Ep. 67 Tyler Kastelberg
About Tyler Kastelberg, Founder of Bullpen RE
After burning out as an investment banker and tinkering as a sponsor, Tyler founded Bullpen, the workforce behind the commercial real estate industry. He believes that real estate can (and should) be used as a weapon for good and that people are at their best when they are able to work on their terms. Tyler lives in San Francisco with his wife and newborn son. Fun fact - Tyler has a secret obsession with regenerative farming - google it.
Speaker 1 (00:02):
Welcome to The Real Market, with Chris Rising, the only podcast that brings the real estate conference panel to your headphones. You'll hear from superstars from every realm of commercial real estate, the biggest brokers, the most well-known architects, the largest investors and the most visionary developers. You'll learn what they do, how they do it and what drives their success. We'll discuss the latest trends across regional markets, capital flows, both national and global, and we'll explore technology's role in shaping all of it. We'll take a clear-eyed look at where we've been, where we are now and what's to come. Real conversations, real experts, real insights. This is The Real Market.
Chris Rising (00:49):
Welcome to The Real Market with Chris Rising. I'm really excited today. I have Tyler Kastelberg with me. He has made a big difference in my life and it's a topic we're going to talk about today. He is the CEO and founder of Bullpen. For those who don't know, Bullpen is really the only company I know out there specializing in identifying people who can work from anywhere at a high level, like analyst, senior analyst, CFO, that kind of thing, all focused on real estate. I think this is where the world's headed, whether we like it or not, those of who own office. Sometimes you get a little nervous about it, but Tyler, welcome to The Real Market.
Tyler Kastelberg (01:29):
Hey. Thanks so much, Chris.
Chris Rising (01:30):
I don't know if I did justice to exactly what Bullpen is, so as we kick off here, why don't you tell the audience what Bullpen is as a company and the services you provide?
Tyler Kastelberg (01:43):
Yeah, yeah. Sure. Our business is a place in which hiring people on a fractional basis on your team is super easy. This isn't a super new idea. If you look over the past 20 years, platforms like Upwork or platforms like Toptal, they've come out and had offerings in which you can hire people on a freelance basis. However, as I was launching our business, I actually... I'll go sort of backwards. I started as an investor. I was investing in properties and I'd pass around offering memos and I'd get a whole lot of questions around, "How'd you do your offering package? I need some help with underwriting. Can you kind of hop in on this project?"
Tyler Kastelberg (02:34):
It kind of hit me around three years ago. There was a lot of interest in hiring people on a fractional basis. How I started is as a more consulting practice. I went out, hired a few analysts on my team and I realized that I was almost holding us up as a consulting practice because I was checking over all the work, interacting with the customers. I went sort of backwards. I introduced the high quality people on our team, employers in the real estate industry, it was a really interesting business model. Over time, it evolved in which it had been a pure software play. I can talk about that and all our kind of learning lessons if you want. Then, it was pivoting over time into this curated platform in which you can easily hire people on your [inaudible 00:03:38]
Chris Rising (03:37):
Well, there's a lot of things you said here that are interesting that I want to kind of peel back. The first one that I think is most interesting, though, is the reason I found you and found Bullpen was I went on Twitter to the #RETwit community and say, "Hey, I'm really considering a work from anywhere analyst. What are the suggestions?" I got back Upwork and I got a few others, but then a few people were very prominent and added you @BullpenRE and said, "You got to talk to Tyler." Then, I just DMed you and you responded back, we started talking. I want everyone to know we've hired somebody through your service, through Bullpen, and we're really excited about this person, a fully qualified, been in the business 15 years, can underwrite assets, underwrite leases and it makes me a little concerned, because that person is a work from anywhere, but after we went through the process and the interview process and willingness to travel if need be, maybe come to a company event, those kind of things, we kind of broke through it. All of this happened because of Twitter and technology. Anybody who thinks that the answer is you pick up the phone and call Hedrick and Struggles or any of the other recruiting firms out there, I'm saying I see a really different world. I don't know. Just on that take it's pretty interesting, don't you think?
