Emerging Into New Markets With Results-Driven Strategies

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

The quality of your team can either make or break your business expansion.

Coming on board as a chief operating officer at Localize, a real estate tech-focused company, Omer Granot was saddled with the responsibility of expanding the organization from its base in Israel to the United States. So he mapped out an effective strategy which included building a strong team to emerge in the new market.

Omer Granot, who has transitioned to the chief executive officer (CEO) at Localize, is the guest in this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast. He speaks with host Chad Franzen about the importance of team building for business expansion.  

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Show Notes 

[0:26] Intro     

  • Chad Franzen mentions some of the past guests who have been on the show, including David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth.
  • Chad Franzen introduces SweetProcess, a workflow tool that helps businesses streamline their operations even in life-or-death situations.     
  • SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial without a credit card.   

[1:23] Chad Franzen introduces the guest, Omer Granot.  

[1:56] Omer describes what Localize is all about.

  • Localize is a technology company in real estate. It partners with real estate agents, residential real estate agents, and brokerages to provide them with a system that allows them to engage their buyers easily.

[2:23] How is Omer involved in the organization’s operations?

  • Omer joined Localize as a chief operating officer (COO) and held that position for a year and a half.
  • As COO, Omer built the organization’s team and helped it expand from Israel to the US. He recently transitioned to the chief executive officer (CEO) role.

[2:53] What are Omer’s daily operational responsibilities?

  • Omer has three key functions: set a strategy, raise money, and build a team.
  • He ensures that the organization has the right team on board and that the team focuses on the most important objectives.

[3:29] Omer talks about the go-to market strategy the Localize team formulated when expanding to the US.

  • Localize interprets real estate data and helps agents and buyers have a better real estate buying and selling experience using the data they collect.
  • Instead of directly competing with its competitors in the US, Localize relied on its strengths of data and technology to carve a niche for itself in the US.

[4:46] How did Localize launch in the US?

  • The US real estate market isn’t technology-driven; it mostly operates manually. Localize leverages technology to empower real estate agents as a strategy to penetrate the market.

[6:46] Omer discusses the organization’s current stage of growth.

  • The organization currently works with 600 real estate partner agents in New York, where it solely operates at the moment.
  • The team plans to expand to other markets in the US within the next few months. 

[7:41] Omer describes the expansion stages.

  • The organization devised three stages for its expansion to the US.
  • The first stage was to launch their products and use them to acquire leads in the first six months. They used this stage to field-test their system.
  • The second stage was to partner with real estate agents and give them access to the system so they could leverage technology in their operations.
  • The third stage is to have a fully standalone system to license to real estate agents. The team hopes to get to this stage in the next few weeks.

[9:07] What happens between now and when the team gets to that stage?

  • Omer and his team plan to tweak the Localize system to serve the different focuses or use cases of different real estate agents.
  • The team ensures that the system meets the unique needs of each real estate agent before handing it over to them.

[10:17] Omer talks about his process for building the right team.

  • Omer worked at a company called Via, where he witnessed significant growth and learned the importance of hiring exceptional people.
  • Omer focuses on hiring exceptional people for Localize and allows them to do their jobs.

[12:00] How do you cope in the interim before you find exceptional talents?

  • Omer encourages his team to have an owner’s mindset, which ensures that they are constantly engaged to keep the business going.
  • There’s no mundane task for anyone at Localize. Everyone on the team performs any tasks for the organization’s success.

[13:59] Omer describes an exceptional person.

  • You can identify an exceptional person from their track record of excellence. 
  • People who can teach themselves tend to be exceptional.
  • The company employs people who are fun to work with because it makes the job easier.

[15:41] How can people find out more about Localize?

  • You can visit the Localize website to get more information about the organization’s services.

[16:23] Outro

About Omer Granot

Omer Granot is the chief executive officer (CEO) at Localize, a tech-driven real estate company that uses artificial intelligence to aid in home-buying. A former chief operating officer (COO) at the organization, Omer manages the Localize teams in Israel and the United States.

