Seed Stage Growth Strategy for a Real Estate Investment Startup Powered by Blockchain

Tokenization is something novel that I’ve been fascinated with for a while now. Way over-hyped in 2018 but not out for the count yet.

The whole idea here is that you take something that already exists (like real estate) and put it on a blockchain so that you can buy and sell tokens that represent its value.

I think one of the mega-trends of the next phase of blockchain will be companies that have real, legit applications of tokenization. i.e. companies that don’t simply make something a token for the sake of tokenization. Rather, companies that create useful and value-adding products only possible with blockchain-based tokens.

One such company that falls in this category is Jointer. In their own words, here is how they work:

Jointer provides a free end-to-end tokenization solution allowing you to unlock equity while bearing the regulatory, liquidity, and marketing responsibility.

Hm. Sounds intriguing. To my understanding, they buy real estate equity from property owners and then turn it into tokens that can be bought or sold openly and quickly like stocks.

So, let’s get into a brief analysis of their current digital presence:

Their website is custom built using code and bootstrap. It looks good, and it runs well. As a marketer, I like to see a CMS (preferably WordPress) but this setup is decent and will probably work for now.

They only have an Alexa rank of 3.5 million and no visible traffic from SimilarWeb. Something I’d like to see improvements on.

Partly responsible for this is their atrocious technical SEO. A quick scan with Moz Bar reveals no H1 and no meta description. Yikes.

Additionally their URL structure on many pages is weird. With paths like /beta/ it feels more like it was cobbled together as needed without much thought for how the site should fit together as a whole.

Their menu also has some options greyed out. I’m not a fan of having those there if no one can click on them.

Moving on past the negatives though, their value props are solid, if a bit crypto-audience leaning.

Their CTAs are solid and direct.

And they have a competitor comparison table on their home page that is excellent. I’d like to see them compared to traditional lenders as well as crypto companies. But aside from that, it’s good.

Lastly, their app itself looks great, if a bit rough. Looks and feels like a true, legit MVP. Functional with enough design and UI/UX thought to make the user experience feel good. These guys are right on the money with this MVP experience. Hats off.

High Level Growth Strategy:

The biggest barrier to the market for these guys will be how insanely complicated this product is. They have multiple user types that are all regulated and factor into the platform differently.

These are all personas that they self-describe on their site:

  • property owners
  • investors
  • lenders
  • sponsors
  • loan brokers
  • CRE agents
  • underwriters
  • affiliates
  • institutional investors

Love that they have their personas dialed like this. But man, is this complex. It’s further compounded by breaking down property owners into several property types found in-app. i.e. multi-family homes, commercial real estate, etc.

Holy crap, a lot of options. It’ll be expensive to target each of those personas individually with marketing efforts. But, on the flip side they will benefit from network effects at scale with all these user types fleshed out.Moving on.

I’d like to see these guys clean up some of their complex and crypto-focused language. They need to better speak to regular people that could use this product. People who don’t need to understand how blockchains work.

Do we explain how SaaS app databases work when someone signs up to your SaaS product? No. The same thing applies to blockchain. It’s cool and new but end users don’t care about how it works. They just care about what it can do for them.

The language used on this site is halfway there. It’s clear, and it breaks down pretty well. But there is still a definite focus on a crypto audience. And that will be a barrier to the greater market as they continue to gain traction and scale up.

Finally, the main hurdle to growth that I see is on educating people what the f*ck this is.

I could see issues arising by driving home owners directly into the home appraisal app, successfully securing info, sending a quote, and then seeing mad churn from users who don’t know what they signed up for.

This is a new technology most people don’t understand. It’s in these guys’ best interest to ensure they educate as many people as they can on the possibilities of their technology.

Some Suggested Growth Tactics

First of all, each persona has their own channels to pursue, but the biggest leverage point in user acquisition is probably PR and media. Their audience of home owners is big enough that they have a ton of reach. And their story is interesting enough that I think they could get coverage in a lot of publications, TV shows, blogs, podcasts, etc.

Second, Google Ads. This is obvious for people looking for selling or mortgaging their homes. Likewise the other personas are targetable.

Third, Outbrain/Taboola. The reach is there, the audience is there, and this is novel enough that they could have a lot of appeal through this channel.

Fourth, Facebook Ads. The demographic targeting capabilities are there to hit home owners in the right income brackets with the right message. For example, lower income bracket people might be more interested in earning extra cash. Higher income brackets might be more interested in unlocking equity and increasing liquidity. Tailoring this message to different segments of the housing market could have much greater results than blanket lists hitting everyone.

Fifth, content marketing. I think this is much lower hanging fruit than other channels here, but still worth pursuing. Namely, they’ll have a lot of competition on core bottom of the funnel keywords from other lending and real estate companies. So they will have to fight harder to rank.

Sixth, billboards. Legit, offline, physical billboards. Again, with this product on the property owner side has a big audience. A billboard like this will hit the right people. I think this is an idea worth testing.

Seventh, direct mail and door-to-door flyers. When it comes to property owners, it can be greatly effective to reach them at their actual home. Similar to what we broke down for Sunday’s subscription lawncare service, I think these guys could employ this strategy as well.

Eighth, creative video ads that explain what this product is and the value it offers. Video is a very cost-effective channel because most people don’t understand it. It’s also an excellent medium for storytelling and explaining complex concepts. Hiring the right creative storytelling guru (like my boy Mike Kilcoyne) could do wonders for reaching a previously untapped audience.

Overall, this is a really cool and novel company. They have a product and marketing presence built so far that is solid, if rough. I think their growth potential is solid provided they are able to invest enough capital and execute well.

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