Tyler Kastelberg (05:00):
It's super interesting. I think how we hire is evolving over time. Hiring is hard. I posted a job, I was talking about this over I think on LinkedIn recently, in which I posted a job on a salesperson on our team. I posted it on LinkedIn, I posted it on our platform and I posted it on Indeed. On Indeed, I had over 60 applicants in under like two hours and they were all over the place on their qualifications, understanding of real estate. On LinkedIn I posted it. It was interesting. I had around 30 applicants in the first 24 hours, and then I didn't have any applicants at all. I thought it was interesting how that kind of works in their backend. I would be curious. I was looking at the applicants and there wasn't any real estate experience. All of them had hiring experience, a little high level sales experience, but it wasn't anything our team was looking for. On our platform, I posted it and in 48 hours had 10 highly qualified applicants, interviewed three people, extended an offer and ended up hiring.
Tyler Kastelberg (06:26):
I think what's interesting about that is how we hire... in the past, I've been on places like LinkedIn, had been on these large houses of job boards. However, the amount of processing of applicants is a huge, huge headache. There are businesses like ours who are popping up and are taking all that kind of a headache and effectively packaging it in a product and offering it. It's been working, which is cool.
Chris Rising (07:15):
Let me ask you this. One of the things that we had to overcome was normally, this position would have been a person about, just out of college, would had a master's or had some focus in finance. Didn't have to be an MBA, but it could have been an MBA. Probably the age of 22, 23 to 25. We would have paid them as a full-time employee plus the load. My thinking would always have been, "Okay, we're grooming this person and they're going to learn our culture and they're going to grow with us." But a couple of things that we've seen recently is every time we've done that, if we didn't have a position that was a next step up available, that person left. Hard to believe, but they left.
Chris Rising (08:04):
The other was you're in constant battles over what the bonus should be and what this should be. When we first started, when you and I first started talking and you started to get me to think about things about hours worked, "What exactly do you need in terms of hours worked?" It was hard to pull of the, "Well, I expect them here at 8:00 and stay til 8:00," and that meant that person was driving an hour and then they took a lunch. If I asked my younger people who we still have on the team, who we will hopefully keep and they'll grow the company, they also look at it in that context, but that's not the same thing as hours worked, you know?
Tyler Kastelberg (08:43):
Chris Rising (08:43):
When you really drill down and say, "Hey, look. I need four hours of your time to go through this Argus, run through it, a bunch of different models, a bunch of different variations," that four hours is a real four hours of work, which they will get paid for. It's not an eight hour day of which four of it was work. It opens up a whole lot of social issues and all that, but at the end of the day, I've got some people that I really trust who really work hard, who needed support. We really didn't need a full-time person. Instead, we're getting someone with 15 years experience who will give us a focused 40 or 80 hours a month or whatever it is we decide on, and I was just amazed. It's a long-winded speech I just gave you of, do you have to educate people on what you do, as opposed to your average recruiter who will say, "Well, I got a list of 20 people and you should hire them, full load, health 401(k)"?
Tyler Kastelberg (09:43):
Chris Rising (09:43):
How do you educate your users?
Tyler Kastelberg (09:46):
Yeah, so there's a few things there I'll jump into, and I'll probably... it'll open up other questions, but I think a big hurdle in our business a year and a half ago had been on education, around you don't have to hire a person in your office. It is okay to hire a person who is highly qualified and is in a place like Phoenix, Arizona, in place of LA or San Francisco. I think to a whole lot of employers, that was a real hard hurdle until April of last year and everything in our country just sort of shut down with COVID. As that happened and all these employers had to figure out in a matter of days, how do we have our team, who is in-office, has all the security badges and all these various things, how do we do this if everyone is at home? If you are hiring a person who is in LA but isn't in your office, it isn't a much larger overall leap to be hiring a person in Houston, Texas, or a person in Omaha, Nebraska, who is highly qualified and isn't in your home office. I think that the whole education component, it had been a hurdle, but as we go, it isn't as huge of a hurdle.
Tyler Kastelberg (11:39):
The other thing that is interesting, is I have these conversations with people and they say, "Hey, I'm interested in having a headquarters and an actual team in our office." I think it's an awesome idea. I don't think that our business is at all a trade of having an actual core team. I think in our business, as you know, Chris, over time, there's a whole bunch of actual overall variability in your projects. We have seasons in which you have 20 deals and you're looking at them and you're trying to figure out if you want to purchase them, and then over the holidays or something, it might end up dying out. In your heavy times, avoiding burnout is hugely important. Hiring people who are highly qualified, have experience and are able to hop in on your team on a fractional basis like that is a huge asset.
