How to get your real estate startup noticed

Life in a real estate startup is hard. 

You deal with impenetrably arcane MLS regulations. Your competition is likely well entrenched and comfortably ahead in the steak dinner arms race.

Furthermore, there’s tension at every level of our industry: between associations, brokers and their agents. It’s confusing, it’s contradictory and it requires a huge investment of human resources to untangle the knots.

And yet people still choose to get into this space. It’s remarkable.

Over the years I’ve spoken with hundreds of entrepreneurs trying to launch new ideas into this category. They’re usually bright-eyed and optimistic, have perceived some sort of inefficiency or opportunity, and have burned thousands of hours trying to solve a problem.

I find this a source of constant inspiration and love speaking to them.

Despite their differences, they nearly always have the same question, though. Almost every conversation I’ve had ends like this: How do I tell people about what I’ve been building?

There are some obvious first-steps, I usually reply.

Reach out to the reporters at Inman. Talk to the bloggers at GeekEstate, Tech Savvy Agent and AG Beat. Try to book an appearance on one of the web shows like Watercooler and Agent Caffeine.

Get the word out.

Second, make friends. Seek out the industry’s thought leaders (the Inman 100 is a good place to start). Connect with them on social media. Join one of the many technology-focused Facebook groups. Don’t pitch them, though; engage.

Finally, apply to events like Realogy’s FWD Summit, where you may just get a chance to pitch your product from the stage. The competition is tough, but the opportunity is huge.

Beyond that, it’s going to be a long, hard slog. And that usually means showing up at one or many of real estate’s events.

The trade show is a necessary evil in almost every industry. The upshot is that everyone you need to talk with is usually in one place. The downside is, well, attending these shows is expensive, physically draining and your message often gets drowned out in all the noise.

That’s why I usually recommend startups avoid the big shows – Inman’s Connect being the only exception – and focus on the more intimate gatherings that take place throughout the year. They’re usually cheaper and much more accessible to the first-time entrepreneur. Take in an event like RETSO or RealTech.

Last year, I attended the RealTech conference in San Francisco and I’ll let you in on a little secret. It was one of the best shows I attended all year.

It was small and the talks were all smart and highly relevant to technology. There were opportunities for meaningful dialog and to get real feedback on your ideas and product.

So go on, get out there. I’ll be at both of these shows this year. I hope to see you there.

Marketing your real estate startup doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Doing any one of these things could help launch your big idea.

And, as always, if you’re working on something cool, drop me an email or give me a call. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.


[Disclosure: Realogy is a 1000WATT client.]