Q&A: Investment Banking Analyst to Startup Co-Founder

Long time member of WSO here, I just created a new username for this post. I'm a former investment banking analyst at a bulge bracket in NYC. I've been pursuing my real estate tech startup, Zenly, for almost a year and will be launching it in a few weeks. I co-founded Zenly to address the nightmare of apartment hunting that we've all experienced. Zenly is the first online marketplace for apartment rentals in NYC. You can browse real listings with video walkthroughs, visit on your own schedule, and apply online without a broker to save thousands of dollars in fees. Hopefully I can help out my fellow monkeys who are moving to New York this summer in pursuit of their investment banking dreams… Happy to answer questions about banking, entrepreneurship, apartment hunting, and anything in between.

Comments (66)

May 21, 2014 - 3:18pm
Marcus_Halberstram, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. How long are you giving yourself to get this off the ground before you have to go back to working for the man with your tail between your legs? I'm assuming you're lifestyle isn't being bank rolled by parents/trust fund and so you have a finite amount of savings to live off until you need this thing to financially support you?

  2. How'd you come up with the idea/concept and decide this is what you wanted to chase?

  3. Not a question, but just a comment video/virtual tours are nice, but I still need to walk around and get a feel for the place.

Sounds like a promising idea, best of luck!

Array
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May 21, 2014 - 4:26pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To Marcus Halberstram:

1) I've saved a decent amount after my analyst stint in banking and have enough to support myself for at least another year. Launching the startup soon and the goal is to raise a Series A within a few months and take a salary.

2) My cofounder and I came up with the initial concept a while back after going through the apartment hunt ourselves. We realized that if we just had real listings, we don't need a broker to hold our hand and charge us 15% to open the door. It took some time to research and plan before we decided to pursue it full-time.

3) Good point. Zenly does actually require you to visit the apartment in person before you can submit an application. The videos serve the purpose of saving you the time of running around the city exploring everything. You can narrow down the listings to one or two that you like, visit in person, and submit an application in one day.

May 21, 2014 - 3:44pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. how do you make money in your startup?

  2. are you just doing NYC or elsewhere in the country?

  3. why'd you leave IB?

  4. where'd the name come from?

  5. any plans to do purchases instead of just rentals?

  6. what's the endgame? sell to something like Zillow or IPO? continue business in perpetuity? do well for a few years, then fold it?

  7. any outside investors in this or just personal/family capital?

best of luck to you, I admire your ambition!

May 21, 2014 - 4:34pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
thebrofessor:

1. how do you make money in your startup?

2. are you just doing NYC or elsewhere in the country?

3. why'd you leave IB?

4. where'd the name come from?

5. any plans to do purchases instead of just rentals?

6. what's the endgame? sell to something like Zillow or IPO? continue business in perpetuity? do well for a few years, then fold it?

7. any outside investors in this or just personal/family capital?

best of luck to you, I admire your ambition!

1) Zenly charges a fee of 5% from the tenant upon lease signing. Due to our technology and that we do not use brokers, we are able to charge one third of what a broker would charge you. When we launch this summer, there will even be additional discounts.

2) We are launching in NYC but have plans to expand to other cities such as San Francisco, Boston, etc.

3) I did not find a favorable exit opportunity and was pursuing this in its early stages while still in IB. When we got enough traction and this seemed promising, I decided to pursue it full-time as it is nearly impossible to run any side project while still being in IB.

4) We are trying to make the process of apartment hunting more Zen (peaceful, easy, etc.). We wanted a name that was short and catchy and not tied to one vertical (i.e. ZenRentals).

5) Yes, we would like to expand into other verticals including subleasing (i.e. Airbnb), sales, etc.

6) All options are still on the table, we're very early stage right now.

7) We raised seed capital from a strategic investor in the real estate industry.

Thanks for the support!