Chris Rising (12:54):
If I could stop you real quick, because I think those of us who have been around long enough and read Tim Ferriss's The 4-Hour Workweek quickly fell in love with that, and I was one of them. I tried [inaudible 00:13:06] and some of these others to do per-project things and it just never worked. The learning curve was too different. There wasn't the specialization in real estate or an understanding of real estate, so I kind of forgot about it for awhile. Obviously with COVID and the pandemic, we started focusing on this again, but one of the main reasons was not so much that, I don't want to say that we were leading the way, we weren't, it was that we were getting resumes from people who were insisting that they were only going to work either always remotely or just one or two days a week, and that led me to go do this, to go find you. I think what was amazing to us was the quality of the people on your platform.
Tyler Kastelberg (13:51):
Chris Rising (13:52):
I just have to ask you, did we just get lucky that you kept one person to the side and said, "Hey, someone that I want to make sure gets a good one, I'm going to make sure Chris gets it," or how deep is your bench of people who can give 20 hours a week to a company or something like that?
Tyler Kastelberg (14:08):
That's an awesome question. There's around 2,000 individuals on the platform right now. I sort of break them up half and half. I have half the people have full-time jobs and are just kind of working on projects on the weekends. As you were launching and it was only you and your partner, if you had a project and could hire a person who had worked at a place like Heinz or is actually full-time at a place like Heinz, has experience on all your project types in your actual areas and you could hire them on a project only, that's a huge, huge asset for you, over underwriting and Excel on your own and trying to figure out how the formulas work or hiring a person on a full-time basis on your team who underpaid, isn't as qualified. Having that high-quality talent on that project basis is huge.
Tyler Kastelberg (15:20):
As you get a bit larger, have larger teams and are interested in having dedicated people, our other half of the platform is opened up. It's individuals like Angela, who had a full-time job and has all this experience and is interested in being an entrepreneur on her own and is saying, "Hey, I want to have control over how I use my time. I'm not interested in a commute. However, I have all these abilities and all these talents." To hire a person like that, who isn't employed elsewhere, is on your team, has your email address, is on your homepage if you want them to be and they're able to say, "I'll invest 20 hours in your business on an ongoing basis," that's a huge asset as well.
Tyler Kastelberg (16:35):
I'd say half and half of your platform, answering your question, around half of them have full-time jobs and are working on projects. Half of them are doing entrepreneurs on a full-time basis, and then, in those, you have this bell of experiences. I'd say around 20% of the people on our platform are more early career and have experience in the real estate industry under two years, and are interested in helping out in those more entry-level roles. I'd say around 80% of our talent is in that mid-level of in between anywhere from 5 years to 15 years of experience in operational roles. Then, our upper 10% are old CEOs of businesses, old heads of things and are able to come in and almost audit your whole acquisitions business and say, "Hey, I was working over Brookfield and here's how we had things set up. Here's how I'd change it if I were you." It's this huge, huge range, but in our inner core are people in between 5 years up to 15 years of experience.
Chris Rising (18:20):
What I find so interesting about it, and I want to make sure the audience understands, is our expectation and our agreement is that Angela's going to be on our weekly call. Wednesdays, the asset management team gets together. She'll be on that. We have a quarterly meeting event or even just a party, we're going to invite her out and have her be a part. It's really a part of the team. It's just like our person in our Phoenix office basically. I think that's what's so remarkably different about what you're providing from Upwork. Nothing wrong on Upwork's applying platform, but that's really like, "Hey, I have this project. I want you to do a study because I want to build a building somewhere and I need you." That's really what I've found Upwork has done well, and I know you do that as well, but you're the only one I've seen in the real estate industry, is that you are offering to people the opportunity that we are seeing a lot more of, "Hey, I just don't want to go into an office and I have a lot of talent and I'm willing to be on a team." From our perspective, you think about the cost savings of not having the overhead, and it's significant.
Tyler Kastelberg (19:27):
Oh, it's huge. It's interesting, too, you have these range of employees. How do you end up solving issues in your business? You have full-time people on your team, and those people, highly committed. They are in-house. They are in your face every day and that is awesome. Over the past, I don't know, I was about to say over the past hundred years, but I don't know if it's a hundred years or not, your only other option had been agencies in which you were outsourcing all your work. There isn't a lot of connection to who was actually doing it, and that's a thing I think Upwork is awesome for. It isn't outstanding if you need team members. It's outstanding if you have a project and you want it to be outsourced.
