In part one of our conversation with Olivia Ramos, she told us about the complicated real estate development problems that led her to found Deepblocks.
In part two of our conversation, she discusses the process she undertook in acquiring funding for her company, and some insights on where she sees the most promising technological developments for the immediate and more distant future.
More information: https://www.deepblocks.com/
Olivia Ramos is an entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Deepblocks, an artificial intelligence platform consolidating all the tools and processes needed to analyze any real estate project. She is a graduate of all three Singularity University startup programs, GSP, Incubator, and Accelerator, and was the only woman participant in the DARPA Innovation House program.
Olivia holds a Master’s of Architecture from Columbia University, a Master’s of Real Estate Development from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Florida.
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Olivia Ramos 0:00
Only go to investors that really understand your market that have a deep connection with the problem that you’re solving. Because just because somebody has money doesn’t mean that they’re going to be in, you know, emotionally invested into what you’re doing, it is very important that they are.
Alexander Ferguson 0:24
Part one of our conversation with Olivia Ramos, she told us about the complicated real estate development problems that led her to found Deepblocks. In part two of our conversation, she discusses the process she undertook in acquiring funding for a company and some insights on where she sees the most promising technological developments for the immediate and more distant future. Let me I’m excited to continue our conversation and now to hear as a leader of an organization for the last three, four years. I’m sure you’ve faced a few challenges since then. And there’s even more to come. And you mentioned, this is your first organization that’s really been gotten to this point, is that correct? That’s correct. How big is your team at this moment?
Olivia Ramos 1:06
Right now we’re six, full time in Miami and two full time in India.
Alexander Ferguson 1:11
Gotcha. And VC funded or, or we bootstrapped,
Olivia Ramos 1:16
VC funded. So half of our investors are VCs, the other half are real estate development professionals.
Alexander Ferguson 1:21
Got it. Now, looking back from from four years ago, from where you were you started in? What was the singularity? University? Yes, right. Where, what’s the difficulty that you had to face and were able to overcome that another entrepreneur can can learn from?
Olivia Ramos 1:40
Yes, absolutely. So raising money is always a very difficult thing, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, at that scale. I mean, I’ve raised maybe tops $80,000, before I got to deep block. So raising 2.6 million is a completely different conversation. Something that I learned that I think is really useful, in hindsight is only go to investors that really understand your market that have a deep connection with the problem that you’re solving. Because just because somebody has money doesn’t mean that they’re going to be in, you know, emotionally invested into what you’re doing. And it’s very important that they are.
Alexander Ferguson 2:20
So if you go to an industry, VC fund that is focused on your industry, you can be able to pull in their emotion, which increases the likelihood that they’ll want to invest in you
Olivia Ramos 2:30
emotion, and in a way, so emotion, what I mean is they understand the pain points. So for example, most of our VCs have a lot of LPs, that are real estate developers. And so it was easy for them to go to those LPs. And LPS will be like, Oh, my God, this, this will totally make a change in our industry. So you know, the same with the real estate developers, we went to them, and we’re like, if they don’t invest in us, we’re probably not building the right thing. But as soon as they saw a 3d model changing, and the financial model changing, as they’re just toggling a few sliders, they invested. So we knew right away that that validated the problem we’re trying to solve. And we learn after speaking to prominent doctors, prominent scientists, that the only people that were going to invest were real estate development professionals.
Alexander Ferguson 3:18
Got it? Because they understood the problem. You have to understand it. Yeah. So looking forward, then to the vision that you’re trying to realize and make happen, what hurdles Do you see that are going to be in your way in order to accomplish that?
Olivia Ramos 3:33
Um, I mean, learning as an entrepreneur that is very product oriented. Um, it’s important that I know and you know that other CEOs know that, you know, maybe you’re not the best at sales. And for now, I think, but the biggest challenge is shifting that energy towards sales and marketing and go to market. And that’s something that I didn’t think about going into this, because I just was in love with a problem and really wanted to solve it. And then it got to the point where everybody’s asking, Well, you have a great product, when are you going to sell it? And I, I hit a wall and I was like, Oh my God, I’ve never sold anything in my life. I mean, I’ve raised money, but that’s different. So now, you know, sort of going in through this process of learning how to sell have, you know, and it’s not that hard, but it is something that you have to be intentional about. And I think that might be hard for entrepreneurs and CEOs that are very product, you know, product driven.
