This week’s Popping the Bubbl, Sandra Ponce De Leon and I feature Don Cantral, CEO of NextAce. Don’s company has processed over 6 million real estate title searches saving customers in excess of 300 million dollars since 2003.
What makes NextAce special? They’ve taken an industry built upon clerks doing title searches and automated the redundant aspects of the business. Don’s innovation of automating within the title search process has allowed the company to claim 22% of the market. The growth of the company is such that Don expects to pass 50% market share by 2018.
NextAce has the hallmarks of a successful disruptor. What used to take days, now takes hours. The costs associated are reduced by 70%. The access to searching has been democratized. Most importantly, the established companies who rely on a clerk based search force, don’t believe that Don’s model works. The best part, Don has one of those stories where he sat down with buddies for drinks and walked out of the sports bar with an idea worth hundreds of millions.
The way Don figures it, there are 10 industry partners he needs to know. They hold the bulk of the market share that NextAce services. By getting inside the decision cycle of his competitors, the market has forever changed. The key is his competitors are reluctant to believe the process can be automated. Unfortunately for them, Next Ace is part of a deal every 8 seconds, each time outperforming his competition.
If the market has tipped, what’s next?
Don sees title searches not taking days, or hours…but seconds. A live title search process that populates within a GPS program instantly providing agent and buyer title search data.
What of the title search clerks?
A quick search of clerk salary reveals a range of $22,390 - $41,527 per year. This level of compensation falls directly in-line with the projection of 85% of jobs making less than $50,000 a year being automated in the next 10 years or less. Obviously, there will continue to be people who complete higher level tasks in the title search process. However, many clerks of today will find themselves re-training into new industries; or transitioning into an industry that is fueled by a personal passion.
We learned in Jeremiah Owyang’s episode that this is quickly becoming the norm. People are going to move up in skill or out to work that requires the kind of creativity that isn’t easily replicated by a machine. In support of this workforce exodus, greater numbers of companies are being created that facilitate the evolution of the workforce. The title search marketplace has changed. Nobody picks titles as a place to innovate, but that’s the point. Don saw an industry comfortable and complacent; he stalked opportunity and struck. Within weeks NextAce went from a bar napkin to a working model backed by investors. Now as NextAce sits in the driver’s seat, Don is looking to push the market to be faster, more ubiquitous with more value. In the brilliant idea Hall of Fame, Don sits by Fred Smith among the guys who went to a bar for drinks and came out with an idea of a lifetime.
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