Industry: Real Estate
Founding Student Name(s): Sam Tsang-Chan, Nathanael Tappin
Brief Description of Solution: Smart Estates is an all-in-one online market platform for home buyers and sellers whose home listings are part of a blockchain MLS (multiple listing service), that also utilizes smart contracts as a part of the service.
What led you to launch this venture? I have experience as a real estate salesperson working with buyers, sellers, and investors. I have prepared purchase agreement contracts, lease agreements, and addendums valued over $2 million. By understanding the home buying process, I believe there can be improvements to the purchase and sale transaction processes, and property leasing and management.
Combining our unique background in the real estate industry with technical computer science knowledge, our team is perfectly suited to execute on Smart Estates. By bringing our experience together, we are looking to revolutionize the way properties are bought and sold.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Our biggest accomplishment so far is that we just finished Georgia Tech’s CREATE-X Launch Program. The 12-week summer startup accelerator allows Georgia Tech students to launch their projects from the idea stage into fully functioning and viable startups. After completing the program, we have developed our minimal viable product and currently have three properties under contract to list and sell through our platform. We have the due diligence for each property completed, and are now getting the properties (rights, pictures, and documents) uploaded and linked to our platform. We are also in discussion with commercial buyers to purchase the properties as well.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? With my degree in finance and certificate in entrepreneurship, I have taken many Georgia Tech business classes related to startups such as entrepreneurial finance and electronic commerce. During the beginning of the pandemic, I first endeavored to create an online e-commerce business and website selling entertainment consumer electronics. This was my first successful startup, as it generated $400,000 of revenue in the first six months with 30% profit margins. After discussing with Nathanael, we decided to combine my knowledge and experience budling businesses with data science and computer science to launch Smart Estates.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Electronic Commerce with Professor Wu has been most valuable business class while building our startup. Listening to industry leaders and analyzing real life case studies, this business class was disruptive in my understanding of innovative business models. The biggest lesson was understanding Metcalfe’s law and the power of network effects in building two sided marketplaces.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? During the CREATE-X program, our mentor, Craig Hyde, has made a significant contribution while still brainstorming our initial idea. Given his unique background in building his own company, he has been a game changer in further developing our startup. He has offered helpful advice to help us refine our business model and go to market strategy.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Jack Ma, a Chinese business magnate, investor and philanthropist, inspired me to start my own entrepreneurial journey. Coming from a poor family and not well-educated background, he has become one of the most influential business visionaries with Alibaba Group. His tenacious and persevering behavior in the face of rejection is motivation to me to continue working harder.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Beyond just a transactional platform, Smart Estates will offer ancillary services to support the purchase process. For example, one of our goals is offering mortgage lending through partnerships with banks can help customers qualify for funding. We will receive a referral fee directly from the lender by providing the bank with a client. Another value-add service is home inspections before the seller can list their house on the MLS. This will be part of the pre-purchase due diligence to protect both parties from unexpected damage/defect to the property. The inspection is the final requirement for a listing to be entered into the MLS, as the fact that this is done before the buyer is invested in purchasing the property saves them time on their end.
When the due diligence has been completed, the buyer and seller initiate a smart contract that is then reviewed and eventually executed by both parties upon agreement. The loan between the mortgage lender and the buyer can be linked to the aforementioned smart contract. The sale proceeds are transferred to the escrow account and the seller transfers possession of the property to the buyer. The smart contract then transfers the proceeds to the seller’s bank account and then notifies the county registrar that the property title needs to be transferred to the buyer. With the information readily available on the smart contract, the registrar can expedite the validation of the title transfer. This information is updated on the blockchain and our MLS, visible to all parties and thus reducing the time of any further transactions on the property, by having all the data saved on the blockchain.
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