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by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week’s interview is with an old friend and colleague, Jeff Allen, so please forgive me if it goes off the rails. Jeff is the President of CubiCasa, a maker of automated floor plans that recently announced a free floor plan option available to the entire real estate industry.

In this special entry in our series, we discussed inefficiency issues in the real estate and mortgage industries, waxed nostalgic about start-up life and even worked music into the conversation.

Q1: You have been involved in real estate for a long time now, but you haven’t been as immersed in the MLS and data standards part of the proposition until you became CubiCasa’s President. Why is it important for you to re-enter this side of the industry after several years of work on the financial and valuation side of the equation?

Jeff: We have a serious problem in both the real estate and mortgage industries right now where it’s easy for buyers and sellers to find each other, but it’s extremely difficult to close the transaction without drama and heartache.

Having spent time in both the real estate and mortgage verticals, I have witnessed so much inefficiency in the process of trying to close out contingencies in appraisal, title, home inspections, all of it.

There is a unique opportunity right now to try to collect more data during the listing process to expedite closing processes and reduce that drama.

So now CubiCasa, as a technology company that collects that data, needs to embrace the real estate and data standards communities like never before.

Q2: This is a bit of a reunion for us. Good origin stories are hard to come by, and one of my favorites is the prospectus you wrote to yourself in the middle of the night close to 15 years ago called “Za Business.”

It was about how you imagined the formation of 10K Research & Marketing, a for-profit real estate analytics company built within a nonprofit local REALTOR® association that we both worked at. I had the good fortune of helping you build 10K into a valuable market stats company that was purchased by ShowingTime and is now part of Zillow.

You inevitably abandoned your business baby for greener pastures before those sales, leaving me and others to battle the coyotes of MLS vendor conversions, data remapping bogs and data feed fires in the tall grass while scratching our way to profitability. But that’s a different story.

Although you proved to be as reliable as a feather, I remain forever grateful for that experience and the business development lessons learned in real time.

Finally getting to the question, how do you feel about all of that in terms of business success vs. financial success vs. where you are today?

Jeff: I learned a lot about business and treating customers right at 10K.

Legitimately, I feel immense pride in what we accomplished, primarily because I see that the tools and reports that we built are still used. There’s nothing more exciting than knowing that there are consumers, agents and appraisers all around the continent still pulling up those reports, some of which we used to make by hand in the middle of the night.

Most products die on the vine in far less time. We’re on, what did you say, 15 years of this?

It’s because we were too dumb to know that what we wanted to do was a bad idea.

Q3: I have seen your stage shows a total of five times, but I’m not talking about anything related to the appraisal industry or even real estate. I’m speaking of your live rock music performances with two different bands to packed venues. Has being a performing musician of original material affected the way you approach anything in your “day job”?

Jeff: Starting a band and being creative in music stretches the exact same muscles as being an entrepreneur. It’s creating something from nothing with your friends – building community and trying to make cool shit happen.

You can find both of Jeff’s bands, The Plastic Constellations and TYTE JEFF on Spotify and other related services.