Jasper Juhl worked in business development for IBM in Houston for years, managing the tech firm's oil and gas accounts. "I managed probably $100 million in revenue," Juhl said.
But despite his business success, Denmark-born Juhl never got over that entrepreneurial itch.
So in 2012 he moved to Austin with the goal of starting his own company. After a tough experience buying his first house in Austin, Juhl decided to build software that helped connect serious buyers with agents.
WHAT THEY DO: Great Agent, which launched in January 2015, is software for real estate agents. Realtors often solicit contact information from interested buyers through online forms.
But many people who fill out these forms are either not serious buyers or give incorrect information. It can be difficult for agents to determine who is a serious buyer.
Great Agent attempts to solve this problem by screening these buyers.
HOW THEY DO IT: Using algorithms and "machine learning," Great Agent has a 21-step verification program that it uses to vet potential buyers. It checks for things like the accuracy of a person's email address, and looks at a buyer's recent web history to determine how serious they are about buying.
Juhl said the software also helps buyers get phone calls or emails returned more quickly from real estate agents. "Eighty percent of consumers have the expectation to be called back within 30 minutes and yet less than 10 percent of agents are able to deliver that," Juhl said.
WHO THEY ARE: Juhl is CEO and he employs five people. He has an advisory board that includes Linda Rutherford, a vice president at Southwest Airlines.
INVESTMENT: Juhl said he is not permitted to disclose the identity of one of his European investors. He said the company is "mostly" bootstrapped, and in the early days was run from a $50 netbook.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Juhl is in a competitive arena. Dozens of companies develop software for the real estate industry. But Juhl said some of his competitors take a different approach to "lead generation," the sales terminology for finding new customers.
"Every other company is focused on volume," he said, while Great Agent is focused on delivering quality leads, he said. They charge $1,500 for up to 10 users. Juhl said the "premium" software is not for every agent, and that he is targeting small real estate teams of two to five agents.