Meet the Real Estate Tech Founder: David Michonski from Quigler
Without further ado…
What do you do?
I am the chief cook and dishwasher around here supported by a team of about 12 coders, marketing wizards, web designers, lawyers and all the other needs of a start up company.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Many. First, more than 60% of consumers who are experienced in doing a real estate transaction still say they do not understand the process. We are solving that by inaugurating the second great revolution in the brokerage transaction: total transparency and empowerment of consumers to know everything their agent is supposed to know (and do) in advance. 25 years ago the industry took a deep breath and provided transparency into listing inventory by putting it all on line. But we never gave the consumer process
transparency. Quigler does.
Second, every manager of a real estate office knows the biggest and most dreaded complaint of a manager is the call from a consumer that says: “I’ve had my property listed with you for six weeks and I never hear from my agent. Does he still work for you?” Communication, especially in bad markets, is the biggest consumer complaint. Quigler fixes that by providing consumers immediate notifications every time an agent does what they are required by law and code to do. It creates a running record, time stamped and dated so consumers know when their agent did it.
Third, the bar is low in real estate. NAR had to issue the Danger Report that warned of masses of untrained, unskilled, unethical agents flooding the market and lowering the reputation of agents. Quigler solves that for everyone, even a new agent. We have taken the training classroom and installed in the palm of an agent’s hand on their cell phone and taken the required Actions they must do (there is nothing optional in Quigler) and organized them into a series of sequential Steps with specific Actions under each Step. For the first time an experienced agent and a new agent have everything required to be compliant in one place right in the palm of their hand, easily and sequentially organized so that now compliance with what is required can easily become the baseline of performance for an real estate agent. Great agents can build on top of what they are required to do with their experience, testimonials, skills, personality, etc, but at least consumers now know they are getting a baseline of compliance with what MUST be done.
Finally, as part of communication, 70% of the agents who just completed a Survey for us told us that they would pay more to get an automated, pre-populated update letter to send to clients. Given that less than 1% of agents do that now, we have a tremendous service to provide to agents that simultaneously allows them to give consumers better service. That upgrade is coming and in the works right now and will be in Quigler in 6 months. So we are raising the bar by providing a tool for
agents to give consumers total transparency into everything the agent is required to do, welcome compliance with the law and code, unheard of instant communication that creates a running record, and unprecedented accountability to consumers during the largest financial transactions of most of their lives that is also one of the most expensive.
What are you most excited about right now?
Well, we have launched and that is pretty exciting after 3 long years of hard daily work. Every day I love reading the emails agents and consumers send me. Consumers love Quigler, but they write to complain that we don’t have any agents yet in their market. So we have offered agents an Early Adopter Founding Agent membership at a big discount so as to populate agents that consumers can find. That is our big challenge right now. Then we look forward to a PR campaign to drive consumers to the site and find agents who want to provide transparency, accountability, communication and compliance. That is our goal right now. Get agents on board and then drive consumers to them in the app.
What’s next for you?
Again, what comes next is what we think is the easy part of Quigler and that is the consumer PR campaign. Already major papers have interviewed me and want to run a story and since real estate is very local, we expect that a large number of local papers and online news services will want to run this great consumer story that goes something like this: “It’s noon. Do you know what you agent is doing for you today?” At a gut level consumers want to know more and want accountability, compliance and communication. It will be fun to see those articles start popping up. We have yet to find a consumer who doesn’t want an agent who can provide these benefits.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
LOL, way too many. First, my wife, Linda, and I have served for 15 years in various capacities at our church in Greenwich. Linda’s been on the vestry while I have been the Head Usher, on the property committee, the worship commission, the ambassador program, the church choir, etc. So that is a kind of center for our lives.
Second, I am passionate about someday creating the Fresh Start Foundation for people who have had to declare bankruptcy. The idea is to give them a fresh start on life after that ordeal. You see, for 13 years I built one of the fastest growing brokerages in the world that culminated in us reaching $1B in sales in August of 2008. Four weeks later Lehman
Brokers hit us like a tsunami out of nowhere in New York City. It was devastating. People walked from deals and our pipeline was cut in half. Business dropped 75% and everyone thought the world was going to end. By May of 2009 we could not hold on any longer and we sold the company to NRT, but I was left with having guaranteed the loans and the leases. It
forced me into personal bankruptcy and devastated me and my family.
Both Linda and I promised each other that we would come back and someday create a foundation to help those who through no fault of their own have had to go through that nightmare (70% of them suffered a bankruptcy because of an illness that wiped out their savings). We want to help them emotionally through that and then help them financially with re-establishing credit and then we even want to help finance entrepreneurs in new businesses. That is our goal.
Third, I want to finish my Ph.d. Many years ago I worked on my Ph.d in political philosophy. I graduated my doctoral exams with highest distinction, the first person every to do so in the program and worked on my dissertation, but the Ph.d glut of the late 70’s made it tough to find a job teaching college. So my dissertation sits in our freezer and I want to finish it and hand it in. I called the head of my dissertation committee who is still alive and asked if I could submit it. He paused and said: “Well, David, that was 40 years ago.” “Yes, sir,” I said. “That would give new meaning to handing in a late paper, wouldn’t it?” “Yes, sir.” I said. He said: “Well, hand it in and let’s see what we can do.” It may take me 10 years to do that, but I will.
Thanks to David for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).