Why real estate needs more tech founders

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Real estate has lagged in terms of digital adoption and there’s a massive opportunity waiting for founders. Today’s guest is someone who seized it. I want to find out how he did it.

Matt Giffune is the founder of Occupier, an end-to-end lease lifecycle management software platform for commercial tenants.

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Matt Giffune

Matt Giffune

Occupier

Matt Giffune is the founder of Occupier, an end-to-end lease lifecycle management software platform for commercial tenants.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Joining me is Matt . He is an entrepreneur in real estate who had an idea launched.

It actually got people use it of my right map, but not pay for it the

Matt: Yeah. Yes, you’re correct. My re my original idea. We’ll we’ll call it an idea. Yeah.

Andrew: It was more than idea. You actually put it into action. And as a result, you ended up getting a job at a software company in the real estate world. And then you realize, oh, there’s a way to bring this idea back. And so it is back baby. It is called occupier. It’s got clients that are well-known to many of us and the company has traction and funding, which I know was hard for him to get.

And I invited him here to talk about how he did it, what happened the first time that. Kept it from taking off what he learned at the job, and then what’s doing, what’s working now. Why is it suddenly taking off the company is occupier. It’s an end-to-end lease lifecycle management software platform for commercial tenants.

What that means is. Uh, company wants to rent space and needs to manage the whole process of working with a broker or maybe even multiple spaces with multiple brokers. They can’t go and use a sauna the way you might, when you’re, when you’re doing project management for your company, they need software that’s meant for them.

And that’s what occupier. That’s what he built. I invited him here to talk about how he did it. And I should say thank you to the two sponsors for making this happen. The first, if you need to hire developers, go to lemon.io/mixergy. And the second, when you’re doing email marketing, especially when you’re shopping for new software, you got to include, send in blue in your, um, in the list of companies that you’re checking out.

Cause I think you’re going to be amazed by what they do, but I’ll talk about those later, Matt. Good to

have you here.

Matt: Thanks for having me, Andrew. Appreciate it.

Andrew: Give me an example. I, I really want to understand what this does, what occupier, um, how it helps real estate professionals. You were telling me before we got started about shake shack. One of your clients let’s use them as an example that represents, um, the other clients that use occupier

Matt: Sure. obviously they’re a household name and the burger business. Um, but a, a company like shake shack would deploy our software to help centralize all of their real estate decisions. Uh, really what that means is. Because real estate is typically the second largest expense for any business next to their people.

Um, there’s just a ton of data that is being managed throughout different departments in that business. And everyone needs access to it for some reason. Right. But if you just zoom in on real estate, you want to make the most optimized portfolio decisions. So you’re not costing your company money and building and risk into the business, uh, with, with faulty real estate decisions.

So. Really that there’s three pillars to that. The first is what we call transaction management. So if shake shack is planning on doubling in size over the next 12 to 18 months, uh, they have some ambitious goals that they need to hit, right? They got to open 150 new stores. They’re going to hire a broker to do that.

That broker is typically, supplying them with a ton of information, right. Sites, rents, landlords in negotiating with those landlords all at once prior to occupier being around that was really just happening offline in emails and documents and spreadsheets. So the information, yeah.

Andrew: be like, if it’s 12, let’s say that shake shack CRO would just use them as an example. This is obviously not their plan, but if they were going to open up 12 new locations in the next year, that broker would send them. Uh, information on multiple options for each of those 12 locations, including, uh, pricing spacing what’s around terms of the lease and all of that used to be sent by just what email

Matt: believe it or not. I mean, yeah, you hit the nail on the head. So if you have 12 locations, you’re probably evaluating at least 10 different bills. Location. So there’s 120 buildings there that you’re compiling all this information for. And that’s typically emailed over in like an Excel workbook or like a PowerPoint presentation and the end user client needs to make sense of all that information pretty rapidly so that they could get through that transaction process and get the doors open.

So you can imagine there’s just a lot of kind of information that slips through the cracks when it’s just being kind of pushed around via email in India.

Andrew: It’s so hard to believe that they’re still businesses, especially ones that have money that are still run that way. And I mean, we’re not talking about you starting this 20 years ago, 2018, I think is when you start, it’s hard to believe that that existed even back then.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of the opportunity that we see ahead of ourselves. Um, and this is obviously not the knock businesses, but real estate has typically been a laggard industry in terms of digital transformation. Um, so even some of the largest real estate. You know, known out there are still very much analog in the way they actually work.

