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HomeOpenly – An Open Marketplace with 0% Real Estate Referral Fees

Over the course of a year, over six million residential properties are sold in the U.S. By estimating the average home price, this accounts for $1.4 trillion in revenues generated from these sales. For anyone who has bought a home, it’s no surprise that a chunk of these revenues includes closing costs and real estate commission fees. In total, around $72 billion can be attributed to real estate commission fees spent by consumers each year. But thanks to one bold company, this figure may be coming down significantly. HomeOpenly, a company based in Silicon Valley, has now outperformed all Redfin brokers when it comes to savings. Despite being only 18 months old, HomeOpenly reports better aggregate savings for 147 Million US homes in all 50 States and Washington D.C. than Redfin.

The Evolving Real Estate Landscape

Over the last few years, several companies have tried to disrupt the traditional real estate market. The traditional market has systematically been conditioned to accept a standard six percent real estate commission. Notable companies like Redfin have created online real estate marketplaces similar to HomeOpenly. However, a significant portion of Redfin’s revenue comes from charging third-party real estate agents a fee for referrals. Redfin currently charges its Partner Program agents 30% of the entire commission for each referral it makes. While the Redfin model aims to reduce closing costs and other real estate fees, its average real estate commission fees still remain higher due to the added referral fees.

“Redfin Corporation is heavily dependent on referral fees for revenue; the same independent agents who wage 30% of their commissions back to Redfin can freely advertise at HomeOpenly,” said co-founder Dmitry Shkipin, “we run our platform as an open system built on fair advertising methods to challenge all major referral fees models with genuine Internet principles and innovation.”

Like Redfin, there are many startup companies that offer savings such as flat-rate real estate listings, buyers refunds, and similar legal financial incentives, but each agent determines their fees locally to promote their own service.

HomeOpenly’s Real Estate Fees Model

The innovative model introduced by HomeOpenly strives to unleash the power of the Internet in changing existing real estate transactions. In HomeOpenly’s open online marketplace, buyers and sellers can quickly and easily connect with local real estate agents. Likewise, real estate agents can easily advertise their real estate commission fees, service levels, and other features.

In essence, HomeOpenly’s marketplace lets normal supply and demand forces determine fair pricing for real estate commission fees. And the best part…anyone, including real estate agents, can interact at HomeOpenly for free. HomeOpenly does not collect any referral fees or real estate commission percentages. The open marketplace allows real estate agents to connect with buyers and sellers without any middle agent interference.

Unlike all referral fee models, HomeOpenly does not sell or share user data outside the agents that a buyer or a seller have specifically selected making the request. Instead, HomeOpenly actively utilizes Privacy by Design approach giving users full control of how and who sees their information at all times.

So How Does HomeOpenly Stay in Business?

Without revenues coming from real estate commissions or fees to marketplace access fees, one wonders how HomeOpenly stays afloat. In essence, HomeOpenly has three sources of revenue to support its real estate model. First, the company generates income through independent advertisers. Like many Internet sites have shown, this can be an effective strategy. In addition, HomeOpenly also generates revenues from aggregate non-user specific real estate data analytics. Today, information and data are power. Also, the company offers optional premium services to agents that do not compromise its organic match results to buyers and sellers.

“Co-founded a year ago working in a team effort with key help from early adopters, friends and fellow Internet companies, HomeOpenly now delivers the best aggregate advertised savings in the US, far outperforming savings offered by Redfin, without any referral fees to anyone,” continued Dmitry Shkipin, “this information directly benefits our users and encourages independent local real estate agents to list their best rates. The best part of our platform is that it only takes a few minutes for home buyers and sellers to acquire local agent results without any strings attached – the user experience is 100% unbiased and secure.”

To date, this model seems to be working well. HomeOpenly has been able to expand and now operates in all fifty states and Washington D.C. Likewise, it recently surpassed Redfin in real estate fee savings. HomeOpenly reports generating aggregate savings up to $15 billion in real estate fees annually.

Is HomeOpenly the Model that Finally Disrupts the Real Estate Industry?

Dozens of industries and sectors have been turned upside down with recent technological advances. The transportation industry will soon have autonomous cars. Blockchain and cryptocurrency have made their way into the financial sector. And artificial intelligence and machine learning demand the attention of small and large businesses alike.

But the real estate sector has been more resistant to change. In addition to a persistent six percent real estate commission fee, customers still want the personalized service of a real estate agent. Thus, while several companies have succeeded in reducing some real estate fees, overall costs remain high.

Given the unique role of the real estate agent in residential property sales, a full “eBay model” is not likely to work. An online real estate marketplace that connects buyers and sellers directly without an agent has not yet been effective. In part, this is because buying and selling a home are big decisions that are done infrequently. HomeOpenly, however, seems to have introduced a platform that offers hope for everyone to experience fair real estate fees. By letting market forces determine what buyers and sellers can negotiate, real estate fees should be more just. This is likely why HomeOpenly has gained an advantage in the real estate industry in such a short amount of time.

