have a lot of interests outside of work, but my favorite ones are the ones in which I get to compete. Winning motivates me in almost all aspects of my life, and that holds true whether it’s a tennis match or a simple game of Yahtzee.

What’s your favorite classic piece of literature and why?

I’m not a big class literature person; however, business books on startups are great. I’m not sure if this would be considered “classic,” but I read “The Magic of Thinking Big” by Dr. David Schwartz at a young age, and it was game-changing for me.

Are you the first entrepreneur in your family?

No, my father was also an entrepreneur. He always had an amazing outlook on life and and instilled in me that with hard work and a positive outlook, you can have anything you want out of life.

How’d you come up with the idea for your startup?

I was a busy Realtor selling 250-plus homes a year and needed a solution to store all of my documents. After looking at all of the solutions in the marketplace at the time, I decided to create my own.

Describe a time when you felt particularly insecure about the future of your company. How did you bounce back?

In the beginning, there was a time where we outgrew our infrastructure and had to pause on taking on new clients because we really had to make sure all the right pieces were in place first.

What would you describe as your company’s biggest victory since launching and why?

Definitely the relationships we have built in the real estate industry. We have some incredible clients, and many of those clients have turned into mentors and advisers — not only to the company, but to myself as well.

What’s been the biggest obstacle your business has encountered, and how have you dealt with it?

Maintaining the high standards of the company in face of its explosive growth. How I dealt with it was making sure I had the right people on the bus. I had to find people who were willing to work hard and who shared the same vision.

What puzzles you most about the industry?

Still today, many owners run their business off of instincts. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and place for gut calls, but we have all this data at our fingertips now, and we should be guiding those gut decisions with actual data. I feel like almost all other major industries have adopted this analytical approach to business, but for some reason real estate has been slow to come around on it.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about building a business since launching your company?

Building a team, from top to bottom, that shares my vision and is committed to its realization.

What’s the most overrated real estate technology?

One-click homebuying services. I follow real estate tech closely, and it seems like all of these companies trying to transform the real estate buying processes into one click is the latest fad. Buying a home is the single largest investment someone will make in their lifetime; our society is not ready to do that process on their own. They want an expert to help guide them through the processes. I guess only time will tell.

How will the role of the real estate agent change over the next five years?

That’s like asking me what the real estate market will be like in five years. I think if I knew that, I’d be doing a whole lot with that data, you can believe that! One thing I do know is that the fundamentals will never change.

What motivates you more: power or money?

Neither. Competing and being a part of something much larger than myself is what motivates me.

What is your biggest professional fear?

Achieving everything I’ve set out to do without having a new mountain to climb. A little bit freaked out about it, actually.

What is your biggest personal fear?

Being stuck in the middle of an ocean … alone.

Whom do you respect most in the industry?

Both the brokers and the Realtors. I know that sounds cliche, but for both I understand it’s not an easy job. For the Realtor, you go to work every day without a guaranteed paycheck, and for the broker, as technology evolves, the margins get smaller and smaller.

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