But I think that’s changing because well, it’s an old school industry.

Andrew: why, why do you think it was so slow? Okay. Old school industry. Fine.

Matt: Um, I just think that technology really the PropTech space in which we play it didn’t really become Vogue for venture capitalists to invest in until call it 2011, 2012. And at that time, when. Investors started to realize that this huge asset class commercial real estate was still kind of working in the stone ages.

They started pouring a ton of money into it, but the problem that we saw, Andrew and myself, when we worked at VTS previously, was that all of that money predominantly it was being spent on, uh, software solutions that would help the landlord and the tenant still hadn’t caught up that innovation curve of how they actually work and how that actually impacts their business.

Are the actual true driver of demand in the commercial real estate market. So tendons don’t need space in the commercial real estate market goes down. So our theory was that if we can provide them with better tools, more access to data, better collaboration between all the stakeholders that are involved in the process, uh, that will bring that innovation curve more rapidly into the commercial real estate space.

It’s a combination of just like right place in the right time. And I think the pandemic really helped us just because all of a sudden, all of these businesses were caught with this huge question of how do we actually use real estate. Um, but it’s just one of those.

Andrew: What do you mean? How did the pandemic, how did the pandemic help you?

Matt: Well, if you think about an office occupier, for example, that has a hundred offices around the. Overnight. They had to send all their people home and figure out a completely different work arrangement, hybrid work from home, whatever it is. Right. Um, in each one of those leases, now they have to figure out what am I exposed to here?

Am I going to keep this. Do I have the ability to get out of this lease? Can I renegotiate the rent with my landlord, you know, to try to align with my new strategy. So all of those questions are almost impossible to ask if you don’t have that information at your fingertips. So if I have a hundred leases, All in the file cabinet, somewhere in PDF documents, it’s going to take me hours and hours, if not weeks, to just figure out what’s going on in my real estate portfolio.

So, because the pandemic was this black Swan event that just brought real estate into kind of the C-suite for every company. How are we going to manage this? They started to look for tools. So for us during the pandemic, like we saw exponential growth because companies were suddenly saying, we gotta, we gotta organize ourselves at a minimum, figure out what is in our portfolio.

Andrew: me analyze, they’re saying, help me analyze my leases. And so you digitize their leases, but then do you also extract information from their leases to make it easier to see what, what it would take to break up with the landlord

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: You do. Okay. All right. I’ve got now. I’ve got an understanding.

Sorry. We have a bit of a lag, but I have an understanding of how the business works today. Let’s go back and see how you got here. My understanding, having read a few, uh, interviews that you did online, um, was that you got into real estate because it was, well, tell me if I’m wrong. It’s it was exciting because there was money in the space.

It felt like there was big opportunity. It was, it was capitalism almost at its best because every deal is so different. Am I right about.

Matt: Yeah. I graduated from college really with no idea what I wanted to do with my career. Um, and you, you know, you just start working your network. And I knew a few people that were. Making good money and starting to build careers in the commercial real estate space. And it seemed like something that, you know, if you put in the right amount of work and you, you are fortunate enough to work at a good company, that you can build a good career and make a lot of money.

And that was a very basic way of thinking of how I’m going to start my career. But yeah, that that’s, that, that was the

Andrew: And you are going to be a broker as a broker. How good were you as a broker?

Matt: Oh, that’s a really good question. I mean, I’d like to think that I was great, but, uh, you know, there’s, there’s definitely brokers out there that were, you know, superior to me, but, you know, I think I spent about nine to 10 years in the business and I progressed through the career. So, you know, that was, that was definitely serviceable, but, and I wasn’t the Steph Curry of, of brokerage.

Andrew: Where I know you were a history major, um, you definitely were not going to make as much money following up with that. When you, when you’re first in second year, do you remember how Well, you did, how much money you were bringing in?

Matt: Well, I came in as an analyst and that was more of like a salary type of position. So, but I thought that was really actually helpful because I got to really understand the, kind of the basics of a real estate transaction. Um, and then, you know, over a couple of years you kind of move into a brokerage role and you’re almost doubling your.

Uh, just because there’s, you know, there’s, you, you get out what you put into it. So I was a fairly hard worker, so I’ve worked a lot. Um, but yeah, I would, I would say that if I had remained in that position, I would certainly be making fairly good living today.