May 21, 2014 - 4:48pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

sounds like a good business model, glad you're diversifying your revenue base by hitting all of the big cities. I'm sure there are forums on city-data where people complain about how hard it is to rent. for example, my city I think is pretty easy, but I know Atlanta can be quite tough for newcomers.

keep us posted on your successes

May 21, 2014 - 3:45pm
packmate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Assuming that you didn't code your website yourself, how did you go about finding a co-founder to develop the platform? I'd be especially interested if you outsourced the developing.

Also, how would you say working as an investment banker helped in the process of starting your company?

Good luck btw, the whole broker market is pretty broken and inefficient and I hope your marketplace catches on.

Best Response
May 21, 2014 - 4:39pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
packmate:

Assuming that you didn't code your website yourself, how did you go about finding a co-founder to develop the platform? I'd be especially interested if you outsourced the developing.

Also, how would you say working as an investment banker helped in the process of starting your company?

Good luck btw, the whole broker market is pretty broken and inefficient and I hope your marketplace catches on.

My cofounder is the head of product and developed the entire platform with another part-time developer. It would be a dangerous game to outsource a product like this.

Working as an investment banker certainly was good training, not only for the creds but primarily in the soft skills. Many people think that running a startup is about creating an app for the App Store, but this kind of business requires sales, relationship building, negotiations, etc. Working in banking has taught me how to work with high level executives, mid-level managers, and even administrative assistants. Goes without saying that the financial skills are relevant as well. Also I am still working long hours, only this time on things that are actually important to me.

May 21, 2014 - 4:09pm
kidflash, what's your opinion? Comment below:

finally a non-bullshit social media start up. sb'ed. wish this was launched a little earlier...

weird... site won't let me sb the post..

May 21, 2014 - 4:22pm
duffmt6, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's the difference between your product and Urban Compass?

Excited to see some technology startups entering the mess that is apartment rentals (not exclusive to NYC). Best of luck.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."
May 21, 2014 - 4:42pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
duffmt6:

What's the difference between your product and Urban Compass?

Excited to see some technology startups entering the mess that is apartment rentals (not exclusive to NYC). Best of luck.

Urban Compass is a traditional brokerage firm like Century 21 or Douglas Elliman. You still need to work with their brokers and you pay a typical broker's fee. When they launched, they were paying their "neighborhood specialists" a salary instead of commissions, but they've reverted to a traditional brokerage model several months ago.

Zenly is different from all other companies out there in the three points listed on the site: 1) 100% real listings with video walkthroughs 2) Visit on your own schedule 3) Apply online without a broker

May 21, 2014 - 6:11pm
duffmt6, what's your opinion? Comment below:
zenly:
duffmt6:

What's the difference between your product and Urban Compass?

Excited to see some technology startups entering the mess that is apartment rentals (not exclusive to NYC). Best of luck.

Urban Compass is a traditional brokerage firm like Century 21 or Douglas Elliman. You still need to work with their brokers and you pay a typical broker's fee. When they launched, they were paying their "neighborhood specialists" a salary instead of commissions, but they've reverted to a traditional brokerage model several months ago.

Zenly is different from all other companies out there in the three points listed on the site:
1) 100% real listings with video walkthroughs
2) Visit on your own schedule
3) Apply online without a broker

Thanks for the response. Pretty interesting that they switched strategies so quickly.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."
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May 21, 2014 - 4:35pm
[email protected], what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you think your banking career has helped with your current business career (apart from the obvious fact that banking meant you were in NY)?

How did you sort funding out and what sort of ownership structure has the firm got (be as vague as needed)?

Also, not to be negative but this seems like quite a risky venture so what made you leave the security of you IB career?

May 21, 2014 - 4:50pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
timpson:

Do you think your banking career has helped with your current business career (apart from the obvious fact that banking meant you were in NY)?

How did you sort funding out and what sort of ownership structure has the firm got (be as vague as needed)?

Also, not to be negative but this seems like quite a risky venture so what made you leave the security of you IB career?

Yes, banking certainly helped- see above answer.

Through a lot of networking and some luck, we found a strategic partner in real estate who invested seed capital. I cannot disclose the terms or ownership structure.

What makes you think IB is secure? ;-)

May 21, 2014 - 4:54pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
MJK:

Are you enjoying the start-up life? I'm sure there were ups and downs--how did you get through when it looked like you might not make it?

