Tushar Garg of Flyhomes: “It’s the things we do every day that create momentum to build success”

It’s easy to get paralyzed trying to plot the perfect path or create the perfect vision. But building a company is really about one step at a time. Take a leap of faith, make a decision, take an action. It’s the things we do every day that create momentum to build success. As part of my […]

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It’s easy to get paralyzed trying to plot the perfect path or create the perfect vision. But building a company is really about one step at a time. Take a leap of faith, make a decision, take an action. It’s the things we do every day that create momentum to build success.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tushar Garg.

Tushar Garg is CEO and co-founder of Flyhomes, a platform that’s reinvented the home buying process. Prior to Flyhomes, Tushar gained experience at Microsoft and McKinsey & Company before deciding to pursue his passion for the real estate market. He and Flyhomes co-founder Steve Lane started the company in 2015 with the goal of reimagining the broken home-buying experience. Since then, the Seattle-based company has grown to roughly 200 employees, raised more than $70 million in venture funding, and helped more than 1,500 customers close on $1.3 billion worth of homes.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My co-founder and I took a class together during our MBA at Kellogg, where we were looking to launch a startup focused on bringing transparency to the home buying process using machine learning. In order to understand the process more deeply and get access to the data, we became licenced realtors. I never thought that I would be actually helping people buy houses as their realtor — until we ended up helping my former boss at Microsoft. We figured we could use the commission to bootstrap. Once I became a realtor, I found it incredibly meaningful to help people become homeowners.

While each person’s home ownership journey is unique, it was also clear that there were systematic issues with home buying that had to be tackled to take the experience and the industry itself to the next level. That’s the journey we have been on; put people at the heart of home buying while solving both the big problems and everyday frustrations. For example, our customers love the fact that they can work with one company for every part of the transaction, from the mortgage process through closing. We’ve also created entirely new financial products: with the Cash Offer product, we’re aiming to create the credit card swipe for a home purchase. With our Trade Up product, we’re enabling people to upsize or downsize faster and easier. They can buy their next home before they sell their current home.

I get up every day grateful for my incredible teammates at Flyhomes who are committed to giving people the best experience in every part of their home journey. We demystify the home buying process for customers through a thorough onboarding. We give people on-demand tours, help them negotiate the offer and offer them a seamless online experience. I am lucky to have met a great co-founder and to have found a big and impactful problem space. We have just kept solving problems customer-by-customer in order to make a big difference in people’s home buying journey.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The journey of a founder is the journey of resilience. it’s filled with highs and lows; that one should expect and embrace. I’d say the hardest times were those where I had to balance major life events like growing our family or navigating personal loss with building my business. I have realized that no one can do this alone. Having a robust support system both in my personal life and in the company really keeps me going in these difficult times.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The very things that make the journey hard also help develop perspective and resilience. I have become faster in acknowledging difficulties, addressing them and moving on eventually.

Having incredible teammates who are working alongside every day has made all the difference. Having two wonderful daughters at home creates a meaningful context. Finally, the intrinsic satisfaction in what we are creating and the purpose behind our mission is what keeps me going when the chips are down.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Flyhomes is now helping homebuyers and sellers in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Bay Area, LA, Irvine and San Diego, & Boston. We’ve helped thousands of people to buy and sell more than $2B worth of homes

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started Flyhomes, we were looking for customers. I figured that I should go to where the homebuyers are — so I would stand in front of open houses and try to meet people right outside. As someone would come out, I’d say “Hey this isn’t my open house, but I’d like to meet you!” I even convinced my cofounder to do it. We got some of our first customers that way. One of the customers even loved the experience so much she applied for a job with the company!

I had never done anything like that before. It gave me optimism to see that people were open and trusting, and that even though we were just getting started, we could build this! That Day 1 mindset; where no job is too small or too awkward is critical even today as we scale the company.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

To me, the biggest thing that makes Flyhomes stand out is our true commitment to being customer-first. We put our customers at the heart of every part of the business — and our customers love us. In fact, twenty customers loved the experience so much they became Flyhomes employees!

We are changing an opaque, frustrating process. Flyhomes has reinvented the home purchase process for buyers at every step. We have agents who are backed by a team of expert advisors, armed with smart products so they can clear obstacles to homeownership. By tackling the industry vertically and putting mortgage, title & escrow, under the same roof, we’re able to make each transaction significantly smoother.

