Be Able To Adapt To Change

Be Able To Adapt To Change

Where Are They Now?

Mao Du

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

1/18/2021

Be Able To Adapt To Change

Being able to adapt to changes is very important. For us, the pandemic changed people's habits from housing to communication to transportation. This means we had to move fast to serve the people in the housing market. We started in the Bay area and right now we realize people are moving to Austen and Idaho Falls. So we have to figure out how we can help those people. It is challenging for us because we are in the real-estate sector and it's a local business.

 


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Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

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 ai generated transcription

able to adapt changes is very important like for us right pandemic change people's you know habit from housing communication to transportation right which means we have to move fast to to service the people in you know many other housing market because we're starting from bay area right now we're realized people are moving to austin people to move into idaho falls so we have to figure out okay how we actually can helping those people and well it's challenging for us because we're in a real estate sector and it's a local it's really real estate it's a local business [Music] hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that has grown several startups into seven and eight-figure businesses as well as a ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help with your patent or trademark just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today is another special episode they're all special but i like this even these ones even more than normal which is it's a six months where are they at now and this is really rem introducing people we've had previously on the podcast so you should go back and listen to those episodes but then telling you their story of now how the last six months go you know have did everything play out just the way you wanted or is there something else that you had to pivot adjust or anything else so with that we the person we're having on today the person with the the last episode is now do now if you remember mao was her original business was co-home and where it was is basically helping first-time homeowners be able to invest in or get a home that they can't afford on their own so if you think of let's take a new york or a california or utah is getting this way where i'm at and everywhere else where you're getting expensive homes where it's getting difficult for a first-time homeowner to be able to save up and be able to afford a home because it's just out of their reach and so mal was she was looking addressing this problem saying how can we help first-time home buyers in order to actually rather than just rent for their whole lives be able to save up or to other or have other people go in and own the home together or co-ownership of the home which is then where you get go home so that was where kind of we left off six months and now we have mao back on to tell us a little bit more about where she's at and what pivots they've made what other things they've learned and all everything and every all in between so if that much is an introduction welcome on to the podcast now hey devon hey everyone thanks for having me yes um so our platform is called call home and we just launched actually uh we actually launched in december 8th and uh it was a good successful launch and have several um reporters from nbc bay area uh bbc news reach out to us and to do a feature and also right now we're ramping up all the testimonial and have the new feature coming up as well to learn always learning from the customers and and other people at the same time so we're actually gonna racking up new version uh even after we actually just launched like last week so yeah it's very exciting and we actually learned a lot we currently partnered with the local brokerage firms like coldwell banker kell williams those big firms and started doing co-marketing and go to market next early next year so we're excited no and first of all congratulations on launching i think that's always a major step and you know as i've done businesses before you always kind of you get so busy with doing so many things that you never really take a breath or you stop to think hey we actually made a good milestone so that's always one thing that you launch you actually get it going up and running people can use it that's a big deal so congratulations on getting that recently launched and getting that going now there's a few things that we know we chatted before the podcast you made some pivots you also learned some things along the way so maybe you know the first thing is tell us a little bit about the pivots you made some of the things and also some of the things you learned along the way as to what you've done done over the last six months it's made things better made things different and everything that's going on so give it let us know what you where you've been at and what you've been doing okay great yeah so uh we actually initially when we wrote about our beta version into market we only targeting first home buyer because we thought only for some buyer needs this kind of co-ownership opportunity to access home ownership but then we start having some early investors sorry early customers come in and they say hey we are open to co-ownership we we like the idea we love the idea but the thing is we don't have enough down payment and at the same time we actually have investors coming in are thinking about um having opportunity to co-investing with other investors so the we were thinking about you know maybe you know what what what how we have solved the problem for down payment part right we do know that state local have some incentive about down payment but that's totally different thing because those are ones that are let you get into the housing market but they they set the um final resale price so basically it's not