Spend Time On Yourself

Spend Time On Yourself 

Mao Du

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

8/7/2020

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Spend Time On Yourself 

 “Instead of building a perfect product, and reach out to be seen and pitch to them. You should spend more time on yourself learning different perspectives. Try to fill the gap of the skill set you don't have."


The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

instead of building a perfect product and reach out you know to vc and teach to them you should really spend more i spend time on yourself learning different perspective different uh different uh like try to fill the gap of the skill set that you don't have [Music] [Music] hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i am your host devon miller the serial entrepreneur that's also the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with patents and trademarks today i'm excited to uh share another uh fun journey of a a great creator and inventor uh mao do is that how i say it right close enough yes yes all right and uh so she we have at least a little bit of a common connection she lived in salt lake city for a period of time i don't quite i'm too much of a city or a country boy to like salt lake city and i realize that that's really backwards in the sense that salt lake city's not that big of a city would be compared to a lot of other big cities but we've both been in utah so she's been here for a period of time now she's out in salt lake or moved from salt lake city to california near silicon valley and is working to help to fix the uh housing crisis and make things a little bit more affordable and allow people to be able to own their own homes so that's my introduction but welcome on to the podcast now evelyn thanks for having me so i gave a bit of an introduction which i'm sure didn't do nearly as good of justice but uh maybe i'll turn it over to you maybe you want to introduce yourself a little bit more and uh tell us tell us a little about your journey sure hello everyone my name is mao and uh we we are a real estate tech startup starting in bay area and then our staff think that we find a perfect solution for urban housing problem by matching two to three renters who like the same house and with the similar financial background together to lead them to co-buy a home through our platform according to the survey eighty percent of american millennials want to go on want to own a home and it's a symbolic milestone to adulthood but millions of them millennials cannot afford it due to the high cost of living and now we think that coho now can make this dream come true for them all right well no that's a that's a great uh introduction and summary so now i'm going to force you so as you know we've talked about before part of our podcast is now telling the journey of how you got to where you're at with um with your current business so maybe let's back up a step or two and kind of how did you get into it so prior to starting this business where were you at what were you doing and and what led to to where you're at now sure so um i always have a dream to own a home and living my own way and as you mentioned i previously lived in salt lake and i moved to california in 2018 and the struggle of housing become a sharp reality when i moved to bay area from star lake i'll interject and i didn't mean to interrupt you right off the bat but i i we were talking a little bit before and i and i i had to laugh because i've been in utah most of my life i did go out to uh i lived in cleveland ohio for about four years when i was doing graduate school and i lived uh when i started the mission for my church i was in taiwan for a couple of years beyond that i've always been in utah so i didn't really get a feel for the housing market um when i was in either the other two areas and so when i started out my career early on i worked for a law firm and it was based in palo alto out in california and so i made the mistake when i was going out to you know i was visiting the law firm there the offices there and people it seems like when every time i've gone to california people always like to talk about that great deal they found with housing or everything else which is like yeah i found a hundred thousand square foot house and it was only a billion and a half dollars you know those type of things but i remember one time when i was out there and i was talking with them and i said oh you know there's somebody saying that they just bought a house and said oh how many acres is that you know or what acres that they're like no no no no we don't measure in acres we measure in square feet if you happen to have a yard and it's like 10 or 20 square feet that's a great thing and most people believe that i from that perspective that was my first introduction into the california real estate market so i feel for you moving from salt lake to where we're getting your things in acres and it's a fair a reasonable price in comparison to going to california so didn't mean to interrupt your journey but uh go ahead yeah thanks yeah exactly that's the point that right after i moved to california i realized every single thing every every every rent every landlord that are charging around like above like uh 1500 right now i would say for single room and yes definitely measure by square foot and actually surprise me first year that i moved to california i had to move four times because the landlord keep raising my uh my rent and i really i i freak out right i feel strongly insecure every time i move to a new place and i hope that was the last time when so anyway so not only because of the high rent and also because i don't want to i don't get to live in my own way so that's why i and i i think like um i luckily find a room for a kind of cheap uh apartment the 1200 uh per month kind of rent i remember sitting in my 100 square feet room and thinking i could buy a home in salt lake with this rent then it occurs to me what if there was a way that i could own just the room i was leaving in so i don't have to wait so many years to saving up to participate in