8 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Homie Co-Founder, Mike Peregrina

Full video interview (Show Notes with links to specific highlights below)

10 years ago, as a former venture capitalist turned entrepreneur, Mike Peregrina was fueled by his mission to disrupt real estate during the rise of the gig economy. Along with his two co-founders, they launched Homie in March 2016 and 18 months later, it was the #1 broker in the state of Utah.

With Phoenix being a leader in the shared economy, as well as a well-known real estate town, Arizona seemed like the perfect market to pursue next. It was in Homie’s Phoenix office that I got a chance to sit down with Mike to learn more about their fast-growing company that is saving home buyers and sellers time and money as the next Lyft or Bird of real estate. He also shared valuable business lessons for entrepreneurs who are just starting out, raising capital or expanding into new markets.

8 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Homie Co-Founder, Mike Peregrina

1. “Nail it before you scale it”

Scaling a business requires a strong foundation. “You have to nail down the playbook,” Mike said. “You have to go smooth to go fast, and to go smooth you have to go slow.” Going slowly means nailing down that one product which for Homie was the sales side of the business.

2. Hire mission-driven people to ensure a culture that scales

Make sure people are on the same page both at home and at work. “You have to have people who are intellectually curious, who are always learning,” Mike added. He likes to hire people who challenge the status quo and has instilled that in his teams.

3. Establish a Core Values Committee

To help their core values scale as the company grows, Homie has a committee dedicated to it which Mike has always been a part of until this past year. However, even in his absence, he was thrilled to see that the committee established core values that reflect his own. “At Homie we are a culture; we don’t have a culture,” Mike said.

4. Hiring ‘boots on the ground’ is super important

They initially thought they could scale without it, but the numbers don’t lie. Real estate is very localized, and you need to be invested in the community. You won’t win without it so hire people with domain expertise.

5. Raise capital when you need to move fast

Homie needed to move fast to gain market share so they decided to raise capital instead of bootstrapping and have found VC’s real estate expertise helpful. “VC’s are all about pattern-recognition,” Mike said. “They’re partners who help shorten the learning curve which is important when it comes to moving fast and needing market share.”

6. The 4 C’s of Entrepreneurship

Mike has four C’s that are important for any entrepreneur.

  1. Creation story: Why are you important? Where does your origin story come from?
  2. Collaboration: There’s no way to do it alone
  3. Courage: Need more people to challenge the status quo
  4. Cockroach: Don’t die. Have grit and perseverance.

7. Listen to your customers

“You have to obsess over your customer because sometimes your assumptions are wrong,” Mike said. Homie has found that to be successful it’s all about having a solid idea, executing it well and listening to your customers, including employees.

8. Find the right VC through who they’ve backed before

Do due diligence on them. Don’t think about valuation; think about value. “And don’t be afraid to go on LinkedIn and see who can vet them for you,” Mike said. “It’s important to see how they are personally.”

For more about Homie:
Instagram: @tryhomie
Facebook: TryHomie

Show Notes

@1:08 In 2008 Mike lost everything. 10 years ago he woke up feeling it like it was his mission to disrupt the real estate economy.

@2:40 The rise of shared economies

@3:46 What is Homie and how is it different? What separates it from others who have failed in the same space?

@5:31 How to expand into new markets: “Nail it before you scale it”

@7:44 Make sure you nail down that one product, make that your beachhead. For them, it was the sales side.

@8:06 How do you keep that culture as you scale? Hire fast, fire faster. Be thoughtful in your hiring. Make sure people are on the same page both at home and at work. Give agents and ops people lots of freedom. You have to have people who are intellectually curious, who are always learning.

@10:00 “At Homie, we are a culture; we don’t have a culture.” Their core values reflect that

@10:50 Have a “Core Values Committee” to ensure that core values scale

@11:45 How do you keep people caring about more than money? Have to have courage to challenge the status quo Disrupt best practices Find people who are mission-driven

@13:20 How have different regions affected your business? Hiring boots on the ground is super important.