Committed to simplifying and streamlining the real estate buying and selling process, Omer partners with real estate agents to enhance their operations. 

Before his engagement at Localize, Omer served as vice president of Growth at Via, a transit technology company.

Transcript of the interview

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now let’s get started with the show.

Chad Franzen: Chad Franzen, here co-host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done, and Michael Gerber of The E-Myth and many more.

Chad Franzen: This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. Have you had team members ask you the same questions over and over again and this is the 10th time you spent explaining it? There’s a better way and a solution. SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop-dead easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff. Not only do universities, banks, hospitals, and software companies use them but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations.

Chad Franzen: Use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time. So you can focus on growing your team and empowering them to do their best work. Sign up for a free 14-day trial. No credit card required go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy S-W-E-E-Tprocess.com.

Chad Franzen: Omer Granot is CEO of Localize. He captain’s Localize teams in the US and Israel. He engages with brokerages to showcase how Hunter by Localize is revolutionizing real estate by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, so that agents never lose another deal. Previously, Omer was a VP of growth at Via, a transit tech company. Omer, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Omer Granot: I’m great. Thanks for having me.

Chad Franzen: Hey, yeah. So tell me a little bit more about Localize if you don’t mind.

Omer Granot: Sure. So Localize is a technology company in real estate. And we partner with real estate agents, residential real estate agents, and brokerages, and we provide them with a system that allows them to meaningfully engage each and every one of their buyers.

Chad Franzen: Okay. And how are you involved in the operations? I know you’re the CEO, but how are you involved in operations?

Omer Granot: So I actually joined Localize just shy of two years ago. I joined as a COO. And so for the first year and a half, I held a COO role and sort of built a team, helped expand from Israel, where we initially launched into the US. And then six months ago I transitioned to the CEO role. But again, the team is very small and we’re still all hands on deck on that.

Chad Franzen: Sure. In terms of your operational responsibilities, what does your day-to-day look like?

Omer Granot: I think since transitioning to CEO I sort of have three key functions, right? It’s set a strategy, raise money, and build a team. And so most of my day is making sure that we have the right team in place. And then the team focuses on the most important objectives for the next, whatever timeframe we decide to. Usually it’s a few months.

Chad Franzen: As you expanded into the US, you kind of had to formulate a go to market strategy. What went into that process?

Omer Granot: Yeah, it’s interesting. So again, if you think about what Localize does, we make sense of the world’s real estate data. And then we leverage that data insights and serviceability to help agents and buyers go through a better process. And so when we expanded to the US, we asked ourselves, "Okay, how do we want to take those strength or those muscles and deploy them in the US market?"

Omer Granot: In Israel, we operate a marketplace. We’re the largest real estate sort of classify listing site in Israel. And then when we expanded to the US, the market is different, right? We have these big players here, StreetEasy, and Zillow, and Trulia, and others. And we didn’t feel that the right way to launch in the US was to directly compete with them, to just launch another marketplace and try to differentiate and basically win based on spending marketing dollars. And so we spent part of thought into how should we launch in the US in a way that would make sense and really allow us to compete, relying on our key strength, which is data and technology versus market budget?

Chad Franzen: So, how did you launch in the US then?

Omer Granot: Okay. So if you think about how real estate works in the US ,right? It’s kind of a [inaudible 00:04:53]. It’s a huge market. It’s a 1.9 trillion dollar a year market, 90 billion dollar a year just in commissions, agent commissions, 2 million real estate agents, 60,000 brokerages. And it’s all done almost offensively manual. There’s really no technology in that ecosystem. And so if you take as an example, an individual real estate agent, they spend money acquiring leads, right? They spend money on Facebook, Google, StreetEasy, Zillow, they get a potential buyer and then they start to do this process that is all manual. They give them a call, they start to learn about them. They profile, they qualify them. They ask them all these questions. They try to find apartments for them. They do this back and forth. They try and build a relationship so that eventually they would transact.