the real estate investing no more rent goes to waste so that's why you know i come up with the idea and thinking okay and you know i dig into the number makes sense that you know people living in the house and can come up with the mortgage payment which very similar to uh the rent that we paid to landlord that's why after pondering this possibility over several secrets night i put together a full-fledged business model that would become coho now today so i'm going to jump back and i think that's very interesting i'm going to jump back because i when we talked a little bit before the podcast we also talked you moved to california i think you had a tax background right and if i remember right you kind of had you went to the startup community and said hey you wanted to do a startup or wanted to do your own business and so you went around i think it was what for six months or so and kind of see what was hot what was not how what were the pain points and kind of as you're trying to figure out where you wanted to go so maybe just give a little bit background how did that go for that's kind of six months why did you kind of settle on that you gave a little bit of real estate market and doing the co-home ownership how did you do that in the mix of you know kind of going around for those months yeah so during those six months that i was not like uh full focus on finding a job instead i want to give myself a little bit time to know the market and especially uh in a real estate market because it's a big thing in uh silicon valley everybody anyone that owns a home actually is a big thing um and the second of all is the startup start mode startup weather so i actually luckily joined become a volunteer join v-lab which is a darling palatal ministry and they bunch of volunteer people and get together and to talk about what's the hot mar you know what's the hot topic you know by that time it was blockchain and definitely you know there are some other people talking about how we can use blockchain to change all sorts of life like um uh like uh cryptocurrency was very hot by that time 2018 and um and i i've learned actually i went to stanford for one of the class which is a venture capital um class they were teaching how to change the idea into a start business and i think the critical uh thing that i learned is the whether your idea came to turn into something scalable or not and also you need to figure out the market size that's why you know i spent um another six months that trying to grouping uh engineers who share the same passion passion and about home ownership we come up with you know we we went we went through hundreds of hundreds of interviews to conduct market research and we realized that amount and extent to which people are frustrated about paying high rents and getting no return um it's actually substantial and um and that's why we come up with this minimum viable product initially to test uh more people um to shaping the product and um me actually i thought you know people could not own a home maybe are just for normal worker so surprisingly the people that we interview is the uh tech worker some lawyers teachers and also some accountants cpa and uh many have lived with a roommate uh for a year or two and an average year that they become a vm printer uh it was about like five years ish so and when we talk about housing they always feel hopeless and burdensome and um so that's why when we when we reach out to them and we talk we say hey you know we can actually finding very similar uh financial background and education level people to group you guys together so that you guys can own a house and as soon as i tell them that and they feel oh this is like life-changing um thing for me it's definitely revolutionary so yeah i agree because i think it's an interesting or novel approach to how you're going here you're dealing with you know especially in high cost areas or high real estate areas where housing is very expensive and it can often be you talk about and i think about you know almost your point you know there are some that if they have a high enough paying job or they're the startup founder in silicon valley and they get enough investment they can afford their own but for most people it's still pretty expensive and so you know how did you i get you kind of came to the conclusion hey homeowning is expensive it's going to be hard for people at home homes can't we do something how did you come up with the idea let's start to split the cost or to see if we can partner people together i mean that's i it seems like a new or different approach beyond what i've heard so how did you kind of figure out that model that made sense or would work well yes definitely that was a novel idea initially and then when we start teaching to lenders pitching to real estate uh like a real estate pro like a title company realtors and the nurse and when we asked them you know whether their obstacle for this kind of regulation wise you know is it really much difference between uh co-owning with a stranger or versus calling with family and to me there are me is no there's no much difference and um so that's why you know i think okay why not just do it we're not just uh talking to more people to you know to see what whether people have done this approach in the past and we have actually talked to several people and they did uh co-own a house with a bunch of people and then they sell it out at a profit over the years before they get him uh getting settled down and getting married so i think that's kind of uh you know after that you know i realized okay this is not normal and people do that all the time but we just need a platform that can uh scale it out and to let more people know there is opportunity that you don't have to with so many years to build up instead you can invest in while living right now okay no i think that that makes good sense and so you hit on one topic that we talked a little bit before about what i almost had the same question of so let's say you take you know you take your platform which i think is cool and it makes good sense and i you know i want to go and let's say i go back