3 days , 5 inscribed ballpoint pens, 7 parties and receptions, 10 personalized notepads, 40 speakers and 100â€™s of ideas and hare-brained schemes later, Iâ€™m back in Seattle from Inmanâ€™s Connect convention, a meeting of the best minds in the real estate and technology sector who got together to share information, buy or sell. Even if you thought you were just there to listen or speak, believe me, you were buying or selling something and the behind-the-scenes deal-making was making me as giddy as a school girl at her first prom.
The VCâ€™s are throwing around a lot of money, some on ideas that wonâ€™t be going anywhere anytime soon. Some of the start-ups I heard about this year probably wonâ€™t be back next, but it was fun listening to their founders earnest sales pitch or watching the demo on their laptop, and their charm and eagerness was infectious as they were showing off their latest program, platform, software, sales portal or site design.
It was fun being around such smart people, but exhausting too. The real estate industry is getting crowded with new programs and software and lead-generating portals and search and mapping functions, only a few will ever get accepted or bought or become an industry standard. A day doesnâ€™t go by where I donâ€™t receive an email from someone trying to get me to purchase their lead-generating products, perhaps a link to get my name in some directory or on some website that promises hundreds of leads delivered daily, directly into my in-box.
The sad thing is some of these ideas are genuinely revolutionary, but that does not necessarily guarantee success. Just like in any business, itâ€™s who you know. If you can get a franchise in a large market to purchase your product, you may have a chance for it to become an industry standard. If not, you may be relegated to the sidelines or obscurity. And some products and ideas seem to be designed, not to work and function in an actual money-making business, but in the hope that someone will buy them out.
There were quite a few large well-known companies represented at Inman, but some of the smaller firms that I like are:
Imprev: This is such a cool product, I hesitate to even tell anyone else about it. Even neophytes can make flash presentations and web movies, beautiful flyers, listing presentations, postcards and more, for just $299 year. If you’re an agent, you must have these products.
Real Bird: This company provides an affordable way for individual agents to have a professional map-based IDX search service for their website or blog. For only $159 a year, you can get a cool interactive map on your site. If you don’t have one, you should get one now.
And I’m looking forward to the launch of SpotIt, a new package by Onboard LLC, that promises to be a good addition to a brokerages website to add additional content without having to reinvent the wheel. From OnBoard:
SpotIt leverages OnBoardâ€™s database of Nearby Spots by allowing users to view local â€œSpots,â€ share their opinions about them and vote on their favorites. Through our SpotIt API, these â€œhot spotsâ€ can be integrated directly into your website. Provide context to your listings and neighborhood information by displaying the positive opinions of people in the know.