Wei Gan has brought together hundreds of millions of dollars in both equity and credit facilities to scale his startup in an incredibly fast-growing market. The venture, Ribbon Home has raised funding from top-tier investors like Thomvest Ventures, NFX, Guy Gal, and Nyca Partners.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Strategizing your capital stack
- When to get serious about company culture
- Wei Gan’s top advice for startup entrepreneurs
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For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Wei Gan:
Wei Gan is the cofounder and CTO of Ribbon. After studying at Duke University, Wei Gan worked at successful companies like Box or Twitter before founding Ribbon.
At Ribbon, Wei Gan and his team are leveling the playing field for buyers, sellers and realtors, and deliver experiences worthy of the magnitude of the transaction itself.
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Read the Full Transcript of the Interview Here:
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Alejandro: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So I think that we’re gonna be enjoying very much our guest today you know the story is really phenomenal and and I think that when it comes to building scaling in a very short period of time raisingcing money. Different ways of raisingcing money too, especially for the business that we’re gonna be talking about I think that you are all going to find this mindblowing. So I guess without fartherdo. Let’s welcome our guests today weigan welcome to the show.
Wei Gan: Thank you Ajandro meant mention this to you but I I’ve I’ve listened to quite a few episodes of your show. So when you reached out you know it’s ah it’s a treat to beyond myself.
Alejandro: Well I gotta tell you it’s an honor to have you. So so let’s let’s do a little bit of a walkthrough memory lane here away. So so you are originally born and raised in in Singapore and you did travel quite a little bit too. You know you also lived in New Jersey for for a while before you return back. So give us a walkthrough memory lane during your childhood and and how that was.
Wei Gan: Yeah, absolutely so I grew I grew up was born and raised in Singapore and for for those who audiences not familiar with Singapore is literally on the other side of the planet 12 hour a time difference right? right? Now. It’s you know four 30 here. It’s like four 30 in Singapore 2 would just flip the pm and a m and it’s about a 19 hour direct flight from New York as well right and and so I grew up and was born and raised ah in Singapore um, and you know 1 thing about about Singapore I will say um and that was really that I only appreciated later in life. Um, so Singapore has a 88% homeownership rate right. And the us the home ownership raise about 65% right? So of all the the families and and households right? How many of them actually own the home that they live in. Um and I think this you know it’s the kind of thing you take for granted as a kid growing up but then you know later later in in life. You realize like how much that did for for me and for the country. Um, and and I bring this up you know because the mission of ribbon is to make home ownership achievable right? And so like all the little pieces kind of come together to make that meaningful for me for my co-founder and for that mission to resonate with us that we want to spend our lives doing this specific business. Um, and so what that did though for Singapore is that. Singapore has basically got our independence in one sixty five right after World War ii after the british colony um, and we essentially kind of kicked out Malaysia and we’re this tiny island you can drive across Singapore in literally an hour um without speeding right? You can drive across Singapore in an hour on the longer side of the island right? So as tiny island. Um, at that point about 3000000 people now about 6000000 people and what Singapore did with this homeownership rate was that everyone owned a piece of the pie as Singapore went from developing southeast asian port to right now its third highest gp per cap in the world right? And for context in us is about 10 so one of the wealthiest nations in the world on a per capita basis. Um, and that wealth spread because of that really high nearly 90% own homeownership rate that lifted an entire generation out of poverty including right? My my my really my grandparents generation right? and for my parents and with that then you know I was I had a awesome childhood in Singapore. Can’t say it was ah it was the the hardest childhood childhood. Um, but um, you know I was in the us for a little bit as a kid and I knew I wanted to come back there’s certainly a lot about the America that was really fun exciting for me and I eventually got to come back for for college in 2007 when to went to duke in in North Carolina um and you know it’s it’s really interesting to pay attention then to home ownership in the us at that point because yeah duke and and North Carolina is actually the first state that that ribbon was in and that’s not really a coincidence for myself as well. So and that was really the the earlier part of my childhood. Another thing worth mentioning there.
