Jordan Fleming 00:01
I can tell you one thing. Technology is the single most important aspect of every business that has successfully scaled.
It’s time for That Real Estate Tech Guy. It’s your weekly chance to explore how technology can help your real estate business explode. Each week you’ll hear from real estate investors who have been there and done that and find out their favorite technology tips. Listen in as Jordan speaks with tech companies and learns about new technologies and new ideas that will help you scale your business. And now join your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, CEO of smrtPhone for this week’s episode.
Jordan Fleming 00:41
Hey, it’s Jordan Fleming here with another episode of That Real Estate Tech Guy. I’m thrilled to say my co-pilot for today’s episode is Paul from TwnSqr. Paul, welcome to the podcast. How about you do a little introduction of yourself and TwnSqr?
Paul Wakim 00:56
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. I love the name – That Real Estate Tech Guy is hilariously accurate, I’d say.
Jordan Fleming 01:03
It’s missing a curse! I was introduced to someone once at an event and it was like, you know, Jordan: that fucking real estate tech guy. And I decided for the podcast, and Apple’s ability to publish us, I bleeped it out.
Paul Wakim 01:20
Truncate it a little bit. A little bit more PG, maybe. So yeah, thanks for having me, man. I’m the CEO, co- founder of TwnSqr spelled T-w-n-s-q-r, as you do in this space, take all the vowels out. We are a real estate investor dispositions platform. Real estate investors, wholesalers, anybody who has an off-market property to sell can come to TwnSqr, sell it to their own buyers and sell it to the network of buyers that are on TwnSqr. I’m sure we’ll dive into some of the really cool stuff that we’ve created that makes that network effect really powerful.
Jordan Fleming 02:02
Yeah, I’m really fascinated to dive into the network effect because one thing I’ve noticed from working with a lot of real estate investors over the years, they’re very precious about their buyer list. As they should be, right? Ones who do a good job of curating a very strong buyers list, they want to make sure that they respect it, that they guard it carefully, those relationships. But of course in your platform, you’re essentially providing that more networked approach. How does it work? If I’m an investor and I’m interested in making sure I get my deals out there, but I don’t want to hurt my buyers list, how does it work?
Paul Wakim 02:40
So I’ll rewind a little bit farther. My co-founder and I started the company three years ago. We built a retail real estate marketplace. And then we had a bunch of these large hedge funds come to us and say, we want to access these off-market properties, the same way that we’re accessing these on-market properties, through you guys. My experience, my background, is in the off-market real estate investing space, not so much the retail space. So we said, yeah, sure, let’s do that. Late last year, about 10 months ago, we pivoted out of that business model. And when we were pivoting, we kind of thought about doing this network effect, where you can share one of the most valuable assets in your business: your buyers list.
Paul Wakim 03:30
But we have these hedge funds, these private equity firms saying we want a marketplace where we can contact wholesalers, and where we can contact real estate investors. So we focused on that first, and then we built that from November to February-ish. Then right around like the middle of February, maybe the end of February, we pulled that old idea off the shelf, this network effect where people can share buyers and monetize their buyers lists in some cool ways. We pulled that idea off the shelf and said our marketplace that we’ve just built for off-market properties would really benefit from this one tool. And that one tool? We call it post sharing. So the way that it works is you have two primary assets as a real estate investor in our eyes: you have your deal that you’re trying to sell, your property that you’re trying to sell, and then you have your buyers list that you are selling that deal to.
Paul Wakim 04:30
So we’re getting people to put that one asset, the deal, on the platform, but then we were having a hard time figuring out how we can get the other asset, the buyers list, on the platform. So what we’ve created with post sharing is, let’s say I have a deal in Dallas and you’re an investor in Dallas. You have 15,000 buyers in Dallas that you sell your deals to, day after day. You can come to TwnSqr, you can sell your deals directly to your 15,000 buyers just like you normally would. We have some pretty awesome organization tools, kind of like a disposition CRM for you to sell your deals to your buyers. But what you can also do is flip a little switch in the backend of your account on TwnSqr that says ‘I am open to sharing.’ So you’re in Dallas, I come, I have a deal in Dallas and I have 50 buyers or 1000 buyers. What I can do on TwnSqr is send my deal out to my buyers, but what I can also do is I can see a list of people like you, Jordan, that have your buyers available for me to share my post with on TwnSqr.
