Fearless Founders: Meet Jilliene Helman of Realty Mogul
It’s time to inspire her mind! In our constantly connected world, women are inundated with information and opportunity. Especially inspiring are the true innovators that push through barriers and prove that women are equipped to excel in any industry. Many of them are changing our world one startup at a time. At Glam, we love women who encourage other women to push forward in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based education and professions. In this series, Jesse Draper sits down with fearless founders to talk about their career paths, educational backgrounds and why STEM matters:
With crowdfunding platforms creating opportunities to fund everything from films to charity, Jilliene Helman looked at them as an opening to change the game of real estate. We chose Helman, founder of Realty Mogul as one of our Fearless Founders because of her fresh-faced perspective on investing. With Obama’s STEM initiative encouraging professions Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – this female risk-taker has opened the doors to a whole new crowdfunding platform with a focus on the land of pre-vetted real estate. She goes to sleep dreaming about her business, she grew up in a family who chatted about everything from commercial to luxury real estate at the dinner table and here are 12 things I learned from Jilliene Helman, founder of Realty Mogul who will have you investing in no time…
What is Realty Mogul?
Realty Mogul is crowdfunding for real estate, an online marketplace for investors to pool money and buy shares of pre-vetted real estate investments.
Where did your inspiration for Realty Mogul come from?
My inspiration for Realty Mogul was a combination of economic and political forces. From an economic perspective, investors are looking for cash-flow and banks are paying less than 1%. Real estate is a great place to find cash-flow for those same investors. From a political perspective, the JOBS Act passed in April 2012 and opened up this new industry of crowdfunding. The new legislation is the first time the securities laws have changed in over 80 years. Whenever there is political change, there is always opportunity.
What is your daily routine?
Every day is different, that is what I love about being an entrepreneur! While I travel a ton, if I'm not traveling, I'm up by 7 and in the office by 8:30 spending the day with our team building our product, working on operations or meeting with clients. On an average day, I'm in the office till 9 or 10 at night before heading home to eat dinner. After dinner I usually put in another few hours catching up on email before crashing at 1 or 2am. I don't sleep a lot and I love the business, so it's my life.
What was the last math problem you did.
What is 1/2 plus 1/3. It's an interview question I use in almost every interview.
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
I'm terrible at unwinding. I will usually lay in bed for an hour thinking creatively about the business or thinking about how to prioritize the next day.
What would you say is the toughest obstacle to overcome when pursuing a startup?
Constantly hearing “No” and continuing to persevere. You have to keep pushing even when the odds are stacked against you and even when you get hit with rejection on a daily basis. I remember raising our seed round of capital and having over 100 meetings where every investor said no. I've learned to thrive on no, but it's hard not to doubt yourself and the business.
How has crowd funding changed the real estate game?
Crowdfunding is bringing real estate into the 21st century. While it's not a new concept conceptually, using the Internet to raise capital is democratizing access to real estate deal flow to more investors and I think it will be the biggest shift to real estate capital markets, maybe ever.
How did you get into real estate?
I grew up with real estate around the dinner table. My grandparents owned property in Los Angeles, my mother has been in luxury real estate my entire life and my father owned industrial and commercial properties for his export/import business.
Do you code? How does that help you?
While I can do the most basic HTML, I really do not code. I had the brilliant idea of learning to become a programmer about three months before we launched the startup, but quickly learned I cannot do everything and I should stick to my core competency, business. Instead of learning to code, I picked a co-founder who is the most brilliant engineer I know.
Who do you look up to?
My father, who built great businesses, always put his employees first and managed to balance a family with seven kids while doing it all.
What was your favorite subject in high school and does it still influence you today?
I never had a favorite subject – I've always been 1/2 math/science and 1/2 English/history and I think that balanced education really impacts and influences me as a CEO today. I can play CFO one day and dig deep into our financials and play COO the next day working to clean up operations or write policies and procedures.
If you could offer your best tip to a future entrepreneur, what would it be?
Build a rockstar network. I have incredible mentors and advisors in my life that have lead to not only business opportunities, but also a great social network with people I now call friends.
UCLA grad, Jesse Draper is a technology expert and creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she has become a spokesperson for startups and has helped to pioneer the way of new media content distribution. She oversees everything from pre-production to distribution of the show. Draper started the show because she realized there was no FUN business talk show, only grilling teeth clenching interviews, and she believes the most interesting and inspiring people in the world are the ones who've started a business. In her former life, she was on a Nickelodeon show called “The Naked Brother's Band”. Draper also writes columns for Mashable, Forbes.com and San Francisco Magazine and speaks at business conferences around the world including SXSW, DLD, TEDx, TechVentures and STREAM.