Alexander Ferguson 4:33
What actionable things are you doing right now to help shift your mind more on sales and to make that happen?
Olivia Ramos 4:41
It’s very simple. It’s really just spend my time trying to sell because I can, I can, you know, distract myself with like, Oh, let me make sure that engineers got this thing, right. Or, you know, I can really strike myself in that but if I if I just focus, you know, 80% of my day in sales is working. So Hold on is I don’t make excuses. Exactly. I feel like time management is huge for sales.
Alexander Ferguson 5:06
Gotcha putting that energy shifting and don’t let your, your desire to oh, let me just tinker with the product, but no focus on selling.
Olivia Ramos 5:15
And that’s a daily struggle. I’ll say that. Yes.
Alexander Ferguson 5:18
So what? Where do you look for and gain insights and innovation and ideas? What audio books or podcasts or books are you reading or listening to right now?
Olivia Ramos 5:30
So I just finished the book range. So it’s really interesting, because it talks about how if you have a diverse background, how if you’ve done a bunch of things like sports and science and art and, and technology, you have a better chance of coming up with a solution for the world and coming up with something powerful. And I feel like that that really helped us validate, you know, our team came from all kinds of background, even our engineers were like mathematics majors, or, you know, machine learning experts, but like, you know, and then Jeff and I have been the CEO, and I were like in construction development architectures. So to come together to this technology is that book by David Epstein. Sorry. So that’s been really helpful. Um, another book that’s helped me on the sales side is never split the difference. I don’t know if you’ve heard about that book. But it’s written by a gentleman who spent 40 years in the FBI, as the head of international negotiations for hostage situations. And, and it’s amazing how many parallels there are in the hostage situation and the sales process. So so that book was really cool. And yeah, those are the two most recent reads.
Alexander Ferguson 6:50
Got it, I was actually just talking to another CEO startup, and he was reading the same book. And so I started reading it, and it is awesome. So now, for you looking forward to as a tech leader, what kind of tech innovations do you predict overall, that we will see in the near term and long term, so near term the next year or so? And long term the next 10 years?
Olivia Ramos 7:15
Well, in the next year, I feel like some of the most powerful things, you know, if things go correctly, will come from 3d printing. You know, there there is a lag in productivity and the factories and things we’re used to having access to. So I think companies, if you know if I could bet on a technology that could be really prominent would be 3d printing, if we can be 3d printing, you know, respirators right now, we would not be in such a crisis. So I think I would bet on that technology. Also on VR, we talked about that earlier, because everybody’s stuck at home. So if this happens, if we’re stuck at home for the next nine months, like, I will go on a VR tour of like, whatever, like you’re just taking me out of here. So so that’s a I think that’s another really prominent I think, things that allow us to be happier and and resourceful and effective in a remote way, we’ll have a big win in the next in the next year or so, depending on what happens with what’s going on. I imagine definitely brokers showing homes in a VR setting, you know, that’s something that we want to work on, we think that’d be a great extension to our product. So I’m sure somebody’s working on that. And in the next, you said three to five years.
Alexander Ferguson 8:41
Yeah, potentially even long, longer term?
Olivia Ramos 8:44
Yeah, I mean, it really depends on I think the you know, our impact on the environment is going to have a big say, on what technologies are needed for cities to be safe. I think from our perspective, getting into a more autonomous type of building autonomous building, that if there’s an infrastructure collapse, if there’s any kind of damage to this aging infrastructure that we have, that we could still live a normal life, that’s something that we are technology, we’ll definitely tackle how to make a building completely autonomous with like rainwater collection, you know, waste management within the building of resource production. That’s something that we’re really excited about. And that’s why you know, when people say what do you want to reduce the cost, so much, like, nobody’s gonna make any money, and I disagree, I think it just leaves a lot of room for innovation, and people will make money there. And that’s where they should be making the money and the innovation not in like, the you know, just making a structure. So So I from from the perspective of cities, that’s that’s where I see the future and 3d printing is going to have a huge say on that. Like I said, we want to press a button and have a building 3d printed or have a fleet of robots come in like that’s No offense to humans, but we need good cheap products faster. So we at least should have that option.
Alexander Ferguson 10:09
cheap products faster get rid of the humans so we can make things more efficient. And and and then we can enjoy our lives and keep our
Olivia Ramos 10:17
There you go. Maybe you don’t have to work that much or maybe innovation is where most of the jobs will be.
Alexander Ferguson 10:23
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