The paperwork alone should have shamed the real estate industry into embracing technology a long time ago. Rather than wait for everyone to come to this realization, Avanti Way Realty has taken a forward-looking approach and re-imagined how business can be done. Empowering agents as entrepreneurs with websites, incentivizing lead generation and sharing, creating proprietary software (AVEX) to assist with listings and offers management – and, yes, shifting to paperless transactions including electronic signatures – Avanti gives its agents an advantage with all of these improvements and more.
Co-founder Andres Korda couldn’t believe the inefficiencies burdening the industry and set out to make everything a little better, faster, and simpler. Here he tells more about his efforts to lead a real estate revolution:
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
It is hard to pinpoint why you become an entrepreneur – at least from my experience. Entrepreneurship runs in my blood, having come from a family of business owners. When I completed my education at Georgetown University, other graduates were taking interviews with consulting firms and investment banks. Yet, unlike my contemporaries, I never saw myself in such an environment. I felt the urge to create something on my own – add value, change things up a bit, and build something from scratch. With my father advising me to go back to my native country of Venezuela and assist him in managing an already established and successful company, I still strived for something different. And I knew such a plan would not come to be overnight.
When the opportunity arose, I felt I had found the right partner – an industry with potential to create something remarkable and make a positive impact. It was time to define my vision by putting in long hours to start incubating ideas and work with passion towards an ultimate goal. The goal being to build a great company which, regardless of the size, would be something that would make those involved very proud to be a part of.
What inspired your current startup?
My inspiration arose when I realized the amount of times I would find myself saying, “There has got to be a better way.” Many startups begin as an entrepreneur identifies the need to do things differently within an industry. In my case, I would wonder, “How can an industry as large as Real Estate, which affects and connects so many, be plagued with so many inefficiencies in the transaction process and startling lack of transparency?” When I started investing in Miami real estate in the early 2000’s, I was astonished with how poorly the real estate transaction process was handled on behalf of the parties I worked with. It was then that I identified an opportunity. I did not know how I would approach this opportunity, but knew the potential for improvement was astronomical.
Another influential factor was when I met my co-founder, Enrique Teran, who had been inspired by the same scenario. Enrique had years of real estate experience and had even begun to work on prototype software to help cure many of his experienced inefficiencies. When I saw a blueprint of the technology he had set himself out to develop, I knew we had to join forces and take that idea to the next level. Inspiration led to research, research led to business planning, and business planning led to technology development. Even after a whole MBA entrepreneurship program at Babson College, it would take two years to incubate a service-oriented product that would become, “the better way to real estate.” This “better way” has since been re-named, “Avanti Way.” Having kept the word, “way,” as a reminder of how the inspiration came about in the first place.
What makes your startup so killer? How is it different from the competition?
Not only have we developed technology for real estate, but we have built a paperless culture and a collaborative community around it, thus becoming real estate entrepreneurs who make a difference in the customer experience while relying on efficient business processes, marketing platforms, compliance support, and productivity tools.
We are different as we have built our own ever-evolving technologies and created a business model with support systems for real estate agents, where agents are able to adopt such technology and contribute to its development. The unfavorable alternative being to integrate third party vendors and never allow for full adoption on an agent and customer level. We then are able to mix the technology with talented people and an office environment that focuses on enriching the overall selling experience. AvantiWay relies on this original mix of innovations.
How do you motivate yourself and your team?
I motivate myself by always setting new goals and challenges. For example, I have an open door policy, show them the end game, and give them the right credit for their accomplishments as a team or individuals.
If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing?
Trying to invent something like it, working on a business to help communication efficiency – helping solve what would be a huge problem these days.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground?
- Be passionate and don’t give up.
- See problems as opportunities, and surround yourself with great people and leaders. Never stop learning and researching.
- Don’t follow what others do just because they do it; ask why, and be a listener.
- Finally, manage your cash and be resourceful. Think outside the box before paying for expensive services you might need to get going, especially at the beginning. Keep costs as variable as possible, avoid fixed cost structures.
What has been the biggest startup surprise for you (good or bad)? Have you had any incredible / funny / challenging experiences that you can share with us?
Things really cost three times as much as planned and take three times as long as scheduled. As far as challenging experiences, we had the head of IT leak information to a competitor and had to make a strategy to replace him without him knowing when he had access to all the back end / passwords, servers etc that ran our systems. This meant being prepared to replicate our systems in parallel, find and train his replacement, and be ready for a seamless change without any disruption.
We called the plan “Oceans 11” and it took a month of execution with some of our programmers working night shifts and inverting their schedules. It was a success and definitely something that marked our lives. Also a disappointment, seeing how someone we had given so much to (as a person and to his family) could do this. So that’s another thing learned in this process – being open and welcoming is great, but be careful whom you trust your business with.
How do you handle frustration or disappointment?
Try to not to make any decisions while frustrated. Taking an afternoon off to detach from the situation, get a clear head, and put things into perspective is key. There is no problem that can’t be solved, and if it really can’t be, then don’t spend time worrying about it, as there is nothing you can do anyway – so move on.
What are the top 3 online tools / websites / devices that you couldn’t live without? (And why?)
Besides our AVEX system that is obvious:
- Mobile Smart-phone (iPhone): Connectivity everywhere, all goes with you.
- Google: Has the answer for almost anything these days
- Flipboard app: On Demand news and content my way and custom
If you had $1 million and one year off, what would you do? (Other than work on your current startup)
Travel for a month and then work on researching possibilities and using that inspiration to get started on my next start up.
How do you maintain work / life balance?
This is definitely one of the most critical things in life. Work Hard, Play Hard is my motto. By playing hard I mean spending quality time with your family, friends and people that mean something in your life. I am blessed with a wonderful family that keeps things in perspective and make this part easy. Work becomes meaningless if you can’t enjoy life with loved ones.
Who would play you in the movie of your life, and what would be the theme song?
I’d say, Owen Wilson. My theme song would be Metric’s “Gimme Sympathy.”
How has being an entrepreneur changed you for the better? How has it enriched your life?
I could not imagine my life not being one. I think it has enriched my life in many ways, increased my tolerance level and given me the strength to always keep fighting for my goals and dreams. Making sure you are self sufficient, plan for the worst and hope for the best.
What is the tech scene like where you live?
It’s growing fast. When we started it was almost nonexistent but now it is gaining great momentum so it is a great time for the area in terms of startups and technology.
Where can our readers find you?
How can the KillerStartups community help YOU?
Any contacts or connections within the real estate technology or brokerage industries are always great! Also, finding good talent for leadership positions, management or programming jobs. Businesses are run by people, so we are always searching for great talent.