Real Estate Webmasters report on the industry.
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Failing prop tech companies. You’re not going to make it. Now what?
Ever since my post iOi article I have received a lot of interest from companies and founders asking me to give feedback on, evaluate or acquire their businesses. Some really awesome people with great vision and a love for prop tech just the kind of people I love spending time with. There are also some really exciting companies that are growing, have a great customer base, have not over leveraged debt, are at or near profitability and have a unique product set that could really benefit REW and our customers. I’m extra excited about the potential to have some of these companies and their people join REW. We’re being super picky about where we put our resources (time and investment funds) but I think in 2020 you’ll see some great new additions to the REW family. But those aren’t the companies I want to address today. What about the ones who are clearly not going to make it. Sadly many of the companies that reach out to me do not appear that they can stay in business. Here is the typical formula I see: Founder has lots of enthusiasm for the idea and has not given up on “hitting it big” and wants to get an investor or sell for a multiple of revenue. Growth appeared strong in the beginning through the “early years” Company has sales ($500k-$5M in ARR) but has never made a profit and is in massive debt. Pricing strategy is all wrong (typically too low) hence the lack of profit with no ability to increase and keep customers. No more funding available: Investors / lenders realize the company has overspent and does not have a viable model and are going broke (some now want their $ back) The product already exists and is not innovative or competitive with already established options. They can’t afford to change the product now and clearly run out of time. Assessing the situation 2 types of founders: Dreamers and the caring Realists All the folks I speak to are truly unique, but there tend to be 2 types of founders when it comes to assessing the situation. Dreamers: The conversation goes like this: If I just had more money, more time or the right partner, I would make this thing work These folks are hard to deal with, because often times no matter what you say to them, they are so dead set on winning, that they can’t recognize that they have already lost. This is going to be hard for them to read, but I do hope they do. 1: If you can’t do it small and right, then you can’t do it big and right. Not one person is ever going to invest in your failed model that clearly isn’t working. Either your product is wrong, your go to market is wrong, or you are not the person to be running this kind of company. It doesn’t really matter though. If you fail small, you will crash and burn at scale. It gets WAY harder. 2: A different company / founder that is more successful will make this work. So I want them to take over and be a part of it and get rich. If the problem is actually not the product but it is actually the founder or the go to market this is actually possibly true. But here is the thing about this situation, if someone else is going to create the value in the company post acquisition you cannot sell that value back to them. What "they" can achieve after buying your company literally has nothing to do with you. So all you have is a product (and likely one that already exists or is not that expensive to create) so given the amount of risk involved in acquisitions, the time it takes to transition customers etc there is really zero value in the company. No one is going to pay you for it. Their money is better spent on their own, already profitable company that carries no risk and does not need to deviate from their model and deal with the hassle of an acquisition. 3: My company is worth “x” multiple because much bigger companies are worth “x” multiple. Nope Small, not profitable companies don’t get multiples of revenue. Sorry. They don’t get multiples of EBITDA either (that wouldn’t even make any sense, since there is negative EBITDA). 4: But I have all this revenue Top line revenue attached to a fundamentally flawed business model where you had to spend $3 to make $1 makes absolutely no sense. It’s a failed company. Sure you might have started with lots of funding (perhaps in the millions) but if you spent $3M and only made $1M that is even worse. Revenue alone means nothing to a companies valuation. It is an asset (I’ll talk about it that later) but you cannot sell people revenue as if it were amazon stock. You’ll get pennies on the dollar if you’re lucky. The person buying has to turn this around and clearly that is not going to be easy. I have a hard time with the dreamers. Admittedly I get frustrated with their inability to assess their situation when the cold hard facts are staring them in the face. I “hope” that a bit of tough love and a dose of truth can help them go from dreamers to realists, but I fear for most, they will choose to crash and burn (and get nothing back for their investors or themselves) because they could not look at their situation objectively. The Caring Realist: On the other side are the caring realists. They have gotten here in much the same way, but they realize the dire nature of their situation and they need help. I call them realists because these folks aren’t trying to get rich or expecting someone else to fix their broken company. They get it. They tried. They failed. They are in debt. Now what? I call them caring realists because they also have another set of characteristics. What about my customers? These founders have sold all these customers on their dream. The customers are relying on them to continue to deliver a product to them, often times the customer has put a lot of time, effort and money into the product and it’s going to be really hard on them to have to switch. A lot of time, cost and frustration. The caring realist knows this, and they really want to find a way to help their customer in any way they can. What about my people? These founders have employees. People that believe in them and have often times sacrificed many years at lower pay than they might have gotten elsewhere in order to help realize the founders dream. They love the customers, are proud of the product. The caring realist loves their people and wants to do right by them. This is the best quality of the caring realist. Bless you for this What about my investors? Often times with small companies the investors are small too. Maybe even friends and family. The reality is if the company goes under (and it is going to) these people will lose all of their money. It is the risk that investors make (they are betting big on a gamble for a big reward) but the reality is it sucks when you lose all of someone else’s money. The caring realist knows that it was them that convinced them to invest and feels obligated to help return as much value to the