Omer Granot: When we looked at that market, we saw a huge opportunity because again, if you look at the numbers, because everything is manual, the conversion is extremely low. The numbers are roughly 1%, half a percent or percent, right? So if you are a real estate agent, you engage with thousands of people every month, every year. And you actually manage to get less than 1% of them to transact with you. And so we saw a huge opportunity there. And so we said, "Okay, we’ll take our technology. We’ll leverage it towards empowering agents. And then through that, we will basically reach the market, right? Instead of going direct to consumer, we will go partner with agents. We will assist agents in a world that is now extremely challenging, just because of the scale of it. And that way we can grow with them as they scale. And again, rely on technology versus just acquisition."

Chad Franzen: Sure, sure. So what kind of stage are you guys in terms of your growth right now?

Omer Granot: So we tweaked our product in the first half of 2021, and then we actually launched and started to license our technology to agents. In August we had our first customers, we had a few individuals. And then over the last few months, we’ve scaled quite exponentially. We now work with close to 600 partner agents in New York. We currently only operate in New York. And so we currently have roughly 600 agents leveraging the Localize technology and we are growing extremely rapidly. And we’re now beginning the relationship with them. Over the next few months I think we’ll continue to onboard more and more agents who want rely on Localize technology. And then hopefully within a few months, we’ll start to expand to other markets in the US.

Chad Franzen: How does that process work in terms of building in certain stages?

Omer Granot: So essentially, when we thought about how we launched there was… So I said in the first six months we tweaked our product and the way we did it was we looked at the first two years of going from Israel to the US and we said, we’re not going to jump to the final stage immediately. We sort of saw that process and we said, there are three stages. One is we launch our product, we use it ourselves, right? We acquire leads. We train our systems, we make sure the product works. And we field tested, right? That was the first six months.

Omer Granot: The second stage was, we’re going to go to partner agents. We’re going to partner with them. We’re going to give them technology, but we’re still going to be involved in the operations of it. We’re going to help them operate the system. We’re going to staff some of the positions we’re going to help them succeed while using the system. And I think stage three, where we’ll get to probably within the next year or two, is to have a full standalone system that we can just license to agents completely standalone. Right? If you want to bring your agency, your brokerage to the 22nd century, you will be able to open an instance of Localize using the fully self-serve flow that we currently do on support, but we’ll support in the future.

Chad Franzen: So what has to happen between now and when you get to that stage?

Omer Granot: Between now where we use technology, but we also help support it and the final stage?

Chad Franzen: Yeah.

Omer Granot: I think we need to, as we start to work with hundreds of agents, we realize that each of them has a slightly different use case or focus real estate. Even if you just look at residential real estate, it’s still massive, right? You have people working with people who want to rent, with people who want to buy, people who want to sell. And so each of these brokers have a different focus. And so when we start to work with these new customers, we tweak our system. We add features, we start by doing it ourselves to make sure that we know what we’re doing, and that we actually are able to compensate in places where the system is not yet fully built out. And then as we continue to build the system and it’s solid and it’s complete enough, then we fully hand it over to our customers. And so I think that’s what we’re going to do in the next couple of weeks. Just build out the remaining features.

Chad Franzen: Sure. You talked about how part of your responsibility is to build the right team. Can you take me through the process that you do for that?

Omer Granot: Sure. So pre-joining Localized, I worked at a company called Via and I learned a lot in the five years I spent at Via. I joined when the team was very small and then left. I joined when the team was 20 people-ish in New York. And then I left when the team was 800 people. And so I saw this massive growth at Via. And so again, I took many things out of it, but one of the most important things I took is I remember the Via COO, Danielle constantly saying that, at Via we only hire exceptional people. And we tried to do the same at Localized and the rallies. Everyone says we only hire exceptional people. No one says, "I hire mediocre people to fill my ranks." But the reality is that most companies, when they’re actually faced with market pressure or the need to hire fast, they actually make compromises on the quality of the people they hire.

