It has been a good year for Rodolfo Delgado. After only a few years living in the United States, the 33-year-old architect has evolved from a real estate agent to a successful CEO of a proptech startup in New York.
Delgado is rapidly becoming an active participant in a cycle of innovation geared toward bringing progress to a very fortified and stubborn industry — so I decided to interview him to find out more.
I interviewed Delgado over a video call, which I found very appropriate given that his creation, rather than being in the realm of architecture, is a video platform for real estate. He shared his story along with valuable advice for young professionals looking to propel their careers.
Rodolfo, tell me more about yourself and how your new chapter in New York City began.
I’m an architect with a passion for technology and real estate. I enjoy creativity and consider myself to be an artist at heart. Blend the three subjects, and that’s how my contribution to the real estate industry came to be.
Like any artist, I had an inspiring moment before deciding what my next move would be: I had just moved to the United States and was looking for a rental apartment when I found out how frustrating the process of renting an apartment was.
Every piece of information out there was manipulated or enhanced in some way. Some brokers, I found, were very unreliable and opted to use deceptive techniques to lure me into calling them. Some months later, I decided to become a real estate agent in an industry that clearly could use technology. In retrospect, I think I was searching for inspiration — an area of opportunity in which I could contribute.
Looking to create something of value, I designed a platform that enables people to search for a home through unedited videos. I wanted people to see what’s really there — no BS or enhanced content. So alongside a fantastic team of what can only be described as tech artists, we crafted the platform that I wished I had during my time searching for a new apartment.
The platform, Replay Listings, was launched in the App Store in March 2018. It has helped over one hundred thousand people by inviting them to join a community that welcomes transparency in the process of finding a new home. We are tired of manipulated pictures and want to get rid of them.
Consumers want real estate agents to tell them the truth. Yes, they demand quality service, but above everything else, they want to know that you are honest with them.
I imagine many people feel the same frustration during their search for a new home, which I’m guessing is why your platform has seen so much growth. Tell me about your growth strategy.
In the beginning, I believe that the creativity used towards building Replay Listings was, like a lot of art these days, all about sharing with the world something like “Hey! Look what I made!” And that led me to find an audience unintentionally. Many real estate agents and managers immediately contacted me with an interest in being a part of it. So I grew my network, then expanded our customer base, and now we’re growing our earnings.
To grow my network, I leveraged social media. We live in a generation where we, for the first time, have access to the biggest players in every industry. I shamelessly began by writing emails and texts to the CEOs and founders of big companies. Many never responded, but I only needed a few to succeed.
My biggest advice to artists and future founders is to reach out to the industry’s most prominent players shamelessly. Throw things, see what sticks. Even if they don’t like what you have to offer, ask for feedback — their feedback is gold. Recalibrate and reach out again. Polishing your “masterpiece” takes time and should be an iteration process. Great things take time, so be patient and consistent.
After growing my network, I expanded our customer base by turning our existing clients into lifelong fans. Real estate agents who adopted our technology and transparency found that it is a highly successful strategy, as clients are thirsty for honesty when it comes to real estate. Some of our customers have been sharing available properties through our platform for over three years, reflecting the value we bring into their daily lives. We vet every single video uploaded to our platform, so apartment-hunters love the reliability we offer.
Today, we are beginning to grow our earnings and search for scalability. Replay Listings has a tech infrastructure that allows it to work in many cities and countries efficiently. We have every intention of bringing more transparency to real estate everywhere, which is why we’re rapidly expanding.
Creating art takes inspiration, having a particular skill set, and a unique point of view. I’d like you to expand on the skills you have that allowed your company to be born.
Architecture school provided me with a strong design background. My NYU Masters’ Degree gave me a clear understanding of mobile technology. Being a real estate agent gave me extensive know-how of the real estate industry.
After I got inspiration about how to solve the problem that most people have when finding their next home, I began my search for star developers whose vision aligned with mine. I firmly believe I found the best.
My recommendation to anyone looking to create a new venture would be to not do it by themselves. Having people to share this experience with makes the process easier and more enjoyable — and you’ll need all the support you can get.
I would also suggest that before you begin creating anything, explore the shape of your venture. Should it start by being a website? A web app? A mobile app? I understand many are excited about creating a mobile app, but driving people to download an app is way more challenging and more expensive than driving traffic to a website, so building the right shape from the beginning will give you an advantage. Know where your customers are and talk to them frequently about their needs.
I imagine COVID-19 brought interesting challenges for you and Replay Listings because of the need to quarantine and socially distance. What’s it been like during the pandemic?
I usually feed off other people’s creative energy as I grew up in more collaborative environments. Still, I’ve leveraged this year of isolation and quarantine to find new ways to stay creative. It’s definitely been a challenge — but it’s those challenging moments that often push me to come up with the weirdest, most amazing solutions.
Replay Listings has risen to the occasion. For the past year, people weren’t able to physically visit or inspect their apartment of interest. Our platform has functioned as a necessary aid — especially for those coming from abroad.
A lesson I’ve reinforced this past year is that to find a profound human connection with other people, I need to first connect with myself. Take the time to explore your areas of interest and focus on the rewards of the creative process itself to then be able to attract the ideas, audiences and collaborators you need.
About Rodolfo Delgado
Rodolfo Delgado is Replay Listings founder and CEO. Rodolfo is also a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council and has contributed by writing monthly articles in Forbes since 2019. He currently lives and works in New York. Contact Rodolfo via his website at www.rodolfodelgado.com