Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Interview with Fred Simanek, CEO, MyNextDeal
MyNextDeal (www.mynextdeal.com) is a newly launched, commercial real estate search engine based in Thousand Oaks. The Web 2.0 service is looking to create a commercial real estate aggregator along the lines of the residential search engines like Trulia and others; a beta of the firm's site just went up in February. We spoke with Fred Simanek, the company's CEO (and commercial real estate broker), about his new company. Ben Kuo conducted the interview.
Fred Simanek: Simply put, MyNextDeal is in the aggregator space -- vertical search, or aggregator are the technical terms people tend to use. A good comparison is that we're the Trulia.com of the commercial real estate world. In the same way that Trulia is an aggregator of residential real estate listings, MyNextDeal is an aggregator of comercial real estate listings. Aggregators have been around since Web 1.0, but with Web 2.0 things have gone one step forward. It's like SimplyHired and Indeed.com in the job space. As corny as its sounds--find a need and fill it--MyNextDeal came from my own need. It's like trying to find a needle in the haystack in commercial real estate--it's virtually impossible to find commercial real estate, whether that's land to develop into an office building or to find a fully leased office building. Finding those deals is very hard. To make a long story short, looking for that needle meant a daily ritual of logging into six different real estate listing sites, trying to find properties that matched my criteria. It dawned on me that the aggregator model made sense. I did it for myself, found it useful, my friends found it useful, and it grew from there.
What's your background, and what's the background of your team?
Fred Simanek: My background is I'm actually a former nuclear engineer. I was a submarine operator in the Navy, and have a technical background, and I ditched it all for commercial real estate. I've come full circle, and now I'm in a project that uses the best of both worlds. Beyond that, my team includes top notch designers. My lead project manager, David McClusky, created his own web site, Livelocker.com. He sold LiveLocker.com late last year, and I noticed that he was located in Long Beach. I figured he was probably between jobs, called him up, and he came aboard this project. His experience with startups and technical abilities are superb. Rounding out the team, I've got a database expert, Leland Scurry, who is a Ph.D. in physics, and does databases as a hobby. The other member of my team is Kate Wu, who has a masters in Computer Science, and is the glue that puts everything together, integrating our databases, data, and front end.
How is MyNextDeal funded?
Fred Simanek: I've funded the company personally.
What's the business model here--do you charge people for access, or do you give it away?
Fred Simanek: Our business model is the Web 2.0 model. We're not going to charge. I don't think charging for anything is going to last for much longer. Even with premium services, especially in real estate. There are people who are trying to keep the MLS mentality, but I think that's going away sooner or later. Everything on our site is free, and we simply survive on advertising.
How long ago did you launch, and where are you going now?
Fred Simanek: We started in January of 2006, and launched our beta at the beginning of 2007. We're currently in beta mode, working out the bugs. Following the Web 2.0 philosophy, we're letting our users debug the site, and decide which direction to take it. We're aiming at September first to take it off beta and to have it become a real site.
Thanks for the interview!