BlueRoof, Our First 100 Days – Part 1

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When we first opened as a brokerage at the end of July we knew this would be a ride, but it’s been even crazier than expected. We’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of stress, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

BlueRoof began by accident, really. I had decided to do a re-design of a website that I’ve had for a few years, but after meeting with my web-developer and seeing some mock-ups I decided I would build a new website altogether. So I did a ton of research on names and logos and everything else and put together the plan for what I believed would be the very best real estate website possible. I figured if I was going to spend my time and resources, I’d go all the way with it. Whether it actually became the best real estate site or not it would, at least, be my favorite.

As the website starting to come together and I thought more about it I considered starting my own company. I had always wanted to. And I was always complaining that I could do things better. So why not see what I could do? The timing was right with the consumer begging for change and the local real estate market booming. I discussed it with my wife and a close friend and decided to do it. I approached Mike Shehan, who was the Director of Marketing for Prudential Utah (and by far the best marketing person in the business) and asked him to be a partner. Mike had owned his own company before and has a good business mind. Mike also has a lot of strengths where I don’t, so I thought it would be a great fit. Luckily for me, he agreed to come on board.

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Building a good company from the ground up is tough, but with the demands of launching a major website, BlueRoof.com, and the fact that our business model is challenging the traditional real estate establishment- well, it’s been interesting.

Before we launched, I had already began to get to know some pretty innovative people in the industry. I had been in contact, through blogging with Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CFO before they launched and I was one of the people searching for clues about what they were doing, which led me to a bunch of other innovative websites and companies. At the end of May I attended the TechCrunch party in Seattle, co-hosted by Redfin and met Eric Heller and Glenn Kelman and some other Redfin and Microsoft guys that let me pick their brains.

Right after we became a brokerage we attended the Inman Connect convention in San Francisco July 26-28. We went to the convention to accomplish three things;

-Get the BlueRoof name out in the industry

-Discover and Learn

-Have a Blast/Meet Fun People

And we had huge successes with all three. The first hour of the first day we attended Michael Harrington’s opening address about the state of the industry, where he described how the industry needs to change because it is broken and where he thinks the industry needs to go. We were listening and realized that he was describing our business model. One of the things he talked about was how the MLS’s are too controlling with the information and there should be a place where people can see all listed homes AND For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes at the same time. BlueRoof.com had this. So I stood up and announced that we had every listing from every brokerage and FSBO homes on our website and you could search for them and see the results together. He asked how we did that when the MLS would not allow it and I replied that we just did it. A few minutes of back and forth and a woman toward the front of the audience stands up and says she is with the local MLS and we weren’t allowed to do that. It was a beautiful moment. Everyone held their breath or laughed, laptops were opening our homepage throughout the room and now we were given a villain to make us look even better.

So after that first meeting people were talking about what happened and about BlueRoof all week. People were coming up to us and telling us how great it was that we were doing what we were doing. They would ask us about our company and we would over-hear people discussing it- it was great.

We went to the convention booths and found some great technologies. Some we have implemented into our business and some we will implement, and then some didn’t work for us, but it’s good to see the “new stuff” anyway.

Mike’s girlfriend flew into town and with my wife we met a bunch of people and had a lot of fun going out (very late) every night and playing around in the city. We drove out to wine country and ate at some great local restaurants and enjoyed our time quite a lot.

It was a great trip for us. When we got back home our work was about to begin…

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3 thoughts on “BlueRoof, Our First 100 Days – Part 1

  1. Greg- Congratulations on your success so far & good luck going forward. Unfortunate that I was at both the techcrunch party and Inman and didn’t run into you. I always enjoy reading your blog- keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks Drew-
    I may have met you at either or both, but wouldn’t have necessarily have known it. I met a group of you (Zillow) guys at the Seattle TechCrunch party- not sure if you were one of them. I was standing out on the sidewalk (in the light rain) talking with Steve Kim, a Redfin agent who had just joined the company, and one or two guys from Zillow and some other programmers for about 45 minutes.

    Some people had thought Paul Allen was coming and some Microsoft guys stopped by and dispelled that rumor, so we discussed that for a bit also.

    Inside I mostly hung out at Redfin’s setup talking with Eric Heller and Rob McGarty. I was a broker at Coldwell Banker at the time and couldn’t tell anyone that I was going to be launching yet. So, I know Eric and Glenn at least joked with me at Connect in San Francisco about how I was there as a Coldwell manager, but then launched BlueRoof with online offers. I think they were just playing with me- During one phone conversation with Eric he teased me about using the color Blue in my name BlueRoof and they have Red in Redfin, but the online offer is just a small piece of what I’m doing.

    I was actually a part of the first actual real estate sale on the internet. I was Prudential California Realty, managing the Castro Valley office, and we (the company) sold a home online- this was back in 2000 or 2001. It was a big media event and sort of planted that seed in my mind about using the internet to sell real estate.
    Thanks for reading- seems like these days I’m mostly talking to Scott, my rep- and now you’re coming out with some new sales model in December and he won’t tell me what it is. I told him I would keep it a secret between me and the people who read my blog…

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