10 Minutes with Tom Gonser, DocuSign Founder & Chief Strategy Officer


Tom Gonser DocuSign Founder
DocuSign Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tom Gonser, the inventor of cloud-based electronic signatures, has a rich and diverse background including six years with Apple in business development and senior management positions with AT&T Wireless and McCaw Cellular.  We are proud to have Tom as one of more than 200 mentors in the REach program, in addition to counting DocuSign among Second Century Ventures’ portfolio of companies. Tom discusses his experience as a mentor for REach and shares his predictions for the future of technology in real estate.
  • Tell us about what DocuSign does and its role in the real estate industry. 

TG: DocuSign is the global standard for Digital Transaction Management and eSignature services with more than 50 million users across 188 countries. We have hundreds of thousands of customers in the real estate industry well as thousands of companies of every size in industries including financial services, insurance, healthcare, high tech, telecommunications, manufacturing, government/public sector and many others.

DocuSign helps the real estate industry by empowering agents and their clients to share, review, collaborate, and sign any type of document on any device without the hassles, costs or lack of security in printing, faxing, scanning, overnighting or driving around town to transact business. Clients actively seek out agents who DocuSign because it makes the process so much easier, faster, convenient and secure than the old paper process.

  • What do technology startups need to know about the real estate industry before they jump in?

TG: Startup companies need to understand that real estate is a very connected market, with many layers of complexity. Companies need to understand the huge differences in the 'get a transaction' services such as Zillow and other sources of leads, and 'close a transaction' services such as DocuSign or Ziplogix. These have totally differently roles in the marketplace.

As the real estate market deals with digital disruption, there are certain channels that work, and certain channels that do not. It helps to have contacts who are insiders in the industry that can help you navigate the complexity.

  • Can you share one or two predictions for the future of the real estate industry in the next 5-10 years? Specifically, what do you think will change about the way transactions are done?

TG: The fact that the consumer can now be intimately involved in every step through very intuitive applications on their mobile device changes how real estate transactions work. Within the next two years we will start to see vertical integrations between the real estate transaction and other processes such as mortgage, title, appraisal, and insurance.  As the consumer becomes the center point of their transaction, they will have longer-term, digital relationships with their agents. Agents who grasp this will have a market advantage, as they will be able to bring new value to their clients beyond the traditional agent benefits.

  • How would you describe your experience working with Second Century Ventures, REach and NAR?

TG: Working with Second Century Ventures and NAR has given the DocuSign brand substantial value in the industry. Being a part of the NAR member benefits program has provided us with access to channels into the market that are just not available any other way. 

DocuSign as an organization started before the REach Program. However, our experience with NAR and the tremendous value that relationship brought us in the marketplace is, in a way, the model experience behind the REach program. I am fortunate to serve as an advisor in the REach program so it's cool to be able to give back where I personally and professionally have gained so much.

  • What advice do you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

TG: Nothing succeeds like persistence. If you have an idea, make it happen. Most people don't start, and many give up too early. Keep at it. Let your passion drive your persistence and success.

Jessica Graeser