A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to compete in Statup Riot Atlanta, which is a competition between 30 startup companies that have 3 minutes to pitch their business and then 3 minutes for Q&A. The competition is judged by two successful entrepreneurs that come up with the top 5 companies and then the crowd of 450 get to vote on their top 3. Ten Eight was lucky enough to be in the top 3, finishing 3rd in the competition. With it comes a host of cash prizes, and the guarantee of ten 30 minutes meetings with top VC’s around the country. All of this is great, but there were 3 lessons I took away from the day of competition that will stick with me. Here they are in no particular order:
- Ship every 2 weeks – T.A. McCann, who started Gist, had a very bold goal for any technology company. Ship something meaning every 2 weeks. Every 2 weeks, are you kidding me? However, this type of aggressive goal is why Gist sold to Blackberry for a heck of a lot of money even though their competitors had more money and more engineers then they did. So, starting April 1, Ten Eight will have a goal to ship meaningful updates to our software every 2 weeks.
- Tech Entrepreneurs are Different – I think most people believe that individuals that start companies are a lot alike. They match certain personality characteristics that equal not afraid of risk, charismatic, driven, etc. What I learned after meeting all 30 presenters is that everyone has a different story and a different personality. Not one person was exactly alike. To me this means that all you need to start a company is passion because the only common characteristic I saw in the group was passion for their company/idea.
- Atlanta has a thriving Startup Community – Not every one of the 30 companies were from Atlanta, but a lot were…. What I’ve learned from all of this is that Atlanta has a thriving Startup Community and it is getting bigger and better. I think with the recent success of David Cummings more investors are starting to seek out the Seed Capital of $250K – $1MM. This is the only part lacking for Atlanta to be a great startup town, and I think the money is starting to come in.
I’m very blessed to have access to one of the top business minds in Atlanta through some family connections. My father worked for the same company for 42 years, and rose up to be CIO. Through his great relationship with the, now retired, CEO of this company. I’ve gotten great advice throughout my career from both man. Today was no exception, as I sought advice about how to run Ten Eight the right way. There were a number of great takeaways from the meeting, but I’m going to highlight 3 below.
- Learn from the bosses you’ve respected – This point is so simple, and yet I didn’t even think about it. Throughout our career we will run into several bosses, some good and others bad. The advice I got today was to think about the ones you respected the most and emulate the characteristics you liked about them. Conversely, eliminate the characteristics you didn’t like. Study this respected boss, and come up with a list of likes and didn’t likes about their leadership style.
- Culture will always come from the CEO – No matter the size of a company, the culture will come from the top. So, whatever culture you want in a company, your employees better see you practice what you’re preaching.
- Know what mistakes you can’t make – There are always mistakes that a CEO and the company will make along the way. That is life and a part of business. However, most CEO don’t make a list of mistakes they can’t afford to make. This is especially important in a small business because of the lack of capital to overcome critical mistakes. So, sit down, list them out, and plan how to avoid them.
We have officially launched today, and here is our Promo Video to go along with the launch: Ten Eight Video. Thank you to our development team and beta testers for helping us get to this point. As I’ve mentioned before, Ten Eight’s ultimate goal is to provide great tools for brokers, period. We’ve started with a tool to make the touring process better for both brokers and their clients, and now there is a way to turn subjective feelings about a building into objective data to make better real estate decisions…. So, hopefully this is the start to many more features to Ten Eight, and if you’d like a free 30 day trial please go to our website to sign up.
Disruptive Technology? What does disruptive technology in CRE mean? Has it happen before? Was Costar disruptive? Will 42 Floors or ROFO be disruptive? Do they even want to be disruptive? Are great tool for brokers disruptive? As I become a bigger fan of technology, these are the questions about my industry that I frequently ask. So what are the answers?
To be completely honest, I don’t know…. Does disruptive CRE technology mean replacing brokers? Does it mean providing leads for brokers? Or is it just better tools for brokers to use? Brokers are the middlemen in the industry, and history tells us that technology replaces the middlemen. But, is that possible in an industry where the end users look for new space, usually, every 3 – 5 years? Do brokers provide a good enough value to keep them around as better technology emerges?
In short, I personal think that brokers are here to stay. Since I am one, I do believe that we provide a real value to our clients. As far as disruptive technology in CRE, I do believe that Costar was “disruptive”. The company took a very fragmented industry of CRE data and turned into the powerhouse of data. So, if there are companies out there wanting to be disruptive in CRE, they should take a look at the Costar story.
What are your thoughts? Please let me know…
What is the future of office space? This is a question that I ask myself all of the time. Take my office for example. We’ve got a 53 year old, a 32 year old, and two 25 year olds. Right there is already a problem. We’ve got 3 different generations that like 3 distinct office types. However, most large companies have 4 different generations to deal with, so I should consider our office lucky. So what is a company to do?
- Go old school and whatever the boss man likes, the boss man gets. For us that would mean private offices for the brokers with assistant in the cubes in front of our offices.
- Go with the median age group and hope it blends the old and the new together. This would mean me in our office, which would equal a funky loft space with desks all over the place. Chaotic and Collaborative.
- Go with the younger generation that you’re trying to attractive as new talent. Crap, I really don’t even know what type of office space our 25 year olds would like….
So, all of this to say that companies, like ours, have a difficult task in front of us. My advice. Sit everyone down in the office, figure out what everyone likes and hire a great designer to make it happen. For SWA, I envision an office in a traditional office building with offices that are all glass walls to get the open feel, and a policy that no one closes their door to get the collaborative feel. Awesome….