Guests: Yulia Yanni, Daniel Ramsey
Recorded: December 24, 2019

Excerpt

RealAtom is a remarkable software platform for securing commercial real estate loans, helping hundreds of the nation’s most innovative CRE players scale faster and more efficiently, and handling billions of dollars in loans every year.

In this remarkable interview, we join Yulia Yanni – the Co-Founder & CEO of RealAtom. She gives us deep insights into the driving forces behind a commercial real estate in today’s market and explains how her venture plays a pivotal role in this market sector.

Learn about Yulia’s commercial real estate experience, her inspiration to found RealAtom, and learn what’s coming next in this fast-moving sector of the real estate market. Before founding RealAtom.com, Yulia Yaani managed over half a billion in commercial real estate investments for Amstar Global Partners, a US private equity fund, and worked for Related Group in Florida.

Her experience exposed her to the highly fragmented commercial real estate lending industry that lacks efficiency and data transparency. As a result, she decided to build a SAAS-enabled platform for commercial lenders, borrowers, and brokers to enable centralized data management across the industry, significantly lower costs of capital, and a streamlined origination process.

Yulia received her MBA from Columbia University, where she is a frequent guest lecturer on Entrepreneurship. She holds Series 7 and 63 licenses and is a writer for Forbes as a member of the Real Estate Council.

Transcript

00:00:08:02 – 00:00:26:24
Daniel Ramsey
Hey, everybody. Daniel Ramsey here. And I’ve got a great interview today. We are talking to Yulia Yanni, a real Adam. And I’m really excited about this one because she is basically one of the leaders in the commercial real estate world. Property tech is what we’re going to be talking about today. Yulia, thanks for joining us today.

00:00:27:21 – 00:00:32:04
Yulia Yanni
Thank you so much for inviting. I’m very excited to be on the show today.

00:00:32:13 – 00:00:53:13
Daniel Ramsey
Yes, yes, yes. Okay. And if you’re listening right now, you know my out desk, what we do is we add value by providing talented virtual assistants so you can scale and grow your business if you stick to the end, we’re going to be giving away a copy of our book, which has helped hundreds of thousands of people kick butt in the real estate world, in the mortgage world, in the commercial world.

00:00:53:22 – 00:01:18:12
Daniel Ramsey
And we’re going to give that away for free at the end if you’re here with us. So, Yulia, let’s dove in. Let’s let’s hear a little bit about your story because number one, you’re a co-founder of the business. Number two, obviously, you’re a woman in the commercial space, which is awesome because that means, you know, you’re in there fighting us guys all the time and is probably it probably a very cool place to be, right?

00:01:19:07 – 00:01:27:02
Yulia Yanni
It is a very cool place to be. And come on, we’re not fighting. We’re very, very soft. We basically charm you guys.

00:01:27:11 – 00:01:43:00
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re blessed. We’re a bunch of dumb guys. I get it. I get it. Okay, Yulia, talk to us about how you started real Adam and what it is and just your your your kind of origin story. Let’s, let’s give the audience a little understanding of who you are and what you do.

00:01:44:01 – 00:02:14:22
Yulia Yanni
Yeah, absolutely. Really? Adam is a platform for commercial real estate lending industry. And what we do, we basically digitize the loan process, everything from the loan application loan memorandums to sending it to distributing it to multiple lenders, to getting lender quotes in an organized manner. But what we really did is we put mortgage brokers. This is our initial customers.

00:02:14:23 – 00:02:31:21
Yulia Yanni
Yep. And they’re lenders on the same platform. And it does two things. It’s captures the data around the transactions and it centralize it. It centralizes it for both parties, for the mortgage brokers and for the lenders.

00:02:32:03 – 00:03:00:07
Daniel Ramsey
That’s awesome. One of the challenges in commercial and I’m in a commercial transaction right now and I, I want to strangle my lender because the communication hasn’t been amazing. In fact, one day it’s I need this document, another day they’re like, I need that document. And as a, as a consumer, it’s got to be frustrating. And it sounds like your platform kind of helps organize that mess that’s typically in the commercial lending world.