@17:00 When did you decide to invest in real estate/an office here? When the team went from 1 to 5, he decided they all have to be unified. There comes a time when you need to get everyone in one space.

@18:45 When do you raise vs. when do you bootstrap? When you need to move fast like they did to gain market share. VC’s are all about pattern-recognition. They’re partners who help shorten the learning curve which is important when it comes to moving fast and needing market share.

@21:00 Why “Homie” Stick to your core people and you’ll find a tribe, such as theirs who love: 1) saving money 2) building relationships with brand 3) the voice

@25:30 4 C’s of Entrepreneurship Creation story: Why are you important? Where does your origin story come from? Collaboration: There’s no way to do it alone Courage: Need more people to challenge the status quo Cockroach: Don’t die. Have grit and perseverance.

@29:05 Listen to your customer You have to obsess over your customer because sometimes your assumptions are wrong.

@31:50 How did you choose the right capital partner? Do due diligence on them. Don’t think about valuation; think about value. Get to know them through people they’ve backed before. Don’t be afraid to go on LinkedIn and see who can vet them for you. It’s important to see how they are personally.

3 Things Your Commercial Real Estate Broker Wants You to Believe (That Aren’t Necessarily True)

Navigating the world of commercial real estate can be tough. And even brokers with the best of intentions can misguide you in your final real estate decisions. I don’t want to get all Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men on you, but….do you think you can handle the truth?

If you can, here are the top three things your commercial real estate broker wants you to believe…that aren’t necessarily true:

1. “I’m free.”

This one may seem tricky to some. The reason? Because although we (as brokers) may not be an “additional cost,” our commissions are factored into your lease terms/rates no matter what people may tell you. It’s how we make our money. We are in a commission-based industry, plain and simple.

At Keyser, we tell you up front that we have a fee and that it is factored into the lease terms. But this means we fight harder to ensure we negotiate lease terms that are significantly lower or more favorable to the tenant than it would be without a broker (or with a different broker).

The cost is there with or without us; landlords will often tell you that the lease rates will be less without a tenant broker and much higher with us being hired. With Keyser, this is not true.

Tenants can be confident hiring us, knowing we come in and put together a real estate strategy that helps them maximize their “buying power” and create the leverage needed to ensure the most favorable deal terms.

2. “We keep things totally confidential.”

Ever wonder why you begin to get 1000x calls 12-24 months before your lease is set to expire? As in many other industries, brokers gossip and share info (no judgement–those are just the facts).  

Sharing information can mean anything from a tenant’s strategy, to their financial information.  All things that should be kept confidential unless otherwise discussed with the client (many times information does need to be shared but ONLY with the permission of the tenant/client).

Here at Keyser we often sign NDAs with our clients and don’t share transactions with other people. Confidentiality is very important to us. Like I said before, in the world of real estate word travels quickly and information spreads. How else would those cold calls start? *WINK*

3. “We have your best interest (as the tenant) at heart.”

Most brokers represent landlords AND tenants. And representing a landlord is much more lucrative than a one-off tenant. This means they could be less likely to fight hard for you if it means upsetting an owner who is either a current or prospective client.

Here at Keyser we represent the tenant only and we have a common saying that perfectly captures why this is:

Would you have a prosecuting attorney also represent a defendant in the same trial? No. Because there’s no telling whose best interest would be prioritized.

The same goes for real estate, and we always put our clients and their needs first above all else.

If you want to learn more about real estate and choosing the right space, feel free to reach out to me.

Find Noah:

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Noah Barrasso
Twitter: @NoahBarrasso

Hey Noah, What’s With All the Content?

Lately people have been asking me “I keep seeing all this content from you lately…what’s the deal with it all?”

So, I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts behind it all.

