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Either you run the day or the day runs you.
– Jim Rohn
Considering that Matthew Yeager is less than a week away from the launch of his real estate startup he is very relaxed.
“For me, knowing that I’m going live on Tuesday, this is about as relaxed I think as I’ve ever been with product launches,” he says.
Matthew is the CTO of a new company, the United Kingdom-based Be Street Smart, which went online March 1st. Stress is closely associated with any tech release but in this case Matthew’s calm state is made all the more remarkable given that he and his team had less than two months to get everything ready.
“I joined mid-January, give or take. And in the initial conversations one of the show stoppers was ‘right, and whatever we decide, we want to launch on the first of March.’ I looked at him and said ‘of what year?'”
Feeling The Crunch
It turned out that the founders of the company were dead-set on launching their online real estate agency by the 1st of March, 2016. And it was non-negotiable.
In a world where most startups spend months, even years, getting their product ready, a ramp-up of a month and a half is unheard of. And let’s not forget that that month was February, the shortest of the year.
Quickly Matthew set to work looking for developers. He shopped around the UK but quickly found out that not everyone was onboard with his company’s vision.
“I did research with local agencies, with local folks, and pretty much everybody came back with very similar feedback around the March the first [deadline]: ‘Are you crazy?’ ‘It’s not possible!'” he says.
It didn’t take long before he stumbled upon Gigster. Matthew says he’d heard mention of the company during his research, so it was already on his radar when he listened to company founder Roger Dickey on the This Week in Startups podcast.
“[He was] saying all the things that I believe. About how I think disruption is actually going to happen around rapid prototyping, just prototyping in general, and kind of agile development for major enterprises. So listening to Roger and the Gigster philosophy or ethos, it was kind of like ‘you had me at hello.'”
Solving The Problem
To add to all the issues surrounding the launch, Matthew’s company is seeking to simplify a very complex issue. There are 88,000 property transactions in the United Kingdom every month. But Be Street Smart offers a streamlined approach to buying and selling property in the United Kingdom.
The platform allows homeowners to find buyers and tenants while avoiding the high fees normally accrued through real estate agents. Meanwhile, local “gurus” serve as neighborhood experts and help guide property buyers through the process.
“I kind of looked at that whole industry and said ‘gosh, it’s really ripe for disruption. For sure.’ And really no one that I can see within the UK market space is really getting it right today.”
“We looked at [the current system] and we said ‘how would you change the model of estate agents so that it’s more customer-centric?’ We don’t want to tar-and-feather every estate agent going. It’s like every profession. There are really good ones, there are probably some not-so-good ones, but based on experience people may start to develop an opinion based upon prior experience. So what you do is you say ‘alright, I’m going to redefine what that role does.”
Solving this problem meant having to come up with three separate but integrated applications. And all that fell to the Gigster team.
The Right Kind Of Crazy
Adrian Winn handles East Coast sales for Gigster, and he served as the supervising engineer on Matthew’s project. So what does he think when he’s pitched a project with such a short timeline?
“I think they’re crazy,” he says.
“[And then] I talk to the team and the team says ‘yes, this is possible.’ And then I tell the team that they’re crazy. And everybody agrees with that by the way. So the beauty of Gigster is it incentivizes the best engineers to do more, quicker.”
For Adrian, the success of this particular project is a testament to the system that Gigster has built.
“If you look at a good cab driver and you compare them to a great cab driver in New York City, the good cab driver will get you somewhere in 10 minutes and a great cab driver might get you somewhere in 8 minutes. If you look at a good developer versus a great developer, which is what Gigster has, these developers, these engineers are going to create
a more efficient way of building something. So what Gigster has done in general is we’ve engineered a better system for engineers to work in.”
Matthew agrees with this sentiment. His background is in neuroscience and he sees many parallels between his training in that field and the system that he found at Gigster.
“In my mind’s eye I kept coming back to my background. If you were talking about a patient, a room full of smart people will always make better decisions than one smart person. Which is why in medicine for years and years you would present particularly difficult cases to this body of physicians. You’d have your anesthetists, you’d have your GP, you’d have your specialist. There might be ten different physicians in the same room all coming from different specialities. But let’s be clear, they all went to medical school first and then they specialized afterwards. And in my mind’s eye I kept thinking, ‘yeah, Roger [Dickie] kind of gets that and that’s what Gigster is.'”
Making It Work
Be Street Smart CEO Alex Sullivan
For the developers it wasn’t an easy project, but the thrill of new challenges far outweighed the long hours. The team simultaneously worked on three separate projects for Be Street Smart, before bringing them together to create the final product. According to Adrian, everyone had the right attitude to get the job done.
“The open-mindedness of everybody on the team, including the client, helped us accomplish this. We never said we couldn’t do something, we always said ‘well that looks difficult. How can we solve this?’ And literally everybody–the PM, myself, the engineer, the designer and the customer–all approached every conversation with the same outlook. ‘How can we get this done given the circumstances?'” says Adrian.
Finding Time Where There Is None
You’d expect that a time-crunch like this would put pressure on one’s personal life. Relationships can easily be strained by stressful working conditions. But for a man with a wife and nine-year-old son Matthew’s handling it very well.
Family time is important to him and he believes the modern world actually helps facilitate it. And even with a crazy deadline like this he still manages to spend time with his wife and son.
“Look, we have technologies now that I just didn’t have earlier in my career. You have Slack, you have iPads, you have Trello. You have ways of communicating with one another that people can get the answers they need very, very quickly. If they’re indeed quick and easy answers. You can block out your iteration for more sociable hours so you’re not doing it at 10 or 11 o’clock at night. Does it eat into family time sometimes? Sure, it does sometimes. But nothing like it did earlier in my career. In my world I can still take my son to school every morning which is the best part of my day. I can drop him off, we’ve had that time together, that father-son time, I can then jump on the train and come into London.”
Ultimately, it’s about loving what you do. Happy people make happy partners.
“I wouldn’t want to speak necessarily for my wife, but it’s always fun to be around happy people and my wife loves what she does. She’s a chef and she does a bit of journalism as well, and she absolutely loves what she does which makes her a happy person.”
He feels the same way about his career and his time with Be Street Smart.
“Not only am I loving the experience, I’m doing something that I’m really passionate about, and I’m doing something that I really love to do. So I have to believe that in some way, subconsciously that works in my relationship with my wife and my son where I’m just a happier person to be around.”
Taking The Leap
With the launch date looming it may seem odd that Matthew’s so relaxed. But he’s confident that all the right I’s have been dotted and T’s crossed. That’s thanks to the team he managed to pull together through Gigster.
“The way that we have it chalked up now with Gigster just makes me so happy because instead of launching with my hair on fire and three apps and taking a really big leap of faith, I’m now taking an educated leap of faith based on data which is kind of what you want to do in a startup anyway.”
“We started sprinting 28 days ago. And you know the old Ghostbusters thing, ‘don’t cross the [streams!] Bad things happen!’ Our whole lives we’ve been told not to do that and that’s exactly what we’re going to do 72 hours before launch and I’m kosher. I feel really good about it.”
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