Wei Gan: I was in the army for 2 years where Singapore has a mandatory conscript army and you go kind of when you’re 18 so from you know when I when I got to college I was twenty one I was the kind of the alcohol run person at that point right? But but back in Singapore you know they basically spent two years first year kind of training to be an officer and the second one be an officer and while. You know there’s not a lot that’s really relevant to entrepreneurship in the future I will say that kind of being thrown into the fire of leadership when you’re 18 years old having to be responsible for the lives of all these people who are frankly older than you at the time you know certainly taught taught me a little bit back in the day.
Alejandro: Now Would you say that perhaps that they also taught you about ethic and and and and discipline being in the army.
Wei Gan: Definitely definitely. Yeah, definitely on the both the both the ethics and discipline side. You know I think that? um, ah, there’s a lot of a lot of the a lot of the the ways that people run business today and and ribbon certainly sees us in this point of view right? is that we’re. Yes, we have a bottom line yet. Yes, we’re trying to make a great financial return right? But we’re also trying to do something good for the world right? and that is it’s meaningful to me and my co-founder because we’ve been part of startups before right? This is you know this is our first time being founders but we’ve been part of various startups before and we knew that if we were like gonna commit to something that is frankly like it. It’s. Startups can be a grind. You know it can be can take a long time right? It’s not always up into the right we knew we wanted a mission that really mattered and so to the point of you know, ethics and values I think for ribbon you know we very much view ourselves as a mission-driven company to make home ownership achievable and that is you know is just why is this kind of why we exist right. And we’ll we’ll make a lot of money along the way and we build a you know, but we we have this this quote that we stole from Walt Disney is that Walt Disney said we make we make movies we make movies we make money to make movies. We don’t make movies to make money and at ribbon we have that version of the quote is that but we make. I need to make home ownership achievable. Not the other way around right? and so the the mission driven is is really the core of it all even if you know for us building a long-term sustaining business is the the point of that is to affect that mission at scale.
Alejandro: And we’ll talk about riboning just a little bit now one of the things here that is interesting is that you’re not the typical you know technical guy that they fell in love with computers when they were like 5 or 6 or 7 or whenever that was I mean you actually came across this in college. So I mean he came a little bit late in the game for you. But. But nonetheless better late than ever. So I guess for you. How was how was that moment like I mean what? what really captured your attention about this whole you know, computer mineral thing.
Wei Gan: Yeah, it’s funny. You know as like as a kid certainly play my fair share of video games. But ah, but never never got into programming you know I never never quite got into programming in the way that I know a lot of the other technical cofounders and and engineers have prior and so in college for me, you know in my in my freshman year. Um I remember professor saying to us something to the effect of like hey learn programming in case, you need to pay pay the bills one day you know in case you need a job one day and so I just took an etcdrow course for fun and we made some games you know and those really it was it was really really fun I when I found that I had an aptitude for it right? and I actually found it. Really really and enjoyable because you kind of have this ability to just just through the sheer sheer thoughts and and and code like kind of build something from scratch and and that was really really powerful and then from then on you know I was all in right kind of dove headlong into the the major really transferred my major to computer science and then. Ah, focused on on that and really going deep on computer science at duke.
Alejandro: Now you’ve had you know before you actually went at it with ribbon you know with your real first baby and you were like you were a alluded to before is that you’ve been involved with startups before and I think that for you. The first encounter was. Ah, when you did your internship at box and there was just 60 employees. What was it because I mean now box I mean they went public tremendous success when when there’s a company that doesn’t have so many employees or it’s not as big I mean 60 you know you can still be considered early stage to serve the degree. I mean what? what was there? What? what what? what kind of culture or what kind of drive. Did you experience that you’re like wow you know if I ever launched my own thing. It’s going to be something like this.