Andrew: you were telling me before we got started that at one point you’re working with 12 different clients and that’s where you realize there’s a problem here. Describe what that was like.

Matt: Yeah, I think you’re alluding to the original startup idea I had, which I created a business around that never got off the ground. But when I was at JLL, I was, uh, spending half my time representing landlords and half of my time representing tenants. And on the landlord side, this was back in call it 2010.

1112. And those landlords would expect you to report activity from a leasing perspective on a weekly basis. And the way the industry did that back then was in an Excel spreadsheet. So every week we’re spending probably 25% of my time just filling out spreadsheets and giving updates to my clients. And I just thought that was ridiculous.

Like, why am I I’m a commissioned employee. I should be spending my time going out and getting business and transacting, not reporting to my clients. So my light bulb idea was why isn’t there a software platform where I could show space in a building, open up an app, give them all the information. And the landlord gets that in real time.

And then we can collaborate through that deal process from start to finish. And that would eliminate 25% of the time that I spend each week just updating landlords, via spreadsheets, and then getting on conference calls and talking about it.

Andrew: This was also with your co-founder Andrew, right? Two friends from

Matt: Uh, no, actually that’s actually how I met Andrew, which is very interesting is that Andrea at the time was working at VTS, which was the company that I ended up working for after I left JLL. And they were ahead of me basically working on the same problem. Um, and you know, Andrew, I think was on a business trip up to Boston where I was working at JLL.

He had left JLL previously and started working at VTS. Heard of heard about what I was working on and sounded like I would be a good fit for BTS. And at the time I was kind of fumbling my way through startup. I was, I had a full-time job. I was working on the side on the startup and it just merged really well with what VTS was doing.

They had raised their series, a financing, so that writing was on the wall to say, Hey, you know what? This is a good opportunity to just, you know, cut my brokerage career short here and then hop into VTS because I believe in the vision of that coming. Now there are unicorn. And for me, it was a great, it was a great career move.

Andrew: And the vision was that like software’s eating the world division was software’s going to eat the real estate world too. What was done in using paper and pencil and bad digital experiences was going to be reformed and be modernized on online software.

Matt: Yeah, Exactly.

Andrew: That was

Matt: I think if you, VTS is primary customer is a large institutional landlord or a local developer that has a portfolio of buildings and they didn’t have any really good software to manage the revenue and engine of their business, which was leasing. Um, so I think. The software that VTS created enabled a much more fluid way for, uh, property owners to, to understand their portfolio, to execute transactions and just generally have a better sense of how their portfolios.

Andrew: All right. Speaking of modern software, I should tell people my sponsor is send in blue. If you’re doing email marketing, you need all the tools of email marketing. And that means to be able to know who bought and who didn’t so that you don’t send a message, offering a discount to buy a. To someone who already bought it.

And it’s going to feel insulted that you are now offering it a lower price to everyone else. You want all those tools and you also want them in a way that is affordable in the beginning and reasonably and affordably priced throughout. And that’s the beauty of sending blue. If you’re looking for email marketing software, just even if you hadn’t heard of them, even if your friends aren’t using them, go Google them and you’ll see how many bigger companies are using them.

How long they’ve been around, how well-funded they are. And then. Try them out and you will see, send in blue has a strong email marketing platform. In fact, I shouldn’t even say email marketing because someone who I interviewed said, yeah, I can’t use them because we focus on SMS. Well, Yeah, they do SMS.

It’s all that outreach. It’s all in one package, reasonably priced, go check them out at, send in blue.com/mixergy. When you use that URL, you got an, uh, a reduction on their already low price and I’ll get a pat on the back from them. Send in blue.com/. W before we move on from the previous version, I’m impressed that you even created it, that you created a disability.

How far did you get, how much of a product did you have and who built it for.

Matt: Yeah, good questions. Um, I get, that’s fairly amount of a good amount of, uh, legitimate landlords in the Boston area to use it. I, so I came up with the idea, I started wire-framing it out, uh, just trying to figure out how the user would interact with it. I got to a point where I said, well, if I’d done all this work, I’ve got to figure out how to build this thing.

Um, I don’t have a software background. I didn’t really have, um, deep enough pockets to hire a development firm to go out and build this thing for me on spec. Um, so I just started networking in the local, uh, Boston software developer community. How was the real estate guy that would show up at, you know, engineering meetups and share my idea with people and ask if anybody wanted to put in some sweat equity and help me build this thing.

