A Long Time Ago...

Today marks the 40th anniversary of release of one of my favorite movies of all time, Star Wars. For those that are confused, I am referring to the original, also known as A New Hope, or Episode IV.

George Lucas started his journey in 1968, writing down ideas for a space fantasy.  He finished his rough draft of the script, titled The Star Wars in 1974. His second draft, titled Adventures of The Starkiller, was completed in early 1975. Casting started in September 1975 with Kenny Baker as R2-D2 and the stars were cast in January 1976. In March of that year, the final script was completed and production began, coincidentally, on my second birthday, March 22, 1976.

On May 25, 1977, Star Wars opened in 32 theaters throughout the United States. In October, the movie opened in 910 theaters in the United States and Canada and in additional theaters throughout Europe. Lucas started working on the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, the same month.

It took George Lucas nine years from the time he had the idea for a space movie to get Star Wars made. I am sure he had countless people tell him it was a terrible idea. I am sure he had roadblocks to overcome. I am sure he endured a lot of the same pain and agony that people face when they are founders of a startup. Considering Lucas sold his startup, Lucasfilm, to Disney for over $4billion, after making a huge fortune in the 35+ years between Star Wars and the sale, I would say it was all worth it in the end.

To celebrate the anniversary, rather than watch the movie (I may watch it later), I would like to give some recognition to some of my favorite CRE Tech founders. They are fighting the fight every day to get their products out there, listening to feedback, but not listening to the naysayers, and trying to penetrate an industry that is slow to adopt and adapt.

Some of my favorites are:

-          Nick Romito, Ryan Masiello, and Brandon Weber from VTS. I told these guys a year before the VTS/Hightower merger that they should get together (and raise their pricing). I won’t pretend to take credit, but the combined team continues to crush it with an amazing product that seemingly gets better every day. I look forward to their first client conference, Accelerate, next month.

-          Michael Beckerman from The News Funnel. Michael not only created a product used by thousands, he is singlehandedly banging the drum for CRE tech founders everywhere. He is happy to highlight any founder or product through his suite of companies, which now include The Content Funnel, Real Estate Tech News, and CRE//Tech Intersect.

-          Pierce Neinken founded CRE//Tech Intersect, which was the first conference series to help get these great tech products in front of potential users. It also gave the tech guys a chance to get together and see what the competition was up to. He has recently handed the reigns over to Beckerman, but the company still has his DNA throughout.

-          Bryan Colin from VirtualAPT. Bryan is a gentle giant, check out the vides on their web site, and his product has the potential to be huge. His company has an autonomous robot that can create a moving 360-degree virtual reality experience with added augmentation that can be viewed on a regular web browser or smart phone. No goggles or cardboard needed! Keep an eye out for these guys doing big things in the second half of 2017 and early 2018.

-          David Eisenberg, previously of Floored, now of CBRE, which means that we brought the Floored platform in-house, which is very exciting. However, what’s more exciting is what’s on the horizon as David leads a talented group that has been tasked with innovating more products for our clients.

-          Jonathan Wasserstrum of TheSquareFoot.com is somewhat of a competitor, but he is such a great guy that he makes this list. He approaches business development in a completely different way than traditional brokerage and I am hopeful that we can figure out how to partner in the near future.

-          Last, but certainly not least, is Arie Barendrecht of WiredScore. I can’t understand why EVERY landlord hasn’t engaged WiredScore to certify their buildings. They score buildings based on several factors including connectivity and infrastructure, and provide landlords with advice on how to increase their scores. In a world where connecting to the internet is so important, this is a way for landlords to differentiate from their competition.

Honorable mention goes to Riggs Kubiak of Honest Buildings as I don’t know him well, but everyone says he and his company are top notch. I also want to mention my friend, Jonathan Schultz, who is an amazing ambassador of technology throughout our industry.

I hope you all end up selling your startups for the same, if not more, than George Lucas, as it will mean great things for our industry.

May the Force Be With You.