10 Growth Hacks for CRE Tech Startups
This post is brought to you by our special guest blogger, commercial real estate vetran, REach mentor, and general badass business guru Duke Long.
Here are 10 things that you can do now to help push your #CRE #TECH company to the “next” level. Raw, real and unedited.
1. Get on Twitter. Quit hiding. It’s called a work hack. Wait, you’re too busy being you? Let me tell you something, all-- yes all-- of the #CRE #Tech CEOs, VCs, Angels and your potential customers are on Twitter. You are not on Twitter? That’s so over, you say? You only message your crew on SnapChat or WeChat? Maybe you should read what they are saying on Twitter or blogging or RT what they post. Who are you again? Oh wait you are the big time already. You have a degree that mommy and daddy paid for. You are big time, right? No you’re not. Twitter is for…. go ahead and say it. No it’s not. Andreessen, Cuban and Musk are on Twitter. Yeah, that’s billions with a B baby. How will they know who you are if you are not paying attention to them? You better be paying attention to them. It’s called engagement for a reason. What does engagement usually lead to? Don’t know? Don’t care? I know it takes time. It takes work. Work it, it’s worth it.
2. Read blogs and watch videos of the people you follow on Twitter. They are speaking, writing, presenting and ---believe it or not--- trying to attract you to them. Recruiting, partnering, engaging (there’s that word again) and connecting. It’s about connecting your points of view to their point of view. Not everyone will connect, but you might be surprised who will. This is a true story: Remember that guy named Cuban? A #CRE #TECH CEO cold called him. Cold called him and pitched him. Let me say that again. Cold called Cuban and got a check. A BIG check. I talked to the #CRE #TECH CEO, he told me the story. He was proud as hell. How did he do it? He was watching a video of Cuban about investing in startups. He used that intel. Does it happen everyday? Maybe. Do you have that kind of guts? Oh but wait, the whole world should just recognize your brilliance? Not going to happen. Give them and yourself a chance to further the discussion. EVERY HUMAN BEING I HAVE MET IN THE LAST 4 YEARS started from this very scenario. USE IT!
3. Build a diverse team. Diversity is a scary word, is it not? There is a very popular book out called Zero to One written by Peter Thiel. He is one of the founders of Paypal and an original investor in Facebook. It is an excellent read and I recommended it if you have the chance to pick it up. However, in one section of the book, Theil comments on team building and references Paypal and the similarity of the people that they hired in the beginning. This is one small area of the book that I disagreed with. His point is that you will be able to accomplish more together because you are more alike and understand each other better. My point is that your actual customers will certainly be various types of people. They may be similar but different in gender, age, race, background and many other variables...so having that in your company from the start can only help you.
4. Go where the money is. It’s not in your back yard. NO, it’s not! Some money may come your way, but more likely than not, those investors just want to tell their golf buddy they are investing in #Tech Start-ups. It makes them think they are cool and on top of the new stuff, but it will dry up. The real money in commercial real estate tech is in New York. Yes, New York, and not anywhere else. Approximately 30-35% of commercial real estate deals happen in New York. New York IS the commercial real estate market. It’s where the companies that do commercial real estate deals are located, period. Ok, yes some money comes out of San Francisco. But it’s not at the same volume as New York. Name the people who you know in New York. Name the companies that you know. OK, name the major building owners you know or have actually met face to face in New York, one of the biggest commercial real estate markets in the entire world. Oh wait, here is a big one. name the biggest customer you could partner with. Think crazy partnership like “no way this could ever happen” crazy. Somebody figured it out already and made it happen. Codename: Blackstone.
5. Ask for a referral. At the end of every meeting ask for help. Ask them who they know that might be able to help you. They have a network. We all do. Have you talked to me face to face lately? I always ask how I can help. Last week I had to chase down a CEO and ask him how I could help him and when I did, he opened up to the problem they were having: getting traction, gaining users, and closing deals. At the end of a sit-down meeting, ask the person who you are meeting with who they know who might be able to help you and will they make an introduction. Reread that last sentence. It will change your life!
6. Write about your company and your experiences. I won’t say “blog” because that brings up visions of fat old guys in the midwest with an axe to grind...(wink). You don’t want to do that do you? It’s not cool. Hard to relate to those blogger writers dudes. You better be doing it. You should be doing it like a boss. You use that phrase “like a boss” right? You are the expert, you are the man, you are the dude. Let that profound knowledge and dry wit come out. Show the world what you got. Is someone going to steal your brilliance? Can they execute like you? It’s your platform. It’s your soap box.
7. Make cold calls, write cold emails. Did you just shiver? Momma did not raise you to shill did she? Do you know what us old guys call it? “Dialing and Smiling.” Oh wait, you have “salespeople” for that right? Look in the mirror...it’s you. YOU ARE THE SALESMAN. I received a text from a #CRE #TECH #CEO this week and it said: “4 cities this week leading the team.” That’s called leadership! That’s called sales. You can call it distribution if you want. I know “sales” makes you feel dirty. Are you are above that sales stuff? How many calls do you make a day? NONE?
8. Get on AngelList. Think AngelList is only for tech geeks? It’s not! Not fully busting out your profile on here is just stupid. Anyone who is anybody who can help your company is on here. Get on there everyday, connect, follow, message and check it out. They even have strategies about how to use the site with actual people’s experiences on there.
9. Get on LinkedIn. It’s where your customers are. You think it’s just old recruiters collecting profiles and reading Richard Branson quotes? You know what, you’re probably right. I have a group that I started on LinkedIn. Social Media Commercial Real Estate.It has 6,000+ members. Now, I filter that group every day. I delete and kick off anybody trying to mess with it. There are only commercial real estate people on it. Only your potential customers. 6,000+ of them. I’m not pitching the group. Stay away, for all I care. The point is that 6,000+ commercial real estate people ask for permission to see content in that group. What could you be missing?
10. Tap into the non-financial resources offered by your investors. Your angels or investors are not your mom and dad, they aren’t there just to tell you what to do. Reports. Right, that’s what you think about when you think of your investors. Monthly reports. The last thing you think about is transparency. Transparency beyond the numbers. They want you to win, not fail. Ask them for help. Ask them for connections. Wait, maybe not so much on connections. It depends. What are the real connections that you need? Money connections? Wait, they are your money connections. How about connections to actual users? Now we are talking. What the else do you need them for? You need customers and partners. Get those first. I know and you know that mom and dad are going to make sure you stay “afloat.” I’m a parent and my babies will never starve. They may be lean for a while. It’s called life skills. Do you have the guts to be lean to be hungry to not get caught up in the “lifestyle?” Nah! Dude you have meetings. You have coffee. You have catered lunch. You have workstations. You have t-shirts. You have mommy and daddy but they are not your angels or investors.
A version of this post originally appeared on Duke's blog, "10 Hacks for #CRE #TECH #Startups That Will Get Completely Ignored."