Tyler Kastelberg (20:32):
Our platform is kind of a hybrid, in which our employers who hire actual team members on our platform are the actual happiest as people who see these people as actual assets on their team and not only an agency in which I can outsource a project to you here and there. It's a person I work with on a consistent basis over time. Our highest earning people on our platform, they have had clients over two years and have earned almost half a million dollars on those contracts. I think it's just interesting, the change of approach around hiring these days and how we are playing into that.
Chris Rising (21:33):
Well, let me ask you a few questions I asked you, because I think our audience will be interested. What do I do about my nondisclosure agreements or what do I do about my licenses and all? Do I control this information? Do I own that information? Do I send somebody a computer? Do I just send them an Argus license? How do I deal with someone who's not an official employee, is a consultant, but still maintain all those confidentiality agreements I have and those kind of things?
Tyler Kastelberg (22:11):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely. I think there's a whole bunch of items in there. I would just say as an overall answer, it depends. However, I'll then kind of jump into details here, is that on tech licenses, on NDAs, on any kind of hardware, I'd be treating all these hires as employees. If you have an employee have to sign NDAs, I would have our people also do that. If you offer employees Argus licenses, I would be offering Argus licenses on the people who have been hired off our platform. Our big value, as you did highlight, is that [inaudible 00:23:14] back office headache around processing all the payroll and all your tax stuff and all that sort of mess over time. As you asked on the computers, it's up to you guys, really. I had an employer out of LA actually, who just hired someone on a full-time contract over six months. They're publicly traded and there's a bunch of security issues in their actual property types. Having an actual computer that has been blessed off their company, it was important. In this case, it was a company who offered a computer and it was accepted and it was fine, but on over 90% of our placements, all the hardware, any computers, any assets are on the freelancer to bring, and any NDAs or any kind of software licenses is on the employer to offer [inaudible 00:24:39]
Chris Rising (24:40):
It's an amazing thing about the cloud, right? When Argus was on a dedicated computer and that's all it was, the stuff didn't work. Now that you can do it on an enterprise basis and you can do it in the cloud, this kind of remote work, that's... One of the things I often talk about to people is if your mindset is, "This is what it was like when I started working, so therefore that's what it must be like today," you might as well leave everything at the office and come into work every day on a Saturday or whatever. The cloud has radically changed that and solves a lot of these security issues that you kind of think about, but you realize, "Wow, no, the cloud solves that already."
Tyler Kastelberg (25:17):
Chris Rising (25:17):
That was a big learning curve. I think the biggest learning curve for us has been trying to define exactly how many hours someone really is doing work and to pull the ego out of it. We've all been there when we were young, "Yeah, I worked 18-hour day," and then you kind of go through it and you realize, well, with my hard work and my focus work, it was more like six.
Tyler Kastelberg (25:38):
Chris Rising (25:39):
I had some great camaraderie, we had a great lunch, we had a nice dinner, but those aren't really work hours. How do you advise people on that? How do you get them to start thinking about how many hours you really need?
Tyler Kastelberg (25:51):
You know, it's interesting. I had done a study early on, this was years ago and so it's old and I'm not sure if it's at all changed, but I had done a study on employers and employees and the average productive hours on a weekly basis. It was under 20 hours are actually productive on a weekly basis. I thought that was super interesting. The huge, huge value of having a person in-office though, or even a full-time basis if it isn't in an office, is an ability to say, "Hey, I have a project. It just sort of came up and I need help." To hire a person on a fractional basis over on a full-time basis, even on a contract, the risk is that you end up losing out on that flexibility to say, "Hey, I had a project at my desk. I need an offer in in the next four days, and so I need underwriting today." On a turnaround, that's hard and as we see our customers who start on 20 hours a week on the contract, our customers who end up hiring this person on a full-time basis are super interested in that ability to have that turnaround that isn't always possible if it's purely fractional. You asked me a question and I totally lost it. I don't know-
Chris Rising (27:40):
No, no. You were right on it. Right on it. We have a little bit of feedback here, but hopefully we can get through it, but let me ask you this. Is Bullpen a tech company?
