How this 20 Something is Growing an 8 Figure Real Estate Business, with Olivier Grinda, CEO of Home61

"I was the co-founder and director of marketing, and really knowing nothing. It was simple performance marketing: I learned at night what I needed the next day. It was an unconventional path."

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Olivier Grinda

What is your elevator speech on your professional career: who are you, what have you done and how does that translate into value for your customers?

I’m a tech entrepreneur and have built three customer-facing companies. I am obsessed with using technology and numbers to create a more efficient world.

Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What’s your personality, hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeve? Tell us about you.

I am well meaning, very direct, competitive and love to play tennis and video games. I love to visit at least a new place per year; I just came back from Japan.

My pet peeve is bureaucracy. Here’s an example: having to fill out meaningless paperwork at a doctor’s office so that someone behind the counter can copy it to a computer. If they need it for legal reasons, I wish they would simply set up an iPad with the most likely answers already checked. Saves everyone time.

What are your “3 lessons I learned from my most memorable failure”?

1. Understand why you fail.

2. People rally with you during hard times.

3. Failure is not the end of the world.

What are two daily habits you never break, no matter where you are?

Checking emails and learning fun facts (I have millions jumbling around in my head).

Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Describe two that most impacted your success?

First, my brother is a successful entrepreneur. He’s living his life to the fullest and he has always been an inspiration for me in my life.

Second, I have two friends in Brazil that created an amazing company as a partnership. Seeing their experience encouraged me to build Home61 with my business partner to share the pains and joys of building a startup.

What types of books do you read and why, and what one title do you recommend?

I love science fiction. My favorite is The Tome of Bill. Bill is a nerd, a bit of a loser, that becomes a vampire. It is hilarious.

For business and economics, I liked Undercover Economist and The Four-Hour Work Week. They are all about anecdote and efficiency.

For classics, The Count de Monte Cristo, which is about a renaissance man on a quest for revenge.

My guilty pleasure book is Vlad Taltos. He’s a fantasy rogue living in the world of elves.

What one piece of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners looking to catch their big opportunity?

Keep trying. You only need one success.

Looking back, what was the most non- conventional way you landed a memorable deal that made your success turn in the right direction? 

I left everything I had in the U.S. to build a start-up in Brazil with someone I had met once. I met an investor at a bar in Miami, graduated three months later, and made my move a week after that.

We launched Brandsclub and had $1 million in revenue our first year. We raised $17 million one year later. I was the co-founder and director of marketing. I knew very little, but spent my time at night learning and my days executing. It was an unconventional and risky path, but it led me to where I am today.

What has been your biggest achievement?

For my career: I co-founded two of the biggest e-commerce companies in Brazil.

Financially: I had successful exits from my startups and investments.

In life: I married someone I want to share my life with. She shares my wanderlust, my love of learning, my love of video games, and is fearless.

Overall: I live life as an adventure.

What has been your biggest failure / lowest moment?

My former startup, It was a subscription-based business in Brazil that specialized in women’s shoes. We also offered accessories such as handbags and sunglasses. Sales were good, but we found that almost one-third of the customers were getting the shoes and then calling the bank to decline the charge.

We were forced to liquidate everything to try and pay back our investors. We sold our office lease to a competitor and even the air conditioning. We laid off 40 and lost two-thirds of our investment.

The co-founders stayed on and worked for free to get the business closed. It was the power of the team sticking together until the end that allowed us to really maximize the amount we returned to our investors.

We were ultimately able to pay back $3MM of the investment and found new jobs for every single employee.

The most important thing we did was keep our investors actively involved throughout the process. A clear line of communication was key. It was everyone’s problem, and I was going to be the last guy there without a job.

Tell me about working with people remotely and the attributes you look for.

I want the best, not just someone sitting next to someone. I would rather have five hours of an amazing person than nine hours of someone average.

I need someone who can communicate and is willing to ruffle feathers. They can’t be scared of telling the truth. We want people that can take the feedback as well as give it. It’s a great gauge of character.

What are you working on now?

It’s called Homes 61. It’s in the real estate business.

The core focus is residential real estate. We want to help the mass market get a home with great service. People want the simplicity of technology, but want it presented by a person with a human touch.

Initially, I thought investing in real estate was a terrible idea. We couldn’t find resources and agents that were knowledgeable and helpful. The more I dug into it the more I realized that everyone in the U.S. gets terrible service when buying real estate. I saw what an enormous problem and opportunity there was to disrupt the traditional real estate companies like Re/Max and Century.

I was thrilled about the lack of technology in the industry. We saw the opportunity to disrupt and attacked the pain points with technology, which does the heavy lifting. The investors that lost the most in Shoes4you invested in Home61 at the seed stage because we were able to maintain good relationships with them.

We started the company in 2014 and last year our sales volume was $50 million. Today we have 65 new agents and are shooting for 100 by June.

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