At AssetRover, it’s all about efficiency, automation, and simplicity to get the best returns on real estate investments.
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Product / Service Offering: Help make real estate investing more profitable using our tools
Co-founder Interviewed: Jeri Frank – CEO
Other Key Management Team Members: Uriel Barillas – Co-founder & CTO
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I spent almost 20 years in the corporate world which taught me a great deal about negotiations, leadership, fiscal management and strategy. At my core, I am a driven person with a relentless desire to follow through on my commitments to deliver a high-quality product to my customers. To myself and my team, I have the same desire to be an outstanding leader and team player that looks for game-changing ideas and follows through on my commitments. Each day I learn a little more, and I lead a little better.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
AssetRover started because of our own needs. Once my husband, Uriel, who is also my business partner, and I were married, we immediately became investors. I had a property in North liberty, and Uriel had one in Marion, so once we married, we purchased a home in Cedar Rapids. After learning about what to do and creating the legal entity and surrounding ourselves with the right team, we saw all the benefits that came along with real estate investing, including diversification, and we saw real estate as another venue to fund an early retirement with the cash flow from our investments. So, we started buying more properties. We quickly realized this was a market with a lot of noise in terms of tools. We looked for other ways to learn, so we used books and websites to educate ourselves. We were learning daily, while keeping up with our full-time jobs as we kept buying homes. Soon, we determined it made sense to build something we and others could use. It has grown from there. Most recently, through our customer discovery, we learned commercial investors had an even greater need for our portfolio management tool and we are now working with two pilot customers to develop that.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Here at AssetRover, it’s all about efficiency, automation, and simplicity. We share the same experiences that you do with limited time, wanting to get the best returns on our real estate investments, and wanting to learn more every day.
Our own experience showed us that our disconnected systems made it very difficult to plan and understand what was happening with our investments. This is true on the residential side but a more pressing issue on the commercial side. Commercial real estate investors need to understand some key metrics about their business performance and many must do this through spreadsheets currently because their tools don’t do this for them now. We think this should be much easier!
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
We strive for tools that are simple to use. Most investors are incredibly busy people that don’t want to take weeks or days to learn how to use a system. We want a user to not have to use the help menu at all!
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Time was a challenge for us. When we started, we each had full-time, demanding jobs. For nearly 2 years, we did both. But, once we found some traction, I left my corporate job and, now, work only on AssetRover.
It was the right way to start, but it took considerable determination.
Are there resources you have utilized that other women founders might find compelling or useful?
Mentors are a significant help to any start-up and we are lucky to be part of a program, the Iowa Startup Accelerator, that has such a large network of mentors to draw upon.
<see related: Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Iowa Startup Accelerator>
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
To date we have not sought any external funding. We think it is important to bootstrap for as long as possible.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
There is an astounding amount of information available to entrepreneurs! The information is out there – the hard thing is consuming the information in the right order for your company and your specific needs.
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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
When starting a business, there are just never enough hours in the day! There are endless things that one must investigate, learn, and master. It is critical we stay focused on the things that will get us the furthest fastest. We practice agile, with regular standup meetings, to keep us on point. It is easy to let go of the planning to do actual work. We must stay hyper-focused.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Run cheap, quick experiments to see what works and what doesn’t so you haven’t invested a lot of time, effort and dollars into something that doesn’t really work. Learn quickly and then move on.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We have a great rental property calculator for the new investor to take advantage of! There is a free version already available and a paid subscription with premium features coming soon. With our rental property calculator, you can easily determine the offer price you need to make to get the cash flow you want. We wanted a tool like this when we were starting and believe there is great value in this for the new residential investor.
Want to learn about other women led startups? Check out our Women Entrepreneur’s Spotlight Series.
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