really your uh your house you cannot fully um capitalize it or sell your house at the end you have to sell back to the government at a pre predetermined price so that's not different that's different right so that's why we figured out and then the customer saying hey if you guys can actually find some investors helping us with down payment we would love to try that model so that kind of kind of questions and you know early experiment that actually lead us to talk to our investors customers we say hey you guys actually open to invest for first home buyer and in exchange for substantial um equities in a home ownership but at the same time can help other people to get into their you know get their food into a housing market and they're okay to do so right so so far actually there's couple uh investor type which is they're put their money into the down payment for for some buyer in exchange for debt financing which is you know looking for a high yield especially right now giving the interest rates low doesn't make sense for them to do so or they say hey we uh we're thinking this housing market gonna grow and we'll just put the money in in the down payment for you guys in exchange for uh thirty percent of forty percent of the uh equity with you guys so that to me is actually you know a learning thing because i never thought that this kind of model could work until they actually come down together and willing to meet and connect a draft agreement and close the home thrust so that's really a milestone and that's a that's that's really brings up brings more brings more target for call home and also we can leverage investors to help more people for first online no and i like that i like the approach you know as simple as it sounds of you listening to the customers to hey this is the thing that's holding us back from using your system or this is the difficulty we have you know too often is a is especially if you're an entrepreneur or a startup person you have hey i have a vision of what the product is and how it's going to work and you you want you start building it and you get deeper and deeper into it you don't want to step back you don't want to change things because you think you know that you know what's best so to speak but i think that to your point you know if you're listening to your customers if you're saying what are the issues that they're finding what are they running into what are they not being able why are they not using our product or what do we need to do to make it easier for them to use our product that can be a big difference between a successful company versus one that people never use because it doesn't fit with what they need so i you know first of all kudos to you guys on that yeah so oh go ahead and so i think that you mentioned that there was another one other pivot and then we'll talk about a few other things you learned along the way as well is you also you know kind of almost dovetailing is you found that investors were also a good avenue not just people that are wanting co you know to co-own a home but investors are also another good client so maybe talk a little bit about that as to how you started to incorporate those that wanted to do the investors and how you leverage that for your platform yes so the investors that are reaching out to us and start looking for homes our platform and find other investors we actually keep continuing conversation with them because they want to learn why they actually use our product so through that we actually learned there um the most important factor for investor to thinking about this co-ownership approach is first of all they don't want to put all their assets into one pocket right they want to actually be able to uh put a put their money into several different states or different properties so that to indicate risk especially right now the the people are starting you know moving away from the big cities and they go to the idaho they go to boise they go to um austin's so they're just everywhere so investors they're like okay seems like i have to put the investment in several different regions other than just california right so so that's why investors are thinking about to um kind of like allocate their assets diversify their assets even more than previously and and invest for investors like they they they know that the the investment in real estate has to be leveraged someone that have the local expertise and contact so and also at the same time if they say they say if they actually invest with someone else in a different region they could invest at the same time they can they could leverage their investment partners to manage the property for them so they don't have to pay that eight percent property management fee so that's actually another good point that i want to point out why the investor would like to do this co-ownership approach so in other words it's almost a similar idea to why two or first-time homeowners may want to co-own a home in the sense that they they might not have the money to owner you know to be able to do it by themselves you're saying investors maybe not so much just purely on the money side but on the side of hey we want to diversify we want to have a bigger portfolio different locations reduce our risk and we don't want to have to buy the home maybe all on our own but we just like to have a portion of the home so you have multiple investors and now almost co-owning the home together is an investment property in order to spread or spread or spread the risk and diversify is that right yeah exactly and especially right now i think giving a pandemic like people are actually moving everywhere right right now people are thinking about who help i actually should just find a place move to the state have no income tax that's why you're going you can see people are moving to seattle people are moving to idols or lower cheaper you know cheaper labor areas so i think that's the first step people the next step people are thinking about hey if i'm gonna forever work from home i instead of just living in one place i want to have a multiple place to