00:03:01:15 – 00:03:25:21
Yulia Yanni
It is it does exactly what you said. It’s organized is the communications around loan transaction. You know, on the residential side, they actually have been doing it for some time. But on the commercial, we’re still behind like was any other innovations in Proptech in commercial proptech but we’re finally catching up in the you also ask me how I started.

00:03:26:01 – 00:03:53:01
Yulia Yanni
Yeah, it’s actually my third startup and it’s the same for my co-founder, our CTO, Mattias Sharma. So between the two of us, we actually have five startups. Wow. Yes, we’re this old startup ladies. You know, as you mentioned earlier. Yeah, but it’s I come from a commercial real estate background and my co-founder, she’s a technology person or expert.

00:03:53:03 – 00:04:10:22
Yulia Yanni
So we have this great combination of industry expertize and technology exclusive, and that’s what helps us to actually address the issues that we’re solving and work with the people to get their feedback and incorporate their feedback into our product.

00:04:11:07 – 00:04:17:23
Daniel Ramsey
That’s awesome. How long is real? Adam been a real thing? Like how long have you guys been serving your customers?

00:04:18:12 – 00:04:41:04
Yulia Yanni
Yeah, we started three years ago, but we’re still an early stage company because we are essentially a SAS enabled platform and SAS is software as a service and you don’t do a SAS overnight. But for us not to wait for those two or three years to build a platform, actually launch it immediately, it was a page and a button and.

00:04:41:21 – 00:04:58:12
Daniel Ramsey
Hold on, hold on. I think I love this because I think this is a good lesson for everybody who’s listening. You’ve had between you and your co-founder, you’ve you’ve authored five startups and you launched with just a website.

00:04:59:19 – 00:05:00:09
Yulia Yanni
Yes.

00:05:01:04 – 00:05:02:10
Daniel Ramsey
That’s it.

00:05:02:10 – 00:05:04:08
Yulia Yanni
Yes. What about them?

00:05:04:17 – 00:05:20:13
Daniel Ramsey
What’s the thinking around that? Like how I mean, are you testing the market? Are you are you what are you doing? Why? Because a lot of people who are trying to grow and scale a company, they’re like, I need to have systems in place. I want to hire an operations person. I want to get all these things together before I launch.

00:05:20:13 – 00:05:27:14
Daniel Ramsey
And you guys were like, Nope, let’s put up a website and launch, which I think takes a lot of courage and a lot of guts. So, Julia, tell us.

00:05:28:09 – 00:06:07:05
Yulia Yanni
But there is a philosophy behind that, as you just said yourself, we wanted to test it with the market, with real users, with real lenders, with real brokers, with real borrowers. And during the the beta time we brought in the platform, over 750 loan officers from over 600 institutions across the country, national, regional, community banks like that fonts and all of them, you know, tested one or another function of the platform that we were adding and giving us feedback, you know, happy feedback or embrace it.

00:06:07:13 – 00:06:44:22
Yulia Yanni
But still it’s, you know, it’s a good test of the real thing and the same other side from the borrowers and brokers. So we also figure out, you know, when you go to a new market, you don’t know who are your early adopters. Right. That test during all the time that we were building help us to identify that our early adopters are commercial lenders and commercial mortgage brokers because they are lacking that efficiency and they open to bring technology in to make them more efficient and to make their loan process more transparent for them.

00:06:45:08 – 00:07:10:09
Daniel Ramsey
Right, right. What’s been the big authoring five startups and having your passion in your life consumed? Because I know the startup world, I, I know what it’s like to build a business is hard. What’s been like the all consuming thing with real atom? What’s been your guys’s one focus? The one thing that you want to accomplish that you know you haven’t accomplished yet, but that’s the vision.

00:07:10:09 – 00:07:46:07
Yulia Yanni
So one thing that we want to accomplish, we want to basically catch up with residential technology, because even in the field where we’re building right now, I consider us as a system of records for everyone involved and also as a long origination platform. Yeah. So there are multiple startups that are raising hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capital and making life of residential lenders and residential consumers much more efficient and easier.

00:07:46:14 – 00:08:09:17
Yulia Yanni
As you said earlier, you know, your process are have some headaches, but trust me, there are other consumers that already experience technology and feel like, oh, my God, this is so easy. And that’s what we are doing right now. Basically, you know, taking those examples of residential and bringing them to the commercial. I will tell you a funny dilemma.