Um, and I met a guy who, uh, like the idea of. And had some bandwidth. So we go founded the business together. And when we started building it, um, obviously he did all the software engineering on the front end and the backend, you know, but I was the kind of the product manager that was, you know, making sure that the product actually solved the problems for the users.

And then from that point, um, I thought the easiest way to do it was to get my clients to use it. So I started using it with my clients.

Andrew: as they were using it? Did they get the results that you were expecting?

Matt: Yeah, I think it’s typical in the early aughts of the prop tech space is that, you know, some people didn’t care about technology that thought it was a nice to have, but others were in it daily and using it on a daily basis. So that was what motivated me was that, wow, I have a few customers who are like living in this thing and it’s really cool.

They’re giving me feedback or incorporating that feedback back into the product. Um, you know, but if I’m being. Introspective and honest about my abilities as an entrepreneur at that time, I didn’t know what I was doing. Right. I had a full-time job. I was just trying to get this thing off the ground. Uh, there was just a lot of drag coefficient, I guess, with, with trying to start a business.

You know, in hindsight, maybe should have just gone out and raised money initially so that I could leave my job and try to do it full time. But there were other factors at play as well, which, which I mentioned with BTS, they were already ahead of me in that, in that game. Um, so it kind of made more sense for me to join them rather than trying.

Andrew: After about four years, you decided to come back out, launch software again, what was the impetus?

Matt: Well, I joined BTS because I believe in their vision. And, um, I also wanted to use that as my own personal kind of MBA in kind of entrepreneurship. If you will getting in on the ground floor of a startup or teach me. Well, a lot more than that. I didn’t know already about building a business. Um, and you know, while working there, um, I saw this massive proliferation of the software in this, you know, previous, um, previously, you know, innovated space.

Um, and what I, what I was saying before is that. Venture capital investment that was going into this, the space was focused solely on the landlord. Um, so while we’re dealing with landlords and their brokers at VTS, it, it became very clear that there was an analog problem on the tenant side, not only for the tenants themselves, but also for tenant rep brokers, there really wasn’t a medium for them to execute a transaction online.

There wasn’t a way for. Tenants to collaborate with all the stakeholders in the business to understand their real estate portfolios and execute on, on faster and better, more accurate decisions. So that was where the idea kind of came while I was working at VTS and in that’s when I started talking about it with Andrew and, and we, we eventually launched it.

Andrew: What did you learn from working at VTS?

Matt: Well, I learned how to be a software salesman. I mean, a commercial real estate brokerage is a sales job first and foremost, but you also have to be a fiduciary advisor to your clients. So there’s actually a lot of, you know, plates to spin in the air being a commercial real estate broker. But what I learned at VTS was that, um, applying a solution to a very.

Uh, evident problem was a lot easier with software and real estate. There’s just a lot of nuance to getting a deal done and convincing a client to hire you versus your competitors with VTS. So it was very clear that this product solves. Like a clear problem for pretty much the entire industry. So what I learned was, if you could kind of harness that energy into, you know, honing your sales game, you can become a very successful salesperson, just selling software.

Um, I also. Well, I think I learned a little bit more how to hustle for things. Um, we were trying to convince a really old school industry to adopt a very new, uh, kind of novel approach to doing things that’s really hard thing to do, especially in the commercial real estate space. Uh, so I think that that kind of hardened me a little bit, uh, into being able to do that on my own when I was ready to start a business.

Andrew: Hmm. It seems like VTS has processes largely about just getting people to try a demo. And then once they get them to try a demo there, they’re basically on with a salesperson who understands their problem, shows how this BTS could solve it and close a sale that way. Right. Or is it also a lot of out, Uh, going out and talking to prospects?

Matt: it’s a lot of the latter actually. Um, yeah. From a pure kind of SAS software selling perspective. You’re, you’re trying to find the buyer and trying to align their problem with the solution that you have demo that solution and then move them through a sales process. So there is a kind of a standard flow in terms of the SAS selling process.

But as I kind of mentioned before, especially on the ownership side, the real estate space is, is very, very much an in-person business still. So we spent a lot of time going in market. Meeting with landlords meeting with brokers, doing in-person presentations, sponsoring events, hosting cocktail hours. It was, it was not like your typical SAS, uh, selling process.