Taking A Look At Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Inc. Bold Leadership Cartoon

Bold Leader Spotlight Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Inc.
Bold Leader Spotlight Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Inc. has announced her stepping down, let’s take a look at her amazing career.

Electric Aircraft and the Future of Aviation

Electric and hybrid cars receive much press in light of today’s transportation advances. From Tesla to General Motors, companies are investing millions of dollars in an automobile that runs on sustainable energy. However, there has not been too many reports on the possibility of electric aircraft. Global aviation accounts for 2.5 percent of all carbon emissions, and this figure will double in the next 20 years. Therefore, it makes sense to consider electric planes as the future of aviation. The big question is whether or not an electric aircraft is even feasible given the challenges it faces.

Recent Electric Aircraft Journeys

The future of aviation demands moving away from fossil fuels as aviation’s primary energy source. Given this need, some visionaries are predicting that the electric aircraft will be the future of aviation —  and recent flights suggest this may be possible. In 2016, the Solar Impulse 2, a completely solar-powered plane, flew 25,000 miles around the world. In Norway this year, the Alpha Electro II, an electrically powered aircraft, carried two passengers around -Oslo. Moreover, at the University of Stuttgart, engineers flew an electric plane named the e-Genius from Germany to Italy. Thus, the future of aviation will likely include electric aircraft as part of its aviation fleet. However, the chance it will account for all flights is much less likely.

Electric Aircraft, the future of aviation, Pipistrel model electric airplane
Slovenia’s Pipistrel is one of the bold companies taking the lead in the future of aviation.

Energy Density Issues and Electric Aircraft

The most significant issue affecting electric aircraft as the primary future of aviation relates to battery power. A common way to compare various types of fuel energy is based on the number of watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) of the fuel. Jet fuel has an energy density of 12,000 Wh/kg. In contrast, a typical lead battery has only 30 Wh/kg. Why is this important?

In order to have enough lead batteries to power a plane, the weight (kg) would be enormous and may not even allow it to get off the ground. Without question, electric aircraft would be much more energy efficient and would require much less energy. However, this reduction in energy needs doesn’t come close to making a typical electric battery feasible.

Possible Solutions for Electric Aircraft

Though challenging, this does not mean electric aircraft won’t be part of the future of aviation. Advances in batteries and other technologies may make this feasible after all. Given the energy efficiency of electric planes, estimates suggest a battery with an energy density of 1,000 Wh/kg would suffice. Classic lithium polymer batteries have an energy density of around 175 Wh/kg. However, newer batteries using sodium ions or magnesium ions appear to be approaching 650 to 750 Wh/kg. Also, new research into lithium-air batteries, where the battery collects ions from the air, may exceed 2,000 Wh//kg.

Of course, it still remains to be determined if battery replacement costs make electric flight feasible. While the improved battery power would make it possible to carry many passengers through longer distances, battery life is a concern. Regarding the future of aviation, electric aircraft may only be used for shorter flights carrying a small number of passengers. For longer flights, the future of aviation will likely lean on other developments. For example, hybrid engines that combine electric engines with natural gas fuels cells look promising. Alternatively, superconducting motors using super-cooled magnets or small nuclear fusion reactors offer hope as well. While electric aircraft will likely play a part, the future of aviation will probably see a host of innovations.

Bold Businesses Leading the Way

As noted, the engineers at the Institute of Aircraft Design in Stuttgart, Germany, are actively pursuing solutions for electric aircraft. Their e-Genius is simply an early prototype of their work. In addition, several other companies are investing in this pursuit. For example, Pipistrel is a Slovenian company that designed the electric plane — the Alpha Electro II, that flew around Oslo. Airbus has been experimenting with electric aircraft designs since 2014. Cessna reported successfully flying an electric plane in 2012. Boeing also has an experimental prototype called the Diamond HK-36 Super Dimona that runs on a fuel cell.

Norway has made the bold prediction that they will use electric aircraft for all short-haul flights less than 1.5 hours by 2040. Given the challenges these planes face, this prediction might be a bit extreme. However, it certainly appears that electric planes will play a role in the future of aviation.

Pressures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are significant. Moreover, with air travel increasing, electric planes make a great deal of sense. The future of aviation will undoubtedly see many changes in the coming years. Electric aircraft are merely one of the many changes that the future of aviation will include.

Podcasts—Why are They Becoming the Rage for Companies Large and Small?

Among the many times we stroll down a street, ride a bus, or hang in coffee shops, we see people with headphones or earphones. However, they may not just be listening to music. They could very well be listening to a podcast. That’s why podcasts for advertising is becoming the new rage for companies.