Wei Gan: Yeah, um, so yeah, internet box in in 2010 and I remember at the beginning of summer when I joined and kind of got situated because remember at that point you know startups were not national in nature right? It’s not like there’s there’s information about. There’s no like you know Miami texing or Austin Texting it’s really just silicon valley at the point with a bit in New York a bit in Boston and so for for me to fly out from Durham North Carolina to Silicon Valley and just really immersed by tech right? that was that was very formative to me because it’s like oh there’s this whole world of startups and. Really kind of opened my eyes to it more than more than anything I think at box I joined and the bean of summers twenty people by the time I left it was probably you know 90 people all right? So that that growth there was really extraordinary. Um, the thing I so I was working on Iphone stuff and that was pretty cutting cutting edge at the time but the thing that I really remember I’ll say is um. Is is is Aaron Levy who is the Ceo. He’s still the Ceo of Vox you know what? what a character? Um and he was very young at the time right? It’s still still still young guy a little more gray hairs now. But um I remember seeing in him of it was pretty inspiring is like this is what it takes right? because that guy is really committed to the cause. Believes in the mission of the company and because of that he’s able to rally these these this team of amazing accomplice. Silicon Valley people most of whom are older and more experienced than him to his cause um and then on top of that right? he did that after box for like so many like this is what at least more than more than ten good good more than 1012 15 years at this point and I’m not surprised because you could see it in him that this was his thing right? This was his life work and that was really inspiring to me as someone who I went out Sicon Valley kind of come back came back to duke knowing that oh one day I’d love to start something wouldn it be would it be cool and really inspired by that experience.
Alejandro: So and then you went to telepart and I think that the experience with telepart I think you know perhaps gave you you know access for this ability to what a potential transaction could look like I mean they were acquired by Twitter for over half a billion dollars and you then joined Twitter. But I guess as you being part of that also joining Twitter and seeing that integration. You know what? what have you learned you know during that experience about an integration because most acquisitions fail at least 90% of them because of integration issues. So what did you learn about integration.
Wei Gan: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question and I think the you know the the integration I’m not gonna sugarco it right? It’s ah it’s like all these are tricky integrations because you’re merging 2 different cultures and so a lot of telepart really folded into you know Twitter direct response ads and there’s still a couple folks there today right? Um, and I think for us what I what I learned is that the. Cultural piece kind of matters above all and defining. You know what? the what the culture of the kind of combined entity needs to be and Twitter was a much bigger organizations like you know 3000 plus people at that point telepart was you know less about 100 people. But at that point we were we were doing probably. Hundred and we’re more’re doing more than $100000000 in revenue at the time and so it was this really kind of high leverage small team and so we folded into Twitter ads you know hoping to make a bigger impact and I remember at the time I was like you know why would I stay right? because I I was just a you know I was an employee I wasn’t I wasn’t on the founder I was kind of asking myself. Why would I stay and I did stay for. About one and a half years with with Twitter and I remember there was this kind of we were bought into this opportunity to do something and somewhere bigger right? and you know affect even bigger impact at scale and I think that was like that was a good pitch and because I think the the way that these things go. Wrong is that the kind of the missions are not aligned and look like not not everything went as well as possibly could but certainly learn to cross through that integration I will say maybe the one biggest takea like the 2 biggest takeaways for me for the the telepart experience itself where I’d spent 4 years kind of grew up as an engineer into an engineering leader was ah one like the quality of team is everything. The telepart and telepart had the numbers to back it right? You know more than 100 more than ah more than a million dollars in revenue per person past that hundred million dollar revenue range just kind of kind of puts it the the quantitative numbers behind it and everyone there was just excellent at what they did right? and on the other side you know I learned a ton from Josh Mcfarland who is a co-fo who is the co-founder and Ceo of of Telepart. Um, and I will say um you know like that was ah that was a bet that that I had made when I joined telepart instead of any other company out of college and that is paid off in spades. You know when Josh Co -led the seed round in ribbon. Back in 17 when we were just sent 2 people and and an idea right? and then he also co-led the he he led the series b and joined our board with graylock as as the the lead of that series b round back in in 2019 so these kind of networks right? This is like a relationship that I had started with josh more than ten years ago now
Wei Gan: And this this guy’s on my board. So it’s ah it’s pretty. It’s pretty nice to kind of see that fun come full soco for me.
Alejandro: Ah, hundred percent a hundred percent now let’s talk about that coming that that coming into full circle you know and and also ribbon because ribbon. You know your your your baby. You know the first time that you decide to really go at it. You left it. Twitter. And then it was kind of like a process really to to come across ribbon or perhaps you know cheval or your co-founder that really propelled this into you guys going at it and they really you know going into full force with ribbon. So what was that process like and how did you guys go about really saying. Okay, let’s.