Paul Wakim 05:42
So I can go to you and say, hey Jordan, here’s my deal, here’s me, here’s my contracts, here’s how everything looks, you can vet me, vet all that information that I’ve brought to you, and then you get to decide if you want to send my deal attached to your name to your buyers. So what we’ve created is a network where I can access your buyers, and you more importantly can access me. What you’ve done in that hypothetical situation is you’ve spent no money on marketing, to get that deal into your sphere, get that deal out to your buyers. You’ve just posted, or hosted, your buyers list on TwnSqr. So that’s what we’re doing. It’s a really interesting JV type platform where you maintain complete control over your buyers list the entire time. So if you don’t want to send my deal to your buyers, you don’t have to, you have complete control the entire time.
Jordan Fleming 06:41
And I think that is probably the most critical element, you know? People are precious, and rightly so, of their buyers list if they’ve curated a good one. All you need is for some asshole to come in, and spam them with a bunch of things that they don’t want, for them to think, I’m tired of being on this guy’s lists, you know? Don’t contact me again. So the fact that you can see it, you can make that call that this does fit my investor list, I do know a set of investors that are gonna like this. And then presumably your investors are only really ever hearing from you. So they aren’t feeling like you’ve sold their details out and suddenly they start hearing from this guy and this woman and this person over here. That will break trust very quickly.
Paul Wakim 07:34
Yeah, that’s what we’re seeing. Also, we’re leaning very heavily into what one of our first customers told us about our company. They said, ‘you guys are like a professional real estate investors dispositions platform.’ And we’ve leaned really heavily into that, all of the branding that we put out with our affiliates, all the people that we talk to, we are the professional real estate investors dispositions platform. Because if you’re a professional real estate investor, you probably have 550, maybe 5000 buyers, and those people know who you are, and they have a connection to the high quality deals that you send them. So if we were to leave the platform totally wide open, where anybody could send a deal to anybody else? Now, those buyers, they’re not going to look at anything, you’ve essentially burnt that buyer. So we give you the ability to maintain the integrity of the relationship with your buyers by maintaining complete control over the entire process.
Jordan Fleming 08:32
What I really was fascinated by when we first had a conversation about this is, I’ve spent most of the last seven years of my career building technology for real estate investors. But on the front end of it, right? On the acquisition, on lead generation or acquisition management, lead management, CRM elements etc. And the dispo is almost a tacked on thing for most people. You know when most people build CRMs, or when they look for a CRM, they’re looking for that lead management and they’re right to! You gotta land the deals, you gotta manage for the deals. But there’s a real hole there where disposition is just suddenly, “oh, we got the deal. Now, let’s, I don’t know, punt it out to these 5000 people.”
Paul Wakim 09:27
Somebody’s gonna buy it.
Jordan Fleming 09:28
Well, yeah. And that’s what I really liked about when we first talked. There is a sort of 90% focus on the acquisition elements, and a 10% on the dispo. And I really liked that you could connect to a platform like this and have a really professional way of dispo-ing and then all the tools. So can we dive in a little around the types of marketing tools you provide? And then the second thing I want you to touch on after that is how I essentially would get my data from My CRM to your platform as efficiently as possible.
Paul Wakim 10:04
Yep, yep. So one thing real quick, on what you just said that I’m really proud of. Everybody puts dispositions on the backburner. If I get a deal, somebody’s gonna buy it. What we’re trying to push our customers and the real estate investor community to realize is if you have a deal, and it’s a good deal, sure somebody on your buyers list is going to buy it. But if you’re not the guy that is the very top authority in your market, you probably don’t have as good of a relationship with the top buyers in your market as that guy. So how do you connect with those buyers, if you don’t meet that authority in your market on the street? Well, we’ve just created a way for you to do it, where if you have a good deal, maybe you’ll make more money if you go and work with somebody that you find on TwnSqr.
