BrokerageTechnology

How 2 Midwest tech entrepreneurs built a brokerage on internet leads

A tale of hockey, hard work and H2O in the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes'
  • Lifelong friends and northern Minnesotans Dave Gooden and Cameron Henkel started LakePlace.com in 2003 after witnessing inefficiencies in the waterfront home search process.
  • In 2006, the website, which started as a classified ads model, became a referral brokerage at which 100 agents currently work.
  • Agent training at the company heavily involves how to handle and convert internet leads, as over 50 percent of sales started as internet leads from the founders’ websites.
  • The business partners' latest startup venture is the launch of another property website, DaneArthur.com, which features all the MLS listings from Minnesota and Wisconsin displayed in a simple layout modeled after Craigslist and the like.
  • The early-internet entrepreneurs originally came at solving a problem in real estate from a consumer's perspective, and their business model now leverages the benefits of technology with the service of professionals.

Mrs. Braski’s 1976 kindergarten class was the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Dave Gooden and Cameron Henkel, their joint entrepreneurial ventures just a gleam. The boys’ northern Minnesota upbringing gave them a competitive edge -- as teammates in the heart of hockey country, they learned the definition of hard work firsthand. In the mid-1990s, the duo jumped on the tech train early with a burgeoning opportunity: a little something called the internet. Turns out, they’d done their research. In 1997, Gooden and Henkel caught their first big break selling refurbished computer equipment on a commercial website, capturing $1 million in revenue over a year’s time. Nearly two decades later, their entrepreneurial spirit -- and friendship -- hold steadfast. In the meantime, a real estate startup idea came to them and inspired a new venture in 2003 -- LakePlace.com, a search site for waterfront property. Most recently, the founders just launched another doma...

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