I may have been a little harsh on Trulia in the past, criticizing their logo for one thing, but the truth is they are one of the companies I am most excited about in the real estate 2.0 space. I really like their clean, simple design and their embrace of RSS in their searches. Now, if they’d only go live in Oregon…
Read on for my interview with Pete Flint, co-founder and CEO of Trulia.com as he enlightens us on his site and even lets us in on the secret behind their name.
1. What’s your elevator pitch? How would you describe your company in 50 words or less?
Trulia is a residential real estate search engine. Our goal is to help consumers find homes for sale from across the web and connect them for free to the most detailed property information located on listing broker and agent Web sites. We act as a user-friendly consumer search engine and as an efficient advertising platform for real estate professionals.
2. What inspired you to create your site? What need did you identify that your technology could meet?
The site was inspired by consumer frustration. The real estate search process is highly complex and underserved by existing players, and we felt there was a better way to help all participants in the industry. Our advanced search and filtering technology delivers a superior experience for consumers while driving highly qualified traffic to agent and broker sites for free – that is the groundbreaking innovation at the heart of our business.
3. What has been the biggest challenge getting your site off the ground?
Keeping up with the consumer and industry demand for our service. I guess that’s a good challenge. Rather than instantly turning up service, we are taking a more thoughtful market-by-market rollout approach to ensure a great search experience for all.
4. Real estate is generally seen as a conservative industry, what has the general reaction been to your site?
On the whole, fantastic. The industry recognizes that the way real estate information is currently shared and accessed does not work as well as it could in the Internet age. We and many other real estate professionals and consumers believe Trulia is a great answer to the real estate search challenge online.
5. Who is your typical user?
Prospective home buyers and, in many cases, first-time buyers. And we are finding that the number of repeat users is steadily increasing month to month.
6. What’s your business model?
Our business model is based on premium advertising made available to real estate professionals and supporting vendors, consistent with the quality environment we promote on Trulia.com. At the same time, as a search engine, our basic indexing and links remain free.
7. Who have you identified as your biggest competitors? Why?
We don’t view other media services as competitors, just different marketing tools for real estate professionals to leverage and consumers to access. The good news is that there are a number of players in the market now, which ultimately raises the bar for all of us to deliver quality service to customers and viewers.
8. What have you found to be the most effective ways to market (i.e., build the brand awareness/mindshare of) your site?
Initially, we focused more on working with industry partners to deliver the best search experience possible. This has paid off in that the media has proactively reported on us in the midst of our regional rollouts. Also, word of mouth has been key.Also, true to our search model, positioning in search engines is an important aspect to delivering traffic to the true source of property information—listing brokers and agents. In other words, we’re following a marketing model similar to some of the most successful online sites in the market by delivering on good product value, technology, word of mouth and value-add business relationships.
9. Web 2.0 is often defined as a web-based service that lets people collaborate and share information online. How does your site either a) incorporate these ideas or b) plan on incorporating these ideas in the future?
We are excited about these possibilities and see lots of interesting potential in the future. Right now, we incorporate these by empowering agents and brokers to drive traffic to their site, offering them an effective marketing platform.
10. Why do you care about real estate?
Shelter is one of man’s basic needs. To help consumers find the right home, with the right agent, quickly and easily is truly a (or should I say Trulia) worthwhile and meaningful endeavor.
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Next up will be an interview with Ron Hornbaker, President & CTO of Propsmart.com. This series will resume on Monday, June 19.