As we approach the new launch of Upstream, we reflect on our path and what has changed to create our renewed momentum. We inevitably reference a flywheel. It’s a powerful metaphor that succinctly describes our new partnership with CoreLogic and why 2019 is different.
Although the flywheel goes back to the Neolithic spindle and the potter's wheel, it was more significantly used by James Watt over 200 years ago in his steam engine, the invention that powered the Industrial Revolution. It is highly efficient at capturing, storing, and releasing energy. And in Upstream’s case, delivering energy at rates beyond the ability of an energy source.
Our partnership with CoreLogic leverages two dynamics that make our flywheel spin fast: force and friction (or lack of friction).
The more force you apply to a flywheel, the faster it spins. Before we signed our partnership agreement, CoreLogic assigned two strong teams and began to work on Phase 0 and Phase 1 concurrently. Our board and broker supporters never wavered; they continued their support, even doubling down on resources. Getting all stakeholders behind moving forward and working in unison created a massive amount of force.
The second thing James Watt would recommend is to eliminate friction in your flywheel. If you’ve worked with me on anything, you know I’m a believer in eliminating friction. The first day the teams met in Irvine, we did the usual “who are you and what do you do,” but within the first few hours, we were a single unit. Discussing pain points, customer needs, and deployment scenarios without friction. If you’ve ever been in these meetings with executives, sales, product and technologists from multiple companies, you know there’s positioning, need for control, ego and unnecessary “friction.” It hasn’t happened. Everyone involved walks in every meeting with an attitude of “what are we trying to solve and how can I help.”
The old mantra, “If you want to build a great company, your product has got to be ten times better than the competition,” is out of date. Today, if you want to build a great company, the experience has to be ten times better. It’s not what you do that matters; it’s how you do it. This is our mantra, and combined with force is creating both leverage and momentum.
What Did This Flywheel Produce?
It’s been only five months since signing our partnership agreement, and we have launched Phase 0 into production and are beginning to onboard a few, select brokers and complete a production field test. In parallel, we’re continuing the development of Phase 1 and have targeted a summer release.
As a reminder, we are calling Phase 0 “Simple Broker Controlled Syndication.” In this version, a broker can sign up (self-serve) and set up their account, including billing (for when we eventually invoice). They can add administrative accounts, configure their MLS(s) and add their vendors. As they add vendors, they can assign a “payload,” allowing them to control the amount of data each vendor receives. In legacy systems, the vendor receives a full feed regardless if they need all the fields or access to photos. The broker “hopes” the recipient discards the data they don’t need for their offering. We have created templates (payloads) that can limit access to potentially sensitive items such as photos or sales history. And the broker has full visibility into their last access and if there are errors in the feed. Now you’ll know why that price change wasn’t updated on XYZ site!
The select brokers in Phase 0 will allow us to field test a few critical, but fundamental tenants of Upstream.
We’ll additionally use this time to optimize the onboarding process and integrate hundreds of vendors.
We are concurrently working on Phase 1, which focuses on the large, infrastructure task allowing brokers to enhance their listings with high-resolution photos. Sending high resolution, non-watermarked photos, and branded video tours to your marketing vendors will be easier than ever. Phase 1 will also include enhanced firm record access. Not just agent rosters. Information about your offices, team configurations, and even internal staff (office managers, listing coordinators, etc.) are available as well. Finally, we’ll top off this summer release by allowing a broker to schedule listing distribution by vendor and begin aggressively engaging the brokerages that have signed agreements.
Field testing after only five months. This could only have been accomplished with teams and supporters working together to create massive action while eliminating roadblocks. Our flywheel is in motion, but it’s an entirely different revolution it’s powering.
We seek to create efficiencies by reducing redundant entry, help brokers distribute deliberately by giving them control over who can access their data and inspire innovation by removing artificial barriers when the broker allows.