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How Did We Get Here?

April 25, 2006

Building the idea for a single web engine that can power and personalize multiple real estate websites in multiple languages is an idea that took about 5 years to mature. The technical parts were spec'd in my head within months of the concept. However, the business plan and decision to actually execute took significantly more time (read: years)

A bit more explanation as to the capabilities of the system might be in order. Though the name of the principal website is forsalebylocals.com, the internal code name that the team uses for the engine that drives the site(s) is GLS (Global Listing Service). GLS is likely a more true representation of the capabilities of the system. First and foremost, GLS is a 24×7 service that allows people to post and view properties in their chosen language, currency, and units of measure. What makes GLS more interesting is that a real estate estate service provider referral and review capability is completely integrated into the system as well as an integrated translation capability for emails if you and your customer dont speak the same language. In short, not only can you find an agent but also a local lawyer, surveyor, and title company (if needed), know in advance if they speak your local language (and have their emails translated if they dont), find out who those service providers recommend locally, and read/post reviews of the experiences of customers that used their services.

The process which brought me to the idea of GLS is not hard to follow. There are three things that I absolutely love: real estate investing, building smart software, and other cultures. These loves are encapsulated in GLS so this is certainly not a HTML project by a group of kids without experience and implementing a decent technical idea in an experience vacuum. I've been buying real estate for several years and spend a large amount of time looking outside of the US. GLS addresses many of the issues that I have experienced. Ultimately, you'll be the judge if our technical and business approach meets your needs too. We are not agents looking for listing..we are best thought of as an outsourced support partner for your business bringing customers from around the globe to your door. Hopefully, the passion behind the software will be plainly apparent to you and the other users. Frankly, the hours spent on this project don't even seem like work.

The technical and technical management skills to build such an engine were never in doubt. I had spent many years working at Fortune 100 software companies such as Microsoft and Motorola managing multi-disciplinary teams made up of the various software engineering disciplines – development, test, and program management. In Windows division, I learned about the needs of enterprise customers and the process for building and supporting software with hundreds of millions of users. At Motorola, I learned what it takes to build, manage, and build business relationships for a 24×7 software service for mobile devices. I had built the working prototype myself and now only needed to execute.

A quick thanks to the five people that had a big impact on the decision to move forward with my own company. Viktor, one of the very early employees at Microsoft, has been a great inspiration and role model for me. He helped me sort out what I had to contribute, how to best make that contribution, and develop a plan to optimize what I have to offer. Another person known throughout his industry, Lawrence Levine also has been instrumental in driving the ideas behind this plan. He unknowingly planted the seed of starting my own firm about 6 years ago when we met for the first time and, after numerous conversations with him, I have never been able to shake the idea since. He is really an impressive person, technologist, and philosopher and still likely doesn't know the full extent of the positive impact that he has been on me.

The other three people may be perceived as rather odd choices particularly since none of them have any idea who I am. However, their collective guidance and impact on me has been profound. The three people that moved me from a person that thought every day about having a business to a guy that is on the verge of providing new and useful services to an entire industry are Rick Segal, Guy Kawasaki, and fCh. Again, I've never met any of these three folks except through their respective blogs but they presented me with their collective insights in such a way that I was able to forge a business plan that is customer focused and (hopefully) effective. Thanks to each of them for helping me with the business and planning details and how to look at a company through the eyes of a venture capitalist with an interest in actually building a company rather than just having an equity event.

Hopefully, this provides some insight around how we got to this critical prelaunch point. We really look forward to your participation.

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