I'm enjoying the startup life now- working on my own project, my own hours, etc. However, there were certainly many moments of doubt, especially early on. The more progress we made, the easier it became. Ultimately though, we believe strongly in our vision and that's what keeps us going.

May 21, 2014 - 5:06pm
ActivistInvesting, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You touched upon this, but may you please tell us a bit more on how you pitched the company to prospective investors?

In other words, what convinced the individual you've networked with to risk his own capital by investing in your startup?

May 21, 2014 - 5:15pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ActivistInvesting:

You touched upon this, but may you please tell us a bit more on how you pitched the company to prospective investors?

In other words, what convinced the individual you've networked with to risk his own capital by investing in your startup?

This particular individual had experience in residential brokerage, and instantly identified with our idea. Regarding pitching other investors who don't necessarily know real estate, we follow many of the guidelines that you can find online - i.e. identifying a problem, providing your solution, showing a big opportunity, analyzing competitive landscape, etc.

We created a thorough business plan and thought about every possible question and scenario. When investors say that they "believe in the team", it's not just the creds on paper, but how well they know their business.

May 21, 2014 - 5:37pm
NYMonkey371, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good idea, I thought about this as well when going through the apartment hunt.

I think the most difficult part of this will be getting the building owners to post on your site because it is easier for them to use the traditional brokers (and they don't pay for it). I would also focus on making the process more efficient for them and make it clear they will get a higher price/rent (a portion of the saved broker fee). If you can build these relationships with different buildings the renters will definitely come.

May 21, 2014 - 5:49pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NYMonkey371:

Good idea, I thought about this as well when going through the apartment hunt.

I think the most difficult part of this will be getting the building owners to post on your site because it is easier for them to use the traditional brokers (and they don't pay for it). I would also focus on making the process more efficient for them and make it clear they will get a higher price/rent (a portion of the saved broker fee). If you can build these relationships with different buildings the renters will definitely come.

You make a lot of good points. One of the biggest challenges certainly was building relationships with the property managers and getting them on board. We now have over a dozen of the large property management firms in NYC on board, and it's getting easier to add more.

In regards to your point about brokers- building managers actually do not like working with brokers as they receive many clients that don't apply or don't have the proper credit (brokers will try to lease to anyone). They also DO actually pay the broker sometimes (this is called offering an "OP" - owner pays) when their apartments aren't leasing as fast as they'd like.

Zenly is a more efficient solution for property managers because our team comes in for 5 minutes to video the apartment, and then we only drive interested tenants to the property. If someone doesn't like what they saw in the video walkthrough, they will not come to visit in person. Property managers also acknowledge, as you point out, that due to our lower fee, they can collect a higher rent.

May 21, 2014 - 5:39pm
jackdaniels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

now that you are out of banking, is it ok to wear white aldo shoes to work? or is this still frowned upon in the start up world?

May 21, 2014 - 5:43pm
RESC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just out of curiosity, which one of you is the licensed broker in the company? From what it sounds like, you take a 5% fee on listings that are direct from management, so you're still finding tenants and placing them in buildings, similar to a typical rental broker, just undercutting the fees.

I had an idea for a tech startup, but I haven't worked in the industry long enough to be eligible for a broker's license. How did you tackle this legal hurdle?

Really hope you're successful with this, by the way. NYC apartment hunters are begging for someone to find a way to undercut the brokers.

May 21, 2014 - 6:05pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
notaspammer:

Just out of curiosity, which one of you is the licensed broker in the company? From what it sounds like, you take a 5% fee on listings that are direct from management, so you're still finding tenants and placing them in buildings, similar to a typical rental broker, just undercutting the fees.

I had an idea for a tech startup, but I haven't worked in the industry long enough to be eligible for a broker's license. How did you tackle this legal hurdle?

Really hope you're successful with this, by the way. NYC apartment hunters are begging for someone to find a way to undercut the brokers.