00:08:09:17 – 00:08:27:12
Yulia Yanni
Yeah, I, I went to Columbia Business School and being the first time I applied when no one wanted to take me, I applied to 15 schools. And that time there was a real headache because you had to send 15 applications to 15 different schools.

00:08:27:12 – 00:08:30:15
Daniel Ramsey
Right. And they were all different and they all wanted something different.

00:08:31:05 – 00:09:02:22
Yulia Yanni
They all wanted the same, but they were all different portals. So imagine like plugging information and 15 different portals. Sure, it was a headache. Took me days, but second time applied. It was one platform, one application. Of course you had a different it says, for the schools but that’s help you to build relationship with those schools right one application 2 hours you done and we’re so right now it’s happening the same in commercial so there are multiple commercial lenders.

00:09:03:10 – 00:09:32:19
Yulia Yanni
They all suffer from the same problem. They want this, you know, loan application process more efficient, but they’re afraid of this dilemma. You know, I built the my application, I build my application, and then the brokers is like, what? What I have to fulfill 15 applications or 70 applications. That’s right. Huge headache. So that’s basically and we looked at the residential and look, there is a billion dot com and they’re giving it to, you know, 200 banks and they consumers are very happy.

00:09:32:19 – 00:09:48:17
Yulia Yanni
So we’re basically building the same thing for a full commercial. And you ask me like what is like one focus basically to take what is already built for, you know, a huge industry and bring it to our commercial site.

00:09:49:03 – 00:10:10:20
Daniel Ramsey
I love it. You know, it’s interesting. I’m I started as a residential guy and then I started doing some commercial deals. And now I primarily play in both spaces. One of the things that I’m always confused about is when I talk to a commercial guy, they always look down on the residential folks and you have it flipped. You’re like, the residential is actually more organized, more streamlined.

00:10:10:20 – 00:10:18:00
Daniel Ramsey
Why is that difference exist? And in your opinion, you know, how have you kind of spanned the difference between commercial and residential?

00:10:19:13 – 00:10:56:19
Yulia Yanni
You know, you just ask a very, very relevant question. So commercial guys do look down and residential and yeah, that’s because the residential loans that we’re talking about lending, in our case, residential loans, they’re very straightforward and of course, much smaller. I mean, we’re talking about 10 million, 60 million, 150 million loans and commercial. Yes. So everyone that my transaction is very complicated as it’s all about relationship that I build with my mortgage broker, with my lender, you know, that’s who push me forward.

00:10:57:03 – 00:11:26:21
Yulia Yanni
Yep. And the one thing that people forget is that, you know, relationships are going to stay, they’re not going anywhere. But you can create more time to do something else by using efficient technology. And that’s exactly what people see when they start using our platform. Basically, you know, I don’t know what you’re going to use your free time for, you know, play golf, spend more time with your kids, do it.

00:11:27:00 – 00:11:52:12
Yulia Yanni
That transaction rate add basically people who start using our platform, they say, okay, now I don’t have to send, you know, 15 emails to my five two members or 70 emails to my 70 lenders, and it was lenders. It’s like, I don’t have to search through my emails for the documents, for the stream, for this transaction. It’s all in one place.

00:11:52:12 – 00:12:07:18
Yulia Yanni
So that’s what people see. And I’m going back to the beginning of your question. Of course, commercial transactions are more complicated than residential, but it sounds prevent you to make your life easier with technology.

00:12:09:03 – 00:12:30:23
Daniel Ramsey
But you’re like, Why wouldn’t you? I love it. One of the one of our good clients is actually in the San Francisco Bay area, and he’s a commercial lender and he hired us. And it’s an interesting story because of exactly the problem you solve. He hired a virtual assistant because every time he got a loan application from a lender, they wanted it submitted in a different way.

00:12:30:23 – 00:13:02:16
Daniel Ramsey
And our virtual assistant would take the loan package the way each bank wanted it done, their own application and their own pro formas. And they wanted a certain, you know, order to all the documents. So our virtual assistant, all we would do for this lender was submit to 15 different banks. But I wonder what it would be like to have your technology, our virtual assistant and all the free time the commercial lender might buy back by just the technology and the leverage that they need to actually get it done.

