6 Questions with Michael Mandel, Founder CompStak

Michael Mandel is the Founder CompStak, a New York based startup whose goal is to make commercial real estate information more accessible.

1. First of all, can you tell us a little about your role and what you do at CompStak?

I’m Co-Founder & CEO of CompStak. Mostly, I’m responsible for:

– Making sure we have money in the bank

– Finding incredible people to join our team

– Setting strategic direction for the company, along with our team leaders

– Checking in with our leadership team to stay abreast of critical issues within the company, and ensuring that we’re on top of everything

– Representing the company at speaking engagements, conferences and the like

2. Can you tell us a little about your go to market strategy, current growth/marketing channels are working for you right now?

Real estate is an inherently local business, so we focus our growth on a market by market basis. Launching a market involves first, connecting with commercial real estate professionals in that market to let them know we exist.

We do this through a strong SEO presence, email campaigns, search engine marketing, paid email blasts and other online tools. We also reach out directly to potential CompStak members over the phone, and via in-person meetings.

I believe our best bang for the buck right now is coming via SEO. With a small investment from our tech team, we were able to expose a lot of our data to the world, and we doubled traffic to our site in just a few months.

That said, there’s no substitute for building direct relationships with your members and customers every day. Those relationships pay dividends, but their value is often hard to measure.

3. What is the biggest mistake you have made with CompStak so far that other founders can learn from?

Like most startups, I’m sure we’ve made more mistakes than we can count. They all feel like the biggest one at the time, but the learning you gain from them is invaluable.

That said, one piece of advice that I often give founders, is to be thoughtful about how an when they start monetizing their business. Making money is fantastic, but it also builds expectations for your business, and you better be ready to meet those expectations.

When you decide to start monetizing, make sure that your product is ready, you’ve got the right sales team in place, and that you’re incredibly confident in your ability to scale your sales exponentially over time.

If you don’t feel your company is there yet, you should continue to refine your product, and build out everything you need internally to get yourself there.

4. Let’s talk you… what apps, blogs, and tools can’t you live without?

For blogs, I’m mostly focused on real estate trade rags, like The Real Deal, The Commercial Observer, and Bisnow. For apps and tools – our team is addicted to Slack and I use it constantly.

I’m also a big fan of Cirrus Insights – a Salesforce plug in and Rapportive – a LinkedIn plug in to learn more about who I’m emailing. On my phone, I’m constantly using Uber, Todoist, and listening to Podcasts.

5. What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

The ExitStrategy app is awesome. It tells you where you should stand on the Subway platform so that you can leave the Subway station at your preferred exit.

6. What resource have you watched/read/listened to that’s had the biggest impact on your business/life recently, and why?

I always enjoy reading blogs from SaaS experts, like David Skok’s forentrepreneurs.com and SaaStr with real tactical advice for growing our business. Otherwise, I recently re-read The Hard Thing About Hard Things, and I always get inspiration from Ted Podcasts.

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