When looking for a job after graduation I considered several options; graduate school, a startup, consulting, and a big company. The option I ended up picking was ‘go to a big company and learn how they do business while making lots of money’. And in the back of my mind it was going to be a two year stint and then I’d take that expertise and apply it at a small company. Somewhere where my entrepreneurial drive could run as fast as it wanted.
Well, this spring marked my two year anniversay in Seattle and I started to look around at the options. At the same time I also started to re-kindle my interest in real estate. First by buying a condo and then by starting urbnlivn. I also started thinking about selling my house. It quickly became apparent that the real estate industry is an industry ripe for technology to come in and completely shake things up. Many compare it to the travel industry before companies like Expedia came in and revolutionized it (when was the last time you dealt with a travel agent?). Or remember the days before downloading music? Somehow, the real estate business has resisted the Internet revolution.
And so, after a phone screen and grueling day of interviews, Redfin decided they liked me and after a dinner and a few meetings I decided I liked them. On Wednesday (or whenever my visa paper work gets sorted out), I’ll join them as a program/product manager reporting to their director of product management.
But wait, what is this Redfin company? What exactly do they do? The short story is that they let you buy and sell residential real estate online. The long story got written up in this weekend’s New York Times, The Last Stand of the 6-Percenters?:
Matt Bell, general manager of sales at RealNetworks in Seattle, said that â€œwhen the listing agent wouldnâ€™t show me the house, thatâ€™s when I knew Redfin was on to something.â€ He added: â€œIf agents donâ€™t like it, then it must be better for consumers.â€
Though read the whole article, there are tons of great quotes and it’ll give you a great sense of why I’m joining them.
Why am I so excited about this new opportunity for me?
- Walk to work! Redfin is only a mile and a half away from my house (we’re located in Pioneer Square)
- Small team. There’s currently thirty something people working at Redfin. There were more program managers in eHome than that.
- I’m the second program manager.
- The people seem really nice. I’ve already been to a BBQ at the chairman of the board’s house and had a fun time (it helped that I brought my boat :) ).
- Competitive pay and benefits. I was expecting to take a pay cut and benefits cut but that’s not the case. There’s demand for talent out there.
- Early stage stock options. Surprise, I wasn’t getting rich off Microsoft stock.
- Very short release cycle. Release cycles on Media Center were at a minimum a year. Redfin can ship a new version a lot quicker than that.
- Lots of possibilities, broad opportunities, the chance to change the business and really innovate. At Microsoft I was a small cog in a big machine.
- Lots of risk and a chance of failure. At Microsoft there was an almost zero chance that I’d get laid off or fired. At a startup there is the risk of failure, the chance of layoffs and you need to prove your worth.
- Exposure to the Seattle startup community. There’s no doubt in my mind I will start my own company soon. Time to start networking with the right people.
- It’s a customer focused business. I love good customer service. It’s way I worked on the UX team on Media Center and blogged and it’s why I’m joining a company who wants to make real estate easier for customers. And not just easier, but cheaper! According to the NY Times article Redfin has returned over $900,000 to customers. You can bet that the next place I buy in Seattle I’ll use Redfin and essentially get a 2% discount off the price.
And so, that’s my big news. I’ve left the company that taught me more than I think I learned at university and will now join a small real estate technology startup in downtown Seattle so that I live a try urban lifestyle.