00:13:03:15 – 00:13:30:00
Yulia Yanni
You’re so right. People do hire virtual assistants to do exactly those things. Yeah. To streamline the, you know, and the they will continue to additional people. But sometimes it makes sense to find combined people, people effort and technology and that’s where you have the winning situation and that’s what we’re going for.

00:13:30:09 – 00:14:02:01
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, exactly. What has been in in your experience growing real, Adam, to a point where you guys are now three years and you’ve gotten through there, beta, you’re live, you’re you’re out there in the market still gathering feedback. I assume still tweaking the platform. But you’re at a point where you’re a you’re scaling that business up. What has been some of for those that are listening that are in the commercial lending space, what advice would you give to them as they’re also trying to scale their business and grow and have a better life?

00:14:02:01 – 00:14:14:01
Daniel Ramsey
Most of most of these commercial guys, they’re working really hard and they they’ve got to be hands on with everything. So it’s interesting. I love your perspective about how they should scale their business.

00:14:14:01 – 00:14:47:04
Yulia Yanni
You know, I was at the Proptech panel recently for Harvard Real Estate Class, Harvard Real Estate Club here in D.C. and they asked me a question like, what proptech trends should you watch in the future? Yeah. And I would say, let’s not wait for the future. There are so many technologies that startups are building right now for you to optimize your workflow.

00:14:47:04 – 00:15:19:17
Yulia Yanni
Either you’re a commercial real estate developer, you’re an analyst in the office of that developer. Either your broker is a listing broker or mortgage broker. There are technologies for every one of you that someone is building already. So let’s not wait for the future trends. You know, look around and see what technology you can use today to optimize your workflow.

00:15:20:04 – 00:15:44:14
Daniel Ramsey
Got it. What what would you suggest? Every every like you guys have onboarded some commercial lenders that are probably doing millions of dollars in commissions every year. So you’ve seen some of the largest commercial lender brokers or lenders in the nation. What are the platforms that they are typically using and how how, you know, what what what’s the tech stack that they ought to be kind of looking for.

00:15:46:08 – 00:15:48:22
Yulia Yanni
And fortunately in our industry.

00:15:49:14 – 00:15:50:17
Daniel Ramsey
There is no tech stack.

00:15:51:14 – 00:16:06:21
Yulia Yanni
It’s all been behind on innovation. So very often I see as a highlight of the technological innovation is Salesforce got it. And Salesforce been around for a very long time.

00:16:07:01 – 00:16:08:10
Daniel Ramsey
40 years, almost straight.

00:16:08:10 – 00:16:39:15
Yulia Yanni
Yes. So but what we’re seeing that more and more are mortgage brokers or lenders call us and basically ask us to show what we build and they start using the platform. So you know, we really sort of different because we specifically for commercial real estate lending industry. So our customers are mortgage brokers, capital teams within mortgage brokerages and lenders.

00:16:39:21 – 00:17:04:22
Yulia Yanni
Yeah, I know that many technologists in our specific sector. Sure. But there are companies already for listing brokers like VCs or Comstock. There are companies that optimize building technologies. So there are technologies that you definitely can find to make your life easier.

00:17:04:22 – 00:17:21:08
Daniel Ramsey
So let’s let’s break them down. Definitely. You mentioned Salesforce. So a CRM. What what do you what other tech stacks would you say like a commercial lender or a commercial broker should have in his on his team or her team?

00:17:22:05 – 00:17:59:19
Yulia Yanni
So let’s talk about commercial brokers, people that actually sell buildings. I would use one of the listing platforms and there are at least a couple that comes to mind. Correct. See, all by proxy, it’s a new start up, but really fast growing. Yep. There are technologies that help you to generate leads. For example, on the ME or Comstock I, there are technologies that help you optimize your workflow.

00:18:00:19 – 00:18:28:23
Yulia Yanni
I know they do exist. Don’t ask me right now the names. So this is for the listing broker. For the mortgage broker. I definitely am some sign, some type of CRM or alternatively you can use them because we do have elements of CRM. Okay. But for the mortgage broker, again, I think it’s hard because there are not that many technologies.