Wei Gan: Yeah, that’s ah it’s’s it’s always hard to make that leap you know and so for for me I’d left. Um I’d moved to New York with with Twitter and I moved to New York not for not for any business specific reason but you know my my wife. Um then then girlfriend now wife right? her ah she had grown up here. So I’d moved to New York for for that reason.
Alejandro: Grew it. Let’s do it.
Wei Gan: Really and then when I met shavel he was still. He was still a Svp at managed by q right? which was later bought by by wework as well and we met but we started to jam together on ideas and he really started introduced me to housing and home buying right? because you know shaveable for him right? He he has a story of. His family achieving home ownership in California back in the 80 s and and really like um basically against against the redlining that existed at the time they were able to kind of pull together a community loan to achieve home ownership right? So he was. He was going to start a real estate company like I knew that from the moment when I I met him as question of when. And then for me to join forces with him. You know I mentioned the Singapore and the home ownership part. Um, but for me in 172 um Joyce and I were were looking for a place in New York right and trying to buy a home as well, right? and I wasn’t do this to doing this to to dog food the the product or anything quite the in fact, it’s kind of the opposite where a lot of this inspired the idea. And so I was looking for a home. Not for any I wasn’t trying to achieve the american dream. You know I’m I’m an immigrant I’m still I’m still an immigrant here I was trying to I bought a I was trying to buy a house because my mother-in-law told me you have to buy a home to marry her daughter and this is the kind of honest truth right? That was really why I was doing it
Alejandro: Right? ah.
Wei Gan: And so on the weekdays I would work with shavel on these ideas and this is before we even incorporated anything. This was like way before seed funding and we were just working on ideas and we both quit our jobs and working on this full time and weekdays we would do all this research on ribbon and then every Sunday I would diligently go look at homes. In Queens and Brooklyn this kind of radius outside of Manhattan that we could afford and you know I had gone through this acquisition right? But um I wasn’t I didn’t make so much money where I could just kind of buy a home with cash at the same time I was entrepreneur um or to a bank you would call that unemployed right and unable to get a mortgage as well.
Alejandro: Ah, right.
Wei Gan: Um, and at the same time at a time Brooklyn you know 2 bedroom in Brooklyn a really competitive price range. You know, um, and so what we did eventually was we had to scrape together a cash offer through the savings that we had for me through the acquisition and having the the luck of gone through that and then also through friends and family. Cash right? And so we eventually put a cash offerfront a home in Brooklyn now how lucky we are to be able to do that. Even um, so we won um and you know I was researching this stuff on weekday. So I knew a lot about it right and had how to win on an offer. Um, but I remember the day that we’re going to um I got the offer accepted hadn’t wired the money yet. I remember got a call from my realtor and they said like hey wait we need you to wire the money today by end of day because one we have ah another cash offer and that’s higher than yours and if you don’t wire the money right? This home is not yours and so I was working with shavel I drop everything I go to the Bank America I wire the money and then thankfully we we lock in the home. Um. And then I know for a fact, right? And my realtor told me this like if our offer was not cash right? And this’s kind of what what ribbon does today if our offer not was not cash that call would have been sorry way. The home is going to someone else right? It would not have been hey wire the money today right? and it’s only because our offer was cash that that that was even the call.
Wei Gan: Um, and you know nice thing is almost the same week that ribbon closes our seed funding I close on that home and so a lot of this inspired that idea how do we? Ah enable every family to compete on level and level playing field with the cash offers and so to your question. How do you drop everything. At this point we drop everything we’re working on stuff.
Wei Gan: But kind of when you commit when do you know the idea is the one I do think there’s like ah there’s like a gut feeling that comes from. There’s certainly other market research right? and it did help for me, you know I’d personally done this myself that I knew that it would be valuable to the many many more people who kind of stuck in the same situation out there.
Alejandro: That’s incredible. So now in terms of the business model. How do you guys make money.