And that’s what really, that’s what I really enjoy about the real estate space is that there is still this human element to it, uh, where you can actually interact with your customers. It’s not just, Hey, demo over the screen for, you know, an hour. And then here’s a contract or a quote there’s, there’s still a very much a kind of personal element.

Andrew: I see. And I get how that would fit your style. I think I read that at one point at JLL, you were evangelizing social media to the different offices. Like you’re the person who can go out, talk to people in bulk, have them understand, then have one-on-one conversations to close deals.

Matt: Yeah, I, I, yes, I kind of, I guess I call me an early adopter in terms of social media. Like this is like the mid two thousands early, early. 2006 to 2008, when Twitter’s just started coming out. You know, people are using LinkedIn for marketing purposes. I just saw the power of that because you can just expand your network so much wider, not necessarily from like a direct selling perspective, but just becoming a little bit more of a thought leader in your space.

And, um, I evangelize that among my peers at JLL and, you know, try to try to get. Get that as part of, kind of, at least for the younger generation, this is, this is one of the tools that you should put in into your tool chest.

Andrew: All right. So then you launched a company what’d you do differently this time?

Matt: Uh, well, we raised money immediately because we knew that we had to fund, um, the development of the software. Um, so, you know, when we left our jobs, we. Had these pretty powerful networks from our JLL days, from our VTS days, people that we knew throughout the business community that believed in us first and foremost is entrepreneurs that could execute.

But we knew that we were going to be playing a long game. So we went out and we raised money so that we could build a core team, uh, from the beginning that could execute on kind of the development and the go to market of the software platform. So taking all that stuff that I learned at VTS from a selling perspective, Uh, from a product management and development perspective, um, it was, it was much clearer at that point, what we needed to do versus my previous experience where I was just kind of winging it.

Andrew: I heard that it was difficult to raise money at first that there’s a lot more nos, a lot more difficult sales process than there is when you’re working for VTS or working in real estate. But you were trying to convince someone to give you money as an unfair on a, I don’t know, an entrepreneur without a track record in, in a space where customers are not eager and searching for new software.

Right? How was it.

What, what worked for.

Matt: Well, I think, I mean, I can kind of look and only speak to my experience. I’m not saying this is the path that every entrepreneur should take, but, um, You know, the way we looked at it was find people that could, that believed in us, in our ability to kind of sell the vision of the company. Um, which every point you just made all the difficulties, uh, you know, that people would bring up to us in those early pitches, for sure.

Word, for word, you know, objections that we we’d have to overcome, but, um, I think it’s all about just confidence and the belief in your idea. And you know, if somebody is not a fit because they’re not ready to invest at that time, then you just got to cross them off the list and keep going. Um, have some thick skin about it.

Andrew: Who’d you raise from and how much

Matt: Our first initial round was about million and a half of just friends and family and like early angel money. Um, so just people that we knew in our networks and some smaller institutional players that, uh, You know, take that early risk type of investment profile. And then as we progressed with traction and we started to get more revenue and show that this was a product that had, um, you know, product market fit, then, then we started, uh, attracting conversations with, uh, more institutional venture capital investors.

Um, so we, we initially raised two and a half million dollars in our initial kind of angel round. And then we rolled that into our seed round, um, for 5 million bucks, uh, Like right. Kind of during the pandemic, which was very interesting because it was all virtual.

Andrew: That is a lot, especially the friends and family part. I, it feels like that’s one of the advantages of being in the real estate world, where people do have money.

Matt: There is a lot of money swimming around out there for sure.

Andrew: Yeah.

All right. And then where’d you hire the developers and what did you build with all that money?

Matt: Well, our first hire was actually making Eric Pearson, a former colleague at VTS, uh, our, uh, CTO and technical co-founder. Um, and then, you know, he was able to tap into his network to bring some people on board. And then, um, you know, we just built the team around him. Um, and then, you know, from there it was like, okay, we have this product now we need to sell it.

Let’s try to hire a salesperson. We hired a young salesperson and then another one and kind of progressed them in, through, into the business. And now we’re in a stage now where we’ve. In our series, a of 11 million bucks, and now we have more dry Potter where we can actually go out and we’ve just hired a head of sales.

We have a director of marketing. We have the leaders in place now that we can hire around and actually, you know, have them build the teams in their image. Um, but the early days was, you know, convincing people to come and work at a startup that had a lot of upside, but certainly some risk.