Paul Wakim 10:56
So yeah, diving into the technology and how things work: you can do three things on TwnSqr. First, you can send your deal to your buyers, like we talked about. You can use our email technology to send out a deal to your buyers. And we’re building out some pretty cool dashboards where you can see the entire funnel of the number of emails that you sent out, all the way down to the number of offers that you got, including the number of pageviews, the number of people that have saved it, the number of people that have RSVP-ed to your showing. A true disposition CRM for your distribution of your property to your buyers. So that’s the first thing you can do. The second thing you can do is send your deal to our marketplace. Now, we have a closed marketplace, so not anybody can see the properties, all the properties that are there. And we did that for a couple key reasons that we’d have to go pretty deep for us to talk about why we decided to do it. But it’s to support our customers. We want to make sure that one of your buyers can’t essentially leave your buyers list and just go check out a bunch of other people’s deals without having to take some action like paying for full access to the marketplace.
Paul Wakim 12:04
So you can post your deal to our marketplace. But that marketplace is exclusive to people that are paying for one of our higher tier memberships. We’re trying to keep the buyers on our marketplace at the upper echelon, the top of the hierarchy in terms of buyer quality. So send your deals to your buyers, send your deal to our marketplace and try to access or get in front of those high quality buyers. Then the third thing is you can send your deal to other people on the platform, other users on the platform, to see if they will allow your deal to be sent to their buyers. And then you asked about getting your deals into TwnSqr. So right now, we have a pretty robust application that we’ve built on Zapier so that you can connect any application. You know how Zapier goes, literally anything can be connected to TwnSqr, and the fields can be filled out in a deal, a post as we call it, can be automatically created through some Zapier triggers.
Jordan Fleming 13:04
So if I’m using Podio, or Salesforce, or InvestorFuse, or ReiSift or RealFlow or whatever the CRM system I’m using, pretty much all of them will have access to Zapier in some way, and it’s a simple set of fields: property address, money, etcetera. It’s easy enough for them to do that. In terms of syncing my buyers list as well, because I know when I used to build CRMs in Podio for investors, we had a pretty robust buyer matching tool, which you categorize each buyer by their preferences by whether that zip code, price range, preferences of types of whatever, and then you’d click a button in Podio that said: find me my best matches. We’d go through your 1000s of buyers, and it would shortlist the ones and rank them in terms of number of categories matched. So there was some cool things there, but then that sort of stopped, it didn’t have any of the specifics of getting your deals out there. If I’ve got my buyers list in a CRM already, can I get it to you guys? Or do I have to do Excel inputs and outputs? So how does that work?
Paul Wakim 14:25
Yeah, so right now what you’d have to do is take wherever your buyers list is, let’s say it’s in Mailgun. A lot of our clients use Mailgun. You have to export that and then go into your TwnSqr account and then upload it as a CSV into your TwnSqr account. My business partner and I, our CTO, are thinking quite a bit about how do we make that as seamless as possible and quite a bit about how could we make TwnSqr this very powerful add-on that you just click a couple buttons, a couple of triggers in your CRM and all of that information is automatically shot over into TwnSqr. The post is created, the post is sent to your buyers, the buyers that you want, that you can trigger from your CRM, the post is sent to the marketplace, and the post is sent to all of the people that you’re able to share it with, all with a couple clicks. Everybody wants to have as few softwares as possible. And if we’re building this truly powerful dispositions machine, we want it to be as seamless as possible for everybody to get on. So it’s something we’re thinking a lot about right now, though, it is a download, and then upload into TwnSqr.
Jordan Fleming 15:35
And let’s be honest, a download of a CSV, even if you have 5000 contacts, it takes 3.2 seconds and then uploading it somewhere doesn’t take much longer. So it’s not exactly a hassle.
Paul Wakim 15:49
Yeah, we had a guy upload 58,700-something buyers a couple days ago, last week sometime. I think that it took him less than two minutes to upload all those contacts.