Tyler Kastelberg (27:51):
Great question. Oh man, I could go on this for a long time. It is a tech-enabled service company. I had an interest in actually trying to raise money on this. This is a little personal over the past three to four months. Around four months ago, I was hating my life as an entrepreneur. I was burnt out. I was doing a bunch of fundraising pushes and I was churned all the time. I was kind of realizing... I have a community group here that has a few older men in it and I was opening up and saying, "Guys, I'm burnt out as an entrepreneur. It's only me on top. I have a team, however I'm carrying all the pain of is this thing working or not?" I was then told, "You know what, Tyler?" I think after hearing you, you're sort of playing this comparison game." In a place like San Francisco, in which you have all these high tech companies, all these VC rounds that are huge, I had fallen in that trap of comparing our business and our operation into all these software operations like Facebook and places like Apple, and sort of recognizing that if you're always comparing yourself to other businesses, it ends up robbing all your joy.
Tyler Kastelberg (29:57):
As you ask, "Am I tech? Is this tech?" My answer's twofold. Our software, how we onboard our customers, it is tech-enabled. I built out our whole platform over time on our own effectively, I was our chief engineer. How we're able to place an individual in a job under 48 hours is a function of our software. It is a really huge, huge aspect of our business. Are we purely software in which there isn't any human interaction and you can hop on and do everything on your own? I don't anticipate our business ever pivoting into that. As I mentioned, I had tried that around two years ago and it was just an absolute train wreck. There ended up being a whole lot of bidding on our platform and ended up pushing the highest of quality people who had higher prices out of opportunities. It ended up creating this overall quality issue on a platform. We ended up killing that earlier this year and have had this hybrid of our sales team and then our backend software. In our past four to five months, it has just taken off on us, which has been hugely fun. That's our story.
Chris Rising (31:57):
Why don't you go a little bit into your background? Because I think the assumption may be that you majored in computer science at Stanford and you've been in the VC community and all that because so much of your company does feel like a tech company, but that's not the case. Why don't you tell everybody what your background is and then how you moved into something that, whether it's a full-on tech company or not, is very tech-reliant, very tech-enabled?
Tyler Kastelberg (32:22):
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I started as an engineering major. I had done my industrial engineering degree on the East Coast, and I was interested in a job on Wall Street. I was applying at a whole bunch of iBanks and that kind of stuff, and I trip over words. I have an impediment. If I get super anxious in these interviews, it'd be hard even introducing myself. I had been chasing after money all this time and I was applying for jobs on Wall Street after college. I didn't get any offers. Ended up at GE and I did that for a few years. Then, after that, I had interest in IB still, ended up in SF at National Bank on the West Coast and had been in that for two years. I kind of told myself, I was raised sort of poor, and in that time, I told myself if I was earning at least X, I'd be happy. Ended up earning that in this banking role and was just miserable.
Tyler Kastelberg (33:56):
I started investing in real estate in undergrad, just a little townhouse. I was living there, I had some roommates. I got hooked on it as an industry. I told myself, "You know what? I'm pretty sure I could raise a few dollars out of people on the West Coast interested in properties on the East Coast," and help with that hurdle. After leaving IB, I went into a more acquisitions role and I really only did that for about a year, and as I had alluded to earlier, had a whole lot of interest in our offering packages, our underwriting. There wasn't a lot of interest in the properties I was offering, and that's how we ended up pivoting into a more services business. I ended up teaching myself how to code in this. That's how we ended up building our platform and our actual software component.
Tyler Kastelberg (35:04):
I got hooked on the whole tech industry as I've been on the West Coast in a place like San Francisco in which as you walk around, you see robots on the sidewalks and you have all these vehicles on the road who are autonomous and all that kind of stuff. I got hooked on how do we turn this into an actual tech company? That's how we got on the journey of our software solution and that's how we landed on this hybrid of our software backend and in our more services front end.
Chris Rising (36:03):
It's a great story. Thank you for giving everyone the background. I can see why it's inspiring being up there in San Francisco, having spent a lot of my life up there, as well. I will tell you, I went to my first Amazon Go store up there in the financial district. I'm still convinced someone's going to come and arrest me for shoplifting, but it was a great experience. Said it was a healthy 711 and I didn't have to take my wallet out to pay for anything, but I did get charged.
