Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Reaching $8k MRR in a Year Selling Software to Real Estate Agents

Molly Wolchansky
Molly Wolchansky
June 15, 2021
Category of startup
Marketing
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
$0-$10k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Reaching $8k MRR in a Year Selling Software to Real Estate Agents

Molly Wolchansky
Molly Wolchansky
June 15, 2021
Category of startup
Marketing
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Molly Wolchansky founded The Agent Nest, a SaaS that provides digital and print content to real estate agents. She has experienced exponential growth and is getting around 75 trial sign-ups per month. She is on track to hit 10K MRR by September.

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Hi Molly! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

My name is Molly Wolchansky, I am currently 30 years old, and I am the founder of The Agent Nest.

The Agent Nest is a SaaS that provides digital and print content to real estate agents. We have two separate monthly plans, one for $32/month and $59/month. The $32/month plan gives the agents access to all of our content, which includes social media posts with captions and hashtags, postcards, flyers, listing videos, listing templates, Instagram stories, Facebook cover photos, and more. Each piece of content has an edit link that takes them to Canva where they can customize everything to their liking. The $59/month comes with everything above, but it also includes scheduled posting, which means they can click on the schedule button under each social media post and plan out an entire month in about 15 minutes. We have white-labeled with another company, and this has allowed us to give our customers the ability to post directly from our platform to their Facebook business page, Instagram business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google business page. 

My job duties include creating content, marketing, and customer service. I know- it’s a lot! I have hired various freelancers to help out with content creation to alleviate some stress.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I have always had a business-oriented mindset. When I was about five years old, my sister and I used to sit on the side of the road selling aluminum foil boats from a cooler for 25 cents each. Even at that age, I wanted to show people that our “product” worked, so I got a cooler and filled it with water, and put the boats on top of the water. If the boat didn’t float, then I would re-create a new one to make sure that it did. We did things like this often. We sold rocks that we painted, boats made from lined notebook paper (those didn’t float!), and then, of course, the aluminum foil boats. We only made about $1.

I went to school and received my English degree. While I was in college, I started an Etsy business, and my target market was long-distance relationships. My best-selling product was a long-distance relationship coffee mug. I would paint states on each one, put a heart on the city, and when the mugs were held together, the dotted lines would connect to each location. During this time is when I started to love marketing, as well, and I also realized that I LOVED to be a business owner. I took some online marketing classes, and with a lot of practice, my marketing skills improved. Before shutting down the business, I made almost 2,000 sales in total over three years.

I stopped my Etsy business because I had a new idea for a business- real estate marketing. My mother is a real estate agent and she needed some marketing help, so I started posting on all of her social media outlets with content I created through Canva. Many of her friends reached out to her and asked her where she was getting her content from. A lightbulb went off in my head! I contacted each person, set up a monthly plan for them, which was around $450/month, and then I opened up a company called MoRealty Marketing. I would post on my client’s social media every single day, manage comments and followers, create print materials for them, and more. I did this for six years. It was a lot of work for one person to handle. Then, after a while, I started to create open house promos, flyers, videos- people started reaching out to me to create postcards, business cards, and logos. Keller Williams reached out to me to start teaching marketing classes at some of their branches, so I would travel around the Dallas metroplex and teach in front of a big group of agents. There were a lot of positives here, but here is my biggest mistake: I would say “yes” to everyone, and I started to feel overwhelmed. There were only so many people I could take on at once. 

I got my idea for The Agent Nest in October of 2019. I wanted to create a program where it would essentially run itself, and a program that allowed an infinite amount of members. Another of the main issues I ran into with Morealty Marketing was that people couldn’t afford the $450/month, so I also wanted to create a company that was more affordable for the average real estate agent, as well. Luckily, my boyfriend is a programmer and also runs his own SaaS, so we had many late-night chats and brainstorming sessions about what we could do to solve these problems:

  1. How can I take on more clients?
  2. How can I make it affordable?
  3. How can I be less overwhelmed? 

Once we were able to answer these questions, The Agent Nest was born.

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How did you go from idea to product?

I got the idea for The Agent Nest in late October of 2019, and we launched on January 1st, 2020. I worked with my cofounder to let him know my vision for what I wanted everything to look like. We drew out each website page on sheets of paper, and we started as a no-code SaaS. After we started to grow a little bit, we decided to implement coding, and we now use Vue and C#.

Since I have had previous experience with running a similar company, I found that the money to get started didn’t amount to any kind of exorbitant fee. It cost around $500 to get the business up and running. We ran into a few obstacles. For example, when someone signed up we wanted to make sure they knew how to use The Agent Nest, and the first few people who signed up were a little lost. It is pretty easy to use, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure that everyone understood all of the features we had to offer. To alleviate this situation, we created a landing page that everyone was redirected to as soon as they signed up. On this landing page, we inputted a video that I created that was a walk-through of the platform.

The Agent Nest Work Examples

We didn’t take much time as far as launching goes. In the past, I have attended real estate conventions, and I also had all of the information from my past clients. I had an email list of around 1,000 people, so right when we launched I sent out a mass email to them to let them know about my new product. What’s great is I knew each person individually and have met them before, so we had some signups from that group of people due to the trust I had built with them. After that initial email, it slowed down a bit, but in March it blew up due to an ad I created for Facebook.


Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

To start the business, I decided to offer a two-week free trial to members so they could get a feel of the program, and also because people tend to love free trials! During the two-week free trial, the customer would receive automated emails on how to grow their real estate business, how to create business pages, how to target their chosen audience, I would often and more. We wanted people to feel like they were getting value in addition to getting content. The Agent Nest received its first trial on January 6th of 2020, and I was so excited! It was a former client of mine from Morealty Marketing. By the end of January, I had 7 paying customers, and my MRR was $145. In February I started posting on my Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest more often, I created a real estate Facebook group that pertained to social media, and I started running my first ads through Facebook and Google. I didn’t have that big of a marketing budget during this time, so, of course, I was spending more than I was making, which is OKAY. By the end of February, I had 17 members total, and my MRR was $430. I was so excited that I almost tripled my MRR from the previous month, but, at the same time, I tend to be hard on myself. I have always been the kind of person who wants everything to be perfect; who wants to be THE BEST. Can you believe after two months I was already putting THIS much pressure on myself? Sometimes it hindered me more than it helped, but it did make me more determined. In March of 2020, I continued my marketing strategies from February since it seemed to work, but also during this time I changed the 14 days free trial to a 30-day free trial. I then created a Facebook ad for this promotion with a $400 budget for the month. The Facebook ad was successful. By the end of March, I had 122 30-day trial sign-ups, and my MRR was $517. Then, in April, my MRR shot up to $2,443, and I had a 65% trial conversion rate.

To continue the growth of The Agent Nest, I began running ads on my Pinterest after I created different boards about real estate marketing with my content on there. I still pay around $75/month for Pinterest ads and average 90,000 page views per month. I have also hosted real estate webinars on a wide range of topics and advertise them on Facebook Groups, pages, and ads. In August of 2020, I got invited to be interviewed on the Podcast “Getting your Real Estate Life Together” and had a blast. I’m always open for more Podcast interviews!


How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

We are doing great today! Our growth has continued and we are getting around 75 trial sign-ups per month. If we keep on this path we will hit 10K MRR by September, which is exciting! 

In the next month or so I am starting a podcast. I have gathered real estate agents that I am going to interview, and the podcast is going to focus on successful agents (and some who have not been successful). We will talk about how they became an agent, how they got their first listing, where they are today, etc. The podcast is going to have a little 10-second advertisement promoting The Agent Nest on each episode. 

We are also working on having a team sign-up plan, as well as a brokerage sign-up plan. A lot of real estate agents are part of a team, so we want the team to sign up together, and we want to allow them to customize even more. For example, we are going to add a section to where they can add their team hashtags, location, etc., and these hashtags will be auto-populated at the end of each social media caption on The Agent Nest. 

I also would like to start sending out a bi-weekly newsletter. I did this at the beginning, but I got too busy to keep this going. 

I am hiring some people to help out with the business as soon as The Agent Nest hits 10k MRR.

I would like to speak at real estate conferences and SaaS conferences and talk about how I got to where I am today. That is the ultimate goal!

Since starting The Agent Nest, what have been your main lessons?

  1. Stop the negative self-talk: I would not have gotten to where I am today if I had just quit whenever those not-good-enough thoughts were planted into my brain. 
  2. Respond to customers as soon as possible: I would see an e-mail from a customer and think, “I’ll get back to them after I do this!” And then sometimes I forgot to get back to them. In a business, the customer’s happiness should come first.
  3. It’s okay if I don’t meet my goals: As you can tell, I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I always want to meet all goals I have set. In the past, if I didn’t meet a goal, I went back to thinking I should give up. Now, if I don’t hit the MRR I wanted to hit for a month, I sit back and reevaluate what I could have done differently, and then I  investigate why one month was different from the last.
  4. Post every single day on social media: To build trust, and to target clients, the best thing to do is to post on social media every single day, even if it’s something as simple as “Here’s my morning coffee!” I also started posting photos of myself at the office, photos of my clients, and I even started an “Agent of the Week” series that everyone loves.


What were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?

It is always really, really fun when your entire program breaks, your entire system just decides to take a nap. Luckily, this has happened only one time. As soon as this happened, I sent out a mass email to all of my customers apologizing for the inconvenience and I let them know that we were diligently working to fix the issue. I was panicking and I started to go into one of those spiraling thought modes. I said things to myself like, “What if the program never comes back up?” “What if everyone leaves me bad reviews?” What if, what if, what if? I try not to listen to the “what-ifs” because they are not very helpful. Side note: One of my favorite writers is Shel Silverstein, and he wrote a poem about the “What-ifs” that live inside people’s heads. Highly recommend. 

As far as competitors go in this industry, there are a few different platforms that offer social media posts and print marketing for real estate agents. One of the biggest obstacles we have faced as a company was trying to be different from the other companies, and my worst mistake was comparing myself too much to these other companies. A lot of times I would get down on myself and want to quit because I kept on telling myself, “I am never going to be as successful as them!” This is not a good way of thinking. I had to push more of that negative talk behind me and start focusing on what I could do to be a little bit different. In May we decided to White-label with another company, and that company made it possible for our customers to post directly onto their social media from The Agent Nest. This was a game-changer! We are the only company in this industry that offers this in the platform itself, and that is how we figured out how to be different from our competitors. We were also able to add another plan, and if someone wants to get access to that scheduling feature the cost is $59/month as opposed to the $32/month for the basic access to our site. I am so glad that we did this!

One other issue I ran into was not budgeting correctly. I am the kind of person who thinks one should spend a lot of money on marketing, and we spend around $1,500/month on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest Ads. There was a month where I was not paying attention. I usually create multiple Facebook ads at once and give them the same daily budget, and after about three days I go and see which ad is performing the best and cancel the ones that are not performing. Well… one time I forgot to do that, and I had to pay $1,000 for an ad that was not delivering and not working. That was rough! Now I pay more attention!


What tools & resources do you recommend?

We use ConvertKit for all of our e-mail automation. Drift has been a great tool! We have Drift installed on the frontend and backend of the website, so members or potential members can easily reach out. 


Where can we go to learn more?

Here are a few places you can go to learn more about my business: Website, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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