At the same time, we have created products that add certainty to the transaction. For example, our Cash Offer product gives any qualified buyer the chance to make a cash offer. Cash offers are preferred by sellers, because they minimize the risk that a mortgage won’t get funded. Plus, the transactions close much, much faster than traditional offers. In competitive markets, we give buyers an edge. In other markets, cash offers give buyers much more negotiating power, helping them to save thousands on the transaction.

Our Trade Up program eliminates the risk and uncertainty for homeowners trying to buy their next home. We give a seller a guaranteed, competitive price for their home. We 100% guarantee that the home will sell within 90 days, or we’ll buy it. If we sell it for more than that price, we’ll hand over the proceeds from the sale. That way, a buyer can move into a new home before listing the current one.

Our blog is filled with stories of customers who were able to get their dream home thanks to Flyhomes.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

People burn out because they don’t give themselves enough credit. I think it’s critical for founders to take a moment to look back and see how far they’ve come. It’s important to celebrate successes, not just focus on what you haven’t done. Look back, acknowledge the impact that you’ve created. If you don’t pause, it’s hard to keep the energy going for the future.

Recognize and admit that you won’t meet every expectation, even your own. I take a moment to boil it down to fundamentals — what are the two or three things I want to achieve each week? Even a simple framework to evaluate on a daily or weekly basis will give you structure and a sense of momentum.

Also, make space, time and energy for the parts of life that aren’t your job. For me, that’s my family. Make space for kids and parents, friends and hobbies — the things that keep you connected with life and give you a greater perspective.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m really grateful to my brother, who has been my rock and best friend throughout our lives. He’s someone who I can rely upon as a support network for almost anything — from managing the family finances to hugging my daughters when I can’t be there. I call him the COO of the family. He and my wife tag team to keep our family running. It’s not possible to be successful without help.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I think it’s important to make time for human connection every single day — and I’m so lucky I can do that in my job in ways that make a big difference for people. We’ve had people who only could put 5% down and did not believe that they could compete; we helped them win! We helped a couple close the home fast so that they could get married in their new home’s backyard in the pandemic, and we also helped people move to their dream home that just showed up and needed money from their current home to buy the new home. We hear every day from families for whom Flyhomes has made a huge difference in their lives.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Just get going.

It’s easy to get paralyzed trying to plot the perfect path or create the perfect vision. But building a company is really about one step at a time. Take a leap of faith, make a decision, take an action. It’s the things we do every day that create momentum to build success.

Failure is a critical part of success

When you run a start-up, something is always blowing up. It’s a constant game of two steps forward and one step back. I’ve learned to stop worrying about single setbacks and to focus on the future. When you are creating something new, there will be failures. Take what you can learn from them, move on, and remember that they are as much a part of the story as success is.

You need to start with a foundation of discipline.

The complexity of the job grows exponentially as your company does, and daily disciplines can make dealing with that complexity infinitely easier. If I could go back in time and make sure I had a great daily meditation practice, I think those years would have been easier.

Every relationship matters.

So, so many people help you with the journey. I would have developed better processes to keep up with people I met early in my career. You never know who will show up down the road. For example, my old manager at microsoft was the first person to buy a house with us! A friend from high school reconnected and helped me think through a fundraise. Keeping relationships alive is the key to creating meaningful opportunity, over and over.

How much fun it would be!

My first thought every morning is about Flyhomes. I wake up with so many ideas! It’s been beautiful to singularly focus my energy on something I care about. If I knew how much fun it would be, I would have started earlier.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I immigrated to the US from India, and it took me a while to buy my first home. Despite being fortunate to have a good job with Microsoft; the whole process felt overwhelming and opaque.

When you grow up in a place, home ownership is something you are encouraged to do as you become financially independent. As an immigrant, no one is advocating for you to buy a home. I’d love to welcome immigrants, help them buy homes and entrench in a community faster. Often, immigrants don’t buy a home because they’re afraid — what if the visa renewal gets rejected or my green card doesn’t pan out? The process seems overwhelming, and you have to find someone to trust so you can start the conversations and understand the possibilities. Overall, building solid financial lives and becoming a part of the community takes longer than it should, and that’s a missed opportunity for everyone.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tushar-garg-a6837445/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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