This startup is graduating from the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by TechStars this month, and they will be giving a demonstration of their product in front of a bunch of VCs on Sand Hill Road today. We have written about them before in a great interview and conversation with one of the founders, Jilliene Hellman. What you need to know about her and her team is that they are relentless. They have devoted literally everything — except for time with family — to doing this startup. And so with that, we give you our featured startup of the day.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
Cash is king in a startup. Most startups fail because they cannot afford to keep the lights on anymore, so we are focused on revenues. But even more important than scale or revenues are people. Our clients are the heart of every decision we make. If that means sacrificing revenues in the beginning to launch new features or scale, our clients will drive that decision.
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
We have made predictions about how to generate revenues and balance bringing a fantastic product to market while bringing in revenues. We’re testing currently.
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
Transparency is key to our culture and our lead engineer is highly involved in business planning. I find the best way to keep people motivated in any company is to make sure they are aligned with the grand vision. The business plan defines that grand vision.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
We’re building our product to democratize real estate investment. It’s about giving our clients unprecedented access to an asset class that was historically unavailable to them. We know we need to make money to keep the company alive, but it’s more about making our clients money and leaving a legacy, not only for us, but also for them.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
I knew from the time I was a small child and it was due to the adoration I had for my father, the best entrepreneur I’ve ever known.
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
Ambition, Accountability and Action are three tiers of our startup culture that I think makes our entire team great entrepreneurs. We’re a startup because our company is young. We are still figuring out the best approaches, bets strategies, and best way to put our clients first.
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
Microsoft has been an incredible partner to us. They’ve given us mentorship, software and most importantly, access. As part of the Microsoft accelerator powered by Tech Stars, Microsoft has given us access in ways we could not imagine.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Microsoft has a history and a track record of success. For a new business, partnering with such an established player with an incredible reputation makes all the difference.