“It felt like I was a chef cooking a seven-course meal with just an Easy-Bake Oven.”
Asked what inspired the origins of real estate tech company Jointly, founder and CEO Devin Dvorak has no shortage of rich descriptors to capture his journey from frustrated realtor to founderhood.
As a third generation REALTOR®, Dvorak was native to the challenges of the Austinite real estate ecosystem. Like many of his cohorts, he chafed at the outdated, mundane tasks that slowed down his business — hence his reference to a chef hamstrung by the innocuous Easy-Bake Oven.
“I couldn’t believe how difficult it was for me as a realtor to do the core function of my job: writing contracts and facilitating transactions,” he recalled. “I couldn’t draft an offer for my clients without going back to the office and getting in front of a desktop for 45 minutes. Any successful realtor knows their real office is their car.”
From his frustration with the real estate processes, Dvorak forged a plan to reimagine the future of his industry.
“What if I only had to enter the same data point once versus tens of times?” he dreamed. “What if I could pre-populate 80 percent of my contracts with data already available to me — or automate reminders and notifications?”
Most importantly, Dvorak considered the emergence of Web 3.0 and the technological advances that will inevitably follow. Since founding Jointly, Dvorak is constantly seeking new ways to turn up the heat on the real estate industry. Built In sat down with the forward-thinking founder to find out more about his roles “from chief enabler and firefighter chief” to Easy-Bake chef extraordinaire.
What prompted you to start the company?
I was born into the real estate industry. However, I didn’t last long. After a few long years of building a real estate brokerage in Austin, I was fed up.
Among many things: When I received multiple offers on a house listed for sale, I had to first comb through my inbox to make sure I had all of the emails. Then I needed to open all of the PDFs and manually key each data point into a spreadsheet.
The opportunity to dramatically improve today’s real estate transaction while laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s was too much of an opportunity to pass up — and Jointly was born.
These days, my roles and responsibilities as founder vary depending on the day and the fire. Undoubtedly the most critical responsibility I have is promoting and defending our culture of ownership. Our vision drives ownership. Our virtues embody ownership. Our environment fosters ownership. At Jointly, we’ve assembled an impressive team who authentically embody our four virtues: initiative, zeal, openness and reliability.
Who did you look to for inspiration early on and why?
Early on, I looked to other entrepreneurs and leaders for inspiration. Reading and listening to the stories of the early days for today’s most influential companies reveals a common pattern.
Every single company has setbacks, failures, tough times — yet continues forward relentlessly. While there are many lists for the many reasons why startups fail, I believe the sole reason startups succeed is that they don’t give up when the going gets tough. Continuing forward through the adversity is what allows for the opportunity and luck that jettisons a startup to its eventual success.
What scared you the most during your first few years as a founder?
From COVID to a recession that impacts the housing market, there have been many things to be scared of. However, everything pales in comparison to watching that very first user take your product for a spin.
Especially when the stakes are high — like closing on the largest financial transaction of most people’s lives. I still remember watching replays of sessions shouting at the user in the video to do what we had hoped they’d see as the obvious next step.
Were there any moments when you felt like giving up?
Part of the start up journey are the inevitable setbacks and failures, which we eternal optimists rebrand as “learnings.”
Learning to embrace these moments and to continue pushing on is critical. The only way to do this consistently is to have a strong support system behind you. A strong team, family, fellow entrepreneurs and a strong belief in the vision of the company. Knowing that the product or service you are bringing to market will make life better for other people is ultimately what keeps you going.
This next stage for Jointly is going to be an exciting one. Having built the core of the product which streamlines data collection, productivity and compliance, we can now begin the fun part of what we call “unleashing the power of the data.”
Whether that is automating the agent’s mundane tasks for the day or delivering insights at a team or brokerage level, Jointly can deliver value autonomously based on the agent’s inputs.
Additionally, real estate is very much a team sport, and we plan to expand the platform to additional parties. We will integrate services like lease screening into Jointly which will further drive value.
We are looking to keep building our talented team to continue growing and evolving.