Interview With Lindsay McLean
Describe your product or service:
“HomeLister is an online home selling platform that has enabled thousands of home sellers to save over $77.5 million in home equity. HomeLister has reinvented the home selling process, giving homeowners more control and savings than ever before. Sellers are guided through the entire process through an online dashboard: from creating their listing and publishing it to the local MLS to executing contracts and working with buyers to close a deal. They are able to choose from various tiers of online support, ranging from just getting the home up on the MLS and other real estate search sites to customized support from a real estate expert throughout the entire real estate process.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“HomeLister was built to empower home sellers to take control of their home sale by charging a low flat fee — and not a percentage of the sale price — so they can keep more equity at the end of the day.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Venture capital. The company announced a Series A of $10 million in June 2022 and raised a seed round of $4.5 million in 2020, totaling $14.5 million.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“More than 50, working remotely. These include licensed agents around the country.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“When I was selling my condo in Tribeca in New York City, I did a lot of the legwork, including comp research, pricing strategy, and preparing my home for showings. Yet I worked with a traditional real estate agent who ultimately walked away with 6% of the sale price for just a few hours of work. I knew there has to be a better way. My background was in software engineering and real estate development, and I was able to team up with my co-founder Jennifer Stein, a real estate lawyer and broker, to launch the company to help home sellers retain more of their home equity.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“It was born from the fact that we wanted people to list their homes in a different way, so we just started referring to it as ‘The Home Lister,’ and it stuck because it really said what we did. Eventually, we dropped the ‘the’ and just started calling it ‘HomeLister.’”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“My dad and grandfather were both small business owners, so when I saw something that should exist and felt was a good idea, starting it myself seemed like the next logical step. This is the third real estate company I’ve been a part of starting. With HomeLister in particular, though, I just couldn’t believe it didn’t exist, and I felt like it should, so I made that happen.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Real estate is the largest asset class in the US. Disrupting an entrenched legacy industry such as real estate was always going to be an uphill battle. Not only did we have to convince investors that we could do it, but we also needed to convince homeowners that they didn’t actually need the traditional real estate agent to sell their homes for top dollar. And also that the paperwork for selling a home wasn’t nearly as complicated as one would expect.
We faced social media backlash from traditional agents who felt threatened by our flat fee model (as opposed to a percentage of the sale price). Even convincing some investors was a challenge, but we ended up with those who were fully behind our vision.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Full funnel marketing approach targeting users at various points in their customer journey, led by digital marketing campaigns.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Home sellers in the United States (currently in 18 states) with average home values between $250,000 and $3 million.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Conversation rate, customer acquisition cost.”
What is your advice for entrepreneurs seeking funding for the first time?
“Choose your investors wisely and make sure their values and vision align with yours. For example, do they believe that a legacy industry like real estate can be disrupted? These are the investors that will go to bat for you and help you scale and grow your company.”
What is your #1 piece of advice for startup founders?
“Be honest, be transparent, and as a leader, strive to understand what your team needs to thrive. Promote innovation and initiative, empower others, and assure the well-being of all around us.”