Jordan Fleming 16:04
It’s not exactly a massive problem. That’s interesting, and as you say, it fills this sort of gap where, you know, and it’s such a weird gap in some ways, because, great, you’ve landed the deal, but until you sell it and close it, you’ve made no money. It’s like everyone spends so much time on the acquisition side, and so little on the dispo, but it’s the dispo that gets you your cash. So I really like that andI think it’s going to be such a critical thing that so many people are missing. I’m going to be at the TAB Retreat in Jamaica, we’re recording this in August 2022 and I’m going to be at the TAB Retreat in Jamaica in September. And I have no doubt I will be able to bring this up to a number of people when I’m there because it’s like, Guys, if you got these deals closing as fast as you can.
Paul Wakim 17:10
I use this analogy quite a bit, but imagine if real estate agents came to you and said, hey, I will sell your house. And then the MLS didn’t exist, it’d be like, how are you selling the house? Oh, I’m just going to sell it through some text messages. Like maybe a couple months ago, whenever the market was crazy hot, they could do that. But yeah, in a way, it’s like how are people selling deals as efficiently as possible if something like what we’re building doesn’t exist?
Jordan Fleming 17:38
Absolutely. And it’s also great, because you’re using Zapier, it means that you are platform agnostic, when it comes to whatever tool you want to use for lead gen, for acquisition management, and all that. Use what you feel comfortable with, and then you have this powerhouse in the back end, which means you can get your deals to as many people in the best possible ways as well.
Paul Wakim 18:05
Yeah, it’s like you’re leveraging another investor’s credibility to get more money in your pocket.
Jordan Fleming 18:13
And if you’re a relatively new investor, the guy may look at you and say, he’s too new. I’m not gonna trust this. But I think most real estate investors look at the deal. They look at the numbers in the deal, and they’ll make their decision based on that. So this also, if you’re relatively new, or if you’re expanding into a new market, you potentially have the ability to reach some investors you never would be able to. And at least get some deals done. And establish yourself. Now, one question I wanted to get to, before we go to the Fast Five. I liked the fact that you can bring these deals to people, they can vet you, and then they essentially take the deal to their buyer list. Financially, how does it work? If I’ve got this great deal, and you are in this market, and you’ve got investors, and I share this deal with you, and you share it to your people? When it comes time to closing the deal, how does the money element work? I’ve brought the deal, but you’ve closed the deal. What happens?
Paul Wakim 19:15
So if we take that example, where you’re bringing a deal to me, because I’m what we call the authority in the market. If we take that example, what happens is, as soon as you contact me and say, Hey, Paul, I want you to sell this deal to your buyers, a feature on TwnSqr opens and we call it a Room. A Room is opened. And in that Room, I’m able to chat with you directly on the platform, you’re able to chat back and forth with me. And then I’m able to ask you, Hey, Jordan, let me see all of the documents that relate to this property. You can upload all of those documents directly to that Room, so they’re all stored in one place. And then I check all that out, I check out your deal. And then I can even tell you hey, you should raise the price on this from 185000 to 190,000, before I send it to my buyers. You can then go in and change all that information, go through that whole process. Then whenever I send it out to my buyers, let’s say Charlie the buyer comes back and says, hey, I’m interested in this. Charlie comes back and says that he’s interested. At that point I say, Hey, Jordan, I have a buyer. And at that point, you can’t see Charlie’s information, giving me complete control.
Paul Wakim 20:27
I say I have a buyer, he’s interested, let’s sign a JV agreement. I then upload that joint venture agreement to the Room where you can see it, and you’re able to sign it directly on the platform. So that’s signed, you then can communicate with the buyer or I can act as the liaison between you and the buyer, whatever documents need to be signed between you and the buyer, are done on the platform in another Room, or the same Room. And then from there, all those documents can be exported, and just sent to your closing company. So the details of what amount of the profit I get versus you get, all of that is flexible, we’re just providing you with the tools to upload those documents and sign them. That agreement could be, I’ll give you a puppy whenever my female dog gives birth, you know, like, it doesn’t matter to us. Whatever it is, it’s up to you guys. It doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split. It doesn’t have to be a 70/30 split. It’s whatever you guys want. We’re just providing you with the tools to make those agreements as efficient and as seamlessly as possible.
