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Visionary Entrepreneur Series: Innov8tiv presents the best and brightest early stage entrepreneurs from Tiphub’s Diaspora Demo Summit. Tiphub is a mentorship driven accelerator that supports early stage businesses and social impact ventures in Africa and the African Diaspora.

If you’ve ever struggled to bounce back from failure, meet Emilie Elice-Label, the founder of Frontdoor, an AI-driven recommendation app that eliminates the apartment hunting headaches in select cities. “In 2012, I failed in my first company– a real estate marketing company based Montreal,said, Elice-Label. Our major client stopped paying us for no reason while we just hired 2 employees and signed a lease for new offices. I had to fire them and break the lease agreement. The lesson I learned is that I’ll never put all my eggs in the same basket again. Also, we will keep our burn rate as low as possible as long as we can.”

Equipped with the priceless lessons learned from launching her first business, Elice-Label opened her second business: Frontdoor, a personal and stress-free way to find a home. Frontdoor is like having a personal real estate assistant in your pocket. The app schedules apartment viewings for you, “so you don’t have to go through the unproductive emails and phone calls that come along with scheduling.”

As part of our series spotlighting game changing entrepreneurs from Tibhub’s Diaspora Demo Day, check out some business insight, tips and inspiration from founder Emilie Elice-Label.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in France from West Indians parents. I have a BBA in business administration and I have 7+ years of experience in real estate technology.

What are your top 3-4 accomplishments?    

  1. Frontdoor
  2. Being able to bounce back after my first company failed
  3. Running the Montreal marathon in 2012
  4. Being surrounded by awesome advisors
    1. Raj Singh – sold Tempo.ai to Salesforce
    2. Pierre Calzadilla – Former Sr Manager at Trulia Rentals
    3. Taoufik Eljamali – Head of Growth at Shopkick
    4. Frederick Townes – Founding CTO at Mashable, Co-founder and COO at Placester

Tell us about the “AHA” moment that inspired you to open your business?

Frontdoor is the continuity of my previous startup. I have 2 employees just to pick up the phone and answer our clients emails to help them schedule viewings to go see apartments. When it comes to looking for an apartment, most people ask: “When can I see the place?” When our first company failed, we figured that we could have the same process handled by an A.I assistant.

What problem does your business solve?

Finding the right place to live is still cumbersome. Most of today’s apartment search sites completely leave out what 94% of city dwellers identified as critical when looking for an apartment: Responsiveness –

We live in an instant gratification era where city dwellers can get anything from a push of a button.  Finding a place to live is time-consuming:  Takes an average

– 7 emails to successfully schedule ONE viewing with a property owner.
– 12 weeks for city dwellers looking for an apartment to finally land one.
– 45% of city dwellers using online sites never receive a reply to their inquiries.

We’ve built Frontdoor to streamline a process existing solutions couldn’t cope with.

With a decade of combined experience and advised by some of the most successful real estate operators in our space, we’re building the most sophisticated real estate experience for both city dwellers and property owners. Frontdoor is a utilitarian tool that anyone moving anywhere could use to find a perfect place to call home.

What has been your greatest challenge? How did you overcome it?

Getting paying customers. Real estate is all about relationships. When we moved to SF late 2015, we didn’t know anybody in the US. We had to build our network from scratch to get introduced to the decision makers. Problem is, all the real estate startups want the same clients so they’re very selective. We had to over deliver and be extra good on follow up.

Many people have a “secret sauce” that has defined his or her success. What are the top three ingredients that have enabled you to succeed? 

  1. I’m relentless, I’ll keep at it until I succeed.
  2. I’m a closer, acquiring new clients is the part I love the most.
  3. I’m empathetic which allows me to build real relationship with my business partners and employees.

What would be your advice for those trying to create a brand?

Find a problem that you’re truly passionate to solve. If you know why you’re doing it, you’ll keep pushing when times are hard.

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