FTGU Media help real estate agents to building a unique personal brand
Please introduce yourself and the Startup FTGU to our readers!
I’m Laura Stewart, co-founder of From The Ground Up Media (FTGU). Whether you’re a real estate agent or mortgage broker, creating content is a key aspect in marketing, but it can feel like a full time job in itself. We’re here to take that job on for you. When it comes to editing, posting and captioning content, FTGU has you covered across all your social media platforms. We’ll provide all the tools to get you on your feet and work with you to make adjustments that best fit your personal brand and help your content achieve maximum engagement.
Why did you decide to start a business?
FTGU came about seven months ago, out of an opportunity that kind of slapped us in the face. We were giving away a lot of free advice to other real estate agents, teaching them and mentoring them on how they can produce their own content. And what we found over the course of the last couple of years was that after about three months, we would check in with them and really no one had taken any of our advice.
When we started following up with them to see why they hadn’t done anything, it turned out that a lot of people just didn’t know how to execute the ideas they were given. They didn’t know where to start, and it became overwhelming to them because they didn’t have a team. That’s when we thought of taking our resources and lending them to other agents. That’s how the company was born.
What is the vision behind FTGU?
From a real estate perspective, I saw a gaping hole in the real estate industry here in Canada, where there just weren’t a lot of companies that led with education while also being set up to help clients from start to finish. I wanted to start a business that would not only help clients with the initial need of finding a home or investing into a home or condo, but also helping them with the service providers that are needed as a one stop shop.
That’s why for my company, we have a full-time real estate concierge so that our clients can reach out to us if they just need a plumber or an electrician across the country. It’s no cost to them because we want to be that one place when it comes to real estate. We also want to be able to help them find tenants and if there’s a need for it, we can help them manage the property as well.
From the idea to the start, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how did you finance yourself?
I financed myself through the sales that I did as a real estate agent. I just pulled away all the money that I possibly could after my personal expenses, which I needed to keep those very, very low. All of that money I earned went straight into the business.
The biggest challenge that I think I ran into was finding the right people with the right positive attitude that’s needed to help clients at scale with a service that is one of the biggest transactions that a person makes. Finding people who had the right level of patience necessary was and still is the biggest challenge.
Who is the target group of FTGU?
The target group for FTGU is buyers, sellers and investors who are looking to enhance their personal brand through created content found across all social media platforms. At the highest level, our target market is people who want to create wealth using the vehicle of digital content surrounding the world of real estate.
How does FTGU work? What are the advantages? What makes you different from other providers?
At FTGU, we start off with what we call a “real estate action plan”. That’s our initial consultation where we really find out what the client is trying to accomplish as their long term goal. Then, we show them options that MIGHT be able to help them. I emphasise the word “might” because with time, we came to know that just because we want to, we can’t help everyone. For that reason, we try to give them a number of options that can possibly help with what they’re looking into accomplishing. I think our differentiator in the marketplace is that we have 54 agents now with a little over 11 support staff members.
We produce about 20 pieces of content a day on all the platforms, including the Jas Takhar podcast and all of that content, along with the initial consultation. Is all education. In fact, we wrote a book called Real Estate Intelligence, which teaches people how to buy, sell, and invest on their own without the help of a real estate agent. We do this because we feel that if you’re educated on real estate, you can go on to actually make an informed and quality decision.
How has your company changed with Corona?
Naturally, COVID-19 has affected all businesses. As of March 14th, 2020, here in Canada, our prime minister decided to implement a lockdown. What we did as a company only two days later, was turn our various meeting processes into virtual ones. Even though it couldn’t be done in-person, we made sure that none of our clients lost any level of contact with us.
How did you adjust to it and what changes have you made?
Fortunately for us, we had already been very comfortable with the Zoom technology because we were working with people across the country. We were able to implement Zoom calls very quickly and that made the move towards regular virtual meetings a lot easier for us.
We decided to do a live webinar every Saturday on Facebook tagged Brunch With REC, where real estate conversations happen. We’d invite all of our clients and we would continue to educate them on what’s going on in the market right now by bringing on industry experts such as lawyers, mortgage brokers, economists, developers, etc. This was done with the macro thesis in mind that we’re going to lead with education and that’s what we continue to do.
Where do you see the opportunity in the crisis?
I think what I see a lot of right now is insecurity in people’s minds in terms of the workforce, meaning that not a lot of people have stability. This insecurity is especially true for the creatives i.e., videographers, editors, and content writers.
I think where the opportunity lies is that if somebody has the foresight, karma, vision and the patience, then bringing those people on right now and providing them with the stability and security that they’re looking for will pay out in the long run.
FTGU, where does the road go? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but the reason why we thought this was a good business strategy in the beginning was by simply looking at the last five years and at what social media and producing content has done. This applies not only for our business, but for the business of a lot of the top real estate agents.
We’re competing with everyone else for everyone’s attention, and that’s usually online on social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, whatever the new app is going to be. We understand where people’s attention is going to be, and so that’s where we need to be delivering our message. Fewer people are paying attention to the billboards, the radio, the bus stop stations, so putting your face as a real estate agent on any of those things just isn’t going to be enough anymore. You need to provide additional value now by educating your clients through social media, and that’s where we see the future going. And so we hope to be at a thousand agents in that time.
At the end: Which 3 tips would you give to future founders?
Number one, start off with shutting out the external noise of the media, your competitors, and potentially even friends and family. As the one who’s starting the business, you need to have the ability to not get weighed down by the negativity that is out there. The best way to shut out the noise is to drown it out with positivity, period.
Number two is to hire really quickly. If it’s not working with the person that you’ve hired, let them go. If they’re not going to be happy, you’re not going to be happy. Build a team around you as fast as you possibly can. While you work on your core expertise, whatever that may be, hire around it. I have a business partner who is fantastic at all the things that I suck at. Surrounding yourself with people that fill out your weak areas is a key part in developing a strong business. You’re going to be able to scale faster with people because this is a people business.
Number three would be not giving up. It’s going to be very tough. People are going to come join your team and they’re going to leave. And you’re going to have a tough time shutting out the noise sometimes. You’re going to have struggles with cash flow. You’re going to have problems executing on a great idea sometimes. The marketplace might not react the way you expected to an idea that sounded good in your own head. You need to have the resiliency, the tenacity, the perseverance to not give up so that you can overcome those trials.
Thank you Laura Stewart for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.