“A really good [big hairy audacious goal -- BHAG] probably has a minimum length of about a decade, and many take longer than that. Two decades. Three decades. So time frames extend to where you are no longer managing for the quarter but for the quarter century,” (Jim Collins, author of Good to Great).
I am late in publicly celebrating WellcomeMat’s first decade of unrelenting pursuit of attaching a video to every property for sale, rent or lease in the US. I am extremely proud that, despite the never-ending pull towards short term monetary gains (like selling video content or apps, or editing software), WellcomeMat has stayed exactly true to our goal of being the technology platform that revolutionizes real estate via video.
Right after the 4th of July, 2006, we launched with the intention of being a real estate video search company, a destination site, and amazed only our founders, crickets, and a few awesome filmmakers. We realized immediately our idiotic, outsiders’ assessment of our market: there was nearly zero content! Having a consumer-facing video search system was not happening. To be the change we want(ed) to see in our market, we had to focus entirely on making video profitable for agents, brokers, property managers and real estate brands. Here’s a quick snapshot of the environment we launched into:
- YouTube, and site we launched almost in tandem with, could not figure out how to get videos uploaded to their site.
- Getting videos online included cameras (many recording still via tapes), wires to render files onto computers and much slower upload speed.
- The flip video camera was not to come out for years.
- Playing videos on any site meant encoding videos into FLVs (flash video), the format that single handedly made online video scalable.
Funny fact: when you uploaded videos to WellcomeMat and they magically started playing, it was Phil DiGiulio downloading your files > encoding them in final cut > re-uploading your file in FLV format. This happened at the expense of whatever he was doing at the time: weddings, dinner...you name it.
- Real estate videos costed thousands, as quality video producers were nearly all unionized still.
- To the dismay of Phil and Haider (the other ⅔ of our founding team), I would not even consider taking outside funding. Our chances of succeeding were so low that my motto became, “Be stingy with failure. Share success.”
We had no money, so we made mobile tradeshow booths out of ourselves…MatMan sprung from the news story about a love affair between two astronauts, where one of said astronauts put on a diaper so she would not have to stop on her drive from FL to TX to reconnect with her, then taken, man. Somehow, we could not shake this story from memory and, thanks to the fact that you can get anything in NYC, we knew just how to get astronauty. There were two official MatMan suits, complete with velcro hung video screens that pumped out real estate video propaganda. No diapers!
In 2006, financial success could not be WellcomeMat’s goal because video--and therefore the need for a platform built for it--was almost non-existent in real estate. Yes, our wives loved us and, with each of us either planning to, or already growing our families, the heat was on! Still, we only judged our success by how well we were executing upon our big, hairy audacious goal: satisfy consumers’ undeniable right to videos that help them to find new places to live, work and play.
You cannot accomplish a proper, video revolution as a content company
You cannot accomplish a video for every listing by pushing one video content style (for example, apps that create the same format/style/end result with every video).
You cannot make video the only content that matters in real estate if video vendors do not collectively commit to a standard viewing experience
Video, to do what television did to radio and newspapers, must have solid distribution to all real estate sites (the future will not be YouTube'd)
While other video companies have found success as vendors, WellcomeMat has remained true to our future vision of real estate. Thankfully, we now have all of the following going for us:
- Roughly 75 enterprise customers
- Exclusive rights to distribute videos to a bunch of highly reputable, consumer facing sites, such as The NYT, LuxuryEstates.com and Mansion Global.
- A monopoly on the most important video technologies in real estate, without which real estate video is entirely dysfunctional.
- We have lost only 6 enterprise customers since we started -- by far the lowest customer churn rate in our industry.
- Consumer reach:
Our video player is loading an average of 3.4 million times per month.
- In 2016, our customers are averaging over a million views per month and always climbing.
Within the next 3 years, WellcomeMat will have by far the largest consumer reach of any video company in real estate. Lastly, consumers will be able to find and watch videos that answer every question they have about new places to live, work and play.
Thanks to everyone that supports and shares in our vision! We will not let you or consumers down.
~ Team WellcomeMat