As the former vice president of technology at Intracoastal Realty, Samuel Ibrahim saw how agents and clients struggled through the different software programs that a real estate transaction would normally require.
“After working 20 years for a leading real estate company, I saw the fragmentation, the chaos that technology has brought into the real estate transaction,” Ibrahim said.
“I can honestly tell you after 15 years of developments, technology has produced so much chaos and expense that it made the life cycle of the transaction much more complex. Agents now almost have to become mini technologists, or many of them hire technology people to help them with the day-today activity.”
To address that issue, in 2016 Ibrahim started Flow ROI, an all-inclusive software for agents, companies and clients.
“We embarked on this project by removing the chaos and the obstacles and the confusion that the agents endured day in, day out and gave them one tool to handle the entire transaction,” Ibrahim said. “We eliminated a lot of redundancies, reduced liability and improved efficiency.”
Some features of Flow ROI include a content management system, MLS property search, tax database, form management, expense tracking, signature products and analytics, among others.
About 38,000 development hours were spent on creating the cloudbased product, he said.
Since its launch in July 2018, about 550 agents have been using Flow ROI, according to Ibrahim. The growth in users is in part due to the hiring of Alistair Canal, the startup’s chief revenue officer, who is heading the formal selling process, Ibrahim said.
The startup offers its product on a subscription fee of $29 a month per user.
Flow ROI is designed for independent real estate firms that don’t have the financial resources to develop their own software, Canal said. “We’re looking for the firms that are independently owned, that have anywhere from 50 agents up to 1,500 in size, but they can be as big as 3,000 or 4,000 as an independent,” Canal said. “The primary reasoning behind that is those are the types of organizations that either don’t have the financial capacity or ability to make that significant investment to build their own technologies like the big guys.
“They’re the ones who rely on really good technology and solutions to help them develop better relationships and streamline the processes.”
To attract more customers, Flow ROI has launched a marketing sales and public relations campaign, Canal said.
One marketing campaign it initiated is “48,622 Why does this number matter to you?”
The figure originated from doing the math on the number of tech issues that Ibrahim had to address during his time at Intracoastal Realty.
The campaign was launched at the XCHANGE ’19 event held by NC Realtors on Sept. 15.
In August, Flow ROI entered into a partnership with Intracoastal Realty, which is now the largest stakeholder in the company.
“Intracoastal Realty did not jump on board simply because of my association. They jumped on board because they examined what was in the market currently and how they can serve their agents better,” Ibrahim said.
“The partnership agreement with Intracoastal is ideal. We will give Intracoastal Realty the exceptional technology platform and customize it to their business needs. In return, just the fact that we are associated with such a reputable organization will give us the leg up to promote Flow ROI to similar companies. So it’s a huge deal for us.”
Currently, Flow ROI has four employees and is housed at tekMountain, which Ibrahim said is an ideal place for Wilmington technology startups.
“It is really a great place for technology companies to start,” he said. “It’s a very positive and encouraging environment. We are among like-minded people.”
Now the company is looking for growth with help from investors.
“There are a lot of supportive people who believe in technology and believe in the growth of Wilmington and to support that growth they invest,” Canal said.
“To date, all of our investors have been accredited individual investors. In addition to that, we are making a more progressive outreach to venture capital firms. Those are the most ideally suited for us where we are right now.
“We have recently transitioned from a prerevenue-, which means there was no revenue being generated, to now a revenue-generating organization, which is exciting for firms who are looking to invest because it’s a nice milestone that Flow ROI has met.”
One thing that makes Flow ROI stand out is that it has entered a tech field that is poised for growth, Ibrahim said.
“The real estate technology world will continue to evolve, and the companies that will win will be the companies that are able to continue to reinvent themselves and satisfy the client,” he said.
With this new venture, Ibrahim hopes to grow the number of subscribers to 10,000 in 2020 and 15,000 in 2021 with the support of available resources in Wilmington.
“Wilmington has really become a technology hub. I can see advisers; I can see people when we encounter challenges whether from [the] fundraising perspective to staffing to just plain advice about how to do things as a startup company,” Ibrahim said. “Wilmington has a great group of people that have already forged this path. Wilmington has really become a best-kept secret in the startup environment. We have all it takes for a startup company to start and flourish right here.”