TRIBUS is a company that has gone through a metamorphosis 3 times. It’s rare that a company can pivot and change focus this many times and continue to grow, but that’s just what we’ve done. In the beginning, it was a company focused on helping the small to mid-sized broker with technology
In March 2009 – TRIBUS was born out of my real estate brokerage company. We knew we had developed some great technology since at 128 agents we were regular beating a company with 3000 agents online. After repeated people told me I should do something about it, I decided it was time. I allowed my agents and employees at the real estate company to name it, and one person picked TRIBUS – a strong name that was all about the groups and tribes of real estate. It meant something and we had a purpose. We were there to help brokers do better in terms of technology. The problem? Most brokers were in the midst of downsizing after the 2007 / 2008 crises. They had no interest in investing in new anything – especially technology. So we ventured out to California and found the amazing team behind Partners Trust. The team was small, but we were excited to be their first platform vendor and to help them custom create the foundation for their brokerage. We knew they had something – and they did. 7 years later they are a force in Los Angeles.
After the rush of helping them get started, we had to figure out what we were going to do next. So we created a CRM platform for the largest independent escrow organization in Los Angeles – Pango Group. In working with them, we kept being told that agents were the key to the technology business. There were 1.1 million agents out there and all of them needed a website, CRM, and emailing marketing. So we branched off of brokerages and built TRIpress – our first template WordPress theme for agents and we went full force into the agent side of technology. We agreed to do hundreds of events over the years that catered to the agent demographic and signed up hundreds of agents for websites.
During this time, we looked to take on other opportunities that would make sense for TRIBUS. We invested in all sorts of technology with our highest profile investment being RETS.ly. We held onto RETS.ly for just 7 months before Zillow made an unsolicited bid to buy the company along with two other companies. Our investments were exciting and were all focused around the real estate industry in some way. But the problem – we were trying to be everything to everyone. We hired certain people that were terrible but quickly available, and our quality began to suffer. I was focused on new projects and new investments. I was focused on individual agents. But then, one day I woke up from this daze – and found that while we were delivering what our agreements required for clients, we weren’t wowing them like we should. We stopped thinking ahead and it was obvious clients weren’t as happy as they had been. They weren’t interested in our relationship and just wanted our coding acumen.
But 22 months ago, I realized doing the bare minimum wasn’t something I was happy putting my name as the CEO of TRIBUS on. So, I started looking at every single employee, every business unit, every line of code even to see what was right and wrong. It took 6 months, but I finally found what was right and wrong. We were a company that understood brokerages, understood very complex coding projects, were able to handle anything you’d throw at us, but most of our clients were agents that wanted a $10 a month website. More important, our code based had morphed from something that was completely owned and built by TRIBUS, something that was agile and a good foundation, to something that was partly owned by another company – (turns out that company got acquired by a larger company that had some ethical problems too!). I gave both myself and my top executive team a challenge – we had until June 1st, 2016 to own all of our code. The code needed to be clean and agile. Something that we could build anything on top of, but that didn’t require us to start from scratch each time.
Turns out the team was not only up to the task but they helped identify those individuals that were appropriate to continue with the team and those that weren’t up to par.
We cleaned house, we created structure, we opened up new roles and we went on a hiring spree – but this time only for high quality talent. TRIBUS 3.0 was being formed.
I hired a Director of Brand and Marketing that helped me put words to the vision.
We needed to figure out what was the persona of our client. In looking at the data it was simple – brokerages that valued technology. Turns out, even though we had hundreds of agent clients, 90% of our revenue was from our broker partners. They were also the most satisfied of all of our clients. So we knew we needed to have a 100% focus on brokers and their needs.
While we knew our feelings, we needed a mission statement:
Why Are We Here?
We believe in Brokers and exist to help them achieve their goals.
How Do We Do That?
We immerse ourselves in each Client to craft meaningful experiences.
What Do We Do For Our Clients?
We deliver custom platforms to best engage Buyers, Sellers, Agents and Staff.
We needed values:
- Engagement First
- Pave Our Own Path
- Think Big Picture
- Welcome The Challenge
- Be Grateful
We needed a new logo that better represented the brand of the company.
We needed a client care team that was the best. (We’ve averaged a perfect 100% rating from our clients for the past 7 months.) We’re now doing support outside of normal business hours for every single agent. We offer proactive support where we call every agent at every broker client of ours every quarter. We have phone, chat and email available Monday through Friday 8am-7pm. Our support is top notch.
In June, the team delivered an amazing code base that will allow us to bring the best products and services to clients for years to come. TRIBUS is here to be the dominant force in the real estate brokerage software business.
The past 20 months have been some of the most fun of my entire life. And as I write this on my way to Inman Connect San Francisco to rerelease TRIBUS for the third time. I couldn’t be more excited.