Omer Granot: And that comes back and creates a challenge in the future. And so when I think about building our team, the first and most important thing is that we actually focus on only hiring exceptional people, even at the cost of being understaffed, consistently understaffed, and sort of slower to hire. That is kind of the first thing. And then the second thing is, again, you want to hire exceptional people and then if you do manage to hire these great people, then you can basically let them lose, right? And they figure it out as we grow.

Chad Franzen: So how do you work around kind of that interim period where you’re lacking staff in search of that exceptional person?

Omer Granot: Yeah. The reality is that it’s tough. We asked our team to, I’ll say two things. One is we ask our team for a lot. It’s not that they work 24/7 and nonstop, but we do ask them to care, right? We ask them to have an owner’s mindset. And that means that it’s not joining Localized is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job where you come in, everything that happens at 8:30 or everything that happens at 5:15 is not yours. You’re constantly engaged because you want this to succeed. And if you don’t do something, then no one else will do it, right? Again, it’s not always easy. And I think that in some cases it creates frustration that we need to work through, but that is one aspect of it. So we hire people who understand that before joining the team and they come in with an owner’s mindset and they work hard. So that’s the first thing.

Omer Granot: And then the second thing is, again, we don’t think that there’s a mundane task or a task that is too low for someone to do everyone in the company doesn’t matter how senior or how junior you are, sort of do everything across the board. And we actually try to put our most talented people on tasks that may seem like they’re overqualified for it, because that allows them to then look at this task and say, "Okay, 70% of it could be automated or could be productized or could be handed off to software." And so over time we fixed those things. Eventually we try to hire. We’re actually hiring quite aggressively now. So if anyone is hearing this and wants to join us, I’d encourage them to.

Chad Franzen: So, last question for you? What defines an exceptional person?

Omer Granot: It’s a good question. I think once you experience someone who’s exceptional. It is very easy to say, to sort identify, right? There’s a huge difference between someone who’s not great and someone who’s okay. But there’s equally big difference between someone who’s good and someone who’s great. Someone who’s exceptional. And so one is, I think once you’ve set your mind and you sort of search for that in every person you interact with, and you surround yourself with people who are exceptional, you kind of know when you meet someone. If I had to describe it from the outside, we try to hire people who have shown a track record of excellence. It doesn’t really matter at what. I think industry specific experience can be taught. Raw skills are often harder to teach. And so we try to bring people who strive for excellence, again, in any vertical of life, people who have the ability to teach themselves, because the reality is that we’re always shorter people.

Omer Granot: And there won’t be enough time for someone to handhold a new team member for years. And so we want people to sort of take on challenges and be able to figure them out as they go. And then lastly, we want people who are fun to work with because as I said, we spend quite a lot of time together. And so we try not to hire people who are brilliant or exceptional on the skills vertical, but are kind of not great on the social side of things.

Chad Franzen: Sure, sure. How can people find out more about Localize?

Omer Granot: So one is you can shoot anyone on our team, a quick note and ask to chat. I think that’s always the best way to learn about us. We’re now doing more and more. So again, you’re asking as how do employees hear about us? Or…

Chad Franzen: If they just wanted to find you online, just get more information.

Omer Granot: So you can go to localized.city that’s our website. And then you can read about the company, you can read about our product, you can see testimonials, things that our partner agents say about us. And again, I think as we start to scale more and more, and we effectively become the operating system for real estate, I think we’ll build a brand that more people will know.

Chad Franzen: Okay, great. Hey Omar, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today. It’s been great hearing your thoughts and your insights. Thank you so much.

Omer Granot: Thank you very much.

Chad Franzen: So long, everybody.

Speaker 1: Thanks are listening to the process breakdown podcast. Before you go, quick question. Do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess, no credit card is required to sign up. Go to sweetprocess.com. Sweet like candy and process like process.com go now to sweetprocess.com and sign up for your risk free 14-day trial.

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