NowMoveMe's Miriam Diwan is Revolutionizing the Real Estate Hunt
NowMoveMe is "a neighborhood discovery engine powered by a personality quiz" - think online-dating for real estate. The In the Midfield team has been lucky to know the company's co-founder, Miriam Diwan, for years. With a resume full of business experience, we weren't surprised when she, along with her co-founder, Tanya Zhuk, set out to revolutionize the way you search for real estate.
In the Midfield (ITM): When we first heard about your company, we thought, "this is genius"! We love the description on the site -"Match.com® meets Zillow®" How did the concept come to you?
Miriam Diwan (NowMoveMe): Thank you! We’re flattered! My co-founder, Tanya Zhuk, and I have moved many times during our 20s, for both career and family. Her journeys were between NYC and L.A., while I moved from NYC, to Miami, to San Francisco and finally settled in L.A. I had reached out to Tanya when I first moved to L.A., and she was a wonderful resource. She pointed me in the direction of places where I could relive my Manhattan days, but with a pool and palm trees. We were wondering how difficult it must be for someone who didn’t have a built-in buddy system, and the idea behind NowMoveMe was born.
ITM: You've lived all over the world. You understand the nuances of different cities and neighborhoods. Is there a U.S. or global market where you think NowMoveMe could completely change how consumers search for real estate?
NowMoveMe: NowMoveMe could be a global game changer. Real estate right now is all based on price range and zip code, whether buying, renting, or just finding a vacation home for the week. So much of a user’s interaction with a city, whether they love it or hate it, could be based on whether the area they stay in resonates with them. Everything else is so personalized these days. The details of our lives are tailor-made for us, except for a pretty huge part: our home! It's a fresh and exciting way to look at a multi-trillion dollar industry.
ITM: What cities is your company currently covering?
NowMoveMe: We are launching our private beta with L.A., NYC, San Francisco and Miami. We hope to expand to other cities quickly, and have our sights set on London for our first international stop!
ITM: How long did it take you to go from an idea, to putting a team in place to execute your vision?
NowMoveMe: We're celebrating our one-year anniversary by launching our private beta! We came up with the idea last July. We had decided to take a few General Assembly workshops to see if a tech startup was really for us. With great feedback and support, we decided it was. Our idea was tested out when we entered a hackathon last October. We came in 1st out of more than 100 participants during the 12-hour hackathon, which gave us our initial market validation. From there, we met with various mentors and venture capital firms (VCs), who gave us invaluable advice as we started to build our team. Our first hire was in February 2015. We now have a team of two fantastic PhDs, an incredible web developer and smart, summer intern.
ITM: Your background is in finance and business. How did you find the transition into tech? Were you able to leverage your training and contacts from finance to grow your company?
NowMoveMe: I actually found I could leverage my finance and business experience much more than I would have anticipated. While the platform our business is built on is technology, at the end of the day, it is a business. As we launch our beta, we are starting to project out our cost structure and monetization opportunities. Funnily enough, my background as a distressed investor could not have been more applicable. I'm used to running companies with zero cash!
In terms of contacts, we have had exceptional access to VCs thanks to colleagues and friends from my Wall Street days. We were fortunate to get great, early-on advice from William Hsu at Mucker Capital. William was introduced to us through an accelerator mentor, who worked at a Sun portfolio company…small world! [Miriam was an associate years ago at Sun Capital Partners.]
ITM: What has been the trickiest aspect of launching your own company?
NowMove Me: There are about 10,000 things you could be working on at the same time, and it can be difficult to prioritize which tasks to tackle first, particularly as a first-time entrepreneur. Those early conversations with mentors and VCs really helped narrow down our areas of focus. Also, there are lots of ups and downs along the way. Many times you think it would be much easier to go back to corporate-life and a steady paycheck. But, every little breakthrough is so exciting – it makes the roller coaster ride 100% worth it!
ITM: We read that you already met with the CEO and head of M&A at Zillow - congrats! Are you finding your offering has synergies with existing real estate web and mobile platforms?
NowMoveMe: Thank you! That was a huge connection for us to make. There are definitely many potential synergies. While we're still in product development mode (do you ever really leave?), we believe our focus should be on making the consumer experience exceptional. Once we establish our base, we can tap into established industry partners and build from there.
ITM: You're a busy businesswoman. How do you deal with business hiccups and stress?
NowMoveMe: Tanya introduced me to SoulCycle, which, along with Pilates, is definitely a sanity anchor to my week! I'm also fortunate to have an extremely supportive fiancé, who is also from a business background. He's a great person to bounce ideas around with. And, I'm lucky that both my parents have business backgrounds, and my brother has invaluable tech experience.
ITM: What's the best life advice you ever received?
NowMoveMe: To never give up.
ITM: What is your impression of the female representation in tech and more broadly, in the business world? Do you think there is room for improvement or do you think the 30 and 40+ something businesswomen are in key middle and senior management positions?
NowMoveMe: It's still a male-dominated environment, both in tech and finance, but women are making huge breakthroughs. If you have a good idea, combined with stellar execution, people are more excited about changing the world, rather than your gender.
ITM: Besides NowMoveMe what are your go-to apps and search engines on your smartphone?
NowMoveMe: Bloomberg Business, Gilt and Facebook (I follow so many media outlets- Facebook offers a great, curated news-feed). I've recently been playing around with Fiverr [Their slogan is: "What do you need done? Find it on Fiverr".] and Operator [Your shopping request is researched and fulfilled in partnership with a customer service rep.], which are both fun and resourceful.
ITM: Thanks for your making time for us Miriam. Do you have any shout-outs?
NowMoveMe: A big shout-out to my co-founder, Tanya, and our amazing tech team for making it happen! They are real geniuses; we are so fortunate. Also, to my amazing family for their support during this crazy dream of building a “unicorn".
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