“The real estate consulting Rolodex of your dreams has just launched,” says Poonam Sharma Mathis confidently over the phone. That’s the mission of her new venture, Stealthforce. The service matches experienced, elite real estate professionals with real estate investment companies that need their expertise on a project-by-project basis. Mathis says Stealthforce is the first real estate company to tap into the world of on-demand talent services.
- Stealthforce, an elite on-demand real estate talent site, launched in January 2016. The site matches independent contractors with companies that need their expertise for projects.
- Poonam Sharma Mathis, the founder and CEO of Stealthforce, says she got the idea for platform from her experiences working in small development companies and large investment firms.
- Mathis noticed there was a talent gap when it came to having workers with highly specialized knowledge for certain projects. Instead of hiring someone new, most companies decided to have generalist teams to handle the projects as best they could.
- Mathis says Stealthforce effectively and efficiently fills in the gap by allowing independent contractors to provide the expertise companies need on a project-by-project basis.
“The real estate consulting Rolodex of your dreams has just launched,” says Poonam Sharma Mathis confidently over the phone. That’s the mission of her new venture, Stealthforce.
Stealthforce matches experienced, elite real estate professionals with real estate investment companies that need their expertise on a project-by-project basis. Mathis says Stealthforce is the first real estate company to tap into the world of on-demand talent services.
But she’s noticed that higher-level industries such as the legal and tech sectors have started looking to on-demand talent as well.
“In recent years, they’ve gone upmarket, and there are platforms that now focus on elite talent on-demand. So, it’s not somebody to clean your house; it’s somebody maybe who’s an attorney, who’s really highly skilled and used to work in a law firm where you had to pay $700 an hour to access them,” says Mathis.
“Now, he’s a member of a very highly skilled legal network, and you can hire him for $250 an hour. That’s a huge savings, right? And now he gets a bigger chunk of that.”
Why not real estate?
So, why hasn’t real estate jumped into the world of on-demand talent? Mathis says it’s due to the highly local nature of real estate that requires a strong network, a high level of confidentiality and a specificity of knowledge that cannot be assumed when trying to find a contractor to do the job.
“My theory is, A: Nobody who really understands the network has tried to do it, and B: Nobody who’s really thinking purely from the perspective of a real estate employer has tried to do it,” says Mathis. “People who are generalists have tried to do elite business freelancing for everything, for every kind of business freelancer in the world, but real estate is a different beast.”
The talent gap — a universal problem
Mathis got her idea for Stealthforce after years of experience working with small development firms and large real estate investment firms.
“What I identified through this whole process was that I was looking at the two really far ends of the real estate investment spectrum,” she says. “I was looking at the small real estate development firm where they write a $1 million equity check, and then they buy a $5 million building and their blood, sweat and tears go into it for the rest of that year.”
“And at the other end of the spectrum, where I was flying around first-class and determining whether they were going to give an additional $10 million like it was no big deal. And what I realized was the talent gap was a problem all the way through.”
She says small developers don’t have the payroll to keep talent on staff all year round, and since they typically only take on a few projects a year, it doesn’t make sense for them to keep someone on staff.
On the other hand, large real estate investment companies have the cash to hire whomever they want, but they have a ton of competition for worthwhile deals.
If one of those deals happens to be in Singapore, a company isn’t going to hire someone new for that deal. Instead, it will work with the generalist teams it already has, Mathis explains.
“It’s time for the real estate world to start operating more efficiently in terms of internal operations. The world is getting smaller. Global investment funds cannot just stay in the U.S. anymore,” she added.
“They have to invest all over the world, and they just can’t hire teams all over the world. They have to find the talent as quickly as they need it because the world won’t be waiting for them anymore.”
‘[Companies] have to find the talent as quickly as they need it because the world won’t be waiting for them.’ -Poonam Sharma Mathis
Mathis says it’s a shame that companies resort to generalist teams, which she points out are needed — she was on one before she started Stealthforce — when there are plenty of real estate investment professionals who are ready and willing to lend their expertise.
She also says it’s unfortunate that these professionals had no way to connect to the companies that need them. That’s where Stealthforce comes in.
A pool of untapped potential
Stealthforce’s pool of contractors is varied and includes professionals who are in different points of their career, from newbies to semi-retired pros.
“These are people who might be one year out of business school, and they’re really good at financial modeling,” Mathis says. “These are people who are 30 years into their career, and they used to sit on a global investment committee, but maybe now they’re semi-retired and they just speak at conferences and work on their own projects here and there.
“All these people all over the world are really a pool of untapped real estate talent.”
Applying to be a consultant or client
Would-be contractors can apply to become part of the Stealthforce network through the company’s website, and the application is available on LinkedIn.
Once their application is accepted, contractors must sign a confidentiality agreement and send in a resume to be put on file.
Companies that want to tap into Stealthforce’s pool of talent must sign a master agreement that says they will respect the confidentiality of the contractor and submit a one-page project brief for each new project.
Once the project brief is submitted, Stealthforce combs through its database to find the five most qualified consultants.
Then, it sends the consultant the project brief and name of the client. The contractor ensures there’s no conflict of interest, and that he or she has the expertise and the time to do the project.
Lastly, Stealthforce sends clients the resume of the consultants who have opted into the project, and the clients will choose who they want to hire. From there, an independent contractor agreement is formed.
Stealthforce as mediator
Stealthforce holds the funds in escrow and acts as a middleman throughout the process to make sure the company and the contractor are satisfied throughout the process.
When the project is complete, Stealthforce will release the funds to the consultant, net of the flat rate matching fee. If a client really likes a consultant and wants to hire him or her full time, Stealthforce calls it a test drive.
If the client hires the consultant, then Stealthforce gets a headhunting fee.
Once the project is done, Stealthforce surveys the company and the consultant on their experience — if someone acts inappropriately, he or she can be expelled from the network.
Mathis says the company has done less than 20 projects, but she’s pleased with the broad variety of companies and consultants who have come her way.
Furthermore, her company has caught the eye of investors who see a promising future in on-demand real estate talent.
Real estate investing’s dream Rolodex is well on its way.