Growth Story: Chad Semans of Ideal Agent
Welcome to our Growth Story series, where you’ll meet startup team members—either natives, boomerangs or transplants—in Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Chad Semans, Co-Founder & VP of Sales for Ideal Agent, a real estate technology platform selling homes for as little as 2% commission via a referral network of top real estate agents.
Where are you from?
I'd describe myself as nativish (am I allowed to create a new word?). Born in Wilmington, DE. At the age of 2 moved to Tampa where I’ve enjoyed living since.
Tell us more about your role at Ideal Agent. What does a day in the life look like?
My role as VP of Sales is to be a leader for my growing team, a visionary molding our platform as we continue to grow, a trainer working with new employees, a customer support representative available to our clients, an HR manager and a few more. Being a co-founder of a fast-growing start-up is exciting but everyday has its surprises and sudden pivots have been made along the way and my part is to be ready for whatever tomorrow brings.
How did you get your career started and what challenges did you face along the way?
My career in the Real Estate industry actually started when I was working with teams at Capital One Corporation’s call center here in Tampa. In 2001, the company’s trainers were being sent to other countries to train foreign employees how to do the jobs we were doing here. Not to long after, empty seats started appearing and eventually empty buildings. I had recently purchased my first home and became very interested in real estate. So, I took the real estate course, state exam, and became a licensed real estate agent. In 2002 Steve Johnston, Ideal Agent’s Founder, was rapidly growing his real estate platform Home Discovery that was composed of in-house teams including a call-center, contract negotiators, inside sales teams and more. Through mutual friends, I was fortunate to have been reacquainted with Steve and with my call-center background, newly acquiring real estate license, and Steve’s need for someone to join and lead his teams, it was a perfect fit.
The biggest challenge that we all experienced was the real estate market crash that started in 2006 and continued over the following years. At the time we employed close to 300 employees, had a fleet of cars for our agents, employee benefit packages, and more which was all supported from homes selling. The months following the burst of the real estate bubble came with hard times that no one wants to experience. However, it made us stronger and smarter. The real estate market comes with ebbs and flows. Going through the crash has been instrumental in the design of Ideal Agent.
How has this region shaped your career or startup journey?
Tampa has everything I need – friends and family support, great place to raise my two boys, amazing restaurants, sports and so much more. No better place to be part of a start-up and continue to make Tampa a better place to live. Home discovery early on shaped my real estate knowledge and now we have a second opportunity to fulfill the mission.
What tactical advice can you share from building your startup or career?
Everyone who has a new business idea wants to succeed. Rushing to success and staying too far under the radar may lead to failure. Use your focus groups, friends and family, mentors, and business connections to get feedback when making critical decisions. Making adjustments during the early stages of your business plan can save much time and money on your road to success.
Where do you see Tampa Bay next? How do you play a role in this future?
In all my years of living in the Tampa Bay area I have never seen so much excitement that comes with the growth we are experiencing currently. You’re not able to drive down the road and not see a new business opening, buildings being erected, new homes being built, new roads, new communities, and I can go on and on. I see Tampa as a place of opportunity for entrepreneurs, and all, that are looking to be part of a success story in their work and personal lives. The Ideal Agent leadership team is creating a place where diverse, driven individuals can be part of a workplace that supports positive values, teamwork, positive leadership and a fun and productive workplace improving Tampa’s future outlook.
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