Archive for December, 2008

Dwellicious bookmarks aren’t just for listings anymore!

Check this out! Dan added some pretty cool stuff in the latest version of Dwellicious.

Now when you add a non-property bookmark the “Add to Dwellicious” button will take a snapshot of the webpage. This will then show up on your bookmarks page.

See below. I’ve created a bookmark for Jay Thompson’s Blog and NAR’s latest housing report.

new-bookmarks

Dan also updated the Create Bookmark window with new messaging and functionality.

Only 13 days left until the official launch of Dwellicious Pro!

Shout out to Affiniti Architects! (a.k.a. our landlords)

As many of you know we rent some space at a local architects office. They are called Affiniti Architects. These guys do lots of cool stuff, including projects in the Bahamas and Dubai.

There was a story posted about them on MSNBC.com. The article focuses on sustainable “green design principles”.

tn-491922_affiniti-chub

I was impressed about the how great the house looks. When I think about “eco-friendly” houses I immediately picture a square box with a big ‘old solar panel on top, you know…ugly.

Dan and I get to hear these guys on the phone talking to clients or each other about current projects. Sometimes you would think they are talking about building software applications!

You can tell they are very passionate about this stuff.

So, If anyone is looking to build a house check them out, they really do some cool stuff!

Dwellicious Screencast Part Deux!

We finished our latest screencast for Dwellicious. It’s a bit more traditional this time. I used GarageBand for the audio and iShowU HD for the screen capture, and iMovie ’08 to bring it all together. Still not a 100% comfortable with my voice and I had a few flubs (try saying Dwellicious 5 times fast!)

Let us know what you think!

Dwellicious and the iPhone

Did you know that Dwellicious works great on the iPhone? Check it out!

dwellphone2

WRG, Inc. Holiday Memo

Woolley | Robertson Group, Inc.

INTERNAL MEMO

Date: 12/10/2008

RE: Secret Santa

There will be no Secret Santa this year. This is due to the fact that the company consists of only two people.

Thank you,

Management.

Update for Dwellicious Beta Users

Now that we’ve reached the one month point of our beta test, I wanted to give you an update on how that’s going and what new stuff we are working on in our office.

In general, the beta test has gone better than expected.  We now have over 150 beta users, and we’ve had relatively few bugs.  The system has stayed up and stable, has been fast, and we’ve been able to push new code to it nearly every day.  I’d say we’re ahead of schedule in that regard.  We’re working toward a general release at the Inman Connect show in New York on January 6th.  If you find any issues with the system, please e-mail beta@dwellicious.com so we can address them ASAP.  My thanks to all of you who have taken the time to send reports – we couldn’t do all this without your help.  Thanks also for the great ideas, blog posts, and tweets – keep them coming!

One topic of concern that’s come up repeatedly is the privacy of the bookmarks.  The concern seems to revolve around the claim that if you bookmark a home on which you are intent on making offer, that somehow the seller or another buyer can use that information to gain some kind of advantage.  In the current beta version of the site, every bookmark is public – we did this for testing purposes, to ensure that we had access to every bookmark to check for problems.  Already built into the site, but hidden from view, is a simple checkbox that makes a bookmark private.  The checkbox is accessible both when you create the bookmark and when you edit the bookmark, so the privacy of a bookmark can be updated by the user over time.  We intend to make that checkbox visible in the next couple of weeks.  A private bookmark means that it’s only visible to that user, only visible when they are logged in, and does not appear on the home page – either the Recent bookmarks or Recent price changes tabs.  We hope that this feature alleviates any of those concerns.

While the testing has been rolling along, we have been working to implement the Pro version of Dwellicious.  This version is designed to re-engage real estate agents and brokers with their online buyers and sellers.  We know that 84% of buyers now search for homes on the internet, we know that they are using many different sites in their searching, and we know that they often do not contact a professional until they are well down the path of finding their new home.  The Pro version of Dwellicious allows the professional to engage with and add value to their clients online search and to do that earlier in the process.