You are correct, we are undercutting the traditional broker fee and we are placing tenants in apartments. However, we are providing the first do-it-yourself model for the tenant, by giving them the accurate listings online and having the platform for them to complete the process on their own without an agent. You can say we are effectively an online brokerage. We have more than one license in the firm, including mine.

May 21, 2014 - 5:57pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
JohnTheFinancier:

I know someone who runs a tech start-up called Urban Compass in NY doing pretty much the exact same thing.

I assume you mean Urban Compass is doing pretty much the exact same thing as Century 21, Citi Habitat, Douglas Elliman, or any other brokerage firm. They don't have real listings or videos, and you have to work with a broker and pay the standard commission.

May 21, 2014 - 9:57pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are over 30,000 new rentals annually in Manhattan alone (based off Douglas Elliman reports). The addressable market is much greater of course when you include Brooklyn, Queens, Jersey City, etc.

Brokers definitely take the lion's share of these leases. Our surveys indicate that very few people are able to go direct to landlord, including experienced New Yorkers. The reason being that there is no accurate source of listings out there, and majority of people still default to Craigslist which is filled with broker spam.

The average Manhattan rent is now close to $4k (median is around $3200). That means that on a $4,000 apartment, a user saves $4,800 in broker fees by using Zenly.

May 21, 2014 - 7:10pm
ARX713, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My background: currently in TMT banking, former real estate agent, and I currently own/lease out property in addition to being a renter myself.

Zenly sounds like a fascinating idea. But how does scheduling work? I remember scheduling showings as a broker and just arranging access with supers and management companies was a big pain and often unsuccessful.

May 21, 2014 - 10:25pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Uruz:

Zenly sounds like a fascinating idea. But how does scheduling work? I remember scheduling showings as a broker and just arranging access with supers and management companies was a big pain and often unsuccessful.

Building managers get an email to confirm the appointment when a user requests it. When they confirm, the user gets the specific address of where to go and who to meet. Similar to how you get a confirmation from seamless when the restaurant receives your order. If the building manager doesn't respond for some reason, we follow up by phone on the back end to confirm the appointment.

May 21, 2014 - 8:04pm
Quaneaser, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My friend actually showed me Zenly a month or so ago independently, so congrats on working the hype machine well.

How do you plan to scale the business with regards to the video service? Right now with not as many listings perhaps the founders can video, but what about when there gets to be hundreds/thousands of listings?

May 21, 2014 - 10:30pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Quaneaser:

My friend actually showed me Zenly a month or so ago independently, so congrats on working the hype machine well.

How do you plan to scale the business with regards to the video service? Right now with not as many listings perhaps the founders can video, but what about when there gets to be hundreds/thousands of listings?

Nice, thanks. Curious how your friend found it and/or why he showed it to you?

We have a team doing the videos. It will scale well - the more inventory we get, the more we can focus certain videographers on certain neighborhoods, so they can be more familiar with the buildings, be in and out faster, and spend less time traveling in between buildings.

May 21, 2014 - 10:39pm
Quaneaser, what's your opinion? Comment below:
zenly:
Quaneaser:

My friend actually showed me Zenly a month or so ago independently, so congrats on working the hype machine well.

How do you plan to scale the business with regards to the video service? Right now with not as many listings perhaps the founders can video, but what about when there gets to be hundreds/thousands of listings?

Nice, thanks. Curious how your friend found it and/or why he showed it to you?

We have a team doing the videos. It will scale well - the more inventory we get, the more we can focus certain videographers on certain neighborhoods, so they can be more familiar with the buildings, be in and out faster, and spend less time traveling in between buildings.

I think he found it with a search or something. But we have a hatred for all things brokers and especially getting bait and switched so those are the issues we've wanted to solve. Sounds like this is a great step towards that.

May 22, 2014 - 1:03pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
RGE:

How does your company compare with onradpad.com? Radpad helps users find apartments, condo's and houses for rent. Best of luck.

See my points above- Zenly is not just a listing website like all the rest. Real listings with videos, and a do-it-yourself platform.