Wei Gan: So we make money through through two ways right? The primary way is that we basically take a small transaction fee right? when we buy a home for people right? and so ribbon’s product ribbon cash what we do is we help everyday families who need a mortgage to buy home. We help them compete with wealthy individuals and investors by upgrading their offer to cash right. And the cash offers are about 4 times more likely to win and in this market, especially if you’re anywhere in the southeast or so or Southern United states right and you’re trying to buy a home right? If you don’t have a cash offer right? It’s going to be extremely difficult to buy home because the average home gets multiple offers right? and it’s not uncommon to get north of 50 even 100 offers on that home and so we help those families win with cash right? And so what we do then is that we basically stand as a backup offer saying that if you if you need ribbon to buy on April the fifth if you if you for whatever reason can’t close on your loan on April the fifteenth right? a month from today then ribbon will step in and buy the house right. And then we charge a transaction fee. We charge less if we don’t need to buy the home and we charge a little bit more if we need to step in and buy the home and if we step in and buy it. We reserve it for you in that product called ribbon reserve and then you move in and then you pay rent prorated to the day. So if you rent it for three days and then you buy it back from us after that. Ah you only pay literally three days of rent which happens. More than you think and so our primary revenue model is through that transaction fee with a kind of very small percentage of our customers needing to kind of move in rent from us for usually a couple of months and then they’ll buy the homeback from us.
Alejandro: That’s amazing now. Obviously for this you are alluding to I mean you guys have done multiple rounds of financing. So how how much capital have you guys raised today.
Wei Gan: Yeah, so in total we’ve raised you know from seed to seriesc about $130,000,000 in equity over these 4 rounds and ah and then because ribbon is a business that buys homes right? We also have ah we’ve also raised more than $500,000,000 in credit facilities and real estate capital as well.
Alejandro: And how does it? How is it? How does it de differ. You know when you’re raising money. Inequity um, like people that are really there with you in the long run you know helping perhaps at a strategic level with the operations or stuff like that like the people that you were mentioning graylock or the former co-founder of Telepart. How how does it work when you’re going for the credit facility or maybe like the depth you know type of financing to support the actual operational piece of the equation.
Wei Gan: Yeah that’s that’s a great question so on the equity side. You know we we were raised from investors I would say for the first 3 rounds actually almost for all our rounds. It was really set up from the beginning right? where the co-leads of the original round were Josh Mcfarlin at Graylock right? Who was my was my boss at telepart and then Pete Flint at Nfx right? One of the top seed funds in the valley and Pete Flyn was also the the founder and Ceo of Trulia right? and he was on the board of zillow so we knew we had this kind of killer starting group and then we also as part of that as a smaller check on the seed but the person who led the a round was Matt Harris um from Bain Capital Ventures who is one of the top fintech and if not the top fintech investor out there and that was really helpful because the the point of that the original question right? How does that capital defer right? The equity capital. You know it’s it’s probably familiar to a lot of the folks in in your audience. The debt capital is not right. It’s different. And so want. We still have skin in the game there. Yeah but but but vast majority of the capital comes from the credit facility and that’s really important beca when we buy a home right? Some small percentage comes from our balance sheet and then vast majority comes from these credit facilities that we draw down from right and those are folks like you know for the ones that we’ve announced right? Goldman Sachs right along with some of the funds that they’re partnered with that that fund those capital along with some other. Credit facilities that we partner with as well and so the way that works is those are like basically if we’re buying homes that credit that capital is collateralized by the homes and the homes produce rent they’re they’re collateralized by the one of the most sought after assets in the us in residential real estate right. And so with that kind of capital. You essentially don’t have to dilute your company but the fact of it is in the early days. You’re not going to get Goldman to give you a credit facility of like $500000000 right? You kind of have to earn your way there and so the early days are certainly more balance sheet usage and then over time you know at this point we’ve gotten to the point where really the when we buy a home very. Like you know, almost nothing is is from our our capital. Weuse as we think about you know how do you be the most efficient with capital. How do you make sure you don’t dilute the company. And existing investors and the founders and employees unnecessarily the way to do it is you know you have the right capital for the right? The right things and you know in our case, that’s being very clear about the split between real estate and debt facilities as well as and then company operations and company equity.
