Earlier this week I got the chance to represent InHouse at our first national conference- Inman Hacker Connect. If you work in real estate I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Inman, but for those of you that aren’t in the industry Inman is one of real estate’s most popular and trusted online periodicals. Twice a year, Brad Inman, the company’s namesake hosts one of the largest real estate conferences and trade shows called Inman Connect. The day before this year's Inman Connect conference in New York, Brad & company decided to launch a new “product” which they named Hacker Connect.
Hacker Connect was represented to the real estate community as an event to debate, discuss, and define the future of real estate’s most pressing tech issues. With only 400 attendees it made for a much more intimate setting than the rest of the conference which draws well over 1000, many of which are real estate agents.
Very few agents actually came to Hacker Connect. The audience makeup was diverse with tech entrepreneurs, MLS representatives, consultants, and members of the C-suite from some of real estate’s top brokerages and technology companies.
Real estate tech is an incredibly broad term. With that, the topics discussed throughout the one day event ranged from automating social media marketing to artificial intelligence. The topics that seemed to gain the most interest though were virtual reality, block chain technology, and smart home devices (which apparently nobody should put in their houses). The variety of topics at times could get overwhelming, but I am amazed at how people are utilizing technology to advance the real estate industry.
Brad Inman welcoming attendees to his first ever Hacker Connect
Throughout the day I was constantly thinking about what I could share with our customers and friends. There are technologies that have yet to be widely used in real estate that I’m really excited about, and other things I learned about that can have a direct and beneficial impact on InHouse and our users (more on that to come). Here are my 3 key takeaways from Hacker Connect and how they arose at the conference.
1. Design for the user
Peter Goldey from Witlytic shared with attendees some of the things he learned while growing his business in the 2000’s. His company produced API’s in their early days for clients and he didn’t think about each as a product. He shared that once the company defined the API’s as a product they designed their code to be more refined and friendly to the developers using it on their own applications. From this he shared that his company learned to design for the user.
Typically I think of user experience as how ordinary people interact with technology like apps and websites. It never occurred to me that user experience is at the heart of any product or service regardless of the consumer. To most API’s look like an insolvable cryptex, but as Peter Goldey pointed out even software developers prefer code that is easy to work with.
So what does this mean for you and your business? If you’re a real estate agent, design your service for your client’s wants and needs, not to get the highest commission check. Offering exceptional service to your clients is more likely to turn them into a referral engine for you, and don’t you get most of your business from referrals anyway?
2. Move fast and build things
Tarun Sharma from Facebook shared with us how dynamic ads play into marketing automation with Facebook. Dynamic ads are one of those incredibly cool technologies that is already making splashes in real estate and can improve how agents track leads from their website and Facebook. Tarun also talked for a bit about the social network's engineering culture. One of the phrases they live by is ‘move fast and build things’.
Move fast seems to be how most everyone lives day to day regardless of their line of work. It's that constant go that fills up your calendar with tasks, appointments, and reminders which often time causes stress. Take a step back from your daily moving; how much of that movement is directly related to accomplishing your goals? It is important to move quickly but it is equally, if not more important to recognize when your hard work isn't turning into significant results.
Building things is how you can measure your efforts in moving fast. In Facebook’s case the things they build are products that enhance their social network such as Messenger or Facebook Ads. It seems Facebook releases something new every couple of weeks which they can do because they’re a massive company, but also because they measure success by the new features and products they come up with.
3. What’s the thing you do that I should care about?
In the afternoon at Hacker Connect the attendees broke up into discussion sessions moderated by speakers from influential brokerages and tech companies. One of the discussions I attended was called ‘Buy or Build’ and it was about the things brokerages think about when going into a partnership deal with a tech company. As a co-founder of a tech startup who dreams of partnering with a national brokerage I found this session extremely insightful.
It should come as no surprise that the meetings between brokerages and tech companies are in depth negotiations. As is the case with any negotiation, everything comes down to convincing the other party to give up something of theirs that is valuable to you in exchange for something of yours that is valuable to them. In the case of brokerages adopting new technology their question to the tech company becomes ‘what’s the thing you do that I should care about?’
I learned that brokerages are, for the most part looking for 1 of 2 things when negotiating deals of this sort:
• A better mousetrap to something they already have, but will provide a 5x to 10x improvement in results
• A life changing solution to one or more of their problems that no one else has… yet
In either instance the brokerage wants this new technology solution to easily integrate with the systems they currently have up and running, and to give them a competitive advantage for the long term. Another layer of this, which was the basis for the discussion at Hacker Connect is whether it is even worthwhile for the brokerage to pay an external company to solve this problem for them, or if their in house tech team can build it themselves.
Twinkies and 5 Hour Energy: The official snacks of Hacker Connect
As I’m sure you can tell, the conversations at the first ever Inman Hacker Connect covered a lot of ground. If you’re interested in learning more about the event, other sessions, speakers, and topics I have provided a link to the Hacker website below.
Which technologies do you think are going to change real estate? Tell us in the comments below.