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, we chatted with long-time real estate industry sage, Jeff Turner, the founder of association management platform, Tangilla, and Entrepreneur in Residence at NAR’s Second Century Ventures. He is also an advisor and board member at several other tech firms, and he has been a mentor for NAR REACH since its inception. He is also one of the reasons why I dove headlong into real estate tech, which is a nice story for another day. Enjoy!
Q1: You are something of a serial entrepreneur. It seems like if you’re not the President or CEO of something hand-built, you get itchy and weird. Where did that spirit come from, and why has it so frequently pointed at the real estate industry?
Jeff: I like to tell people that I’m unemployable. It’s a joke for the most part, but it’s how it sometimes feels to be your own boss.
I have been an entrepreneur since I was 24, and I’m 60 now. I feel the same way now as I did then. My curiosity hasn’t waned. My desire to learn new things has actually grown. I have no desire to stop. None.
There is something special about the real estate community that suits me. I fell in love with the people and connections I made, and I made a specific decision very recently to stay close to this vertical.
As an example, when I started working as the CEO of Immoviewer, a 3D 360° tours and video company, I came aboard specifically to take them in a different direction from residential real estate with a product I helped them create, DocuSketch.
I felt that a transition into the insurance restoration space would get a better return on investment based on their tech, but there was a catch. I realized I didn’t want to stay after the transition. I didn’t want to learn a whole new industry. I love this industry.
Q2: Your latest endeavor has brought you into the wooly world of association management software (AMS). As someone who has worked at an association, I know this category contains risk. Why are you engaging in this topic at this time, and are you seeing any missing data standards that the Data Dictionary has not already covered?
Jeff: There is risk in any start-up. The opportunities for failure are myriad. That’s just a given.
My partners and I very specifically sat down and decided we wanted to stick with real estate after our last endeavor together at RealSatisfied.
Tangilla is a result of having spent a great deal of time close to organized real estate, listening to association executives and wanting to solve a problem that we knew they were having.
You can’t spend any time at a bar during an industry event and not hear an AE eventually complain about their AMS. It is my opinion that very little real innovation has happened on that side in a decade. We wanted to create a modern, API-first platform that allowed for the automation of a lot of the processes that membership staff find themselves bogged down in today.
We have built our product with the Data Dictionary in mind.
RESO: This feels like a good time to note that there are three new association-based resources in the Data Dictionary as of version 2.0, including Association, MemberAssociation and OfficeAssociation.
We will seek to incorporate all new association-related standards into our product when they are made available to us.
Q3: You are an avid photographer. At what point do you simply say enough to the business endeavors and go all in with your inner Ansel Adams on all those hikes near your home of Santa Clarita or perhaps with your inner Walter Iooss Jr. on the track & field circuit?
Jeff: Never. I donate all of the money I make from selling my track & field photography back to local Southern California track & field programs.
I have a fear that if I make money from my photography, I would lose the joy of it.
I make money from other things. Photography is the one place where I have a complete creative release. It’s mine to do with as I see fit. I serve no other master than my creative whims, and I intend to keep it that way.
Jeff’s wonderful photos can be found at In the Viewfinder.