EXPETITLE is a virtual title company developed by LAB Ventures here at Lab Miami. They combine best in-class technology and best-in-class title agents to provide a better closing experience at a lower cost. Today, we interview EXPETITLE founder, Sean Daly, who will further explain about this company.
1.How did the idea of EXPETITLE come to fruition?
The idea for EXPETITLE came about when I was working at a successful startup in New York that sold software to the insurance industry. Meanwhile I also had a small real estate investment company here in Miami, because this is where I’m from. But at that time I wasn’t really planning on coming back.
I met the team here at Lab Ventures, and here we started coming up with different ideas, just brainstorming a little bit and then, one of the ideas was the title insurance space. The intersection of real estate and insurance, as well as my experience in both got me really interested. I think there is an incredible opportunity in this really antiquated space which is very old school. Furthermore, there is a really big opportunity in bringing technology, innovation, all types of different things like transparency and accuracy together. There are a number of things that can be improved on a critical industry. It is required by law to have on any time you buy a home with a mortgage but that generally is largely unknown to an average person. That is where I think the idea came about.
2. What is the main goal of the company?
To build a big business. Honestly from my perspective if it is not one of the most successful startups in Miami it’s a failure because if I´m going to move from New York back to Miami it better be for a good reason. I’m not just going to do it because it’s a thing, I think there is an incredible opportunity, it’s a highly profitable industry. Again, not prone to innovation over the past couple of decades. So we are looking to build a very successful business with lots of cash flow and lots of profits. But, that’s my business mind talking. I can tell you from a softer side, as I am from Miami and this is my home, I think it is really important to build a business that can set an example for others and I think that’s what Miami really needs now. This is a very entrepreneurial place where a lot of companies stay small. But, generally, most business that are entrepreneurial are restaurants,laundromats or jewelry stores. You can also find very small businesses that are successful and have a business where you practice balance and also have a balance in life, but I think it is also important to recognise that there are other ways to work that Miami really needs. When you look at Silicon Valley and New York you find out that one of the reasons of its success is because you have the Paypal mafia effect, where Paypal had Elon Musk, Rick Hoffman, Max Levchin. These guys are super successful people who all worked in the same company, Paypal. You can also find Peter Thiel, incredible successful people who worked in the same place. Then they left and they all started another thing. Peter Thiel invested in facebook, they started Clair Capital… And then that effect happens. So, I think Miami doesn’t really have that effect which I consider really important to have.
3. How do you plan on branding EXPETITLE?
Branding is really hard when you are a startup because you are so focused on sells and getting business in the door that you are not really thinking much about the soft side of the business. You are no thinking about the super heavy stuff. You know that’s important. But for marketing you should really be counting every dollar and how every dollar is turning into sells. That is everything you should be focused on. From a branding perspective, especially at a startup level, I feel that the brand is just a reflection of the founder or the founders. The culture, the colors and all that stuff is at that stage of the business, it is just a reflection of the founders because the team is so small. If you have 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 people, that trickle down effect is going to happen. If the founders are quirky, you´re going to see quirks trickle down. If the founders are open ended and easy, that open endedness and easiness is going to trickle down. If the founders are super strict and they´re late in the office, etc, etc you´re going to see that trickle down. So, at this stage in the business, I’m more focused on every dollar that goes out and I believe that the brand is just going to be a function of my core beliefs.
4. How do you plan on expanding this company?
Marketing, in general, like I was saying before, you have to count every dollar. There are analogists out there that say that starting a startup is like jumping of a cliff and building a plane on the way down, and it’s kind of true because you have a certain amount of runway . So every dollar that you spend is a dollar gone, it’s never coming back unless you are turning that into revenue. So we have to think about really creative ways to spend as little money as possible in order to get the most benefits.
This industry is largely based on relationships, for example, there are mid-sized businesses that have been 20 years in this industry and continue to be mid sized . So we have to be really creative because in a lot of ways we’re kind of writing the book on how to digitize marketing in this space. Basically, in this world everybody is competing for attention, so we have to insure that we are not spending too much and where every dollar is going to.
5. Who benefits from your services?
So, when you buy a home and once you have signed the contract, you get super excited. But then there is just this list of things that need to get done, and that is just horrible and a nightmare. It’s terrible! I’m just doing it now, using EXPETITLE! And buying a home is a hard process. For us, specifically, we believe that it all starts with the realtor, that the realtor is critical to process and we think that for the next 50 hundred years the realtor is going to continue to be critical in the real estate process and the purchase process. There are many innovations and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, when you are buying something that´s hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of dollars, if your not working with a professional then you’re just doing to yourself a disservice. Because that person negotiating etc. is doing that thing every day and for most people it’s their first time doing it. So, in anything that you do, would you rather work with somebody that does that every day or would you rather do the guesswork and try to get it done yourself,and making big mistakes? I think in every situation I would rather work with a professional. So this is why I think we are placing big bets on the realtor. Our service we believe benefits the most towards the realtor and then, we think that it will trickle down into the rest of the closing parties, that includes the lender, whatever you name it. But we are most focused on relieving stress from the realtor.
6. What differentiates your company from other title companies? What are the main benefits from this company?
I think the title industry is a little twisted in the way they think. When we look at a closing, the title agent focuses on a very small cerebral of the closing, which is the title piece. But there is managing inspections, there is dealing with opresials, there’s so many things you have to manage in a closing from the realtor perspective. A typical closing company would just focus on what they need to do. Our true differentiation will be to flip the twisted perspective and say what we can do to provide more value to the realtor. And I think technology is just a piece of that, like internet, for us is just a way to activate relieving stress from the realtor in the closing process. We’re doing that type of technology, we’re doing that operationally, we´re doing that through a number of mechanisms. But at the end of the day if every single piece of our business is going to be centred around releasing stress from the realtor during the closing. So I think that’s a fundamental shift in the way people do things in this industry and we think that’s highly disruptive. So we´ll see how it works out in time.
7. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are dealing with their own start-ups?
I’ve heard so many different things. But I can tell you that at the end of the day starting a business is not for everyone. You have to be a little bit out of your mind. I would say that there is a line in the sand between what it takes to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to do basically what everybody else does. I think that line in the sand is the ability to tell yourself that when things go really bad and it does for everybody, that you never quit. That is the line in the sand. That when you’re back is against the wall and people aren’t buying your products or perhaps your product is broken and it doesn’t work or perhaps you´re running out of cash… that you don´t quit and find a way out of it. And that’s the line between those entrepreneurs that make it and the ones they don´t.
By: Ina Murube