May 22, 2014 - 11:24am
notahipster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I hope you have $$$ for lawyers. Extant protectionist industries don't take well to easy to use cost-saving competitors, especially in NYC. See Uber. If you take off (let's hope!) and start stepping on brokers' toes you, there will be progressive concern about the safety of your product... for the good of the consumer of course.

You can't kill the guys you trade with
May 22, 2014 - 1:05pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
notahipster:

I hope you have $$$ for lawyers. Extant protectionist industries don't take well to easy to use cost-saving competitors, especially in NYC. See Uber. If you take off (let's hope!) and start stepping on brokers' toes you, there will be progressive concern about the safety of your product... for the good of the consumer of course.

I'm counting on it. We'll know we're doing something right when we start facing lawsuits and regulation issues.

May 22, 2014 - 12:06pm
Lester Burnham Lambert, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am curious about how you spend your time. Are you the salesman or have you hired a rep?What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced to date?

Congratulations on taking the plunge. Sounds like an exiting opportunity. Best of luck.

May 22, 2014 - 1:12pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Lester Burnham Lambert:

I am curious about how you spend your time. Are you the salesman or have you hired a rep?What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced to date?

Congratulations on taking the plunge. Sounds like an exiting opportunity. Best of luck.

I'm the salesman, the HR rep, the operations manager, the accountant, and the janitor. Such is the nature of a startup.

The biggest challenge is trying to introduce a new way of doing things to an industry that hasn't changed in a hundred years. I've found that the people who are open minded instantly see the value of our business. The ones who don't want to hear it will not be convinced any which way.

The other challenge is trying to juggle so many responsibilities and managing my time efficiently. Setting specific tasks for each day and trying to stick to weekly timelines helps.

May 22, 2014 - 1:13pm
iamfromcanada, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In addition to Urban Compass, how does this differ from RentHop (other than perhaps a video, which can easily be added)? Seems like it's the broker vs. no broker model. If that's the case, how will you scale if this thing takes off (having to pre-vet each and every apartment)?

What are your barriers to entry? Seems like a decent number of people with some coding resources and real estate experience could easily enter the same market.

May 22, 2014 - 11:36pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
iamfromcanada:

In addition to Urban Compass, how does this differ from RentHop (other than perhaps a video, which can easily be added)? Seems like it's the broker vs. no broker model. If that's the case, how will you scale if this thing takes off (having to pre-vet each and every apartment)?

What are your barriers to entry? Seems like a decent number of people with some coding resources and real estate experience could easily enter the same market.

Urban Compass and RentHop are two fundamentally different businesses. One is a traditional brokerage firm, the other is a listing website where brokers post garbage listings. See above or our website for how Zenly is different.

In terms of scaling, we have an efficient operation that will improve as we grow, but I cannot disclose specifics. Our barriers are a combination of tech, operational efficiencies, relationships, and branding, not to mention first mover advantage.

You could say the same thing about Seamless - anyone with some coding resources and restaurant experience could easily enter the same market...not that simple in reality.

May 22, 2014 - 1:18pm
madmax20, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The bottom line is getting access to inventory. You can have a great low cost model, but if you only have a small number of crappy apartments, fee or no fee, potential renters will still go through the traditional routes. How do you plan on getting property managers to list with you and divorce from their long standing broker relationships?

May 22, 2014 - 11:25pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
madmax20:

The bottom line is getting access to inventory. You can have a great low cost model, but if you only have a small number of crappy apartments, fee or no fee, potential renters will still go through the traditional routes. How do you plan on getting property managers to list with you and divorce from their long standing broker relationships?

Yes, you are correct that getting access to inventory is a key factor. We're already working with many of the large property management firms and have access to high quality listings. We get them on board by offering value - a more efficient process to fill vacancies that does not interfere with what they do today, and the cost savings for them and for the tenant.

In terms of "broker relationships" you mention - most large firms do not have exclusive brokers. They operate with an open listings model, and don't particularly like working with brokers anyway as I mentioned above. We believe the few managers that have exclusive broker relationships will divorce them over time when they realize Zenly is a cheaper and more effective solution, and some have already discussed this with us.