to my singles day now i'm married with four kids and so probably wouldn't quite fit with my lifestyle but let's say i went out you know you take someone that goes out silicon valley wants to get a home can't afford it by themselves so they go on your platform they find someone else that also wants to get a home we pull our resources and we you know we go find the home that we think we both want to invest in we co-own and you know three or four or however many years down the road that person that i you know originally went in with says okay now i've got i'm going to move or i'm getting married or i have a different job opportunity so how does that work on your platform or how do you deal with at some point of people you know or somebody loses their job right so you know i'm working i want to do co-ownership but i lose my job how do you deal with that on your platform so right now we have four different options right we uh recommending people to uh co-buyer to consider first is the buyout option which is the people who stay can come up with the down payment and some profit that the other person can just you know buy that person out so that's one option for uh the co-buyers the second option is the if the co-buyer doesn't want to uh totally exit and they can still rent it out of the room just make sure that uh have a you know good agreement in advance that um you know cover uh those on the scenario and what what the criteria were for the other person who you know renting their room and um [Music] how long that takes so those are very nitty-gritty things we need to cover in those agreements which we have provide for our customers in advance and third option is because our plan two people initially we can do the same methodology to bring a third people to replace the people who want to exit and um for a lending perspective it's a very normal um refinance game it's just a refinancing and we will calculate make sure calculate every single thing uh before the person out um and um so the fourth the fourth part fourth option that the co-buyer can consider is um we actually uh working with the finance company the finance for example if one person stopped paying the mortgage payment and they list their shares on our platform while waiting for the buyer and during that time frame if he really couldn't come up with the payment we have a finance complaint and the finance company can uh kind of issuing the debt financing for those couple months until this person sells his share out and we will the mass part will take care of it okay no i think what the terms yeah sorry those are all the terms going to be covered in the agreement in advance yeah okay so no i think that makes sense so if i were to reiterate so one is just hey if i don't i could buy the you know buy the partner out so to speak and i can you know if they don't have the money or they don't want to and i have the money i can just buy out their position two is that the person move out they can continue to rent it out to somebody else or if they just wanted to continue to invest in the home they could or you can also help them to find a new partner to come in and either take over their position or to do something else so that they can you know replace a spot so that they can then somebody else is looking to have homeownership and do that so i think that's it prevents people or provides people with a lot of different good options so so you take that so you got you came up with the you moved out to silicon valley you came up you know you went to the startup community for a while figured out their pain points settled on this one said okay i think i've got something here you then went out and surveyed people said hey have you just been done before would you be interested which i think is all good steps right you come up with the idea then you start to do almost a market survey test it out make sure it would work before you invest too much time and effort into it see if people be willing to do it you do all of that you then you finally figure out that all those work and you start to you start to found the company get it going so how did that go or how has that been going now that you're actually developing the company developing the idea building it out seeing how people like it and everything else how is that journey part of the journey gone so right now i would love to talk about the priority um in the stage of bootstrapping um so i think we are we're not just building an app a mobile app we're actually building a web enterprise class a web-based application and that needs tremendous amount of agile engineering and but when the budget is very low um we just need to prioritize prioritize things that to save energy time and money into something we need most and uh for example right now we are working on you know for example we are working on the product development but we know that you know 202 to be able to uh come up with a list of features that we want we need to first uh get a word out to get attraction first the more people you bring in the more data you're gonna have the more insights you have then the better product you will make so that's why right now the focus should not be keep building the product instead building the business first that's why right now we are working uh partner trying to partner with um we have actually several partners listed list up and we partner with the brokerage firm we partner with lenders and uh we partner with the title companies make sure that you know they um create this kind of pipeline for the business and letting them to get word out and bring the customer which is the renters or co-buyers uh back to the platform and so in terms of the product side then we need to figure out okay right now if you're in the stage of building your pipeline what's your marketing page on your website should be you know whether you know how you are easier for your business partners to integrate uh with your product um so that's something that we have been shifting our focus on from uh purely uh implementation of the feature for ending consumer instead that we are focusing you know the platform how to make it