00:18:28:23 – 00:18:55:09
Yulia Yanni
That’s why we’re basically focused on that specific sector. So to help people, at least in some ways. Mm hmm. Yeah. I in the if you if you’re a developer or if you’re an investor, there are multiple technologies already that help you to build financial models on or optimize you or help you optimize how you research the market. Right.

00:18:55:09 – 00:18:56:14
Yulia Yanni
So they do exist.

00:18:56:24 – 00:19:09:09
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah. So basically putting a prettier package on your Excel spreadsheet and your fliers that you would create, that’s something that you think would be important for the commercial broker and commercial lender.

00:19:10:01 – 00:19:36:16
Yulia Yanni
Absolutely. And you know why it’s important? Hmm. Because the guy next door is already doing it. Yeah. No, seriously, like, if you are not doing something that makes your process efficient, whether you’re a listing broker, a mortgage broker or a developer or investor, someone else is doing it already. And you’re basically losing as we speak by not implementing something that makes your daily life more efficient.

00:19:37:02 – 00:19:56:07
Daniel Ramsey
Because the end users demand it. Like me, I’m the guys who are buying commercial or asking for the loans. We’re starting to demand more and more transparency and more and more visibility into the contracts and into the process. And so I think it’s all consumer driven.

00:19:57:16 – 00:20:19:04
Yulia Yanni
I agree with you. I agree with you. You want your transaction to be done today or yesterday? Yes. And for that. Exactly. And for that, you know, if you’re a mortgage broker, you know, if you’re I’m your CBRE mortgage broker and I have to send your transaction to 70 lenders that I’ve been working with for the last ten years.

00:20:19:10 – 00:20:40:11
Yulia Yanni
Yep. It will take me a day or a minute. So you choose and you as a consumer, you know, you will think, okay, you know, why is that on this transaction? This mortgage broker accommodated me within few days and this one is going to take me within several weeks. So you start think in this and the next time you know, would you choose.

00:20:40:20 – 00:20:53:16
Daniel Ramsey
Yeah, I love it. What’s in the future for real? Adam Like as we kind of get ready to wrap up, like what? What are you going to be rolling out in 2020 or 2021 that’s really going to be impactful for the industry.

00:20:54:07 – 00:20:56:16
Yulia Yanni
All right. Thank you for the question.

00:20:56:21 – 00:20:58:07
Daniel Ramsey
Now, you like that question?

00:20:58:07 – 00:21:24:08
Yulia Yanni
I love it. No, because we are extremely excited what we’re learning from our users and where we can help them. And what we realized right now is that we are helping them with creating a system of records. So basically through the different verticals of our market, whether it’s a mortgage broker or, you know, those mortgage brokers at the corporate level.

00:21:24:18 – 00:21:54:01
Yulia Yanni
All right. It’s a lender, you know, as a loan officer or a their manager or their C-level executives at the bank, you all want transparency into the transactions. So basically, you can see how efficient you as a loan officer or you as a bank or you as a mortgage broker or you as a CBRE, a the carpet. You want to have that transparency into your transactions.

00:21:54:08 – 00:22:14:10
Yulia Yanni
And that’s what we are giving our users at the end of the day, besides the efficiency of the process and that transparency, that ability to analyze your everyday efforts gives you competitive advantage to, you know, on the market.

00:22:15:06 – 00:22:30:03
Daniel Ramsey
And, and I guess in my what I heard is they’d be able to do more transactions with less people and therefore be more profitable and also manage their business to grow and scale. That’s what I hear you saying.

00:22:30:20 – 00:22:42:03
Yulia Yanni
Not necessarily your you know, you all that. Right. But it’s not about doing more transactions with less people. It’s about doing more transactions with existing people. Right.

00:22:42:13 – 00:22:43:01
Daniel Ramsey
I see.

00:22:43:02 – 00:23:05:08
Yulia Yanni
Because no one wants to lose their jobs because of the technology. And that’s not what is happening. Because if you are a great mortgage broker, if you’re a great lender, you will stay, but you will be able to produce more. And the you know, especially on the mortgage brokers side, you work on commissions, right? Right. So if you can produce more, what are you going to do.

00:23:06:03 – 00:23:09:21
Daniel Ramsey
Spend more, hire more, grow more exactly.