investors as possible. Being a realist they also know it will not be anywhere near the amount invested. I’m one of these companies, what do I do now? The way I see it, there are really 4 options for you. Taking any one of them means giving up on your dream and accepting that you did not realize the goals you had set out for yourself, but 3 of the 4 allow you to extract some value in most situations. Wind down / Profit extraction: You have customers and a product they are paying for, so there is revenue there. You also probably have a ton of costs causing you to not be profitable. If you choose the wind down / profit extraction option this basically means shedding all possible costs in order to extract profit where there was none before. For example, if you are winding down you likely will not be investing any more into the product, and thus you can get rid of your developers, your designers and their management. You are probably not going to be actively selling the product any more (that would be very wrong) and thus your sales and marketing staff can go. Since you’re extracting profit, you will also likely reduce even necessary staff to the bare minimum needed to keep the product on life support. This “can” (and most of the time does) allow you to extract “some” value. But it really is not a fun process. Here’s a few things to consider when thinking about winding down: Your customers will ALWAYS leave you much faster than you think. Once the product and service starts to dip they are gone. Don’t count on a large group of them sticking around for a long time. Your staff are going to leave too. I’m talking the ones you thought you might keep to support the product. They know what’s going on. The moment they see you winding down the company they will start looking for jobs (if they have’t already) and they should. They owe you nothing at this point and have to look out for themselves. Your personal reputation is going to take a hit. People are going to write nasty reviews about you (both employees and staff) this model is seen as the most selfish of models and can feel very personal. You have to see these people online or on the streets and you have to be able to live with how you chose to handle the shut down of your company. You can mitigate somewhat by being as honest and transparent as possible but it’s still going to be a negative. Buyout Company: There are lots of these (take constellation for example). These companies are looking for great deals. They want to buy your company, optimize it in many ways in order to turn into a profitable company and extract value for their shareholders. What it generally means though is that you are going to get extremely low cash offers. You might have $2M in revenue and get an offer of $250,000 for you company (and rightly so your company isn’t worth anything, it’s failing). As for your people and customers. There is no protection for them. These companies can (and often do) come in and get rid of your entire team (they have far more experienced teams that handle these types of platforms) and can often times increase the price quickly without any new product offering or innovation. It’s a slow death for most acquired companies as customers leave and the buyout firm extracts their profits. It’s the least amount of cash of the 4 options, but it is an option. Earn out partner: This is where REW generally plays. Earn out partners are strategic in nature and partner with you to maximize the potential profits for themselves, but also in doing so maximize your potential extraction for yourself and your investors. Why is called an earn out? Because you are not being paid cash up front for your company. Your earn out partner (let’s say in this case REW) has to invest significantly up front in creating a transition and retention strategy in order to make the acquisition make sense. So the earn out partner is investing $, they are just not giving it to you up front. The way I look at these deals goes something like this: Spend 6 months post acquisition ensuring the customers are going to be transitioned and taken care of the right way. Give the staff ample time and notice to find new jobs OR if they are great and their skill set is needed, we may be able to offer them a new, more stable job. Create a strategy that “adds value” to the customer. Convince them that by being acquired the product is going to be replaced with something better. Give them special pricing and incentives to move and commit to a term. Treat the customers with extra love and provide extra support taking care of as much of the migration and hassle as possible. Help them understand that the transition was an alternative to shutting down and that you found the best possible partner for the customers. Over the next 3 years or less we work together to transition the customers to REW. Not going to lie, 25-50 of them will be gone in the end. This process is disruptive and we cannot force customers to participate in your earn out (especially if they are not contracted) But let’s say 70 on average stay. What might that look like on an earn out? Here is some complete hypothetical math (note every deal is different, please do not ask for this math I’m just using easy numbers to calculate they don’t represent actual numbers) Let’s say you had the following: 1,000 customers $200 per month per customer $2.4M ARR Average customer retention after 3 years 70 50 earn out on profit $200 profit per customer per month after transition So the math here is quite easy: The “average” customer number over the 3 years is 70 or 700 customers. 50 of the profit at $200 per month per customer is $70,000 per month Over a 36 month term would net you $2,520,000 in this scenario. These are funds you could use to pay back your investors or if you do not have any, these are funds you get to keep. Fundamentally you end up selling a zero profit company worth nothing in this fictitious scenario for $2.5 million dollars. And of course the last option: Fail / Go Bankrupt: This is an obvious outcome if you do not choose a different option. Everyone loses in this scenario. Conclusion: Obviously I’m partial to the earn out model because that is the space we play and it mitigates the risk on our side while maximizing the potential final sale price on the seller side. But different people have different needs at different times. Sometimes you’re just done, don’t have that much debt and want to walk away. you might look at a buyout (we do those too, but we like a buyout firm in that scenario) Sometimes you’re just stubborn and are convinced you’re going to make it. If you're a dreamer: My advise is read the article again. If you're a Caring Realist I’m on a 7 hour flight from Lisbon to Toronto, if you want to reach out and have a conversation about anything in this article feel free to hit my up on FB chat or send me an email. I love talking about this stuff and I’m always happy to help or give advice where I can. I can’t promise to save your company, but I will give you the best advise I can. Morgan