easier for our business partner to use okay no i think that that makes sense so almost with that then so that's where you're at now if you take the next three or six to 12 months where do you think where do you see things going how do you think things will play out and where do you think lightning or the journey will take you so i would say next three to six months we will we will um keep building more features for our customers which is the renters come to our site getting more insights to shape our product that's for sure but at the same time we will work with our rules the lawyers and real estate workers and lenders to helping as many clients as we have that to demonstrate this business model and to get a word out letting more people know that what we're doing here is revolutionary and makes sense and easy to adapt yeah okay cool so as we reach kind of towards the end of the podcast i always then jump to the two questions i ask every time so maybe we'll jump to those now so the first question is always ask is what was the worst business decision you ever made what's the worst i don't i don't well i think that uh i can i can tell you what's the best idea that i've ever made but i haven't made a worse the business decision but definitely i will embrace you know for for my future and you know i will embrace all my you know future challenges for sure um so i recently implemented it launched everything if you've never made any mistakes whatsoever i don't know that i quite buy it so you got to give me one even if it's not the worst give me a mistake that you people can learn from okay i think that a lot of founders in silicon valley because they are around this ecosystem and there's tons of stuff um being built every single day and there also have vcs around here and so many news about the start getting successful finance thing so i think a lot of founders are misunderstood that they will get financing right away as soon as they get idea or they just get you know you know get out of mvp but that's not a good attitude and that's not going to be successful that's something that i learned also through this journey instead of building a perfect product and reach out you know to vc and teach to them you should really spend more i spend time on yourself learning different perspective different uh different uh uh like try to fill the gap of the skill set that you don't have previously um and to build a startup you need to build your business first so then you know what the most important to do for you to to to establish your business um at a non-scale uh stage which is talk to your customer as many as you could and also um building your pipeline that's very important as well as well i mentioned and then once you once you establish your business and validate your business idea business model then you're gonna talk to the vcs that if you want to scale um i think there's a lot of uh the lesson that i learned is don't try to just pull yourself out to in tbc first instead that focus on building your business first make it solid before talking to vcs that way you have a better chance because you only get one chance meeting a great bc okay no i think that and you almost answered i'll even jump i'll give you since i hammered you out the first question i'll give you a pass on the second question since you answered the first question so well because i think that you answer kind of both questions at the same time in the sense that i think you know if i were to reiterate almost the business mistake people can make is that they're going to hey i'm going to be able to go out get the investor dollar i'm going you know i've got an idea i'm in silicon valley and money freely flows and everybody invests in startups and that's not the case you almost jumped to hey i'll just go pitch my idea and you can almost waste your opportunity of getting in front of vcs or getting in front of angel because they're gonna you're gonna be too early you're not gonna have it far enough develop there isn't anything to invest in yet and so then almost then turning around is get your product developed first get your pipeline loaded get your figure out your market and then as you get those in place then go out to your venture capital so is that a fair summary of your answers okay well that with that so now it's your turn so people you know people want to get involved they want to go use co-home and they want to uh start to get our home ownership they want to invest they want to get involved what's the best way to reach out to you so hi guys we are now team and we are here help renters to grow financially by owning their own home we are helping them from matchmaking co-buyers to close a home that make a home co-buying process simple efficient and cost-effective so so please do check us out at website cohortnow.com i have a dream let coho help you to make your dream come true all right so people want to get involved want to reach out want to check it out go to cohomenow.com and co is just co the word home the wordnow.com is that right yes perfect well i appreciate you coming on the podcast it's been fun to talk about your journey i love what you guys are doing and i think it's a cool novel idea so i wish you guys the next part or leg of your journey to be very successful and hope things go well for you and appreciate you coming on the podcast for those of you that are interested in coming on the podcast and being a guest and sharing your journey certainly feel free to go to inventivejourney.com and apply to be on the podcast for those of you that are listening and make sure to subscribe so you can catch all the new and future episodes and uh for anybody that's needing help with uh patents and trademarks or for your startup or small business feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law and we'll make sure to help you out and get it taken care of thanks again for coming on the podcast it's been fun to hear your journey and wish you all the success thanks thanks for having me take care all right thank you you English (auto-generated) All Sales Recently uploaded

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