Staying on the cutting edge of what is happening in the real estate industry is a top priority at Urban Blueprint. We recently sat down with Michael Nurse, CEO & Founder of Wishpad, and Matt Michels, Head of Marketing & Content, to learn more about the business they are launching. We will definitely be keeping an eye on Wishpad as they launch their search and content platform!
Describe what you do.
We’re building a new real estate search & content platform that uses proven principles of cognitive psychology and behavioural economics to gain a deep understanding of our users, and then sharing listings with them that we know they’ll love. While our data architects are writing and implementing our algorithms, we’re making connections within the real estate and tech industries and drumming up enthusiasm ahead of our late-spring launch. So far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as there’s so much demand for disruptive innovation within the property search space.
What was your inspiration for starting Wishpad?
Michael and his wife were in the market for a family home last year, and they found the process to be incredibly frustrating. The search tools available lacked any sensitivity to the sort of features and characteristics that really mattered to them, beyond the easily quantifiable (e.g. number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location and price). Searches would turn up hundreds of listings, most of which were only on the market for a week, so it was a frantic scramble to go view properties that in all likelihood wouldn’t even appeal to them. So, he started playing around with some open source data and built a model that could categorize listings in ways much more relevant to their needs and preferences. He showed it to a bunch of friends and colleagues who were currently or recently in the market and their feedback made it clear that this tool could evolve into a business.
How are you different from other players in the industry?
We’re a buyer-centric search alternative. Whereas other platforms ask you how much house you need, how much money you’ve got, and where in the city you aspire to live, we start with trying to understand who you are as a human being: what are your values? What does ‘beautiful’ mean to you? Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Other real estate search tools will show you hundreds of listings and then leave it to you and your realtor to wade through them. We don’t believe that that’s good enough for 21st century homeowners.
What has been the biggest challenge starting your own business?
At first it was finding the time to bring the idea from a hypothetical concept to a viable business idea. Since we’ve made this our full-time pursuit, though, the challenge has been figuring out milestone prioritization. We’re a lean team so it’s crucial that we focus on bringing our core product to market rather than getting sidetracked by the innumerable opportunities that this wealth of buyer and inventory data have brought to light. First things first, eyes on the prize, and so forth.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
You won’t succeed without a good team, and you need to empower them and give them all a voice to maximize their overall contributions. We’ve done a very good job with this, scheduling regular check-ins to keep our geographically dispersed team on the same page and by soliciting feedback on all facets of the product and business. Our intern is encouraged to chime in, and turns out he’s got a knack for UI and UX design due to his passion for video game development.
Also, seek out, develop and maintain a network of trusted advisers. The more brutally honest they are, the better. There is a huge concentration of tech entrepreneurs and real estate professionals in this city that we’ve learned so much from. No matter how smart you are, somebody somewhere knows more than you about what you’re trying to do and chances are good that they’re willing to spend a half hour every few weeks listening to you and telling you what you’re doing wrong.
Where do you see the real estate market heading in 5 years? 10 years?
In big, prosperous cities across North America, the price of homes—condos, semis and detached—is going to continue to increase across the board as upwardly mobile professionals flock to these financial, technological and cultural centres. Middle class buyers are going to have to make greater compromises when it comes to how much space they need and where they’re willing to live. Whereas the “typical family home” used to be a detached house with a yard and a fence, we’re going to see more families living in vertical developments as well as innovative ownership models (e.g. one house, multiple family units) gaining in popularity.
The growing number of people who are simply priced out of the market will come to view renting as a permanent option, and we’ll continue to see more purpose-built rentals being constructed.
Where governments are willing to invest, dramatically improved public transit will make relatively isolated pockets of cities more accessible and therefore more desirable, and residential re-development will transform these areas in terms of both physical space and demographic and economic composition. And as commuter transit networks expand and improve, what we now consider to be “the suburbs”, using Toronto as an example, will very likely extend west of Kitchener-Waterloo and east of Oshawa.
To learn more about Wishpad and sign up for their newsletter, visit the Wishpad website. By signing up for their newsletter, you can be notified of their launch and be among the first to experience a different way of discovering your dream home.