Q&A: Vishu Ramanathan, CEO at Buildout
Today, each brokerage has its own unique set of needs, wants, and personality which poses a challenge for their marketing teams offering cookie-cutter approaches. Vishu Ramanathan, CEO at Buildout shares with us why Buildout was designed to change the way you market CRE.
1. What sort of industry gaps did you recognize that made you launch Buildout?
A. The key to having a successful business is making your customers successful, so what appealed to us about Commercial Real Estate is that we saw an opportunity to be useful.
Before Buildout, we made web applications for complex businesses like financial services, logistics and export control. When we looked at CRE we saw a huge industry that didn't have the same level of technology as we'd seen elsewhere.
So we liked the size and competitive landscape, but ultimately what really stuck was the people. It’s an industry dominated by practical business people who are focused on getting the job done for their customers. That’s pretty much exactly how we feel and the cultural compatibility has been a driving force for our success.
2. Where do you see Buildout in 3 years?
A. We set our direction by focusing on fundamentals, not trying to predict the future. For us that means actually working with customers: looking at how business actually operates, finding ways to be useful, and providing awesome service.
When we first started Buildout we did all the marketing work ourselves. We were listing properties online, creating emails, and making brochures, proposals and OMs. That let us learn and understand the work before we built the tools to make it more efficient. In other words, innovation comes from doing work.
We want to be the premier software provider for Commercial Real Estate - the company you think of when you think of amazing tools you depend on every day. And we’ll get there by continuing to follow this fundamental, practical approach.
3. Who's using Buildout successfully?
A. Buildout is used by Commercial Real Estate brokerages across the country to streamline the process of producing and publishing their marketing material. With over 5000 users in 49 states and 4 countries, it’s hard to choose just one example, especially because Commercial Real Estate companies are so varied.
Larger brokerages benefit from the efficiency and consistency the tool provides. Their marketing team can produce more and faster, showcase their brand and focus their time on higher-value marketing tasks. Smaller firms get to look their best with a new level of professionalism that they didn’t have before. We’re proud that everyone using Buildout is happy with their results.
4. There is a lot of hesitation from real estate professionals to stray from their "old school" ways. Do you find that professionals are embracing your product?
A. I don’t buy into this idea that CRE professionals are slow to embrace technology. Our experience has really been the opposite - people are excited to work with Buildout as soon as they see the potential.
I think if you look at the tech available in CRE compared to other industries it just hasn't been as good. CRE professionals live and die by their own production and they don’t have time to mess around with a half-baked technology that doesn’t actually make their lives easier or more efficient.
So It’s not that they are reluctant to embrace technology, it’s that the quality of solutions haven’t been worth adopting. The onus is on us as technology providers to make something people want to use.
5. What are some of your favorite real estate tech sites or products?