Alejandro: Got it now in this case, you know, really for the people that are listening to get an idea on the scope and you know the size of the operation I mean anything that you can share maybe number of employees or anything else
Wei Gan: Yeah, just just to put in perspective at the beginning of last year and 2021 we were about 60 people right now we are north of 250 right and you know by the middle of this year probably be about 300 and we are. You know we’re we’re careful to hire right? I would say we’re not the kind of company that just you know.
Wei Gan: Ads headcount as a solution to everything. In fact, we’re very mindful of that to build as scalable a model as possible but the reality is in that time you know the business has grown and not not not exaggerating literally has grown more than 10 X in that period of time right? and so to if we can you know 3 x. 4 X Our employee base and you know more than 10 X R business you know at least you’re kind of building so operating leverage as you get more and more scale there
Alejandro: Absolutely now in that regard I mean how do you step on the gas be you know, making sure that you’re not going to be breaking very critical things. So.
Wei Gan: Yeah, so for us, you know we we’re buying homes for people right? and you know we’re we’ we’re buying literally the most expensive thing they will ever buy in their lives right? There’s a family every transaction matters to us and it’s really important to us because as the numbers go up into the right and. It’s impossible to tell every single story anymore we still like we really go out of our way to him 1 remind our team that every single one of these is a family achieving home ownership right? and so be proud of that right? but also treat it with that care right? You know you can’t you can’t screw up someone’s home purchase. And the same way like oh you know my page doesn’t load for for my social media app right? It’s not the end of the world when we mess up on a home purchase. It is it. It is like you know it’s a family waiting the driveway with their moving truck can’t can’t move in on that day. Kids are crying right? need to check in the hotel and it’s kind of all falling apart for them. So the way the way that we do it is we. 1 we use a lot of technology to scale and I think for us, you know for for me as a technical cofounder one of the prerequisites for for choosing a startup and and the right kind of startup was that technology had to be a real lever there to use and so we built a lot of technology. That actually I would say the biggest difference between ribbon and our competitors and why we’re so scalable is that we partner with we empower instead of disrupt the real estate ecosystem. So ribbon works with real estate agents brokerages and lenders in the ecosystem to partner their clients. So it has this b two b two c model turns out that is far more efficient. Because a good agent can do you know 10 maybe tech enabled. You can do like twenty thirty transactions a year an account manager at ribbon right? can do 30 transactions a month right? and these are you know that’s just the just just the kind of the mediann right? We’ve had folks do 60 right? So the order of scale is just different and for us that was really important. Because we we did not want to build a business that was um, you know we we kind of chose right? We didn’t want to build a vertically integrated business that helped a small slice of the market. We wanted to really build something big that could kind of touch a lot of transactions and really blanket the market and help as many home buyers as we can you know? and so. When it comes to scalability I think the b two b two c model and the technology those are the 2 pillars that have allowed us to scale so quickly
Alejandro: Now imagine you go to sleep to I weigh and you wake up in a world Five years later you know where they where the vision of ribbon is fully realized what does that world look like.
Wei Gan: Yeah I think you know the so the mission is to make home ownership achievable right? And so at some at some scale at that kind of scale and that kind of like wake up five years later scale we we would like to have causally affected home ownership rates in the United States right and now maybe somewhere else. Maybe Spain maybe Singapore one day right um but ah, we’ll start with it start with the United States right and then for us, you know the the home buying experience. You know you still want to shop and you still want to like physically look at homes I think that would that will that would be the case but the experience there should be as simple as like when it’s time to buy right? financing right? Your your lender whoever you choose as a lender.
Alejandro: Ah, right? so.
Wei Gan: Whomever you choose agent. All those things are like nicely integrated right and financing is is really simple and you can kind of buy with a tap of a button with these partners that you partner with the right agents the right lenders with the best terms that you can get right? and so really simplifying that experience to make really the one one way that my cofounder likes to describe it is. Home buying should be as simple as renting now. Are you renting can be a lot simpler than it is today but that’s kind of a baseline and then you can imagine we get to that point where you know there’s this kind of buy now button and the the home purchases are truly as simple as ah, a tap of a button but ultimately in the service of home buyers right? wanting to have this really great experience. Um, that lives up to the magnitude of the the most expensive purchase of their lives.