Unless you’re directly involved with real estate and like to geek out over it like I do, I think we can all agree that talking real estate (i.e. market vacancies, Cap Rates, renewal options, etc.) is not the sexiest thing. And, like insurance, accounting, or other service industries, it can sometimes come off as something your company doesn’t want to deal with but must.

Plain and simple– real estate is how I get paid. When I help negotiate a lease or purchase of a building on the behalf of my client, the landlord pays a percentage of that consideration to me/us.  And our company, Keyser, prides ourselves at being the best at representing tenants with any and all things related to commercial real estate.

Inside Ideas Collide’s office space in Arcadia

But I know many folks don’t want to consistently hear about the latest market trends or lease rates in the way that I like to (although I’d be happy to dive into that if you’re curious).

So, keeping that in mind, I tried to take myself out of the situation and asked the following questions:

  • What would I want to know about this topic?
  • Who would I want to learn from?
  • And how would I want it presented to me?

The answer: I’d want to know about the companies this person worked with, the people involved, and their stories.

Tour de Tech with Heidi Jannenga, Co-Founder/CEO of WebPT

I’m also a visual person–so hearing from the people themselves and taking a sneak peek into their spaces/lives would keep me interested. This is how Tour de Tech was born.  Instead of filming myself talk about the real estate process and how we helped these clients create badass spaces, I created this series to show how well company’s culture and space can align if the real estate piece is done right.

Martini Shot with Lauren Bailey, Co-Founder/CEO of Upward Projects

Martini Shot was a little different. It sprung from the desire to humanize successful people, so that less seasoned entrepreneurs (or people just starting out in their field) can learn more about what it takes to be successful.  AND, let’s not forget it was also meant to share these folk’s favorite watering holes/cocktails and hopefully share a funny story 😊.  

I showcase a variety of clients and people I just genuinely admire in terms of their talent, drive, and story.

I want to create the kind of content I would want to consume in a field I happen to know very well. Sharing the success of the people I work with in a way that’s more relatable, candid, and transparent is the end goal.

There is a time and place for real estate, but my hope is that even if I can’t guide you professionally just yet, maybe something will resonate with you on a personal level. If I can gain one positive from my content or make one-person smile…I’ll be happy.

Also, I want to show that what I am so fortunate to do can be more fun, because I choose to do it differently.

Find Noah:

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Noah Barrasso
Instagram: @hashtagnoah
Twitter: @NoahBarrasso

S%$T, I Totaled My Car: 4 Lessons Totaling My Car Reminded Me About the Power of Leverage

You know that quote from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd Christmas says, “Statistically they say you’re more likely to get killed on the way to the airport. You know, like in a head on crash or flying off a cliff or getting trapped under a gas truck! That’s the worst!”?

Well, it turns out he was pretty accurate.

In fact, the average person has a crash every 17.9 years. So, maybe I was just due for a little car-related disruption, but a few months back I became part of that stat when I totaled my car.

Now before I go any further, don’t worry. Everyone walked away unharmed except for my car Handsome Rob (named for Jason Statham in The Italian Job). Sigh.

The collision itself may or may not have been my fault, but after my car was hit, and I worked back-and-forth with the insurance company, I was struck (yet again) by the importance of leverage in all areas of life.

It applies to everything, and I go could on-and-on about other areas. But I specifically want to share with you what I was reminded of during/after my accident and how it relates to commercial real estate (i.e. negotiations for your space).

