The FORT Podcast: Sam Sawyer

Sam Sawyer is the Founder & CEO of Archetape, a full-service cloud brokerage for real estate agents. Before founding Archetape, Sam worked for the Y Combinator graduate and venture-backed start-up ZeroDown in Silicon Valley as their VP of Real Estate Operations.

On this episode, Chris and Sam discuss the issues facing real estate agents and how Archetape is working to transform their experiences. They also discuss Sam’s vast experience in real estate and tech, trends in home buying, major players like OpenDoor & Zillow, the process of building a remote company during COVID.

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(02:15) – Sam’s Story and Career

(03:54) – What was the acquisition from Compass like?

(06:05) – What was your experience like working for a PropTech company ZeroDown in Silicon Valley?

(08:07) – What was it like going through Y Combinator?

(09:26) – As the only one in the field, were you bringing back all of your experiences and data to share with the software teams to build out necessary widgets?

(10:14) – At what point did you realize you needed to go and start your own deal?

(11:44) – Was there a co-founder involved?

(12:33) – Did you raise any funding?

(13:21) – What is Archetape? What’s the spin on brokerage?

(16:48) – What software are you building that would make an agent want to come work for your company?

(22:03) – Technology Partnerships at Archetape

(24:55) – How do you identify what partnerships are needed? How do you vet suitors?

(26:53) – Is there any training involved for new agents?

(30:47) – Do you use any software to gather Net Promoter Scores?

(31:40) – How do you find new agents?

(32:51) – Are you looking to recruit seasoned agents or newcomers?

(35:35) – What advice would you give to folks looking to become agents?

(37:38) – Building Smaller Teams Within Archetape

(38:44) – When was the first transaction at Archetape?

(39:16) – How are you ending the year as opposed to what you thought it would be like? What’s it like launching a company in the middle of a pandemic?

(41:59) – Deeper Dive into the Compass Experience

(44:05) – Why would agents be more likely to use the software that’s used at Archetape if they generally aren’t open to changing their software habits?

(45:49) -How are you thinking about growth?

(48:32) – How are you partnering with lenders?

(50:25) – How do you use a startup mindset without getting distracted from your core product?

(53:12) – What are some trends that you’re seeing in home-buying?

(55:33) – What are the top reasons someone buys a home besides location & affordability?

(56:46) – What is iBuying?

(58:24) – What do OpenDoor and Zillow do when they buy a home?

(1:00:10) – Is OpenDoor a direct competitor to you?

(1:01:03) – Is the open house experience going to die?

(1:01:56) – Did you know that you’d be building your company on the back of platforms like Slack?

(1:05:07) – How do you build strong relationships with a fully remote company?

(1:06:49) – Do you have a morning routine?

(1:07:55) – What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Book – Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

(1:10:01) – What’s a great book you’ve enjoyed?

Built to Sell – John Warrilow

Elon Musk Biography

(1:12:26) – How can people find you and Archetape?

Items Mentioned & How to Contact Sam

Medium Article – Gatekeeper to Superhero


Subscribe to Sam’s Newsletter here

Sam’s Twitter


Episode Summary

The conversation unfolded the realms of due diligence in real estate, echoing the imperative of meticulousness and precision in validating financials and managing transitions during acquisitions. Sawyer and his team, as elaborated, immerse themselves in thorough research and validation, poring over various materials and documents to refine their underwriting and strategy. From utility bills and financial historicals to tenant interactions and leasing data, no stone is left unturned in ensuring the accuracy of numbers and smooth transitions post-acquisition. The dialogue encapsulated a philosophy where proactivity in addressing issues and ensuring tenant satisfaction converges with strategic financial management, thereby fostering not just asset growth but also robust tenant relationships.

As they navigated through the dialogues of tenant management and operational efficacy, the emphasis on a ‘hospitality property management experience’ was illuminated. This involves not merely addressing tenant needs and concerns but also anticipating them, thereby fostering an environment where tenant interactions are not merely transactions but experiences. The holistic approach towards tenant management, where the practicality of operational management intertwines with the strategic management of tenant relationships, emerged as a pivotal theme.

A significant portion of the conversation was also dedicated to exploring the integration of technology and systematic approaches in enhancing operational efficiency and internal communication. The employment of unified leasing templates and systematic recording and accessibility of data were highlighted as crucial in ensuring that leasing processes and tenant interactions are managed with utmost efficiency and transparency.

Navigating further into the realms of leasing and tenant improvements (TIs), the dialogue underscored the precision and predictability in financial allocations for TIs and capital expenditure (CAPEX). Ensuring that tenant expectations are managed effectively, while also ensuring that financial allocations are pragmatic and in alignment with organizational financial strategies, surfaced as a vital aspect in managing tenant relationships and ensuring asset value preservation and growth.

The episode also provided a panoramic view of strategic leasing, particularly in scenarios where properties may have encountered leasing challenges under prior ownership. The importance of coming in well-capitalized and with a well-defined business plan to tackle such challenges and enhance the appeal and lease-ability of properties was brought to light. This was complemented by discussions around the predictability and management of tenant improvements (TIs) and how a strategic and pragmatic approach towards managing them can foster tenant satisfaction while maintaining financial prudence.

The FORT with Chris Powers is produced by Straight Up Podcasts

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