09/28/2019 07:03 PM
How Much Not Having a Website is Costing You - The 2020 Edition
So it’s the end of 2019 and we're coming into the beginning of 2020. I’m headed over to one of my favourite conferences, the One C21 conference for Century 21 Canada. Before I head out, I touch base with our customers. I send out a blast email letting them know about a new CRM, a new promo etc (you know doing my sales & marketing thing) and for those that write back I also ask them a very important question. “How has your experience with REW been so far?” I ask because I genuinely want to know. I want to make sure we’re as good as we can be, but also since I know I’m headed to a conference where we have hundreds of customers, I need to be prepared to work on any relationships that need love. "Run towards any problems” that is what Tim from my team says. And yes, there were a few folks that said they’d like to bend my ear. There always is. Sometimes expectations aren’t met, sometimes timelines aren’t met, or sometimes we just plain screwed it up somehow and need to make it right. That’s the point of asking. But I’ll also say that the responses were overwhelmingly positive overall. Lots of really happy / engaged customers who were excited to tell me about their results and show me their leads app, or deal sheets. One such response from Sharon Clark, an agent out in Saskatchewan got me thinking, man I should really update my commentary on websites and their effectiveness if you use them right (which means following instructions, implementing the basics, doing some lead generation and actually following up with every lead). So I titled this post “how much “not” having a website is costing you. 2020 edition. I wanted to write it because as I was at the conference most of the agents talked about the “expense” of a website and lead generation (as if it was an expense and not an ROI generating activity). These are the same agents that did NOT have a website or lead generation program and were speaking from a place of inexperience (or in some cases poor past experience with past vendors and they had given up). So let’s talk real numbers for a second here. Sharon’s quote (with her permission of course) is below: “So far we've been super happy with REW and our website and are really looking forward to the new CRM. As far as leads go, since Jan 1, 2018 we have had 677 leads and if I remember right our conversion rate for 2018 was 2.8. We haven't done our conversion rate for 2019 yet but it looks like it's probably on track to do the same.” 677 leads (a strong sample set)2.8 conversion (And that’s just in the first year they are captured, there is more gold still left in that database Simple arithmetic says that is equal to approximately 19 deals Let’s talk about what that means in terms of potential commissions. Now, I’m going to use some hypotheticals here because everyone’s structure is different. So we’re going to use some common US numbers: $500,000 house = $15,000 GCI 19 Deals x $15,000 GCI = $285,000 GCI 80 / 20 split with a broker means $228,000 to the agent (again insert your own splits and numbers) So how much would these deals have cost to generate at Real Estate Webmasters? Here it is, retail. A site with us (not including any promos) is $5,000 USD one time ($1,666 if you amortize over a 3 year term) SAAS fees for single agent are $300 USD per month (so $3,600 per year). Add $50 a month for a texting module and that’s another $600 USD Cost for 677 leads? Let’s use a high number, let’s say $20 per lead (many markets are less than this). That means the leads are costing you $13,540 And finally, what does REW charge to manage your budget? We charge 20 of said budget, so 20 off that is $2,708 Let’s add it all up for the year: $1,666 + $3,600 + $600 + $13,540 + $2,708 And the grand total is? $21,514 USD To make $228,000? Subtract your cost and this means by NOT having a website and lead gen, you are potentially costing yourself over $200,000 in lost business. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND Now again, every market is different. Leads can be a little more (or a little less) conversion can be more (or less) etc, but if you play with these numbers ANY way you like you’re going to find that website + lead generation more than pays for itself if you follow the program. And this is not just one example: Gary B (ironically from the same area) pulled me aside at the first nights party, he opened up his leads app and excitedly showed me almost 3,000 leads generated this year My good buddy Stephen? since signing up 6,575 leads (and that’s just his first site with us) he has a whole other custom one that has 2,761 hyper targeted condo leads. That’s almost 10,000 leads generated since starting with us less than 2 years ago. Just a few months ago, I had a visit from a young man right here on Vancovuer Island. He lives in an expensive town (high price point, high cost per lead) he’s projected to do 20 deals this year too, and it’s his FIRST YEAR IN REAL ESTATE How? He just follows the program. Forced registration, follow up with every lead. That’s it Here he is sharing his experience in his own words. The point of this post IS to sell you something. I’m not hiding that at all. What I’m selling is that a well run, PPC program on a “stock” (not custom website) with proper follow up WILL generate an amazing ROI. **Update: REW Client AJ just messaged me some incredible stats after seeing this post: He's currently generating over $100,000 GCI PER MONTH using his REW website + PPC. I don't even want to share his stats because quite frankly they are TOO GOOD and I don't want to set unrealistic expectations on CPL but this is with under 300 leads per month generated. The guy is a deal closing machine Congrats AJ These are facts folks: It’s time to silence the folks who sell “other things” (which may also work btw) when they try to say “websites aren’t of value” “lead gen is dead” etc. Really? Because you don’t sell it or you’re not good at it? C’mon Websites + PPC quite frankly are still one of the most reliable sources of deals available. Anyone who wants help setting up their site AND their campaigns exactly like we’ve done for these folks, sign up and register for the forums as well. I will personally join you there and help you get the best results possible from your campaign. A big part of this is still you (you still have to text, call and email right away). But if you can do that, and you’re good at sales, you’re going to like where we go with this. So how about it? You in? It’s time to stop losing money by NOT investing in your web platform and lead gen. You can contact me on any form at Real Estate Webmasters.com to get started
09/22/2019 12:57 AM
Real Estate Webmasters Named on 2019 Growth 500
