[quote style=”boxed”]While peers and prospective customers may applaud your idea, the actual measure of its value becomes evident when you ask for a credit card.[/quote]
Andrew is a serial entrepreneur with a background in real estate and early stage technology companies. He’s Co-founder and CEO of RealScout, a platform that powers relationships between real estate agents and their clients. In 2013, Andrew was featured as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders by Inman News.
Michael is an entrepreneur and technologist who specializes in solving problems. He oversees product development and architecture at RealScout. Previously, Michael served as founder and CTO at DuoDater, as well as CTO for a Tugboat Ventures funded App.
Where did the idea for RealScout come from?
Andrew: Having been a Realtor for several years, I experienced first-hand the frustration of using archaic software to run my real estate business. While companies like Zillow and Trulia focus on home buyers who have yet to find an agent, there is no collaboration platform that helps agents engage active buyers. The workflow between real estate agent and client is very broken.
Michael: Realizing there may be opportunity in this space, we interviewed home buyers and real estate agents for over 100 hours to identify the pain points in the real estate industry. RealScout’s success is deeply rooted in customer discovery sessions we conducted early in 2013.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Andrew: At this stage in our business, we don’t really have a “day in the life.” My focus shifts between executive recruiting, fundraising and business strategy.
Michael: You can usually find me programming late into the night. If and when sleep deprivation kicks in, I’m usually the first one to crack and start to lose it… which the team finds amusing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Andrew: That’s simple… by building a great team. RealScout has grown very fast, and our traction to date would not have been possible if it weren’t for attracting some very bright minds.
Michael: Much of our thinking around product is guided by interactions with our customers. We use live events and surveys to capture customer sentiment.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Andrew: Multi-billion dollar industries are boosting efficiency by replacing decades old technology with powerful software that empowers people (instead of trying to replace them). Joe Lonsdale at Formation 8 has a detailed essay about this.
Michael: High waisted jeans. Oh, do they mean tech trends?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Andrew: Constantly trying new technology to stay organized and efficient. These days I find myself using Asana for task/project management, Boomerang (Gmail Extension) to keep an empty inbox, and 15Five to gain insights into our team’s wins, challenges and morale.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Andrew: One of my best experiences was founding Natural Cravings Healthy Vending with Brett Bernstein and his family. However, one of the worst parts of the job was filling vending machines at busy high school campuses during peak hours.
Michael: I didn’t have that many jobs. I worked at the Cal Poly computer lab. It was a little slow-paced but really easy. Yeah.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Andrew: As RealScout’s first designer, I strived for pixel perfection before we really knew if we had a business. Our model changed substantially several times and it’s painful to think about the countless hours invested in a product that bears no resemblance to the RealScout we have today.
Michael: It’s never too early to surround yourself with seasoned experts in your industry. People are very willing to help in the startup world, so linking up with advisors and mentors is a great way to learn quickly. I’d also try not to lose my hair or gain 30 pounds.
What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Andrew: Focus on Impact is a core value at RealScout that really resonates with me. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae, so I prioritize the mountain of tasks and projects weekly.
Michael: Eat other people’s food.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Andrew: Charging for our product since the beginning. While peers and prospective customers may applaud your idea, the actual measure of its value becomes evident when you ask for a credit card.
Michael: Being passionate, and letting it show. It’s contagious. People feed off of your energy and happiness. At RealScout, we measure employee happiness weekly using software called 15Five.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Andrew: One area that fascinates me is dynamic pricing. Think surge pricing with Uber. Whether it be movie tickets or restaurant reservations, other industries could gain from variable pricing.
Michael: An app that tells your parents that you’re doing well even if you’re not doing that great.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Andrew: At 8 years old I founded a DJ business with my best friend. Over the years we grew the company (called X-treMusic) into a full service event company that provided entertainment for Jane Harman’s congressional campaign and other events in Southern California.
Michael: I used to wear a lot of Jurassic Park shirts when I was younger. Nothing too exciting.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Andrew: My favorite mobile experience is Venmo. Sending and receiving money has forever been a tedious chore. The folks at Venmo have streamlined the user experience and it still blows my mind that sending money could be so easy.
Michael: Windows Me, Microsoft Encarta, Netscape Navigator, and Google Wave.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
RealScout’s philosophy around customer experience and corporate culture is centered on Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness. Also, Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things has a lot of practical advice for entrepreneurs.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Andrew: Kathryn Minshew is a young entrepreneur who has founded two companies, most recently The Muse. She’s been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 twice and was named one of Inc.’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech. People like Kathryn are inspiring because they demonstrate what’s possible when you have the unusual combination of heart and intellect.
Michael: Johnnie Walker