4 Lessons Totaling My Car Reminded Me About the Power of Leverage

  1. Be patient and give yourself enough time. I was lucky and my insurance paid for a rental, giving me time before buying a new car. This reminded me how whether or not you actually have the time, creating the illusion you do can make up a lot of ground in negotiations. Just like you wouldn’t want to be forced into buying a vehicle right after an accident, you don’t want to be forced into a space.
  2. Be proactive. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Instead of giving in and just buying a car immediately when my rental period expired, I got creative and borrowed a car from a friend. This took pressure off me and gave me time (again) to research different brands/dealerships. Part of being patient when it comes to finding a space is to start earlier rather than later in terms of shopping around. (I.e. Don’t wait until you have too many desks and too few offices to make a move.) It’s never too early to start the real estate process.
  3. No matter what, always have options. Because of the time I allowed myself, I vetted multiple brands, years, and even markets to gain options. I was then able to leverage my choices/information with other dealerships to create competition. You create buying power when you have more time to vet options. Cast a large net when you begin your real estate search. Properties, areas, and product types could become more appealing as the process goes on and having multiple options allows you to create competition between different landlords.
  4. Create the flexibility to say no. I walked away from purchasing a car 4-5 times, so I mean it when I say: do-not-act-on-emotion. It makes it almost impossible to bluff. Be level-headed. The ability to walk away may be the most important bit of leverage you can have, so it’s important to put yourself in the position to do so. And it’s not always about the price when it comes to leasing or buying your space—warranty, flexibility, and interests rates all play a role in your decision-making.

I only say these things, because I’ve been there and I know how overwhelming the process can be.

If you’d like to learn more about real estate and choosing the right space, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Find Noah

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Noah Barrasso
Twitter: @NoahBarrasso

Help You, Help Others Pt.2: Keeping Myself in Check

“It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.”
― Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

Once I decided to travel down the path of self-improvement, it was important to find ways to incorporate healthy habits into my daily life. I wanted ways to stay present in the here and now, because as Gary Vee articulates so well, the odds of being a human being are 400 trillion to one.

With this attitude in mind, I was like a magnet for growth, which attracted another influence—a friend of mine who introduced me to the Five Minute Journal. It’s such a small ritual, but it has rewired how I go about my days.

With this journal I am able to mentally prepare and reflect upon my day in two five-minute increments. I start my day with a healthy mindset including goals for that day and I end my day listing what I am grateful for.

Even though it’s only 10 minutes total, it also guarantees some quality “me” time as bookends for my days. And I notice a big difference when that part of my routine is broken.

Something that I make sure to add in these 5 minutes is a specific person that I am grateful for on a given day. I’ve found that naming events or people from my days helps me keep an appreciative attitude that leaks into all parts of my life. When I go about my days being person-focused and also with an emphasis on service, those are my best days.

While on this journey to improve myself, I became so addicted to becoming a better me that a routine was bred, which includes my Five Minute Journal among a few other daily tasks devised to keep myself in check.

Another way I keep myself accountable is meditation. Currently, the focus on meditation and mental health is at an all time high and in this case it’s healthy to follow the trends. I’m a huge fan of “The Honest Guys” on Youtube, but there’s also apps like HeadSpace floating around out there. Like anything else, find what works for you and run with it.

But for me, I can’t stress how important it is for me to make sure my mind is right before I start my day. When I get my head right and put my best foot forward, I find myself switching from “reacting” mode to being more proactive.

This means I am able to act more in a way that is more controlled and serves others. When my head is in a good place, I feel a sense of stability that allows me to serve others completely.

You hear it all the time because it’s true but, practice makes perfect even when it comes to daily habits. And once those habits are created they take maintenance. Am I perfect everyday? No. But I try my best to keep myself on track.

I’ll leave you with some final words paraphrased from Keith Ferrazzi: don’t keep score, but do take stock of what’s important and what’s not. And try to stay present in the here and now. It will shock you how good things follow a balanced attitude.

Do you have any special routines that keep you focused/balanced? Feel free to share the personal-growth wealth!

Make sure you check out the final part of my Help You, Help Others series where I get a little “Inception-y” and explain how we are really just beings made up of thoughts. Intrigued?

Help You, Help Others Series Pt.1: How Focusing on Personal Growth Can Lead to Greater Success

My journey over the past five years to where I am now, personally and professionally, had a few different kickstarts, which led me to different waves of growth. It was gradual and it didn’t happen overnight, but it has truly changed my outlook on life, business, and everything in between.