00:23:09:21 – 00:23:34:15
Yulia Yanni
By your wife, you know, a shrink to make her happy. Buy your kids more Christmas presents, Hanukkah presents to make them happy. Take your family for vacation. And that’s all because, you know, you just implemented one little piece of technology that saves you 6 hours on putting calendar calls into metrics. Right. You know, you’re basically now doing it in one minute.

00:23:35:01 – 00:23:58:01
Daniel Ramsey
I love it. One, whenever I have somebody that’s an influencer like you in the commercial space, I always ask, What’s your outlook for the future in the commercial space? Are you seeing any kind of shift in and like our rates going up or down, are you seeing volumes change? And in any kind of prediction for the near-term future for 2020 and 2021?

00:23:59:22 – 00:24:44:06
Yulia Yanni
So it’s a good question. And of course, you know, as being in the proptech, I mostly focus on proptech. We are still, you know, listening to what is happening in overall commercial real estate, especially working in the financial sector and the you know, we do hear that know, people have been waiting for the downturn. So the recession saw the mild recession slow some times is still not there are seeing some kind of indicators are and that’s where I see technology basically helping people to stay afloat and get ahead even in times of the downturn because again, you can become more efficient and focus on doing more.

00:24:44:06 – 00:24:50:22
Yulia Yanni
And that’s very important in the time of the downturn. But that’s that’s what we’re seeing.

00:24:51:09 – 00:24:59:01
Daniel Ramsey
But you’re not seeing anything right now. You’re you saw some indicators, but no real risks on the horizon at this time.

00:25:02:01 – 00:25:32:15
Yulia Yanni
So I don’t want to be pretend that I’m an economist either. You know, that’s why I will refrain from making any kind of forecasts, I always think, is that people are projecting and being more cautious in terms of their transactions. But again, we in the financial sector of the industry and people have to finance to refinance their transactions even in the time of the downturn.

00:25:32:15 – 00:25:37:08
Yulia Yanni
So we’re seeing people still doing a lot of transactions through the pull of it.

00:25:38:00 – 00:25:52:08
Daniel Ramsey
Okay, Julia, how would somebody find out more information about real Adam if they wanted to go go further? Let’s say they’re commercial lender and they like what you’ve said in this interview. What would somebody do to find out more information about your company?

00:25:53:13 – 00:25:55:14
Yulia Yanni
Come to real Adam dot com.

00:25:56:05 – 00:25:57:19
Daniel Ramsey
And that’s it and push the button.

00:25:58:15 – 00:25:59:13
Yulia Yanni
For the bottom.

00:26:00:20 – 00:26:30:18
Daniel Ramsey
I love it. I love it. Okay, if you’re listening right now, I’ve really enjoyed talking with you here. Obviously, you’ve got a lot of experience and your sector is blowing up. The fintech in the property tech world has gotten a lot of interest from Wall Street. So you’re obviously riding a great way right now. And we just appreciate your time today and joining us and sharing with, you know, our audience all of the information about how your your platform actually makes people more efficient and hopefully helps them drive more revenue.

00:26:31:09 – 00:26:32:12
Daniel Ramsey
So thanks for being here today.

00:26:32:20 – 00:26:35:13
Yulia Yanni
Video Thank you so much. I was happy to be here today.

00:26:35:23 – 00:26:56:07
Daniel Ramsey
And if you’re listening before we go, I want to give away a copy of our book. So all you have to do and we’re going to put the notes right here in the social is text the letter SVP Scale with virtual professionals 231996 and you get a copy of our book and it has 11 or 12 years of all my heart and soul put into it.

00:26:56:10 – 00:26:58:20
Daniel Ramsey
Yulia, we’re going to get you a copy of this book.

00:26:59:02 – 00:26:59:11
Yulia Yanni
Because it’s.

00:26:59:11 – 00:27:20:19
Daniel Ramsey
Really cool and I want you to have a copy as a thank you for being here today, but it’s very easily easy for you to get it. SVP Scale with Virtual Professionals 231996 And it’s a free Kindle version of our book which will tell you everything about scaling a business with virtual assistants. Yulia, once again, thanks for being here today.

00:27:21:01 – 00:27:22:14
Yulia Yanni
Thank you.