News release BC Tech Company Ranked on 2019 Growth 500 For 7th Year in Row Real Estate Webmasters' continuous trend of growth isn't slowing down anytime soon NANAIMO, BC (September 12, 2019) — Canadian Business and Maclean’s ranked Real Estate Webmasters today as one of Canada's fastest growing companies on the 2019 Growth 500, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Produced by Canada’s foremost business and current affairs media brands, the Growth 500 celebrates the most innovative and important businesses in Canada. Companies are ranked on five-year revenue growth, telling the story of the companies who are shaping our country and making Canadian history today. Real Estate Webmasters ranked 278 on the 2019 Growth 500 list with a five-year revenue growth of 303. “The companies on the 2019 Growth 500 are truly remarkable. Demonstrating foresight, innovation and smart management, their stories serve as a primer for how to build a successful entrepreneurial business today,” says Beth Fraser, Growth 500 program manager. “As we celebrate over 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurship is healthier than ever in this country.” "It is an honour to be named again on this list," shares Morgan Carey, Real Estate Webmasters CEO. "We are lucky to have one of the most innovative teams in the industry, incredible partners, and amazing clients — we wouldn't be able to grow as fast as we have without them. We truly believe RelationshipsMatter and for us, it has meant we could grow and thrive by living that philosophy every day." Real Estate Webmasters (REW) only seems to be gaining even more momentum In last month's announcement, the Canadian Government joined Google and RE/MAX Europe in partnering with REW to develop an international, multilingual MLS system, the first of its kind in the world. Through this project, REW will bring North American-born data standards architecture (RESO) to the world, REW has positioned Canada as a global data leader in one of the most visible categories, residential real estate. “Real estate is something that affects everyone’s life in some way. Everyone needs a home, whether you are renting, buying your first home, or buying your last, the health of the real estate industry directly affects our every day lives,” shares Carey. "We have ambitious plans for the future," he continues. . "We are looking at the big picture and how real estate technology is the key to unlocking huge economic potentials for Canada and beyond." Winners on the 2019 Growth 500 will be profiled in a special print issue of Canadian Business published with Maclean’s and an online at CanadianBusiness.com and Growth500.ca. CEO's from each of the winning companies also receive a special invitation to the exclusive Growth 500 CEO Summit. Media Contact Jacqueline Salvino Communications | Web Marketing Real Estate Webmasters email@example.com About Real Estate Webmasters (REW) CEO: Morgan Carey realestatewebmasters.com Real Estate Webmasters is the market leader and developer of real estate websites, CRM, and lead-generation software, serving over 75,000 users across North America. The company's commitment to innovation has positioned them as a driving force in the real estate technology industry, with their impact expanding globally. Real Estate Webmasters has staff in Nanaimo, Vancouver, Montreal, and Sacramento, which includes nearly 150 in-house developers, designers, brand and marketing specialists, and support staff. About Growth 500 Editor David Thomas growth500.ca Celebrating its 31st anniversary in 2019, the Growth 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies—previously known as the PROFIT 500—ranks Canada’s top private and public companies based on five-year revenue growth. Results of the annual ranking, with stories profiling the growth leaders who make the list, will be published in a special report in the October issue of Maclean’s magazine (reaching millions of readers from coast to coast) and at CanadianBusiness.com. Quebec-based winners are also featured in L’actualité magazine’s ranking of Les Leaders de la croissance. - Source: canadianbusiness.com
09/12/2019 11:05 AM
REW CRM Launch Promotion: New Vision Hybrid IDX & CRM
The new Real Estate Webmasters CRM is FINALLY HERE Our team is just in the final stages of testing the brand new features of the latest REW CRM and this update is MASSIVE We've always had an epic lead generation and lead follow up platform, but now we have the best of both worlds: instant lead follow up AND true CRM functionality. This is the first phase in a multi-stage release over the next few months—we know our customers have been excitedly waiting for this to come The new REW CRM Includes: Brand new fully responsive UI/UX New modern customer Lead Details Layout: fully responsive, complete with a Communications Centre AND Activity Centre, consolidating all vital details onto one page Adoption Engine: This new visual tool teaches agents exactly what to do with each lead, and shows them what tasks are still due and what tasks are left to complete Customer Stages: Leads, contacts, and clients are now available as stages, which are totally searchable with the new search system Custom Fields: Major upgrades have been made to the custom fields UI, allowing for quick display of created custom fields (short text, long text, numbers and dates supported) New Chat/Message System: Communicate directly with your leads via the message function in the communication center via an iOS-style, threaded UI Event Creation/Tracking: Similar to Sales Force, you can now create any kind of future dated event you like in the system. It is added to your calendar as well as the event tracking center within the CRM Enhanced Saved Search: Right from the backend, access a massively enhanced saved search creation tool. Organized by all the most important features in the MLS, you can easily curate saved searches for every lead right from the customer screen I could talk for days about the new features in this system, but for now, I'll just drop this teaser video. Once you watch it, scroll down, because there is also an EPIC promotion available for any current customer wanting to upgrade and any new potential customer wanting to join the REW Family. September promotion, celebrating our loyal customers For "Launch" Customers ($500 per month 25 users and below) Existing customers on "current" platform: The first part of the promotion is the easiest to explain. For those existing customersthat already have a Vision Site, Discover Site, or are upgrading to the Vision - Hybrid, this upgrade is completely free If you have custom work in your backend you should still speak to your account manager, but the upgrade itself (outside of your custom work), totally FREE you're just going to get it. Thank you for your business, we appreciate youExisting customers on older platforms (deprecated): This next part is still pretty easy. If you don't have a Vision Site, Discover Site, or if you are planning to upgrade to the Vision-Hybrid and you were waiting until the new CRM came up to pay the $5,000 for a new site, forget about it As long as you don't want any