Tyler Kastelberg (36:30):
It is interesting, the trials up here. I was walking over in FiDi pretty recently, and there was a, it was a truck that had coffee and a bunch of bagels in it, and it was all a whole bunch of robots. They were doing everything and hearing orders, and then processing it. It was really fascinating.
Chris Rising (37:02):
That's cool. That's cool. When you look at the last few months that you went through and now you're in a good place, how do you balance things? You're a young father, right?
Tyler Kastelberg (37:14):
Chris Rising (37:16):
So it's a little different perspective on life. You've got all the stresses that any founder and CEO has. What is it that you're incorporating in your life to balance things?
Tyler Kastelberg (37:28):
Oh, good question. I'm not sure I'm super awesome at it. I think a really huge help is all those VC pitches I did ended up falling apart, so I don't have the pressure of VCs on me. I know a lot of entrepreneurs, especially after doing fundraising, they have to end up hitting the gas or everything falls apart on them. Our business is in an awesome place in that it is a profitable business as it is, and so having fundraising and that stuff isn't anything that is adding pressure on us, on our team.
Tyler Kastelberg (38:15):
The other thing that I try and do on a consistent basis, and I've gotten okay at it, is I try to halt all my daily projects around 4:00 and have family time in between 4:00 and around 8:00. Then, anything else, if it's urgent, I end up hopping on after that and just handling it, however, to have family time like that has been huge. I think having Harrison, who is now almost eight months, he... having an actual child, it changes how you think about life. I wasn't a really huge kid person. I wasn't ever interested in really having kids. It was always a thing that I told myself it would end up happening in five years. I was always kicking it up the road, and then it ends up happening and you're like, "Holy smokes. This is incredible and it's hard and it's humbling," and everything's sort of pulling you.
Tyler Kastelberg (39:30):
I think just having a lot of patience and also understanding if you can build an actual team and it ends up taking the pressure off of you as an entrepreneur, I think that that's the holy grail of-
Chris Rising (39:47):
Well, how do you interact with your team? Microsoft Teams has become a platform for a lot of people, Google Workspace, though, it doesn't have the functionality quite that Teams does. We're a huge user of Asana. We've written interactive PDFs for our company on how we use Asana and the things and the expectations.
Tyler Kastelberg (40:11):
Chris Rising (40:11):
But how do you manage? I can't imagine that you run your business off an email, doing email back and forth. You must have some sort of system in place. What do you all do?
Tyler Kastelberg (40:23):
Yeah. Everything's kind of software-based. As I mentioned, I don't know if I mentioned this earlier in our chat or in a prior call, our team is all over the country. I have people in LA, I have people in the Midwest and I have people out on the East Coast. To have everyone in-office isn't all possible for us. I use Asana on our team on our project management on our high-level projects around business building. A whole lot of our daily overall management of our customers is in HubSpot. That's our CRM of choice.
Chris Rising (41:15):
That's ours, too.
Tyler Kastelberg (41:16):
It is? Okay, yeah. That's interesting. I ended up on their entrepreneur plan or something, in which it's cheaper for the first year and then it's more expensive in year two, and then it's hugely expensive in year three. I'm on the first year tier and trying to figure out how it looks in our future years, but in between HubSpot and our custom software, in which it's managing our actual contracts with our customers and all the freelancers in the pool and us posting jobs and posting interviews and that kind of stuff, everything's virtual. So yeah, it's how your business works, effectively. Everyone's in these pools and sort of bringing it all together.
Chris Rising (42:08):
Well, let's talk a little bit about your product. I had the experience and the person who runs the [inaudible 00:42:19] for us had the experience of signing up because we were seeking talent. I think that was a very seamless process, it was done very easy, but I think it would be really interesting to the audiences, let's just say someone's in the business for 30 years... not 30 years. They're 30 years old and they've been in the business for quite awhile. They've got real skillset around things. Let's start with, what can someone who has gone from maybe a full-time associate level analyst job, either acquisitions or asset management, what amount of money can they expect? We're just making the assumption they're qualified.
Tyler Kastelberg (42:54):
Chris Rising (42:55):
It would be not a per-project, but more full-time. What can somebody make and how do they get themselves signed up into the system and brand themselves a little bit to be sought after?