Pro version feature summary:

– Pro can invite their clients to join their Dwellicious network.  This is free to the client and the clients get all the same features as regular consumers who sign up on their own.  The e-mail invite that goes to clients has the Pro’s branding and a description of this new service to help them organize, share, and discuss their search for real estate.

– Pro’s entire Dwellicious network sees a private branded version of the Dwellicious home page with the professionals name, photo, and contact info – a “business card”.  This branding is continued on each page of the site.  Contact info for internet touch points – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, web site, etc – are emphasized.

– Pro has a new “My Dashboard” function which shows any public bookmarks created by members of their network, any public comments, and any updates to the bookmarks or the listings.  You can see a list of the clients in your network and invite new clients.  You can easily comment on the bookmarks your clients are creating to add value to their search with your local expertise – “That one’s going to need a new roof in the next two years”, “That one has a problem with the foundation”, or “We should go see this one this weekend”.

– Pro’s can insert new bookmarks into the bookmark stream of their clients.  An example of this would be reviewing the bookmarks your client is making, then bookmarking similar listings one neighborhood over and including notes – “This neighborhood has better schools” or “This area has more square feet for your dollar”.

– Regular consumer users who have bookmarked a bunch of listings and who don’t already have an agent can ‘Find An Agent’ by searching for Dwellicious Pro users to work with.

– We are working with a new phone service API by Twilio to provide toll free direct dial access to voice descriptions of your active listings, with call transfer to the Pro’s phone for follow up and full caller id tracking on your dashboard – something you can use on your sign riders and marketing materials.

What else would you like to see us work on?

1964 New York World’s Fair and online startups

Over the Thanksgiving holiday you get to visit with family and hear stories, some stories you have heard a million times, others for the first time. Here’s a story my Mom told me about her and my Dad, which is one I had never heard.

First off my Dad and Mom met each other while in the Army. My Dad was a photographer, he tells me that being in Korea as a photographer was still the best job he ever had. When my Dad left the Army he traveled with my Mom around the country doing seasonal gigs. Might be hired as the photographer for Santa, or the Easter Bunny, take pictures at a school for “photo day”, or league night at a local bowling alley. Back in the day, as a working photographer, you needed to shoot and develop the film yourself. Being trained in the Army my Dad knew how to do all of this. My Mom was his pretty assistant.

santa 1960s
My Dad finally ended up hooking up with some friends who got a contract to work the World Fair in New York City in 1964. They had a perfect business going. Here’s how it worked.
Remember those towers from "Men In Black"

They would hire young guys to going out in the fair grounds, usually in front a famous landmark, and take pictures of young couples or families. In what I would call an “ambush” they startled couples with a flashbulb going off. Then the photographer would begin his sales pitch of whether they wanted to buy the photo he had just taken. If the photographer made the sale he would then have the couple pose for another photo, “just in case”, and take another picture.

flashbulb

What really was happening was that flashbulbs were cheap, film was not. When the photographer would initially “take a picture” of the couple all he was doing was getting their attention with the flash of light, so that he could give them his sales pitch. When they agreed, then, and only then, would he use film. The second shot, where the couple posed, was the only photo taken.

Speed was also part of the pitch.
Couples could either retrieve their photo the next day, at one of the photo kiosks around the fair, or have them mailed.

victor

So each day a runner would send film over to an apartment, where a dark room was set up, outside the fair grounds. My mom would then place the photos, which sometimes my Dad would develop, in cardboard frames and either send them back to the fair for pickup or mail them out to the young couples and families who purchased them.

This seems to be a perfect model for an internet startup. First it helps if you have the skills to handle all parts of the job. In my Dad’s case he knew how to take photos and develop them. A perfect match of the creative and technical. Which as I’m writing this makes me realize that this is what I strive for too.

Their photo selling model also makes sense for marketing your product online. First you grab their attention with something “flashy”. Make sure this “flashy” item isn’t too expensive. Give them your pitch, close the sale, and then deliver it to them right away.

Of course my Mom would also point out it, it also helps to have a pretty (and smart) assistant partner.