custom work, you can have an upgraded site for free too All we ask is that you rip / replace your existing contract to the date you order. No changes in fees (assuming you are on current fees), no setup fees and we'll still have our CSM's (Customers Success Managers) handle the migration of your leads database, searches, and help you get your content moved over. No extra cost. The normal $5,000 USD setup fee for these sites, it's waived, it's on us Thank YOU for your business :)But what if you want custom work?Do we have a deal for you If you do want custom work, you can pay the $5,000 setup fee and when you sign your contract for your new site we will give you $7,500 of custom work via our retainer program in exchange. So basically as long as you were planning $5k worth of custom work anyways, doing it this way gets you a gift of an extra $2,500 custom work on us Referral Bonus: Do you know someone else who might want an extra $7,500 of custom agency work with their purchase? As an existing customer if you refer us another customer not only will they get in on this awesome deal, we will bonus you $1,000 of retainer work OR $500 cash, whichever you prefer. How are we going to track this? Add myself and Laura Monroe our head of industry to Facebook if you have not already. Make a post about your positive experience with Real Estate Webmasters and how you are excited to be upgrading (and what you love about the new platform) and simply tag us in the post. Invite those interested to post a comment below and we'll take it from there We will track who was referred and if they order, we will arrange your credit. Terms: "Rip and replace" means restarting your 36 month contract from the date you sign. "Retainer program" is delivered evenly within first 90 days of install. Hours must be used within this time period as they will have taken time in our schedule (we reserve your spot in production). Available to customers on current pricing plans Promotion Ends Sept 30th (orders must be signed by this date) Referrals are on 36 month contracts only. Only 1 referral payment per referred customer (based on the first tracked referral) if more than 1 customer refers the same person, the first referral by date tracked will be paid. Note: Currently installs of new sites signed up for today are scheduled for early October 2019, however, the line is forming quickly, so please place your request ASAP to ensure front of line access.
09/10/2019 03:49 PM
Real Estate Webmasters Partners with Government of Canada
NEWS RELEASE Canadian Tech Company Invests over $5M to Bring Modern MLS Technology to Europe After Landing Major Partners Real Estate Webmasters building a Pan-European MLS system with partner support from Google and the Government of Canada. NANAIMO, BC (August 19, 2019) — The support of the Canadian government's elite Business Scale-Up & Productivity (BSP) program has brought Real Estate Webmasters one step closer to revolutionizing the European real estate industry. In the Honorable Minister Navdeep Bains' announcement this month, Real Estate Webmasters (REW) has received a huge show of confidence from the Canadian Government towards the launch of an international, multilingual multiple listing service. The government's Western Economic Diversification Canada division will partner with REW through its BSP program. This exclusive program only selects companies that demonstrate the highest merit and that fit with the stringent program objectives. REW has already committed $2.58 million in advance towards the project. The BSP program offers match-funding as an interest-free loan paid back over time, bringing the investment up to $5.2 million. The Government of Canada is the most recent major partner to join in on this initiative. REW has already received funding and engineering support from Google and partnered with software engineering company Slalom for international data architecture. REW is also finalizing terms with RE/MAX Europe to have them become the flagship customer to launch this new program. "We are very excited at this announcement, and are looking forward to the next steps of working with Real Estate Webmasters, " shares RE/MAX Europe CEO, Michael Polzler. "Together, we are going to change the way real estate is done in Europe." This strong bond between REW and RE/MAX Europe first started 5 years ago, when RE/MAX Europe approached REW. "At the time, they were in the market to replace their existing website vendor," shares REW CEO, Morgan Carey. "An organization this dynamic is very complex — we have spent the last few years going to Europe and meeting with regional directors so that we truly understand their platform needs as we replace their current vendor." As the two companies work together on moving their current website over to the modern REW platform, REW and RE/MAX Europe will continue to be champions for change in the European markets. "We share RE/MAX Europe's vision of bringing a more organised structure to the real estate industry in Europe. One of those avenues is to work with the Government of Canada, who is also very passionate about technology growth, job creation, and generating external sources of revenue," Vy Luu, REW Director of Product affirms. Luu has been at the frontlines of industry innovation, leading REW research and development efforts for the international MLS system. Their team plans to incorporate the successful practices of the current North American MLS system, including integrating the newly developed RESO data standards and processes for all real estate transactions. When you open up data, it facilitates competition and calls for higher transparency between both buyers and sellers, benefiting both sides," Luu continues. With approximately 3 years on average to sell a property in Europe, the current bespoke real estate system leaves both buyers and sellers frustrated, keeping one of the largest parts of the collective European GDP growth at bay. Once the international MLS system is in place in Europe, sales cycles could reduce to as low as 90 days on average. This time reduction is expected to have a significant economic impact for not only Europe, but in the world markets as their economy strengthens, with Canada leading the innovations. As news of the announcement spread over social media, the real estate industry's reaction was instantaneous. North American real estate industry professionals shared in congratulating the team at REW. The overall sentiment was best conveyed to Carey by Stefan Swanepoel, celebrated speaker and real estate icon: "Any goal set, once achieved, is worth celebrating as it shows focus, dedication, and tenacity. Should that goal itself be meaningful and purposeful, then the achievement becomes one of those life milestones which we should celebrate, cherish, and be grateful for, as they come but a few times in a lifetime." Full Release: Download the full release. Image(s): Visit our media share folder. Media Contact: Jacqueline Salvino, REW Press.
