These Cofounders Want To Bring Back The ‘Romance’ Between Real Estate Agents And Clients
Before the advent of technology, a real estate agent could make money sitting in the office all day.
A family would stop at the corner real estate office on their way to the meat store or fruit stand. Storefront offices, referrals from neighbors, and even paper ads brought in the business. These days, getting a client to even call back can take insurmountable effort for agents. But cofounders Alain Kapatashungu, 34, and Emilie Kapatashungu, 32, have an idea.
They met in Lyon, France, while both getting their master’s degrees. With a background in real estate marketing, Burundi-born Alain and France-born Emilie noticed agents spending many hours manually collecting information on online prospects, without any data to help them understand their clients better. They decided they could solve this issue by creating a product that extracted the data for them. According to Alain, Frontdoor, a real estate software platform they founded in 2016, weaves social insights into agents workflow so agents can automatically see who their online leads are, where they’re based and what they do, including their LinkedIn profiles. Both Alain and Emilie hope this can help agents find more natural ways to break the ice and topics to bond over prior to a showing. Like the old days, but with a twist.
Benefiting real estate agents
Alain claims that with Frontdoor, agents can increase their conversion rate by 3X compared to other tools and save 7 hours per week, allowing agents to focus on what matters the most to them.
With a former RE/MAX president sitting on the board, the couple hope that Frontdoor can take the real estate agent and customer experience to a new level of authenticity.
Maryann Reid: How did you get a former RE/MAX president, a giant in the industry to support Frontdoor?
Alain: I reached out over email. Geoff Lewis, during his tenure, was focused on implementing meaningful technology to empower his agents. Geoff had 118,000 men and women under his leadership and I’m an avid learner so I wanted his feedback on our business. Despite the incredible progress, the real estate space still tends to rely on guesswork and has not seen the productivity increase that other sectors have.
I believe Geoff saw a value proposition as he was thinking about building internally a similar tech product. I shared our vision and background building Frontdoor. He was drawn to it, and a few weeks after that, Geoff accepted to join our real estate board of advisors.
Reid: Why Frontdoor, and not a social media platform or something else?
Emilie: There was no enterprise SaaS platform providing business intelligence alongside leads to boost our productivity and increase our sales. Frontdoor came to exist based solely on a problem we had for years that no existing technology could answer.
Alain: Customers love us because we use real-time actionable insights and predictive algorithms to translate social network data to accurately prioritize leads based on their likelihood to close. We built a world-class layer of technology where good data can impact an agent’s performance in a tremendous way.
Reid: Is there a preference for living in Paris and working primarily in Europe as a real estate startup?
Alain: To be candid after the 2016 elections we felt like it was time to head home. We’re working primarily in the United States as Frontdoor is a U.S. corporation and our relationships and pilot-customers are mainly based in the United States. That being said, Europe has its advantages. We can access 27 new markets easily and the real estate market is bourgeoning. For an early stage company, remaining capital-efficient is key. The cost of living and the talent pool of engineers is definitely a plus.
Reid: What’s one thing emerging in Europe in real estate that’s important right now?
Alain: What’s emerging currently in Europe besides general confusion around Brexit is not per se technologies but rather markets. We’re seeing markets such as Portugal with franchises such as RE/MAX, and others growing into powerhouses. Compass is not in Europe, yet, but I’m excited, because it’s only a matter of time.
Reid: Who are your roles models as a couple?
Alain: Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen. What they’ve done with Houzz is awesome. They managed to build a company with users worldwide. Adi, Alon are unique founders who happened to be married. They’re trailblazers and you must give honor when it’s due.
Emilie: On a personal side, Pastors Touré Roberts and Sarah Jakes Roberts. They are on such an important mission, opening doors and helping people discover their true self.
Reid: What is some advice you have for couples working together?
Emilie: Ultimately you must be complementary. As a couple, if you’re contemplating the idea here’s what you must ask: If I can do what you can do and you can do what I can do, then one us is irrelevant.
Reid: What’s next?
Alain: Five years from now Frontdoor will be empowering 1 million real estate professionals daily with our tech tools. Social impact is everything. It’s a the core of Frontdoor. Through our “buy one, empower one” mechanism, we’ll help 30,000 homeless out of the streets from the San Francisco Bay Area to Paris and anywhere around the globe afterwards.
Reid: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Alain: We decided early that a percentage of Frontdoor revenue will go towards a fund that helps eradicate homelessness. For every subscription sold, meaning that every time an agent buys a Frontdoor paid plan, we’ll directly give a percentage to a housing fund for homeless. Businesses must lead the charge by evolving their business models to the benefit of the entire community they’re building, growing and evolving in.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.