Yalantis | Kate Abrosimova | July 25, 2014
If there were a list of the most important choices in life, I bet picking out a place to live would be one of these things. Certainly, the property you end up buying cannot always equal your dream house, but why not help people make it close? fypio is doing exactly what you wouldn’t expect from a typical real estate company. Instead of focusing on the property and the ways to sell it, fypio’s main concern is people and what is important in their lives. That’s why they call it «the smart and fun way to your perfect home».
Say, you are a young family looking for a quiet kid friendly area with great schools nearby, low crime and clean air — fypio will provide you with the list of properties that best match your criteria. You can get the feel of the place by checking your neighbors’ age, cultural background, household income and more. Curious about what the garage looks like or if the bedroom is nice and cozy? You don’t have to spend hours searching through all the properties and comparing all the options. With one click fypio will instantly get you the pictures of your favorite place in the listing of the houses specially picked for you. This is a real find for anyone looking for a place to live or just wondering about what their dream house looks like in reality. fypio is currently focusing on San Diego but it’s going to expand to more cities in the USA later this year.
I was lucky to have a talk with Michael Koh, the founder of fypio, a successful entrepreneur with a great vision and an inspiring attitude to what he is doing.
Me: You have extensive experience in the field of real estate. But why exactly did you decide to turn to mobile app development?
Michael: That’s a good question. I like challenges and I am not afraid of change. My career started at a private healthcare firm. I was pretty successful but one day I decided to change something in my life. It was like a sudden epiphany. I asked myself what I would do if I had only three years to live. At that time I had enough money and I was single, so I thought I would travel around the world. I made a list of the places I wanted to visit and hit the road. When I came to Buenos Aires, Argentina was in the middle of financial collapse. There was a downfall in the real estate market and I saw it as an opportunity. I didn’t know anything about this business, nor could I speak Spanish fluently. But I started doing business in real estate. The 4- and 5-star hotels in Buenos Aires were really expensive and I competed with them by offering my apartments with Wi-Fi and all the facilities for a fraction of the price of high-end hotels. I started a company called ApartmentsBA which was eventually acquired by Luxury Retreats, the largest luxury property management company in the world.
Then I came back to the States and continued investing in property. One day I had a phone conversation with my friend and former client, John Kvasnic, the owner of a large software development company, and we came up with this idea of changing the real estate world by doing something different. That’s how fypio was founded. We wanted to change the rules that exist in this business. This was not about only creating another service with listings of properties. It is about overturning the priorities and starting with the home buyer.
Me: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Michael: I guess it was starting a company in the sphere I have never worked before. That’s what I did in Argentina, this is what I am doing now. Even though I have a lot of knowledge about real estate and business experience, I knew nothing about software development. While I love technology, I didn’t understand how it all comes together and is built. I’d say it is important not to be afraid of changes and think outside of the box. And it’s ok to be outside of your comfort zone.
Me: I totally agree with you! Getting back to fypio app, I really like the detailed listings of properties with a bunch of different characteristics: crime level, school and health quality, breakdowns by household income, sex and cultural background of the neighbors. Is there anything missing, anything you’d like to add to make the app even more abundant?
Michael: Our goal is to learn the user’s preferences. We’d like to see what they like, what they want to buy and then make the property discovery match user’s style. Our software can learn from your collection habits and activity and offer the potential matches. We want to be relentless in our learning about what is truly important at the individual level to the home buyer or browser. Here is an example of a collection I have created — Spectacular Staircases.
Speaking of the characteristics and personalized emotional responses, there is an element of fun added to it. Also we’d like our users to compare and contrast the place where they live now with any other property in the country and add some interactivity to the app. Like being able to connect with people living in that area and ask them about the neighborhood, schools, healthcare and so on. We really want to build a ‘community’.
Me: fypio has an incredible filtered search according to style preference and spaces. What do you personally pay attention to when choosing the house?
Michael: I have bought and sold so many properties and have seen a great number of homes. My wife will never buy a house if she doesn’t love the kitchen. For me the most important space is outdoor space. This is what I pay attention to mostly. I’ve found that every person out there has their own special space that is important to them. They aren’t buying unless the property has that space.
Me: What do you see as a source of monetization?
Michael: In fact there are a lot of possibilities to monetize the app. However, it’s not on our radar for now or a big goal right now. What we are primarily concerned about now is building out the perfect platform. We want to innovate the real estate business by solving the problems that currently exist and making finding the perfect home fun and easy. First and foremost we want to create this magical experience for the home buyer and browser.
Me: What are your plans for the near future?
Michael: We want to focus on finding product market fit and really perfecting the software and the user experience. Further down the road, we intend to build a version for iPad which is going to offer a much different and robust user experience. As well as expand to Android app development. As soon as we find product market fit, we plan to expand our service to Orange County, California, Dallas, DC and continually improve user experience with the product.
Me: Michael it was a real pleasure speaking to you! I am looking forward to hearing more about success of fypio. Our team wishes you and your company all the best!