Interview With Adam M. Eldibany
Describe your product or service:
“The way we buy and sell houses is changing forever. iBuyers have introduced liquidity, convenience, and certainty into the house transaction process, while completely displacing traditional brokers who cannot provide these benefits. Homebldr is enabling brokers and brokerages to compete with iBuyers by building subscription-based tools that allow them to operate like iBuyers and provide similar benefits to their clients without the exorbitant costs of building and managing these tools internally.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Homebldr is on a mission to empower traditional real estate brokerages to transform the housing market forever, eliminating the illiquidity and uncertainty that buyers and sellers face today. We're democratizing the data and machine learning tools that iBuyers build internally, so that traditional brokerages can operate like iBuyers.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“We are currently operating with funds from a family and friends round.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Our team currently consists of three individuals: Adam M. Eldibany (Founder, CEO), Sherif Eldibani (Advisor, Investor), and Edrees Feda (Advisor). Sherif is the founder and CEO of his own software company and brings experience building and growing software to the team. Edrees owns his own real estate brokerage, is licensed in 10+ states, and is a genius when it comes to the broker mindset and business. Adam is a data scientist by trade as well as a licensed broker and his passion for innovating the real estate industry inspires not just his team, but everyone he meets.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've been starting businesses for as long as I can remember. My first few businesses were classic neighborhood kid ventures like lawn work, shoveling, pet sitting, etc. In high school, I began a sneaker-flipping business. In college, I used winnings from gambling on sports to invest in stocks and crypto. I have always been and will always be an entrepreneur.
There's something about building a business from the ground up and shaping its strategy, values, and mission that invigorates the hell out of me. Joining someone else's business just to be a cog in the wheel is not very motivating regardless of the type of work. The primary reason that I'm an entrepreneur is not for money or recognition, but for the lifestyle that being an entrepreneur leads to.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“Although homebldr has evolved so much since I first came up with the initial idea, the very first inkling of an idea came to me while working for IBM's consulting business in their data science and machine learning practice. We were working with every kind of financial institution except for real estate businesses, and I made it my mission to help us break into the real estate space. I became a licensed real estate broker, not to actually broker any transactions, but to be able to access transaction data from the MLS for building out prototypes that we could take to real estate clients. One of those prototypes kept evolving until it got to a point where I decided to turn it into a product and start a business.
I decided to focus on our specific problem because traditional brokerages are losing billions of dollars in commission revenue to iBuyers, and it's only the beginning. This problem affects almost everyone in the US and is truly very important. In 2021, iBuyers will have eclipsed 1% of the housing market and will absorb ~$1.6 billion in commission revenue. If you extrapolate the current rate of increasing market share from the last five years, by 2025, iBuyers will be at a 5% market share, translating to ~$10 billion in commission revenue. By 2030, iBuyers could have a 20% market share and be stealing upwards of $50 billion in commission revenue from traditional brokerages. As selling your house to companies that provide instant cash offers becomes the norm, traditional brokerages will NEED to change, or else they will go out of business. The benefits of liquidity, convenience, and certainty will be necessary to acquire and keep clients, and traditional real estate brokerages that can't provide those benefits will go extinct.
In addition to the increasing market share of iBuyers and [its] popularity as a news topic, the feedback that we have gotten from brokers all of the country has been very positive.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Honestly, I didn't focus on a name for a while. I just focused on the problem that I wanted to tackle and the solution that I wanted to build to solve the problem. Along the way, ‘homebldr’ literally just popped into my head, and I knew it was right. There were no other names considered.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“In order to begin building out our first prototype, I needed some real estate data to work with. However, real estate is the most regulated asset in the world, and collecting, let alone distributing, real estate data for free is very rare. I came up with the plan to become a licensed broker so that I could use my license to access data from an MLS to build out prototypes. As I began studying for the broker exam, I realized that I didn't have the full set of technical skills required to build out the functionalities that I wanted. In fact, I had never built an app before. So for about seven months, while working at IBM and on other aspects of homebldr, I studied real estate in the early morning and then took web application courses late at night. Looking back, those were some of the longest days of my life. But I was so motivated that it didn't ever feel tiring or frustrating.
In the words of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, ‘Don't work eight hours for a company then go home and not work on your own goals. You're not tired; you're uninspired.’"
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our products are being made to support the traditional real estate brokers and brokerages that are increasingly losing market share to iBuyers. Traditional real estate brokerages are our target market.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Our customer acquisition strategy consists of three phases. Initially, we're targeting individual brokers and real estate professionals. Once we've gained enough traction with individuals, we will approach the brokerages, MLSs, and real estate associations that our customers belong to and sell enterprise subscriptions. With multiple MLSs on board, we will approach the MLS tech infrastructure companies with a national expansion plan to be a tool common across all MLSs and in every broker's toolbox.
As for brokers that aren't being affected by iBuyers YET, our tools can still provide significant value and help them compete with their competition: other brokers. Our tools allow for brokerages to analyze properties at scale in order to arrive at custom instant cash offers for properties, but the same tools can also be used to pull data and perform property/market analysis for clients and for internal purposes such as market research and client prospecting. All over the country, brokers are turning away customers because they simply don't have the bandwidth to take them on. By being able to perform property-level analysis at scale, brokers save time spent on property research for general clients, provide investor clients with ML-based investment analysis, and efficiently prospect new markets and clients to target.
Ancillary Marketing Strategies:
1) We are going to target partnerships with renovation service matchmaker companies like HomeAdvisor, Angi, Thumbtack, Porch, Craftjack, 1800Remodel, HUX, Homeflock, Pro Referral by The Home Depot, and more, to provide a plug-in that of our Renovation Estimation tool for free to be used on their website. Currently, these websites allow users to read articles containing generalizations about the effects of certain renovations on properties; however, by leveraging our plug-in Renovation Estimator, users of their website will be able to choose exactly what specific renovations they are considering doing to their property and see individualized predictions about how the selected renovation(s) will change the value of their property. This addition to these companies' websites will increase traffic and effectiveness of their sites. As a result, homebldr will be marketed on all of their websites.
2) We are going to target partnerships with renovation retailers like The Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, and more, to provide kiosks with our Renovation Estimator app to be placed in their brick-and-mortar stores, as well as on their websites, that allow customers to select renovations and receive a list of suggested materials that they will need to perform these renovations along with the prices and location/isles in the current/nearest stores. We anticipate that the use of the in-store kiosks and website plug-ins will drive the growth of our subscription service higher.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We have yet to launch our product publicly; however, our team's real estate network is wide and deep. Brokers are a tight-knit community and often support one another, especially when making an effort to further the profession.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“As a pre-revenue company, we are monitoring our website analytics and waitlist. Additionally, we are working to get LOIs from future customers.
Check out our website: homebldrai.com.
Sign up for our waitlist.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ - Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“‘The Pomp Podcast.’”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How much successful entrepreneurs have failed throughout their entrepreneurial journey.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“As an entrepreneur, you obviously have to push yourself. However, there comes a point where, if you push yourself too far, your mental health starts to take a hit. Identifying this point and respecting it is how entrepreneurs should balance their lives.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I surround myself with other inspiring entrepreneurs.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I still have a lot I want to accomplish before I'm ready to call myself successful.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“I'm proud of homebldr's mission to empower traditional brokers and brokerages. The vast majority of real estate innovation and proptech companies were built to replace the broker. We know what the future of the brokerage and the real estate industry looks like, and it 100% includes the broker. We need brokers, period. But the role of the broker is going to change.”
More on Homebldr
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Adam M. Eldibany of homebldr that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.