By our 20th year in commercial real estate, the Internet was taking shape. We had been first adopters of technology. We were one the first companies in Los Angeles to have computers and a CRM system that we used. We saw the future and the evolving promise of the Internet.
Along with a friend who was finishing his PhD at UCLA’s prestigious Anderson School of Business, we started researching everything regarding this new media. We immersed ourselves in the subject, we listened to lectures, talked to people who were doing start ups, websites and writing code. We decided to have weekly meetings and discuss how we could apply what we learned to a business we would all love to be part of.
When we came up with an idea that was a “Hell, Yes!” for all three of us, we were advised to talk to an attorney. Our attorneys loved the idea and wanted to be investors in the project. They recommended that we write a business method patent. The patent writing process is an arduous one. You have to prove that every word of your idea is original, and it does not resemble any prior art.
In the meantime, we also decided to wind down our commercial real estate practice and make the move out of Los Angeles. We sold our house and moved to the Napa Valley. Most of our days were spent in writing and research, and on Fridays we would go wine tasting. Our attorney was tough as nails. He would often send back our work with the statement, “you have nothing new, here!” And all of us would go back to the drawing board. It took 2 years to write and 5 years to actually get the patent.
In the process we became experts in branding and Internet marketing, which we immediately applied to the luxury real estate industry. We were hired by a Napa Valley real estate firm to create a luxury real estate brand and leverage our knowledge of lead generation via the Internet. This ultimately resulted in our client selling her company three years later. The high six figure valuation was based on the business that was generated by the website we built and the reputation of the brand we helped establish in the marketplace.
For us this adventure was the next logical step in our evolution. And the Hell, Yes, evolved into another business we love.
This post is an entry in Grant Schneider's Active Rain Contest: Who Says, There are no do overs?