CEO Corner: We Are Listening

Alan Pinstein - August 18, 2017

Welcome to the first post of the new Tourbuzz blog! Our goal is to engage in a public discussion about all things Tourbuzz, real estate photography and listing marketing. We’ve got a lot of great content lined up for you, but today I’d like to address our customers directly and start a new conversation about our shared future.

My name is Alan Pinstein, and many of you know me as one of Tourbuzz’s co-founders. In June 2016, I became CEO and have had the pleasure and challenge of serving in that role ever since.

Since our first customer in 2006, we have grown tremendously, helping you deliver over 800,000 shoots to nearly 150,000 agents showcasing 27 million photos, 62,000 videos, and 590,000 panoramas. Over 130 million visitors have viewed your tours, looking at your photos, panos, videos and floorplans 3.3 billion times. Tourbuzz has become one of the biggest platforms in real estate photography.

Wow, just wow.

These awesome numbers stir many emotions beyond just celebration of our success and gratitude for your patronage.  We realize the enormous trust you put into Tourbuzz as a mission-critical business partner and that our successes are shared successes.

We feel a duty to support your business at the highest level — not only today, but also for the future. We feel a duty to make Tourbuzz succeed at the next level so that your business can succeed at the next level.

Reflecting on this duty, we realized something. While our revenues continued to climb, we struggled to keep up with your needs. We slowly drifted from a thoughtful, proactive product leader into a reactive organization that was stretched too thin.

We were letting ourselves down, and in turn, letting you down. We knew we had to stop and reorganize for the future.

Pardon our dust. We’re preparing for the future.

Within the last year we have completely changed how we run Tourbuzz. We have transformed a scrappy 12-person crew into an intentionally organized team of 18 people with 6 dedicated managers. We are investing in our team and our process to ensure we execute with discipline.

Let’s review a few key areas of the organization that have seen a huge change:

Product Design and Development: Divide and Conquer!

On the product design and development side, it’s no longer just me (technical co-founder), sitting around the table with a few other developers trying to keep up. We now have a dedicated product management function and two engineering teams, run by very experienced team leads. Making the transition from a founder-led engineering team to multiple new teams was a huge undertaking, and thankfully this painful, one-time transformation is behind us. We are finally able to work on multiple major projects at the same time. Making the jump from one team to two is much harder than going from two to three, and we’re now prepared to extend this trend by adding additional product and engineering teams into an organization that’s now ready to scale.

We know we have some important problems to solve that will have a real impact on your business. While we cannot address every need of every customer, we can provide a clear vision and work with you to improve not only our prioritization of important projects but also the balance between adding new features and improving existing ones. The resulting clarity should also help you make fully informed decisions in planning for growth in your own business.

New tooling and process has been implemented to better track your requests, so even if you’ve provided feedback to us in the past, please reach out  to ensure we have them recorded!

Customer Support? How about Customer Success!

We’ve given a new mission to our customer support group. Going forward, we want not only to provide a great support experience when you contact us, but also to be proactive about your success. Tourbuzz has a lot of valuable features that can help your business run smoothly, but shipping code isn’t the same as delivering value. We are going to invest more time in helping you discover and integrate Tourbuzz’s solutions into your business through dedicated roles that will focus entirely on maximizing your return on investment in Tourbuzz.

Research & Development

We have also formalized a distinct R&D function at Tourbuzz. Teams across the company are leveraging research on trends, products, techniques and technologies. We’re talking about serious future technologies here — computational photography, machine learning, 3D, AR/VR, and more. Whether it’s providing advice on how to select new technology, getting you thinking about how these technologies might affect your business, or building prototypes to test radical new ways to improve the Tourbuzz experience, our team is helping turn the future into reality. Be on the lookout for future posts covering our research and experiments.

And now, the Future.

Our success is dependent on your success, and we recognize that your continued growth requires not only a great listing marketing solution, but also an integrated platform to manage all aspects of your business. We are committed to providing a solution for both of these critical areas.

It’s hard to fit the entire future into a single blog post (and believe me, I tried — you should’ve seen the early drafts of this post), so we are kicking off a 4-part series to share our vision for the future of the real estate imaging industry:

Part 1: Local entrepreneur passion. International company resources.

In the early days at Tourbuzz, we made a decision — instead of lots of employees or franchisees scattered around the globe, Tourbuzz will have lots of entrepreneurial customers. We will focus on infrastructure, and allow our customers to provide a service tailored to their local market while benefitting from our collective scale. Ten years of history has proven that this model will continue to deliver great results for agents, photographers, and Tourbuzz.

Part 2: Our View of the Real Estate Imaging Market

Before we talk about our vision for the future, let’s explore Tourbuzz’s view of the opportunities in the real estate imaging market. Quality photography serves as a baseline growth driver for the real estate photography business while new media experiences offered by video, drones, and walkthrough tours provide opportunities to expand the revenue of every job.

Part 3: Tourbuzz Pro – A Vision for the Future

We know that the key to your profitability and sanity is being able to run your business smoothly. We want you to be able to focus on your strengths — marketing, sales, and quality image capture. From marketing your service packages to taking orders; scheduling shoots to getting paid; and delivering a great customer service experience throughout the process, Tourbuzz Pro is our vision for powering your entire business.

Part 4: Tourbuzz Tour Platform – A Vision for the Future

Homebuyers continue to deeply engage with dedicated property listing experiences. Learn how we are expanding the vision and capabilities of our experience to better meet the growing expectations of agents and homebuyers.