Jordan Fleming 21:33
Yeah, so if I’m you in that example, and you’ve got this buyer, you could come back and say, listen, I got a really good buyer, he’s gonna close immediately. But I want 30% of this, whatever the closing profit is on this. And then it’s up to me to go yes or no, or sorry I can’t do that. And then if it falls apart, it falls apart. And that’s fine. But you’re just facilitating the opportunity. And everybody closes the opportunity on their own.
Paul Wakim 22:07
Yeah, exactly. And that bit what you just said there, is what is appealing most to some of the really big investors that we’re working with. There are these guys out there that have 50, 60, 100,000 person buyers list, but then there’s also these other really big, really successful guys that deal exclusively with hedge funds and these really big institutional buyers. They’re like aggregators of these off-market properties, they curate a list every month of properties that they can sell to the institutional buyers. And the fact that there’s this flexibility of: I’m going to deal, I’ll be the liaison, I’ll do all the transaction coordination, I’ll do all of this stuff between you and this giant institutional buyer because they know exactly how that process has to go. It’s a very regimented process. Maybe they’ll say, okay, I want 50% of this profit, or if it’s another really easy-to-deal-with buyer who’s not really that important? Okay, I only want 30%. But it’s totally flexible for the situation.
Jordan Fleming 23:06
I think that’s great. That’s fascinating. I look forward to getting this in front of people in Jamaica and on the podcast. It’s time to go to the Fast Five questions that I ask all the technology platforms, and put you on the spot here with kind of quick questions and quick answers. So I’ll go through it, number one, what feature of your technology has the biggest impact on your customer’s businesses?
Paul Wakim 23:31
The post sharing that we’ve discussed for the most the most time here, that by far, being able to use other people’s credibility and other people’s buyers lists at their discretion is the biggest feature.
Jordan Fleming 23:43
Number two, what’s the biggest mistake people make within your technology area, so within dispositions?
Paul Wakim 23:48
Yeah, I think we harped on this quite a bit as well. And that’s just shutting your eyes and blindly saying, oh, I have a 50 person buyer’s list, I’m going to get the most amount of money for this property that is available. It’s that negligence or ignorance that you could make more money if you worked with somebody else, or built your buyers list up through a tool like TwnSqr.
Jordan Fleming 24:10
I would add to that, if I can, that I think a lot of people just spray everything to everybody in their list, instead of categorizing their list and being able to say, this buyer likes these properties and these types, so why am I sending him, constantly, things that don’t matter to him? Because sooner or later, he’s gonna lose trust and he’s gonna want to be taken off my list.
Paul Wakim 24:36
Yep, yep. True. And all that’s possible with TwnSqr. We give you the ability to say this group of buyers is interested in four units or more.
Jordan Fleming 24:45
Perfect. What is your best advice on how to integrate TwnSqr into the real estate investor business?
Paul Wakim 24:55
Yeah, so we give everybody a 30 day free trial for you to connect with your CRM with Zapier and go through all the different steps that we’ve just discussed. So that would be my recommendation: give us a shot, connect, there’s no obligation, you can cancel anytime that you’d like, and the lowest monthly cost is 150 bucks a month. So you can replace MailChimp or Mailgun, or whatever it is, you can replace DocuSign and you can organize all of your transactions and connect with all those different investors for 150 bucks a month.
Jordan Fleming 25:36
I have a quick follow up question. I know this supposed to be the Fast Five, but whatever — you mentioned a JV agreement. Do you guys have stock agreements that you provide people? Or is it basically upload what you want and you can sign it through our platform?
Paul Wakim 25:50
Yeah, it’s upload what you want, you can sign it through the platform. We got some very good advice, I would say from advisers and from attorneys that we should not be providing legal documents.
