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Technology Education
November 16, 2021

Proximity is Key to Solving Problems

Whenever you are solving a difficult problem, proximity is key. It’s impossible to fix something if you aren’t there getting your hands dirty with the problem.

Let’s take fixing a car as an example. If your car needed to be fixed, you would want to take it to a mechanic with greasy hands, years of experience (Data) and the right tools to get the job done. 

In our world of solving problems with software and automation, this analogy should hit close to home. It is impossible to solve a problem or create automations without having an intimate relationship with the problem or workflows that surround it. This pertains to not only the team but also the product being built. It's essential for the team working on the problem to have close proximity and deep domain experience with the subject matter; however I want to focus on product related proximity here. 

In the age of automation, you need data and in order to get valuable data you need close proximity to workflows and processes. The closer you are to the thing needing to be made more efficient, the easier it is to notice patterns, bottlenecks, and friction. 

Let’s examine the real estate industry and apply this thinking to it. 

A real estate transaction is very complex and emotional, BUT there are patterns and repeated processes throughout the transaction. The key is that those patterns and repeated processes are done by agents. If you apply the concept of proximity above to the real estate industry, it is no wonder real estate is one of the last industries to go through digital transformation. Very few companies are building software in close proximity to the thing that controls the transaction. THE AGENT! Take a look at the chart below: 

Proptech companies and their proximity to the transaction.


Realtor.com, Zillow, Homelight: These companies have done a fantastic job winning top of funnel home search and agent matching. Although that is the only part of the transaction they currently own. Zillow is attempting to attach other services, but is struggling. These companies are not capable of bringing efficiencies to transactions as long as that is the case.  

Redfin: Redfin is by far the most successful tech-enable brokerage given the efficiency you see in the chart below. They have done an amazing job building a company and technology around the transaction but they have limited scalability given they are a brokerage and they have agents on salary vs commission.


Traditional brokerages (Compass and EXP): These two companies have done a great job recruiting agents with incentives like cash and stock although they really haven’t done much else other than that. Compass straight up bought their way into the industry with Softbank funds and have not done anything truly innovative to change the agent experience or transaction. Same with EXP. They scaled fast but have not capitalized on that with any kind of meaningful efficiencies. You can see proof in the chart above.

Current CRMs: Current CRMs in this market struggle to get adoption. Why? Because they never put a focus on matching agent’s lifestyles with their user experience. You solve adoption with user experience. Plain and simple. There is no debating whether or not agents find value in CRMs. Every agent on the planet uses one whether they realize it or not. Because CRMs have not matched the agent’s lifestyle, they cannot get close enough to the transaction to make a difference or get the adoption they want. 

Enter Symba and Agent Proximity

At Symba, we have taken a very first principles approach to the market and our goal is to perfectly match agents’ lifestyles and needs in order to get as close to the transaction as possible. How will we do that? 

  1. We are the only mobile-first CRM in the world built specifically for agents and their unique workflows. 
  2. We have a focus on messaging. 

These two differentiators will give us transparency into the transaction like no one has had before and this will allow us to collect data no one else in the industry has. 

Being mobile-first allows agents to use Symba throughout the day and throughout the lifecycle of the transaction. If agent technology is not mobile-first, agents won’t use it to its potential and valuable data is not collected around their workflows. Symba however will understand an agent's day to day activity and that data will allow us to continuously improve the product and streamline workflows. 

Our focus on messaging is very important too. Right now, agents use iMessage to communicate with clients throughout the entire transaction. The problem is Apple does not care about agents. iMessage was not built with agents and their workflows in mind. By focusing on messaging, we can understand what communication patterns we need to optimize around and see their workflows happen in real time allowing us to interact with the transaction like no other company has before. 

One of Symba’s biggest differentiators and advantages is our agent proximity.