A podcast is a digital audio (or also sometimes, a video) recording that is usually part of a complete series which can be downloaded or listened to online. Podcasts are aired regularly, much like a radio talk show or TV show. Nowadays, podcasts are a popular medium. A lot of celebrities and influencers have regular podcasts, and there are droves of people supporting them.

A Podcast’s Appeal

Podcasts are usually focused on a specific topic or revolve around a personality. It is casual, sometimes unscripted, and is generally recorded in a home office, a studio, or even on the go.  Since it is streamed online, there’s also an opportunity for listeners to send in questions or leave comments—adding spice to the podcast.

The most popular venue to listen to podcasts is at home. Others listen to podcasts in the car, while walking, or at the office.

an infographic that shows statistics about podcast listeners

Podcast Listeners Statistics

According to Apple, there were only 250,000 podcasts on iTunes in 2013. In 2018, this number grew to 500,000 active podcasts. In fact, the number of podcast listeners fueled this growth. Latest figures show that there are more than 112 million people who have listened to podcasts in the United States.

Notably, there was also an 11 percent growth on the number of podcast listeners from 2017 to 2018. Pointedly, in 2017, about 69 percent of podcast listeners used a smartphone, tablet, or another mobile device. Only 31 percent listened on computers. In contrast, in 2013, 58 percent of podcast consumers listened on their computers, while 42 percent listened on mobile devices.

Creating Strong Digital Revenue

Podcasts already existed even before 2005. However, its popularity waned a bit before gaining momentum again during the last five years. This time, advertisers who have been spending on online ads are tapping into the potential of podcasts. Companies large and small are latching on to its popularity. They are now even producing their own podcasts or spending good money to sponsor one.

The Daily,” a podcast from The New York Times, has been airing for less than two years with an audience of 5 million listeners per month. Reports say that “The Daily” has over $290,000 a month in sponsorship.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the amount of money spent on podcasts will reach $659 million by 2020—more than double the $314 recorded in 2017. The so-called “baked-in” ads—spiels or mentions from the presenter or host—are still the most preferred format. Remarkably, some gifted podcasters can weave in brand mentions like it’s the most natural thing in the world. This is what advertisers are after.

a microphone used for podcast recording
Podcasts are becoming all the rage, becoming a popular digital medium.

But what makes this digital medium so popular?

  •  Listening is refreshing. The popularity of graphs and video has resulted in an explosion of video content. Additionally, social media can be tiring with a scrolling newsfeed. With podcasts, listeners can wear their earphones or headsets and let the audio play while they do other activities. The talking voice is also more engaging—with nuances in the voice quality, silences, and pauses providing emphasis in the delivery.
  • Cost of Production. In producing a podcast, one only needs a good quality microphone and audio editing software. Successful podcasts have a cost per thousand impressions—abbreviated as CPM (cost per mille— “mille” is Latin for thousand)—of between $20 and $45. In comparison, a web ad’s CPM ranges from $1 to $20 while TV’s CPM ranges from $5 to $20. This fact shows a relatively high return on investment.
  • Mobility. Majority of internet users nowadays use a mobile device, allowing listeners to download and listen to podcasts wherever they are. Listeners can choose to listen right after they download an episode, or to save the podcast and listen to it at a more convenient time. A lot of people listen to podcasts on the commute or while in the gym.
  • Connected Cars. With the rise of connected cars, it is now possible to stream audio while driving. Commuters benefit from this technology, and it has contributed to the increasing growth of podcasts.

Image of Anna Bager with a quote

Captive Audience and Target Markets

Anna Bager, the IAB’s Executive Vice President of Industry Initiatives explained that advertisers love podcasters because they can capture their audience’s attention and keep them engaged.

Early influencers have shown that podcasts can be viable as a broadcasting venue and as a platform for monetization. Podcasts make it easier for advertisers to reach different demographics. The younger generation can listen to ads without switching off the podcast or skipping through the commercial.

An Insight on Podcast Listeners

Interestingly, 56 percent of podcast listeners are men, and 44 percent are women. Podcast listeners between the ages of 18-34 most likely listen monthly.  Those who listen at least once a month subscribe to an average of 6 podcasts. They also constitute 44 percent of all listeners, with those aged 35-54 comprising 33 percent.

Podcasts listeners are better educated than the general population. Around 30 percent of listeners have a graduate degree—with 27 percent having a bachelor’s degree.

Podcasts, Now and Beyond

Podcasts are taking marketing and advertising to a new digital level. It has created new opportunities for various companies and brands to make their presence known to a broader audience.

Podcasts also show how discerning audiences have become on the kind of content they want to read, listen to, or watch. At a time when audience attention is supposedly short, here’s a medium that keeps them engaged and entertained for a more extended period. Only time can tell how far this love for podcasts would go—from this generation to the next.