Sometimes, all you want is something simple to do a specific thing, really well. And that’s what GoConnect delivers: A ridiculously simple way to manage all the things you need to do to complete a real estate transaction.
The average to-do list associated with any real estate transaction is dozens of items long. GoConnect, a free, purpose-built iPhone app for Realtors, aims to make dealing with all those checklists of tasks as easy as swiping your finger across a screen.
“It’s about getting things done,” explains Zach Schabot, co-founder of Start from Scratch LLC, whose first product is GoConnect. “Our mission is to make something that just works, that’s also easy to use.”
Schabot says that the app is an outgrowth of his own career as an agent. As the founder of Go Realty in Durham, NC (where he still works as an agent), he knew wanted something mobile that he could use to create, manage and check-off all the tasks he had to handle for his business. And he knew other agents wanted the same thing.
GoConnect • mobile transaction management app • in beta • Free
Schabot convinced his partner in Go Realty, Jim Garman, to co-found a new company, Start from Scratch, so they could develop GoConnect.
“That’s why the app is completely, 100 percent mobile,” Schabot explains. “I’m not sitting behind a desk, and neither are all the other agents I know. I wanted something that was so simple that anyone could use it, anywhere.”
The app is indeed simple to use. If you’ve ever used the app Mailbox to handle your email, the gestures that you use to manage tasks in the app will feel simple and natural to you.
You swipe right to mark a task as complete, or left to file it away for later (meaning later that day, tomorrow, next week, or by picking a date from the calendar). It’s an easy way see at a glance what you need to do in the moment, because the app always surfaces the tasks due by date.
There’s certainly a lot of satisfaction in knocking items off your list. But what’s especially useful about the app is that it gives you a comprehensive list of all of your tasks, even if the tasks are for different listings or buyers.
You can, of course, drill down into a particular listing, but I found that the overview list of tasks was one of my favorite features, because it showed me everything I needed to know at a glance.
Prebuilt Task Plans
It’s clear that the app was designed by an agent, for agents. That’s because the app ships with four task templates (or “plans” in GoConnect parlance) that you can use as-is, or customize as you see fit for your transactions.
The templates, each of which contain 20-30 common tasks, are generic enough to be instantly useful for most transactions. There are entries for everything from “enter listing into the MLS” to “install sign” to “lockbox on home.”
I appreciated that the tasks that the GoConnect default plan included were automatically timed, based on the deal type and the dates I selected as I set up a transaction.
That means you don’t have to spend an hour or two inputting various types of tasks for every transaction and associating dates with them. That would obviously not only be tedious, but major pain for agents who aren’t particularly facile with their iPhone keyboards.
You can of course change the parameters for any task, or add your own, but the plans offer a nice head start.
When tasks are marked as complete, you can still see them as part of the “view all tasks” screen that is associated with each transaction. That makes it easy to tell at a glance where you are in your deal.
Schabot says they are continuously updating the application to reflect the regional and local differences in terminology. For example, the terms “sold,” “due diligence” and “closed” are not universal, and Schabot says future editions of the app will address these issues.
Easy to Add People
Another handy feature is the way you add people to your transactions. It’s as simple as clicking a plus sign, then adding the person from your phone book within your iPhone. If the contact doesn’t live there, you can enter it by hand into GoConnect.
However you choose to add your contacts, they will all live in GoConnect. This is handy, because over time you will build a complete database of all the people who regularly work with you within the app, from other agents to lenders to attorneys or inspectors. This information is synced to GoConnect’s servers, so you will never lose your data.
Four Types of Transactions
You can create four types of transactions in GoConnect:
- New listing
- My Listing Sold
- Buyer Contract
- Post Closing
Each transaction is preloaded with task plans.
To create a transaction, you select an icon of a house at the top of the primary screen and click the plus button in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Then select the transaction type, enter the address, people (buyer, seller, attorney, lender, etc.) and key dates.
I found this process took less than two minutes. A dialog at the end of the process congratulates you and suggests you “go back to work.”
For now, GoConnect is a free-standing product that doesn’t integrate with other applications.
Schabot says that this is by design.
“I think the big challenge is where to start and stop with integration. We have talked to thousands of agents, and no one wanted to take the time to learn a ‘new system.’
“They already feel overwhelmed with all the choices,” Schabot emphasizes. “Why add to the frustration? From a company perspective it is tempting to integrate with everything under the sun, but we feel that will hurt our adoption.”
Schabot goes a step further by saying that integration means compromise, both design and functionality. He says the company wasn’t willing to “water down” the product in order to accept feeds from other apps or platforms.
So who’s the perfect client for GoConnect?
“We think it’s perfect for the individual, busy agent who is on the verge of needing an assistant,” Schabot says. “It’s designed for everyone who needs a little organization and efficiency.”
That’s why the company is focusing heavily on attracting individual agents to the app through its beta program, which currently has more than 2,000 agents enrolled.
“We want as many agents as we can to interact with the app to give us the feedback we need to make it the best it can be,” Schabot says. “But we’re not the solution for a mega team or offices that need auto email campaigns or document management. There are other systems for that.”
That said, Schabot doesn’t dismiss the idea of building a paid, premium version of the app that will meet the needs of this type of user. But he doesn’t have a timeline for when the company might pursue this avenue.
For now the app is free to all beta users. Schabot says that even if the company does introduce a premium application, it probably won’t cost more than $10-15 for a team edition or a version that syncs to multiple devices.
Android Coming Soon
Rather than seeking quick monetization, the company’s next target appears to be releasing an Android version of the app. Schabot says the company will start development on Android once 2,000 agents request it. He’s put up a web page to solicit Android app requests to gauge interest.
But even if he doesn’t reach the target, Schabot notes the company is likely to “pull the trigger” and release an Android app by the turn of the year.
Schabot’s immediate challenge is to get the product out of beta into a production version. The first hurdle was getting the app into the Apple App Store (which happened last week).
Although anyone can download and install the app, you must get an activation code from Schabot to start using it. You can request an activation code by visiting GoConnect. More than 1,000 were given out since the app went live in the store.
Schabot doesn’t have a target date for when the product will come out of beta and into a production version. He’s not in a hurry, either. He’s a lot more concerned with addressing what agents want and need, and is committed to releasing the best app he can.
“We wanted to make it free and simple,” Schabot says. “We built it for the benefit of the individual agent. We just wanted to make it easy — and to make it work.”