08/30/2019 10:09 PM
POST iOi Real Tech investing & My Thoughts on the numbers
I have just returned from NAR's iOi conference and my mind is on fire I am so excited for what is to come, not just for me or for REW, but for our industry. I have been inspired by the amazing entrepreneurs I was fortunate enough to spend time with there, whether it was a brand new prop tech founder with eyes on taking over the world, or more established leaders like Chris Smith of Curaytor who have broken through some massive barriers and come out the other side with some wonderful companies. For those of you who don't know (which is probably most of you because I had no idea) iOi is the National Association Of Realtors "Innovation, Opportunities & Investment" conference. It was just held in Seattle and I have to say, for tech entrepreneurs & investors (and those looking at getting an edge in tech) it is probably the best conference in the entire industry. (And there are some amazing events). Seriously, I had no idea When my head of industry Laura Monroe reached out and said, Morgan this iOi conference is close to us and we have some friends involved, would you be willing to be a speaker and a judge, I was like huh? Who? What is it now? So I took a call from an old colleague Glenn Shimkus (formerly Cartavi & Docusign) he explained what they were trying to do, and who was involved (you know, guys like Bob Goldberg, CEO of NAR and the rockstars from NAR Reach / Second Century Ventures Dave Garland, Mark Birschbach, Tyler Thompson. It sounded fun, and as someone who is seriously looking at the market right now (as an investor and acquirer of prop tech companies for REW, it just made a lot of sense. I really loved the content, I loved being a speaker, the networking was amazing and the venue was great But what I really loved was engaging with the entrepreneurs. I got to speak to so many start ups and early stage companies, hear their stories and of course their BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Let me tell you, there is NO shortage of confidence or enthusiasm in that room. It’s quite exciting. One thing did stand out to me though (and this is not new, in fact it’s quite common in my dealings with newer or less experienced entrepreneurs) and that is when it comes to building their business and where it might go (the financial, investment, acquisition side of the business) they really had not yet learned how the market works. And it makes sense They are busy building their businesses and focused on growth, profitability, scaling etc. They do seem to know that at $100M in SAAS revenue with low churn they can likely get 10x and have a billion dollar business (and that is their BHAG) but what many of them don’t seem to know is that there is a reason for the 10x and that it does not apply to them. And that reason is because it is almost impossible to build a business of that size and scale. And of course they all hope they are worth 10x today. This is of course not the case. This was actually the topic of many of my conversations and I WISH that Chris Gough’s presentation on capital markets and M & A was earlier (which in my mind was the best presentation of the whole conference) because it would likely have helped provide some needed context and authority when I was speaking with these founders. My takeaway on this whole thing is that there is a knowledge gap in our industry in terms of technology valuation, M & A, multiples the whole thing. And while I am by no means a Chris Gough, I feel that our journey has taken us quite a bit further down the path and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from many experts (much more experienced than I am) about how the investment world looks at your business. I’m going to use our actual numbers (the true story of REW) as context because I think it might help our readers recognize this as less theory and more reality. To answer all those who are wondering my thoughts on prop tech valuations and how the market looks at our companies, these are my thoughts. They are by no means gospel and any savvy investor or adviser will tell you that private investment is far more of an art than a science. I base this on my observations of the markets over the last 20 years and the hundreds of data points I have personally observed from deals that have both been public, and those that I have private knowledge of the inner workings and financials of those deals. Again I’m no expert so just use this for comparative context to your own business, but now that I’m the “old guy” instead of the “young gun” I do think I’ve picked up a thing or two along the way. Take it for what it’s worth So what kind of businesses are we talking about here? It’s important to note that different business are valued differently. The residential brokerage business for instance is based on EBITDA multiples (typically between 1-3x EBITDA) whereas pure SAAS business (true SAAS businesses) at scale are 10-15X of top line. It’s a MASSIVE difference. SAAS based tech companies are worth far more than most any other kind of business. Specifically I’m talking about the residential real estate prop tech business which is really the “tech stack” from lead generation to close. So think companies that do lead gen, websites, IDX, CRM, Transaction Management, Accounting and all the things in between. I’m talking companies that are generally well north of 50 SAAS. So let’s look at the numbers The following graphs shows our example revenue growth over time and the multiples that I believe would be appropriate to assign to our company as a retrospective considering “today’s” investment climate. Let’s look at some of the moments in time with some commentary. 2004-2007, this new company has growth of 85, 75 and 84. Looks pretty awesome right? Who wouldn’t want to invest in this company? Well I wouldn’t, at least not unless I got a ridiculous deal to come in AND if (and this is a HUGE IF) the founder somehow convinced me they had not only a great product but that they were the kind of person who could scale a business long term at some serious numbers. The reality is this, building a business in real estate to $1M-$1.5M is remarkably (relatively) easy. Experienced investors know this. Flash in a pan, offer market exclusive shiny object type companies do this every year and just a few years later 95 of these companies are gone. I know this because I’ve been doing this for 20 years. investors know this even more. So if you’re in this category, 1 congratulations (because honestly that is still awesome, and worthy of praise) but 2: You need to be honest with yourself, your company is not worth anything. Not even a 1x multiple because the odds are it’s going to fail. It doesn’t matter that you say you’re awesome (we all think that). It doesn’t matter that you think your product will change the