You and Rowland, co-founder and CEO at Stake, have partnered together before....so, are you nuts to do it again?
Maybe! In all seriousness, I have a good working relationship with Rowland and our talents are very complementary. I’ve been working with Rowland as an advisor on Stake for over year at this point and had many conversations with him before Stake was originally launched. When Stake pivoted last March and Rowland described the initial formation of cash back rewards I knew this was something I wanted to work on. I came on as an advisor and investor because I believed in Stake and in Rowland’s vision.
Stake has gone through quite a turnaround in the last 12 months. What is the driving force behind that?
Product-market fit and team. Return on Rent and the benefits of reducing economic vacancy and improving the economic resilience of communities are powerful ways to create a “win-win” for residents and property owners. I see the messages and hear the stories from our Resident Members and I know the cash back reward makes a meaningful difference for them. But all the great ideas are nothing without the team to transition an idea to a successful implementation. While I only came on recently as the COO of Stake in May, I spent a few hours every week with Stake as an advisor. I’ve watched as we've onboarded incredible talent and have been very impressed with the growth and performance of all of our team members.
What would you do with your Return on Rent?
Plan some nice dinners out! This past year has been very hard for so many and I’m very fortunate that my family has made it through relatively unscathed. One of the things I miss most is the ability to go out to dinner with friends and sample the wide range of great restaurants and experiences available here in Seattle.
What is the main concern of a Chief Operating Officer in an early growth company?
In my view, this role is so unique to the specific situation at any early growth company that any generalized view can miss the mark. For Stake, the main concern I have is how we balance the plan for growth and scaling against the needs of the moment. No business operates without constraints and Stake is no different. The role at Stake focuses on answering how we scale effectively into the rental marketplace. Our growth to date has been great but I think about how we scale at 10x, 50x, 100x of the number of resident members we have today. What does that team look like? What systems do we build to be efficient in that scaling process? How do we preserve the culture of Stake as we grow?
I hear there may be a Seattle office happening. Tell us about that.
We already have a natural concentration of team members in Seattle currently — Jimmy, Dillon, and myself. While we have been a 100% remote company and will continue to look for talent wherever we find the right match, we also know there is value in having in-person collaborative time. Our vision is that the Seattle office for Stake will be the center of product and design. The talent pool in Seattle is deep and the location is a draw for recruiting. That’s not to say there isn’t competition here for hiring, but rather the concentration of talent and companies means we can find innovative talent more easily than in some other locations. For remote talent, Seattle is a wonderful city to bring people to for team meetings in the summer! Although, our first team meeting was the week of the historic heat wave, so I have some work to do planning next year's event!