Andrew: I’m looking at old articles here and they talk about how you got five guys, draft Kings Cinnabon, auntie Annie’s, who was the first customer. And how’d you get them to say yes. When you were just getting started.

Matt: Yeah, draft Kings was our first customer. yeah, this goes back to the real estate industry, being a small place. Um, Mack Friedman, who’s a good friend and the head of global real estate at draft Kings. A client of ours at BTS when he was working, uh, a, uh, New York city based landlord. Um, and he.

Uh, pretty recently started his new role at DraftKings, right around the same time we were starting to build the initial product. And, you know, we used our conversations with Mac to help develop the product. And obviously with the idea that, Hey, if we build this, will you, will you use it and will you pay for it?

And the answer was yes. Uh, so they, they were our first customer and, um, super integral to our early success. And then we kind of built that same. We follow that same playbook with, you know, a few other people that we knew in the industry. You know, signed up our first wave of customers that way. Um, and then it wasn’t really until about a year in that we actually decided to kind of put some resources into like a go to market motion from an outbound sales perspective, because we wanted to get the platform stabilized.

We wanted to have a little bit of a track record before we started actually selling it.

Andrew: All right. Quick mention to my second sponsor. It’s actually, they’re not paying for this. Their ads already ran out, but I want to support them because they’re Ukrainian company, Matt and the founder now is an exile because he had to escape and. He is donating every dollar that he makes this year. If he makes a profit to help support his country.

But more importantly, he’s saying the people who work in Ukraine for him are going to continue to get paid because he wants to support them the way that they supported him over the years. So I want to be there and help them out and say that if you’re out there and you’re hiring developers, go and support a local or not local, a friend of this podcast and entrepreneur who you’ve seen probably online on Twitter.

Share his story as he’s building up his company. And what you’ll get is as soon as you go to lemon.io/mixer, G you’ll be able to tell him who you’re trying to hire, what role you’re trying to fill. And they’re, they’re focused on developers. They will help match you with someone. If you like them, you can work with them.

If you don’t, you can move on. I’m not telling you do it.

as to the sense of duty for them. I’m telling you they’re a great company that will find the right person for you. And I want to be there for them at a time when they’re, uh, frankly, continuing to grow despite this and continuing to support their people despite what’s going on.

So if you want to work with them, go to lemon.io/mixergy, challenged them to find phenomenal developers for you. If they. Move on. If they do, you’re going to be able to fill in your team with, um, with someone or several someones who are great and will cost much less than developers from other places.

lemon.io/mixergy. And I’m grateful to them for, uh, working with our customers, with my audience. Excuse me. All right. First people, we’re all friends. What did you hear people that you knew from the industry? What did you hear from them when they were telling you what they needed? That was unexpected. That was, that was more helpful than you then you would have been able to, uh, more useful than you would’ve been able to find on your.

Matt: That’s a good question. I think it was more around just validating the assumptions that we had every, every early stage customers. So customers that we talked to today, um, have some story where they made a mistake with, with a real estate decision that costs the company a lot of money. Um, and that’s kind of that pain that you’re looking to draw out when you’re having that, that initial kind of sales conversation.

Um, but from DraftKings perspective, Kind of a funny story. We went in and met with them in their office. This is obviously pre pandemic when people are meeting in offices and. Tiny offices like teaming with people they’re growing like crazy. They just raised a ton of money. And you know, this is all on the shoulders of Mac to make sure that, you know, the, the engineers have good office space and they have enough space to kind of fill their growth needs and you go into his cubicle and it’s literally just like sticky notes all over his computer screen.

That’s how he was managing his workflow, uh, at that time,

you know? So that was one of those ones where are like, wow, this is actually worse than we thought it was. There’s people that are using sticky notes to do their job. So. Uh, that was, that was obviously an eyeopening thing, but, um, every company has some kind of horror story about, you know, something that went wrong with the real estate.

And usually you can draw that right back to the fact that they didn’t have access to their information at the right time in order to make that decision.

Andrew: And this is a tech company too, you know, it’s not like somebody who’s in old world. Like I would understand the company that sells, uh, pretzels at the mall. Maybe they don’t need updated software, but DraftKings is. It’s one of the winners in this, in the tech space. All right. Um, you built it after going through your network, what was the next step? What did you, how did you develop your sales process after that?