travel because i don't have to work near the work right near the job so i think the fractional ownership makes sense because you get to with limited assets you've got to um get access to to a different properties uh allocated into a different you know many more places so you get to you get to travel you get to stay there you get to you know just give you more like a different a whole new venue no no no i think that makes complete sense as to why that might be a potential customer maybe one that you didn't necessarily think of right out of the shoot but why it certainly makes sense they do want to leverage a lot of the same technology and platform that you guys are building now you mentioned you know those are a couple pivots you made along the way but is there anything else other things that you learned over the last six months as far as getting the business up and running about you know people to work with people not to work with how you are set up the company how you market how you sell any all the above kind of what were any other things that you learned along the way in the last six months sure there are three things that i think i learned a lot during last six months i mean of course startup is always a learning experience for everyone even especially for a founder like first time founder like me right i think that the process is tough it's long and lonely and i think the patience and grit is very important right lots of up and downs and you need to be patient to see your progress and company growth just don't give up right i and i've heard that the first the financing is always difficult once you get proof your market you know prove your concept and get market profit then other people will start you know using your product and they will it will become much easier so you i guess you have to just like be you know be brave enough to to get there first and then the different avenue will come in so um but once you actually get financing you know after serious a and service b well you probably need to think about how to get your you had your sales milestone but that's totally different story but for early stage startup we you know you just need to be patient enough and to believe and also in the early days people believe in your product right early customers early people become people that willing to talk to you uh willing to help you and especially your crew right the people who were willing trust you and work for you those are people you should have really appreciated and yeah by the way giving this opportunity thanks devlin to give me this opportunity to to speak myself about my journey and help help every one of you guys are currently listening to this episode or get insights and resonate with it no no you hit on a couple things that i i certainly think you're good lessons to learn a lot you know along the way and i think honestly whether you're the first time founder you're the 20th time founder that grit and determination because i think almost every startup that i'm aware of and i think it holds true you're going to hit points and during the startup that aren't fun that aren't working out the way you think that aren't going to you you wonder should i give up did i make the right decision is this all going to work out and having that grit and determination i think is one that you know as cliche as it is it holds true in the sense that if you don't have that if you're not willing to push through you're not going to make it as a founder and vice versa so you can make through make it through a lot of things if you're willing to stick with it now it doesn't mean to your point you don't pivot you may have to adjust you may have to change and you may not do the exact same thing that you were started out with but to your you know you still have to have that green determination i also love the second point that you made which is you know if you're working with investors and you know people that are putting their faith in whether it's friends and family around whether it's institutional investors any you know angel investors or anybody else they're along with the right they you don't know when you start if it's going to be successful if it's going to work out you think it is you have faith otherwise you wouldn't start but you don't know if whether or not it's going to be successful and too often it's too easy to hey thank you for the money you take their money and then you kind of forget about them oh yeah they invested and then now they're now i'm just doing my own thing and they are along for the ride and they're helping you out they want you to win and they're your champion so to have that gratitude and to make sure that you share with your successes and tell them thank you for having the faith and to support you i think is an important thing to hit on exactly anything else that you hit on you mentioned three is there anything else that you've learned along the way that we haven't touched on yeah so uh i think in this you know especially we are startups that are uh launching during this crisis right it's proper people were questioning like how you guys can make it through and like what what do you guys to pivot or what other things that you have to do um over you know compared to other you know compared to the server that that are launching in different time frame or so i would say you know be able to adapt changes is very important like for us right pandemic change people's you know habit from housing communication to transportation right which means we have to move fast to to service the people in you know many other housing markets because we're starting from bay area right now we're realized people are moving to austin people to move into idaho falls so we have to figure out okay how we actually can helping those people and well it's challenging for us because we're in a real estate sector and it's a local it's really it's real estate it's a local business so it you can't just like turn your api or mls listing to those regions and you can start business you have to talk to the people in that region and to figure out