How did you get your first ten customers at Atmos?
They came through a few different channels. For the most part, they’ve come through realtors or press that people have seen. We had done a huge press push with tech crunch and then Forbes later on. That led to a lot of localized press, which helped to build trust. Especially when you’re building a home, using some new startup is a scary thing. Move fast and break things doesn’t work as well.
It took realtors’ and the trust that we got through PR to get people across the finish line. Hopefully, that’ll change more and more as homes get built.
How did you get realtors to trust you early on?
It was just selling them on the vision. We have a network of these localized builders, so there isn’t any risk. We’re not the builder. Builders who have been building for the last 10, 20, 30 years are. Realtors understand that, and they can help make customers feel okay with it. The platform’s point is the pre-construction work like designing your home, finding your lot, and everything in between. We leverage the builders for the actual construction, which is the more dangerous or risky piece.
It’s interesting when you look at the space and see no one brags about their D.R. Horton house versus when you think about cars or clothes. Brands don’t exist in this space, and so hopefully, we can help bring an actual brand to the space.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started Atmos?
I wish we would’ve taken the time to do everything manually. We started building right off the bat. YC and everyone else push for you to get something into the market as fast as possible. Trying to gather, understand, and experience that early stuff manually would’ve given us many more insights.
We went a little bit too far and probably should’ve leveraged no-code tools more early on. Obviously it’s worked out in our favor, but it took a little bit longer than it would’ve.
What do you get about the space that other competitors don’t?
The biggest thing with this newer version is visualizing a home on a lot and all the changes in between. The style, floors, materials, or colors can all be changed live, and pricing adjusts accordingly. That is something that’s never existed before and will allow someone to understand what their home will look like one day. Right now, you look at this floor plan, and you assume going to assume it looks good.
This touches on the vision too, we want to make changing the physical world as simple as changing a web app. You think about Webflow for the virtual world and if you could do that same thing for the physical world and make it that simple.
What’s the biggest risk that you have ever taken?
I would bucket it into two answers, perceived risk versus actual risk. I think the first one is dropping out of college. It’s a perceived risk, but there’s no real risk. Today the internet is college. The information we need exists online for free. No one, at least out in the Valley, will look at you and say, “I’m not hiring you because you don’t have a degree.” You can prove yourself, there are many opportunities to do that. The risk doesn’t exist, especially for people our age, because we don’t have dependencies. We don’t have a family, a wife, kids, or whatever it might be.
On the actual risk side of things, this may also be more perceived, but committing to a startup. Choosing to hire people, raise funds, and have customers you say you’re going to build a home for. It ends up becoming a very risky thing over time because there are actual dependencies. People expect you to lead them to some sort of success. Whether it is completing their homes, paying their bills, or having some successful investment outcome, the pressure intensifies.
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