Now, I want to start out by admitting that I’m not an expert by any means, but my goal is to share some things I’ve learned in regards to “success”… And if one person can gain a little something to better help themselves, then that’s the cherry on top.

Self-Help is Not a Dirty Word

“Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people who could help you make more of yourself.”
― Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

The first wave of my focus on personal growth begins with Jonathan Keyser and his recommendation that I venture into the world of life coaches and self-improvement.

A lot of people are turned off by the word “self-help” because they think it means they are weak or pathetic, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it takes more strength to ask for help than it does to sit back and do nothing.

We all have flaws, yes, but self-help/self-improvement is about making yourself open and willing to adjust–whether it be your mindset, your daily schedule, or your habits.

Jonathan, who has been extremely instrumental for my growth, introduced me to his personal life coach (who I will discuss in more depth in part three of this series) and he also gifted me the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Both of these things have left a lasting impression on how I do business/interact with those around me.

After reading that first book, it ignited this desire to fill my brain with as many books as possible on bettering myself and I strayed drastically from this “going through the motions” mentality that a lot of us find ourselves in.

When I made myself open to these books and this newfound knowledge, I found myself connecting on different levels with people and I felt those conversations shift. I started to attract people who also wanted to grow.

One of my best qualities (if I do say so myself) is that I am extremely coachable. I’m always looking for different ways to grow and expand my mind. So, my advice to anyone will take it is to always be open to everything–people, books, new experiences,–because you never know what could be gained.

What are some books, podcasts, etc. you have found beneficial of late? I’d love to know. And be sure to read part two of my Help You, Help Others series where I detail the ways I hold myself accountable in my day-to-day life.

Grow Your Business Like a Houseplant; Don’t Drown It

What do houseplants, hip hop, and small businesses have in common? Timing.

“Your best work involves timing. If someone wrote the best hip hop song of all time in the Middle Ages, he had bad timing.” ― Scott Adams

By now it’s pretty common knowledge that 9 out of 10 startups will fail. With this ever-present black cloud above each new company’s head, it’s time to have a candid conversation about how real estate plays a role in a company’s success or failure.

This advice comes from years of working with successful and unsuccessful companies—ones of all sizes and in all stages of development.

Here are the first three vital do’s and don’ts to choose and grow your space the right way.

Do trust the process. Don’t assume you’ll be an overnight success.

One big mistake young companies make is to rush to buy or lease a space. But the most important thing is to not be afraid to grow slowly. Every “overnight success” has taken a lot of work—blood, sweat, tears, beers— and time to get to where they are. Trust the process; it’s good to have goals or the “carrot” in front of you for that dream office space but don’t rush it.

Do stay away from busier areas. Don’t be afraid of locations not labeled as a “tech hub.”

Location, location, location. It’s all anyone talks about. But as long as the space accommodates your talent, location shouldn’t be the main focus in the beginning years. Be open to other locales. A large number of new companies follow the trends and flock to popular areas, often labeled “tech hubs.”

Location is important for recruiting and commuting, but it is not as critical in the beginning as focusing on the business at hand. One alternative is industrial parks, as industrial spaces tend to be cheaper. Another option is old retail locations off the beaten path. Remember, these spaces don’t have to be forever—they are just for now.

Hip and trendy blocks are nice in theory, but with an increased demand comes a limited supply, thus raising the cost for rent and putting a large dent in your budget. Let the business side drive the real estate not the other way around.

Do remain humble. Don’t let your competitors get between your ears.

You don’t need to appear as a sexy business at first. Staying lean—and keeping expenses low— especially when you’re just starting out will pay off huge dividends in the future.

Just because Johnny-from-high-school’s company only took “x” amount of months to get into their permanent space, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you and yours.

Remember, it’s a long term game and investing all your money back into your business is much more important than being flashy. Heck…if your parents are letting you use their basement, use their freaking basement.

If you want to learn more about real estate and choosing the right space, feel free to reach out to me.

Be sure to check back for the other three top Do’s and Don’ts.