Matt: well, I think back to your question about what do we learn at VTS is, is how to build a re repeatable, scalable kind of like go to market. And we’re still in the process of learning how to do. Really well and make it a well-oiled machine. But, um, you know, we just, we just hired some people to put resources towards getting our message out in, in front of the.

You know, the ideal customer profile and we were pretty disciplined on what that was at the time. Uh, if you think about the number of companies that occupied real estate, right? There’s millions of them. If you think about the ones that actually have larger portfolios, it gets a little bit smaller, but there’s still hundreds of thousands of businesses that you could potentially sell this software to.

If we were to just do the spray and pray approach of, Hey, let’s just sell the same thing to everybody. I think that would. Something that would have slowed us down. We probably would’ve got bogged down with the wrong types of customers. So we narrowed our ideal customer profile into high growth businesses because we knew that they had the same pain points as DraftKings.

They were growing fast. They probably hadn’t deployed software for the real estate yet. Uh, they had a lot of unknowns, uh, in their, in their future real estate plans. So by centralizing their real estate workflows and your data, it would give them an advantage while they’re continuing to scale. Um, so. By doing that, we were able to really focus in our messaging on that type of customer.

And then the flywheel started growing faster, um, because we were very focused on who you were selling to. At the same time, we realized that the brokerage world who represented these companies could also benefit not only from our software, but from having a better way to communicate with their clients.

So we started evangelizing our product to the brokerage committee. Who had been work as kind of like a sales channel for us by bringing our software in front into their clients. Um, so that was the initial strategy and it’s still working today. Um, and then, you know, as soon as again, more attraction, you, you start getting more revenue, you start getting more investment dollars, you have more money to play with, to help kind of experiment more and grow the team.

Andrew: What’s your process now to figure out what to do to add to the software and how to improve.

Matt: that’s a good question. So we have, we have an awesome product team and that, um, works on an agile development methodology. So every two weeks we’re shipping new, new product into the, into the platform, but it directly comes from feedback from our customers and from our prospects. So

Andrew: Do you know how you collect it? What’s the process for collecting that

feedback?

Matt: Yeah. Good question. So we do a lot of research, outbound. Like we talk to our customers constantly and one method through which we do that is our customer success team. They’re constantly in touch with our clients and hearing what they want more out of the software, what they like. And then we build towards what we think the customers are going to need and what they’re telling us, uh, we have a longer-term product roadmap that we always backstop, um, development against.

But it’s really just 100% purely customer driven.

Andrew: All right before we close this out, what do you do for

fun? What’s your non-work thing?

Matt: Well, I got, I have twin six and a half year old boys. Um, so when I’m not at, at work, I’m usually spending time with, uh, with my spouse and them a coach, a bunch of their sports teams. Uh, so they absorb a lot of my time. I try to stay active in the warm weather months. I like to ride my bike. I like to work out in the cold weather months, take the kids skiing and stuff like that.

Uh, you know, there’s, there’s not a lot of bandwidth, but, uh, you know, what, what is leftover? I usually like to try to spend with.

Andrew: Work out or spend time with your family. It feels like that’s, uh, where my energy goes when I’m not doing, you

know, things that. Okay. I need to do for work. It’s great though, when you get active kids, because then they, they drive the experience with you at mutton. And this is the sucks to say, but I’d much rather go and be active with my

kids.

Then, you know, do crafts with my kids.

Matt: Yeah, you got to do the crafts, but if you can get them outside and get them playing with a ball or a hockey stick or something like that, then you know, you can actually kind of participate with them and it’s fun. Um, yeah, you got to keep them active, especially today when it’s very easy to just put them in front of a screen.

Andrew: So now I’m in Austin. We were doing a lot more of that. When we were in San Francisco, I take them on the train and we just go explore or we go walking around. Um, we’re not, Austin’s way more spread out. So it’s a lot. Let’s go drive out and explore the city, unfortunately, but south by Southwest happened here.

Not too long ago. I took them for a walk through the whole south by Southwest experience without going into the actual conference. My kid wants some slack socks and they got cotton candy. And you know,

all the kids’ stuff that’s aimed at.

All right, man. Well, thank you so much. The website is occupier.com and I am grateful to the two sponsors send in blue.com/mixergy and lemon.io/mixergy. Thanks, Matt.

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