Tyler Kastelberg (43:06):
That's outstanding. Our platform has a really easy onboarding process. As you experience on the employer side, we have it on the freelancer side. It asks a few high level questions about other past experience in the various sectors, and sort of project talents. Are they pros in underwriting or on lease analysis and all those various things? There's over 50 of them. Then, we ask them to input an actual LinkedIn profile, which then helps us verify all their talents and past experience and then input their pricing. There's almost two ways of interacting with us. You have active people on our platform who, as we post opportunities are applying and saying, "Hey, I'm super interested. I'm highly qualified. Here's how I am," or our actual postings have actual custom questions and then also are asking, have a bunch of work samples, too.
Tyler Kastelberg (44:24):
If you answer all the questions and if it's an underwriting project, if you have any sort of sample underwriting, adding that is a real huge, huge help in being hired. More kind of a passive side, our platform now has around 2,000 people on it who have actual profiles, however, they aren't actually applying for jobs on a real active basis. I think how that plays out is if an employer like you is like, "Hey, I have a project in a place like Omaha and I don't have any talent in Omaha. I have a real high-level understanding of how the market works, however, it would be awesome if you had a high quality expert who is in a place like Omaha who has experience in that local market." Having all these profiles on our platform, it allows us to say, "Okay, I need a person in Omaha who knows underwriting of offices and has at least five years of experience," and then it ends up populating options for us. Then, I can reach out and say, "Hey, Allison, I have an employer who is super interested in a person in Omaha who has awesome experience." Are you interested in a phone call on this opportunity? I think having our more active and then our more passive users is a really awesome asset for us.
Chris Rising (46:28):
I agree with [inaudible 00:46:30] the things you said. I think one of the things I found interesting is I had a conversation with my YPO forum, and what I found interesting were the questions that my colleague and my friends were asking me, because it was almost as though they couldn't believe that this is real. Things like, "Well, what happens if you get bad work product?" I said, "Well, we would work with that person, just like we would if the person was sitting at a desk right next to us."
Tyler Kastelberg (46:55):
Chris Rising (46:55):
And say, "This is unacceptable, if you're going to continue this, we won't hire." I got another one like, "Well, how do you know that person's great?" Well, we interviewed them just like we would anywhere else. "Well, what if the expectations are different?" Well, we have, we call it an accountability chart of what the roles is. There's something, it could be just generational. Maybe there's not a whole lot of 28-year-olds saying that this is an issue, but there's a whole lot of 50-year-olds who were like, "It just seems so different," but when you really break down the process, it was the same hiring process. I think we even had Angela take... we do these caliper tests and these things, just like if she was sitting right here. We've talked about it, we've finalized things like, "Okay, if she flies out and comes to an in-person meeting," what that costs, but that's just an agreement. I was really amazed how similar it was to just hiring a young analyst that would sit in the office every day, and I expect we probably would have all the same things. A work product doesn't get done, you terminate that person the same way you terminate someone in-house.
Tyler Kastelberg (47:58):
Yeah, and I think the huge advantage here is around almost trying out employees over hiring them over a full-time basis. On a person like Angela, how often are you able to say, "Hey, I'm going to hire this person on this project or over the next three months on a contract that is 80 hours a month or is 40 hours a month and I'm going to try them out. Then, if everything clicks, I'll then offer them a proper full-time job in our business and I'll pull them off platform"? I think it's very hard to, on any hiring agency or any other interview process, there isn't any kind of tryout. It's like, "Hey, I have this resume and I've had a few conversations with this person and I trust them with this huge project I'm working on or this huge hire in our business." I think an ability to actually try out a person and then offer them a job on a full-time basis or say, "You know what? I've enjoyed this. It isn't an awesome fit culturally or your talents aren't exactly there," and then try someone else, that's huge, right?
Chris Rising (49:29):
Yeah. What I found very comfortable in the process was you clearly have a real estate background. The people that you have on the platform clearly have a real estate background. I think that's the difference between hiring on LinkedIn or Indeed or some of these others, is that they're not specialists. I had great faith, because we kicked the tires and went through it. AI will do a lot, there's a lot of things we could do, but at the end of the day, if you as the founder don't understand what I as a founder of a real estate operating company needs, it wouldn't work, but you do. I'm really excited about this going forward.