what's there what's the target realtors what's your target lenders willing to uh partner with you what's their targe what's the target customers in that region you see it's totally different game totally from the thing so we have to be you know move really fast to get the markets research down and and and align with the business partners to be able to actually um be able to um go with this thing go with us a trend and um but but by the way i think housing markets in general is pretty good during the pandemic we can also see right especially residential because people spend more time at home they're willing to uh have a bigger yard you know bigger house and so we we just have to really uh work hard to be able to uh take this you know tailwind i guess no and i think that you know i think there's a lot of things that learned along the way and i like how you also always have to be watching the market right almost to your point of hey if people are leaving california as an example and they are going to texas or they're going to idaho or whatever state they're going then you need to be where your customers are at right rather than rather than just try and get the customers where they're not and trying to say this is where i live or this is where we're headquartered or based let's figure out where they're at and then let's make sure that we address that so i like that as as a as a common thought now invest i think one of the other things we talked a little bit about was investor update and you kind of or you've had some updates or some things that were going on with investors or i can't remember if i was looking for investors you already got investment dollars you're wanting more investment dollars and i would say most startups are always looking for investor dollars because you're wanting to grow in a build but i think you mentioned that so maybe give us an update there yeah we by that time six months ago we actually was uh looking for angel round and we actually got some angel funds uh for the business but right now since we have the product and we have started doing the business and we already have the pipeline sales pipeline with local brokerage firms so right now we're actually looking for a vc firm financing uh for for the seat rom so very excited and right now we're talking to several big big time vc's uh in the valley and uh where we're we're actually um negotiating with the terms stuff like that so it's definitely it's making a much bigger progress than last time we talk well that's awesome no i think that you know it's always interesting to see you know every time you raise is a bit of a different especially when you're going from pre-seed seed or then you go to series a or series b it's always a different animal because you're working with different types of investors they want different information they evaluate you differently and they're looking for different metrics so first of all congrats on closing the earlier rounds and now good luck with closing these rounds as they're both different animals well as we start to wrap up and as we continue forward now you're looking at the next you know we've we're six months in from la the first time we talked but now looking again six to 12 months out so that that next six to 12 months where do you see things going what's kind of in the road map or what's the plan and where what do you think will happen so for the next six months i think uh i think the sales will be the focus for the business which is figure out whether the target realtor or broker brokerage firms are willing to use your product to serve their needs to serve their sales goal figuring that out and then also as well as lenders as well and then once we figure that out in next six months we need to really have have a you know partner with as many lenders as many brokerage firms as possible to have our sales milestone so i think next six months to a year would be extremely uh critical for us to to be able to success so now now dovetailing right into that so people that are wanting to help you or participate in the next or the current fundraising round they want to be a uh you know their real estate they want to be an investor they want to co-partner with you they're a first-time customer that wants to use your platform any or all the above what's the best way to reach out find out more start to use you know use your system invest in you or anything else thank you yes uh we our website address is cohome.com very cohome.com to find us and then our contact information is you can also just shoot us email at hello cohong.com and we're very responsive uh to the emails and inquiries whether you're investors looking for properties or investors looking for equity financing we uh we we can talk offline thank you all right i definitely encourage if you're looking to to get into home ownership and you're i think this is a great platform and it's a great way to make that entrance or if you're an investor or you're on the investor side either wanting to participate in the fundraising round or to be one of the investors that participates in a platform or any or all the above definitely encourage you to reach out to either go to cohome.com or is it hello at cohome.com and reach out to them well thank you again mal for coming on it's been fun it's been a pleasure now if you are a listener that wants to share your story if it's the first story or you have six months and we've already had you on we'd love to hear anything we always love to share the journeys as inventors and co-founders and founders go to inventivejourneyguest.com apply to be on the podcast now if you're already a listener make sure to click subscribe so you get notifications as all the new and awesome episodes come out and last but not least if you are ever need help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller i p law by going to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help thank you again mao it's been a pleasure and i wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you so much you

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