Alejandro: Nice now. Imagine I put you into a time machine and I was able to take you back in time to perhaps you know 2017 where you were thinking about starting you know the company and and I gave you the opportunity of having a chat with your younger self also with a your a. Co-founder. You know younger self and being able to give you know the 2 of you one piece of business advice for launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now. So.
Wei Gan: Yeah that’s a great question. Um there. There are 2 that there are 2 that come to mind but I would probably I would probably narrow it to be very intentional about building the right culture. Um, and this is kind of like a cliche thing for entrepreneurs at this point but it’s part of why the advice is so good. You know because no one ever thinks it’s that important until it’s kind of too late and at this point you know the the ribbon culture is probably the single biggest reason why we we are successful and why we’re able to grow so fast and because the people want to work here. They’re mission-d driven. Um, they’re aligned with our approach. Um, but it took a while to get to this point you know and the early team. We knew a lot of them and that was easy. It’s at that point where you’re kind of scaling right? from you know 10 people to like a next 50 people to 100 people that you really want to hone in on making sure that when you go from that 10 to to 50 right. You are really nailing down and write almost like write down what you’re hiring for what you care about right? What’s non-negotiable. For example, you know missiond driven is something that we care a lot about and there’s lot of ways to build like giant mercenary companies certainly or ones that are driven by something else, right? by winning right? for example, but for us, you know the mission-d drivenve was a critical piece. I think if we had wrote that down sooner and if we made that like a lot earlier part of our hiring criteria. We would have been able to you know, save a lot of ah trouble for ourselves and the folks who joined us who didn’t necessarily understand that right. We also owe that to to them. You know in the early days and so I do think that that would have accelerated a lot for what we did. Um
Alejandro: Go for it. Go for it.
Wei Gan: Yeah, do do you mind if I had a second lesson here or yeah second lesson I would say is um is to I would I give myself this advice of um, once you understand your strategy that like once you once you understand a strategy that works lean into it extremely hard right. And so for us in 18 in Charlotte. Basically we’re going to realtors. We’re knocking on doors. We’re driving around right? We’d spend like we’d spend like a month or 2 down in Charlotte a time and we get the door slam in our face. Everyone doesn’t want to be the first person to use this right? No one no one wants to trust their livelihood as a realtor or the most expensive thing they buy as a family. With this new company right? 7 people only raised like less than $5000000 at the time and then you know come the middle of that year there are all these eye buyyers that come into town and they blanket Charlotte with a lot of marketing and the marketing to consumers is that basically you don’t need an agent right and doesn’t explicitly say that but the agents get it. And so off the backs of that the agents all come back to ribbon and they say hey we need your help and I think once we understood this dynamic. Um, going back in time I would have leaned even harder into it even sooner and I think we did a good job of this right? but knowing what I know now you know we chose Charlotte when none of the eye buyers were there because we wouldn’t know what that dynamic would be. Like could do this again. I’d probably choose an eye-buyer market to go in and kind of be the white knight from day one um and off the backs of that you know we we were able to raise $20000000 series a from from Bane and Matt Harris at had been capital ventures and you know through the next year we did like a deal a day two deals a day or really off to the races very quickly. Um, because of that dynamic at the market and I truly believe as startups you need something external to your company to catch the the win in your sales. But it’s on the entrepreneurs. It’s on the team to pay attention to that wind to make sure your sail is pointed in the right direction. So that you can catch the full force of it right? That’s the second piece of advice I’d probably go back and give myself.
Alejandro: So I love it now for the people that are listening. What is the best way for them to reach out and say hi.
Wei Gan: Best way to reach out and say hi way at http://ribbonhome.comweiatribbonhome.com drop me an email happy to you know help with folks startups or give advice or you know happy to chat about about ribbon or real estate as well.
Alejandro: So amazing. Well way. Thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today.
Wei Gan: Thank you so much for having me alejandro.
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