This post is part of our new Future of Real Estate series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Biju Ashokan, CEO of Agentdesks.
1. What’s the history of Agentdesks? Where and how did you begin?
BA: We began working on Agentdesks back in 2014. We went through an accelerator program called Angelpad in New York. Our first product launch was early in 2015 and it was a mobile CRM with networking capabilities. We raised our seed round led by Sierra Ventures, Gokul Rajaram, Cota Capital, Vegas Tech fund amongst other angel investors.
Over time, we noticed that our networking features were what attracted maximum agents. Today, we are a networking application for real estate agents where they can collaborate by exchanging information on referrals, listings and search criteria. We are proud in saying that we have over 35,000 active real estate agents collaborating on our platform and we power the internal referral networks of RRC (Residential Real estate Council), AREAA (Asian Real Estate Association of America) & SAMCAR (San Mateo County Association of Realtors).
2. What specific problem does Agentdesks solve? How do you solve it?
BA: Agentdesks empowers real estate agents by making it super simple for agents to collaborate with other agents. There are more than a million real estate agents in the US and for every successful transaction, each agent has to interact and work with multiple other agents. Real estate is probably one of the very few industries where agents have to compete and collaborate well with other agents to be a top producer. Agentdesks makes it very easy for agents to collaborate by providing a platform to:
a) Exchange referrals (We have generated $500M+ worth of leads for our real estate agents).
b) Publish and pre-market listings to all agents in the region.
c) Identify matching searches/listings published by other agents in the region.
d) Communicate with other agents regarding listings and deals.
3. What’s the future of real estate?
Prediction #1: Traditional large brokerage firms or any brokerage firm with high overheads will become irrelevant soon.
Prediction #2: Real estate agents will be critical to real estate transactions for a long time but the number of active real estate agents will reduce.
Prediction #3: Overall commissions will drop to 2-3% (from 6%) in 5-6 years and buy-side commissions will drop first.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in real estate?
Trend #1: VR for property showings, especially in rentals. It’s just starting but it will be used by everyone soon.
Trend #2: Increased number of channels for online ads for real estate agents – Zillow ads, Facebook ads, mobile ads, google ads, Instagram ads, etc. This makes it easy for agents to get leads but the quality of leads gets more diluted. There is a lot of money thrown at marketing for the same leads with minimum gains.
Trend #3: All round information on return on investments in properties. Consumers will start seeing detailed information on what they can expect in the future for each property.
5. Why is the real estate industry ripe for disruption?
BA: Simple! It’s ripe for disruption because it’s still controlled by dated systems (Traditional brokerage firms and MLSs). Both consumers and real estate agents are progressing faster than the systems built for them.
About Biju Ashokan
I am a Computer Science and Information Systems engineer, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (2008). I have been building real estate technology since 2008. Agentdesks is my second startup in Real estate. Prior to Agentdesks, I founded Metroplots. At Metroplots, we had an in-house salaried team of real estate agents representing listings, powered by good tech. We made over 500 sales in 3 years and built an excellent property search website & an internal CRM for our agents.
With Agentdesks, Sanya (co-founder) & I want our tech to reach all real estate agents & prove agent collaboration can improve sales numbers of each. At Agentdesks, I primarily focus on product & growth engineering. If I am not working, I am probably watching soccer or writing short stories.