world (we all think that too). It doesn’t matter that you think you’re smarter than all the other guys (I learned the hard way, that attitude actually makes you worth “less” not more). My advice in this stage. Come in humble and ONLY take on a partner or investor if you absolutely have to. Otherwise give it a few years, keep growing, get to the next stage and earn some credibility. Then you can start talking about how you have proved the concept, shown you can run a successful business and that the market values you more than just the next “thing”. The last comment I’ll make on this early stage is on the comparative value of the investor vs your company. At less than a million or two dollars, if you’re targeting the top of the top investors (those that will not only massively accelerate your company, but also come with contacts and resources that most could never access? Their time (just their time) and the value they bring to the table is actually worth more than your entire company. If they show an interest (and make a commitment) make sure you value and honour their time. Remember, be humble at this stage. The next gap is the $1-$5M category (Again this is for residential prop tech). This is still a relatively common category although it is far more difficult to get into this category than the first category. It’s probably 10 or less of those companies that get anywhere also get to this category. And those that make it to the higher end of the category? They are rarely seen in residential prop tech. It’s simply too fragmented of a space and very difficult for new companies to come into. It’s this category that you start getting multiples in (if you’re growing and profitable) but again you need to be realistic, if you spend any amount of time in this category, for that period of time you’re likely a 1-2x multiple. In the sample company above, the company stayed in the 1-2 multiple range for quite some time. Why? It’s growing and it’s profitable, shouldn’t it be worth more? The answer is depends. Think about it this way, if it’s growing REALLY fast then it will get out of this revenue range quickly (and onto better multiples) but if it’s not, even if you’re quite profitable (let’s say 25) if you get stuck in this category (which averages 2.5 million) your take home EBITDA is $625,000 and your business is still relatively small (too small for a serious investor to see a return). Often in these businesses just a few lost customers can cause a massive swing in their margins and it is more common to see these businesses fail or lose ground over time than succeed onto the next round. But do the math: You are at $2.5M with $625,000 EBITDA and you could get 2x top line? That’s $5M for a business that’s not very safe, and has not shown it can grow into the future. Put another way, that is like getting paid your entire paycheque for 8 years (EIGHT YEARS) without the risk of losing your business, having to deal with customers, or staff. That would be a pretty exceptional outcome. So don't get cocky, if you wan a better multiple, get yourself out of this category and onto the next one. You're not worth much here and your opinion or what you read about bigger companies than you getting bigger multiples won't change that. The next category is the $5-$10M category. This is where you start to see multiples increase. Why? Because it’s REALLY hard to get a business to $5M in SAAS revenue in residential real estate. 10x harder than the 1-5M category which is 10x harder than the category before that. So how we’re at 1000 times harder than just starting a SAAS business and actually making any money. At this size early stage investors start to take you seriously. They recognize that you “might” be really onto something depending on the numbers (how is your churn, how is your growth, what is your profit and how long does it look like you will stay in this category. Again, you might get stuck here. And if you’re profitable (even at just 5-10) it’s actually quite a nice place to be. You are making a great living, and hopefully enjoy what you’re doing (you could probably do it for a long time). But let’s remember, multiples are tied to future value and so if you stay here your multiple will be limited. In our sample company I have this company pegged at 3-4x top line revenue. This is validated by several very public 4x offers once the company reached the $10M mark which you may have seen on Dragons Den. So if you get here, you get to the top of the range quickly and you look like you’re still growing, you can look at 3-4x top line revenue if all of your other numbers are good. That’s 15-40 million dollars. Very few people in their lifetime will ever be able to say they brought a company to that level. If you can get here, you should be VERY proud of yourself. Looking at my list of companies that I follow, I cannot think of more than 10 companies in this category right now. It’s pretty rare Following the $5-$10M category is the $10-$20M category. As you can see the bands are starting to get bigger as once you hit scale investors are going to hope to see you leverage an experienced management team, have well honed systems, be cross selling into your customer base, price optimizing and doing lots of other things that actually drive revenue faster. And how hard is this again? Each rung in the ladder is 10x as hard. It is 10,000 times harder to get a business to $10-$20M in ARR (AT LEAST 10,000 harder) than it is to start a business in prop tech that makes $ at all. Don’t believe me? Name more than 5 business right now that fit into this category. Unless you are watching the space and are an investor with lots of contacts, I’m willing to bet you can’t name 5. Why? Because for even the best companies it’s damned near impossible to get there. A lot companies say they are going to get there, and my answer to them is “that’s awesome, so get there” but until you do (until you actually achieve what you say you can do) no investor is going to believe you. Why? Because everyone says that, and no one ever gets there. You are no different (not to an investor) they have no reason to ever believe that you will. They pay for reality and results, not for how much confidence a founder has in themselves and their abilities. For the $10-$20M category (with growth, profit and reasonable churn) we have seen from 4-5X top line in terms of purchases. That’s $40-$100M in valuation. It pays to get to this kind of scale and there are actually a reasonable amount of investors and buyout firms that will look at you at this size and depending on your product there may be a few strategics that will value your scale / market penetration and look to pay a premium. Shall we keep it going? We really don’t have too many categories left to explore. The reason for this is, there has never really been a large number of companies to