Jordan Fleming 26:03
Each market has so many, like the Texas Real Estate Commission has such weird documents, it’d be a disaster. All right, number four, what’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about TwnSqr?
Paul Wakim 26:16
That you have complete control. There are some competitors in our space that have this model where you upload your buyers list, and everybody else on the platform automatically has access to all of those buyers that you upload. And we’re sometimes mistaken to have the same exact business model. So it’s that ability to control your deal. And the ability to control your buyers list. If I send you a deal, Jordan, and you’re like, hey, man, you don’t even have this under contract, you don’t have any ability to market this. Like, I’m never going to send this to my buyers. On TwnSqr, I have no access to your buyers, if you just tell me no, even if you sent that deal or a great deal of mine, to your buyers, I still have no access to your buyers. If a buyer comes back from your list and says, hey, Jordan, I’m interested if that guy Charlie comes back and says that, I still have no access to your buyers. You maintain complete control. So that’s what I hope that we can get across.
Jordan Fleming 27:14
Excellent. And final question. If someone’s just starting out as a real estate investor, what are the three technology product types that you would recommend they bring on first?
Paul Wakim 27:28
Yeah, so it’s the perfect question because I think about a real estate investor’s business in three different parts. So first, in that marketing and like lead generation step, which is like going out and getting a list and then calling that list. And then the second part is organizing any leads that come in from there with a CRM, like you said, Podio, or something like Left Main, whatever it is, but that second step is a CRM. And then the third step, the third software is something that will really do dispositions right, and make sure that you’re maximizing the profit that you can make on each deal. So lead generation, calling software, like smrtPhone, and then organization like a CRM, and then disposition software like TwnSqr, that’s what I would recommend.
Jordan Fleming 28:16
Excellent. Well Paul, it’s been fantastic to learn a bit more about TwnSqr. I’m fascinated by it. I really do think it fits a gap in people’s understanding of technology and the real estate investor ecosystem. I think everyone focuses all their attention upfront and never focuses anything on the back. So I think that’s fascinating. Why don’t you take control and close out this podcast, telling people where they can find you, how they can sign up, how they can get the best out of it from this podcast.
Paul Wakim 28:50
Sure. Thank you. And thanks again, for having me, Jordan, it’s a it’s been a pleasure as always to talk with you. You can find us on TwnSqr.com. That’s twnsqr.com. From there, just scroll down to the pricing section. And you can see our three different memberships that you can sign up for. They range from 150 bucks a month to $12,000 a year for the guys that have lots and lots of buyers and that want to take advantage of our posts-sharing to monetize their buyers list, you can sign up that way. And then every single page on our site, even landing pages, even affiliate pages, every single page has a little chat bubble in the bottom right hand corner. If you have any questions about the company or about what we’re doing, much to the chagrin of my sales guys, and my support staff, everybody is available 24/7. So if you have any questions at all, you can ask us questions there. And then yeah, you can find us across social media at TwnSqr. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m kind of old in that way that I don’t really have social media of my own except for LinkedIn. I’ve had my head down focusing on TwnSqr pretty pretty heavily for the last three years. And then yeah, any questions you have, you can reach out to us on the site, or you can send an email to info@TwnSqr.com. Again, it’s TwnSqr.
Jordan Fleming 30:12
Excellent. Well, I’ll make sure I put all the links in the podcast notes so that you guys have access to it. To close out I do want to remind everyone to please do like, subscribe, do all the things you’re supposed to do with podcasts, you know how to do it. Everybody says the same thing. I don’t need to repeat it. But it really does. Make sure you can spread the knowledge and the joy of That Real Estate Tech Guy across everyone post on your social medias, etc, etc. Although I’m much like Paul in that I got rid of Facebook years ago, and I don’t want to go back. Aside from a few small bits of interest that I have, hobbies that I have. So thank you very much, Paul, and everybody. Thank you for listening to this week’s episode.
Paul Wakim 30:56
Thanks for having me, Jordan. It was great. I’m looking forward to hearing the podcast.
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