Chris Rising (50:11):
I do have my concerns that, "Wow, what does this to do to the 22, 23-year-old?" Is this the new economy where they won't get that in-house apprenticeship job and all that? Because the difference in price and the difference in how we work is so acute that this seems like a much better option. Maybe we'll change our mind down the road, but I don't see any economic incentive to building up a big real bullpen of analysts that sit here that I pay for. I'd rather go to Bullpen and say, "I need 20 hours on this project," or, "I need someone for 40 hours a month, and if we need a little bit more, we'll pay a little bit extra." I just think that's the future and I think you're riding that horse. I congratulate you that you're out front.
Tyler Kastelberg (50:55):
Oh, thanks so much. It's interesting. On your earlier point about us honing on the real estate industry, I had a VC I was talking to early on and I was pitching him. He said, "Okay, Tyler. I have an idea. I think real estate is an awesome business, but there's huge industries, too. If you start in real estate and then you can branch into all these other industries, it could be this huge business." I told him I think the true magic of our business is it's all real estate. If you do anything else, it ends up killing our magic. Our approach with this business, our intentionality, our real long vision is being in the real estate industry. I think it is what ends up raising us over your other options like Upwork or other hiring options.
Chris Rising (51:53):
Wow, that's... sorry. A little audio problem, but hey, this has been such a fantastic conversation. I'm looking forward to coming back maybe in a year and just say, "Hey, this is how our experience unfolded," and to see your growth, but before I do that, a lot of times people will put things in the bio questions and all, but I just got to ask, what is regenerative agriculture or farming? I don't get many people who throw that in as an interest, and I just have to know. I got to get smarter.
Tyler Kastelberg (52:25):
Have you ever heard that term before?
Chris Rising (52:28):
Not really. Not around agriculture or farming. I thought by nature it was regenerative, but this is a little different.
Tyler Kastelberg (52:34):
I'm not a farmer. I'll say this. Audience, I am not a farmer. I don't have any background in it, anything, so if I say anything and you're like, "This guy's an idiot on farming," that is okay. There's a huge problem on our planet, and that is the amount of actual carbon in our atmosphere. Everyone's aware of it, everyone talks about it, and there's a whole bunch of actual conversations about it. However, farming is a way of capturing it, putting it in the soil, but how we're farming at the moment, in which there's these huge, huge, huge acreages of only things like corn, only things like soybeans, only things like wheat, it ends up hurting our topsoil.
Tyler Kastelberg (53:44):
The idea is a more optimal way of actual farming is in this hybrid approach of having a whole bunch of actual plants. It isn't only corn or it isn't only soybeans, and then adding in animals, so adding in cows and everything on your farm. There's been a few eye level research projects on it, in that it increases the overall profitability of the farming operations on average like 70% as you are integrating other crops, other plants and that kind of stuff. I am not a pro at anything involving farming, I just think it is a real innovative approach on this old practice in which I think it'll have this really awesome impact on our planet in the future.
Chris Rising (55:04):
Well, it's interesting, because I would say that Bullpen is a really cool approach to something that's been around a long time, which is placing people in jobs. There's a little synergy there between those two concepts. Tyler, this is a really interesting conversation. I encourage people to reach out to you and to your company. I definitely think this is going to be one of those arrows in the quiver, as my former mentor used to say. You got to have a lot of arrows in that quiver, and I think having people who don't necessarily come into work 40 hours a week, but actually are part of that team in a very integrative way, and I think your company's really out on the edge, so Tyler, thanks for being on The Real Market. I really appreciate it.
Tyler Kastelberg (55:47):
Thanks so much. This was awesome, Chris.
Chris Rising (55:48):
Speaker 1 (55:51):
Please don't forget to follow us. We'd really appreciate it if you'd subscribe to the podcast. You can do that on Apple iTunes or any of the other podcasting services. It's The Real Market with Chris Rising. Follow us on Twitter @chrisrising or @risingrp, and please follow our blog, chrisrising.com or risingrp.com. Thanks so much.
Speaker 4 (56:15):
This episode of The Real Market is brought to you by Rising Investor Platform. The platform provides accredited investors with exclusive real estate investment opportunities on a deal-by-deal basis across various asset classes, including office, industrial, hospitality, multifamily and data. The platform also provides an inside look at deals in our pipeline while giving investors the chance to indicate interest before it's too late. We recently funded our acquisition of 9320 Telstar, a mixed use office industrial property in El Monte, California, using our investor platform. To learn more about how accredited investors can join the Rising Investor Platform, please visit risinginvestorplatform.com.