Female Founders: Elizabeth Braman
For this episode of our Female Founders series on Union Street Media’s YouTube channel, we’re featuring entrepreneur, commercial real estate expert, PropTech executive, and business owner Elizabeth Braman. Most recently, Liz founded JoyHub, a business intelligence platform for apartment owners and managers. Previously she was an early executive at RealtyMogul, a series B stage commercial real estate FinTech platform, and ReadyCap Commercial, a private equity backed commercial lending company. Click the play button above to watch the full interview with this real estate innovator.
Liz Braman began her career as a technology attorney in 2000. After practicing for a few years, Braman decided to pivot into educational technology and started a software company with some friends. They grew the company for 13 years until they were acquired by a publicly traded company, but Braman continued working there for a few more years.
During that time, Braman gained valuable experience that allowed her to set the foundation for her future success. “I did everything from corporate structure to marketing and all of the sales,” Braman reflects, adding, “I would speak with the clients, find out what their wants and needs were, and learned how to do cold calling which I had no experience with.”
Not having many resources at the beginning turned out to be a good thing. “We didn’t raise capital, we bootstrapped it, and 13 years later ended up selling it to a public company,” Braman says, adding “so that was kind of fortunate in stumbling into that experience”. In addition, because she was looking to make some extra money to pay off her student loans in the early years, Braman did some legal work on the side for the real estate industry. That’s when she fell in love with real estate. “It became my passion,” reflects Braman.
After several years, Braman decided to join RealtyMogul, a commercial real estate FinTech platform startup. Over time, she saw an opportunity for a real estate software system that made working with data more streamlined and efficient. She created JoyHub to do just that.
JoyHub is a business intelligence platform that gives rental operators a view of their properties, tenants, and portfolios, all in one place. It also collects and aggregates data from a variety of sources, and provides secure data storage, custom reporting, and predictive analytics. Users can view dashboards, create reports, and develop risk models to stay on trend.
JoyHub was started with the goal of “offering a business intelligence solution to apartment owners.” One-third of the United States population rents their housing, but so little is known about “the wants and needs of tenants,” says Braman, adding, “that’s our mission and our passion is to solve that.”
Because of the pandemic, Braman notes that there’s been an increased opportunity for brokers and teams to start leveraging data to respond to what people are actually doing and anticipate and act on new trends. Braman explains that “the big lesson here has been how impactful data has been…being proactive as opposed to reactive and seeing what the migration patterns are.” “Using cell phone movement activities and patterns…you can actually see where people are moving and from where,” Braman adds.
As a leader and entrepreneur, Braman practices what she preaches, leaning on both data and other companies to learn what’s working for them. With her vast experience in the startup world, Braman has seen a “huge urgency” in startups to bring their products to market as fast as possible. For startups, things aren’t set in stone at the beginning of their journey so they can pivot quickly and they also have to work harder to deliver successes. More established companies aren’t in that position because “they’ve got that infrastructure and it’s a little more stable,” which can be a double-edged sword. Established companies can also be “a little more set in their ways, maybe a little less reactive or proactive to market-changing conditions,” Braman continues. They have “this cadence that you can build upon and iterate on that is more thoughtful” when it doesn’t lead to complacency, and startups can benefit from forcing time for reflection.
For Braman, whether you’re leading a startup or a hundred-year-old company, the balance is in being thoughtful and intentional. “I’m always reminding myself to be thoughtful about everything…what is your purpose for doing it?” she says. Braman also cautions against doing something just because it’s new.
Braman also places a lot of value on having a good CRM and not being afraid to test things out. When a CRM is adopted and actively used, it allows for connections to grow and flourish. Relationships require a lot of care and energy to maintain, but are at the core of any business. “Being able to follow up with folks afterward and being a thought leader and delivering content – all of these things are good ways to help accelerate growth with technology companies,” she says.
“No matter what people say – [real estate] still is a people business; it’s important that relationships are built and fostered.” — Elizabeth Braman
Braman’s advice to those wanting to start their own business is to “be bold and fearless.” So many people are afraid of failure and being judged by others. Because of this, “you limit yourself and you limit what you think you can accomplish,” says Braman, adding that those fears are “probably overblown” anyway.
To learn more about Liz Braman and JoyHub visit: https://www.joyhub.io/