exceed the previous bands. But let’s do a few more just because. I’m going to put the next band at $20-$40M, growth is probably slowing at this point on a basis simply because it’s much harder to grow a $40M company by 50 (adding $20M in revenue) than it is to grow a $4M by 50 (adding only $2M in revenue). At this level, again you would be hard pressed to find 5 companies in the space. They are among the largest prop tech vendors out there and most of them (if they exist) have already taken funding or been taken out by strategics or VC’s. You probably know the names (because these deals hit the news), Boomtown, CINC, Inside Real Estate, Lone Wolf, Market Leader (the first time), Dot Loop . They all got taken out in or around this range. By taken out, I mean their founders got some great news as they received offers from multiple suitors and each of them sold the majority of their shares to some big investment company for a huge amount of money and their early investors and owners did very well. And they SHOULD HAVE They worked their asses off and did the near impossible. They got their companies to an unheard of scale and were at the point where they could be a strategic play for some companies or a central platform to build around for roll up or tuck in acquisitions. Bottom line we’re in the VC buy box now You’re almost a unicorn). These deals are rarely publicly disclosed, but I would put the multiples on these deals in the 6-10x range (though I heard one of these deals went for a whopping 13x, it’s a rumour and if it’s true that company WAY overpaid.) The final category (if you miraculously have not been bought out yet) is basically $50M+ ARR. Get here and I think you’re virtually guaranteed an 8-10X+ multiple as long as you can keep the rest of your numbers healthy (low churn, profit, growth etc) and really you should be able to. At scale SAAS businesses become extremely profitable because of the economies of scale. These businesses (which are virtually unheard of in real estate but exist many other places in SAAS categories outside of real estate) drive multiples and profits that are extremely strong, tend to be sticky, and far more protected from erosion. They are category leaders. This category is also my BHAG, I want the unicorn status too But in the meantime, I know we have to get there for someone to say we are there. It won’t just happen (nor will anyone ever pay like it happened) just because I say we can do it. This is the central theme of my post: Be realistic with where you are (RIGHT NOW) I’m going to leave you with these final comments 1: Investors pay for facts not stories 2: You are worth what your numbers say you are worth TODAY not what you hope your numbers will be tomorrow 3: You cannot sell anyone on what “might” happen “after” they invest. That growth will have been because of them, not because of you. 4: If you really could have done it, you would have done it. Stop bullshitting people (and yourself) 5: If you really can do it, then do it You’ll get your credit when hit your numbers, not before. And on a final note: Please remember this is all based on a specific set of circumstances: Growth, Profit, Low Churn. If you have no growth cut the numbers in half or more. If you have no profit, cut the numbers in half again and if you have high churn, cut the numbers by half yet again because churn is the bane of all SAAS business valuation. I hope this helped. Reach out to me with any question
08/24/2019 06:34 AM
What’s New In REW’s First Summer 2019 Release
The Real Estate Webmasters team is thrilled to announce the first new platform release of Summer 2019. This release includes some awesome new updates to Discover. The new update rollout process will begin Tuesday, August 6th for all eligible clients. Watch your inbox for notification of when your site has been patched New Features for Discover Our first summer release brings an exciting new features for the Discover platform From adding enhanced search options to increasing your ability to get even more leads, this release is all about capturing more leads than ever before. IDX Real Estate Search Unleash the power of search in the newest update to your Discover real estate website Discover offers portal-inspired home search technology and exceptional localized search. In the first Summer release of 2019, that technology is brought to a whole new level. Site administrators can now choose the options that site visitors see, right from the idx search and quick search bars New options include popular selections like search-by-school (elementary, middle, or even high school) and more. How To Tailor Your Site's Real Estate Search Excited to customize the search options on your site? Adding the newest options are as easy as pie. Login to the backend of your REW website From the hamburger menu, choose "Listings" On the Listings menu (left-hand side of screen), choose "Searches" Select "Default Search" Add more options via the "Add a Panel" drop-down, or Remove options easily by clicking the trashcan to the right of each search criteria Options available will depend on your IDX feed. If you would like to add search functionality that is particular to your business model and market, your Account Manager can absolutely walk you through this process. Reach out to them directly, or contact our Customer Service Department. Get More Leads With Improved Registration This update includes something special for those looking to get more real estate leads. The first release of the Summer includes improved functionality of registration from listings details pages. This powerful change ensures leads are captured first, by asking them to register first. You can control whether this is forced registration or optional right from your site settings. READ: Study - Should Real Estate Websites Use Forced Registration 100 Increase* in PPC Leads Discover PPC clients, hold on to your hats ... this update is really for a gamechanger for you. Our testing has shown some amazing results on our test cases. The average increase was over 100, amazing news for PPC clients Not a PPC client? If you already have enough leads, then maybe PPC is not for you. REW's PPC services are for Realtors who are looking to take their business to the next level and close more sales than ever before. Read more to learn about the ROI of real estate PPC. On average, our clients see a 100-200 return on their investment, and in this industry, that is not something that too many agents can pass up Questions? Our lead generation experts are here to help. *this update increased PPC leads by at least 100 in our test case clients. Your results may vary. Thanks for stopping by We appreciate your continued feedback on how to make REW products even better. Have a product suggestion? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to review it.
08/07/2019 03:28 PM