The future of proptech with Thomas Kutzman
Dec. 10, 2019, 9 p.m.
In this episode they talk about...
How he decided to leave his finance job to start Prevu
“I think we got to the point where we were talking about the idea too much and you hit a moment as an entrepreneur and you think to yourself, if i don’t do this, will I kick myself if someone else does, and we hit that point.”
Thomas and his co-founder worked in the finance industry and Thomas worked in Geneva as an equities trader for a US hedge fund before he left the firm to start Prevu. He talks about how his finance background helped him with starting the company. He says that it gave him a greater understanding of the real estate market but more importantly, working with risk all day made him more comfortable with taking the risk to start the company.
Advice on starting a tech company as a non-technical founder
“I had no intention of being the person who was going to code our application, but I wanted to be able to understand it, so I could properly communicate. If you’re a non-technical co-founder you should at least invest time in learning the language so you can be more productive in your conversations with your product team.”
Prevu uses a ton of technology in their platform, but neither Thomas nor his co-founder were technical. This can be a daunting challenge for many founders but Thomas talks about how they found the right people to do the work for them in the early days. He also says that he took courses on Ruby on Rails so that he could communicate effectively with the people who were doing the work for them and so that he had a better understanding of how everything was going to work.
Why they bootstrapped the company and how doing so helped them
“By being bootstrapped and by being disciplined with how we used capital, we were able to last far longer and prove out the concept in a much more attractive way from a data perspective, from the amount of traction we had, and the actual learnings on our customer acquisition, our technology, and where we wanted to go to company. I think if you have the luxury to try to bootstrap, bootstrap as long as possible, so you have data and a story to tell investors.”
Some founders view bootstrapping as something that is forced upon makers when they are unable to secure funding, but we’ve had plenty of people on the podcast who say that it is instead a more desirable path to growth. Thomas believes this is the case, and explains why it is a better option than raising venture funding. He says that it forced them to have operational discipline and to make sure that they knew exactly where every dollar they were spending was going. All of thiss also helped them when they later went on to raise funds from venture investors.
Lessons on leadership and how he invests in personal growth
“For leadership, it comes down to if you show you’re going to learn something that you don’t know, others around you will go and learn something they don’t know and you’ll find your passions that way.”
Thomas talks about his leadership style and how they manage being co-CEOs. He talks about how he’s trying to grow personally and as a leader, and gives out some of his book recommendations. He also tells us which podcasts he’s always listening to and says that he actually hosted a real estate podcast himself. He explains that doing so helped him learn a ton from the people he invited on the show.
He also talks about some of his (and his wife’s!) favorite products.
Companies and Products Mentioned In This Episode
Allbirds — Silicon Valley’s favorite shoe.
Rent The Runway— Rent four items of clothing every month, for $89.