Because there is no “fun” in funds transfers
When Daniel Jeffords closed on his first home, his agent asked if he could change anything about the experience, what would it be?
“Well, everything,” he told his agent. “Other than working with you and finding the home that I like — those parts were great. The rest of this all needs some work.”
And that is the oversimplified but strikingly identifiable origin story of Earnnest, a platform that facilitates the expeditious, fully secure transfers of funds. And it actually helps out with reconciliation, too.
“We perform B2B transfers, as well as B2C, C2B, C2C… we do due diligence, earnest money, buyer’s refunds, agent commissions,” said Jeffords, who is today the CTO of Earnnest. “We can make all the transfers happen for you.”
While agents and brokers bend over backward to provide an excellent experience for their clients, all their efforts are for naught when it comes time to close, as Jeffords himself experienced. “I had to go hang out with an attorney I’ve never met before. Go over about 200 pieces of paperwork for an hour and a half, and then hand off a cashier’s check at the end.”
The entire process was inefficient and insecure. And Jeffords, like buyers across the country, shared a closely guarded aspect of himself — his very finances — with a group of people he didn’t know.
Earnnest changes that.
“What we do is allow the safe, secure, and transparent transfer of funds between parties in real estate transactions. We can complete any financial transfer with full identity checks. Nobody enters account information. Nobody has to send wiring instructions or checks. And if you do it on your phone, it takes about two minutes.”
On a mission to change mindsets
The Earnnest team had spent over a year testing the platform. Inman Connect New York 2019 was their debut — they had done very little outreach or demand generation up to that point. And frankly, they didn’t know how they’d be received.
When the partnership showcase at the event opened, they had their answer.
“The moment our booth opened, we had a representative from Homes.com there,” said Jeffords. “They got there before we did. Stewart Title was there. We talked to the CIO of Realogy there. All these people were brought together by Inman.”
For Earnnest, Inman’s editorial reputation laid the groundwork for a successful event. “Inman has articles out there before people even know about an issue. That’s how you get the traction that you do.”
That traction meant the Earrnest team didn’t have to do as much education around the issue of electronic fund transfers. “We had our product ready at a time when these leaders are gathered to find the next piece of the puzzle, hoping to find a way to get rid of paper in the transaction. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
That’s one of the reasons the team prioritized Inman Connect specifically.
Jeffords shared, “Inman events are interesting because you get all the decision-makers from a variety of different places. But the other element Inman has that other conferences don’t is that you attract the technology companies.”
Because for Jeffords and the team, the other vendors at Inman Connect were also their target audience.
“We spoke with a number of the other vendors that are creating agent CRMs or transaction management tools. This is still a piece that they themselves don’t have internal resources for because it’s such a hard quandary to solve.”
Jeffords was pleased to note the attendees were also willing to up-end the status quo.
“Inman challenges current thinking and doesn’t just embrace existing processes. Inman Connect puts a specific focus on being innovative and pushing the boundaries. And we understood that to get to this point with our product, we had to change mindsets. Inman Connect is a space where people feel comfortable to ask questions. They expect to have a lot of technology-based conversations, not just real estate-based conversations. The attendees have the right mindset and the event has all the right people and sponsors.”
When challenged about the ROI of sponsorship, Jeffords insists his team’s definition isn’t a traditional one.
“We want electronic money transfer to be the standard within five years. That’s our mission. To do that, you need to be able to change mindsets. And real estate is such a ridiculously huge market. The actual value of the real estate industry in the US is bigger than the national debt and healthcare combined — at least 30 trillion dollars.
“But there are only about a thousand people who are the heads of major organizations that sway the industry in various directions. So for us to have the ability to get the ear of those people who really make the majority of the calls, helping them shift their mindset…that’s the first step to enabling change. Just getting the conversation started leads us towards an ROI that serves Earnnest.
“And Inman made it possible.”
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