How 2 Midwest tech entrepreneurs built a brokerage on internet leads

  • 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.

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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.