May 27, 2014 - 3:23pm
Pitbull Class, what's your opinion? Comment below:
madmax20:

The bottom line is getting access to inventory. You can have a great low cost model, but if you only have a small number of crappy apartments, fee or no fee, potential renters will still go through the traditional routes. How do you plan on getting property managers to list with you and divorce from their long standing broker relationships?

Winners bring a bigger bag than you do. I have a degree in meritocracy.
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May 22, 2014 - 1:53pm
Yekrut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very inspiring story. I know you've alluded to some of these above, but was wondering what you found were the three most valuable skills you took with you from IB? Also curious to learn how you stay focused and dedicated to you idea? Are there any days where you feel like quitting the startup grind? How does it feel to be working for yourself?

The error of confirmation: we confirm our knowledge and scorn our ignorance.
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May 22, 2014 - 11:52pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Yekrut:

Very inspiring story. I know you've alluded to some of these above, but was wondering what you found were the three most valuable skills you took with you from IB? Also curious to learn how you stay focused and dedicated to you idea? Are there any days where you feel like quitting the startup grind? How does it feel to be working for yourself?

Hard to say about the three most valuable skills from IB, but here are some:

1) Politics / dealing with difficult people - IB teaches you how companies are run and who are the decision makers. This is valuable when pitching business to new companies and trying to get through to the right people who are often busy. 2) General work experience and attention to detail - anything from setting up a conference call to attaching a PDF of an executive summary is useful experience and not trivial. I certainly would not be able to run this business in the same manner if I did it right out of college. 3) Work product - creating company profiles, pitch books, financial models have all been relevant and will be more relevant when we go for Series A.

There are definitely days of frustration, but those have become fewer and fewer the more progress we make. What keeps me on the path is the potential to earn real wealth. You'll never achieve wealth by collecting a salary. I would also feel extreme regret forever if I didn't pursue this opportunity. You hear it all the time that you should take a risk when you're young, try things out, etc. - so that's what I'm doing.

Am I sometimes envious of my friends in PE with a nice paycheck? Of course. But I could actually not fathom going back to working for someone else on pitch books and being glued to a blackberry hoping that it won't ring on the weekend.

May 23, 2014 - 2:28pm
Yekrut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for the awesome answer!

The error of confirmation: we confirm our knowledge and scorn our ignorance.
May 22, 2014 - 11:56pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
LongandShortofit:

Did you consider going to Kickstarter for funding? Why or why not?

We did not want to reveal our business model publicly. It also didn't make sense for us, as we weren't manufacturing a gadget to sell. We wanted a strategic partner who could provide more than just cash.

May 23, 2014 - 8:56pm
Lloyd_Blankfein, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you charge a 5% on no fee apartments? If so, how do you prevent customers from scoping out the listing on your site and going directly to the no fee management company?

May 24, 2014 - 11:56am
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Lloyd_Blankfein:

Do you charge a 5% on no fee apartments? If so, how do you prevent customers from scoping out the listing on your site and going directly to the no fee management company?

This is a common misconception - there is no such thing as a "fee" or "no fee" apartment. Apartments don't charge fees, brokers do. If a broker ever shows you a "no fee" apartment, it means he is collecting his fee from the management company.

We only provide the specific address of the unit after the user schedules an appointment through Zenly. By doing so, the user legally agrees to pay us the fee for any unit visited through our site. We also have the cooperation of the management company in collecting our fee for clients that come through us.

May 25, 2014 - 11:26pm
whodabest, what's your opinion? Comment below:

well done. SB. good luck!

  1. were you confident analyst position was not too early to leave? would you stay if you had exit opportunities on higher levels, would you prefer career (say IB to buyside, etc.) or would you end up in this (or any other) startup anyways?

  2. I understand what it is like running a startup and your doing lots of different stuff yourself but still curious what's your average day like?

  3. how many people are there in Zenly's team now?

  4. how many co-founders are there in Zenly – it's only you and your brother or more people?

  5. hope this never happens and you'll manage to get the funds, scale, etc., but what are the alternatives – you coming back to IB or you launching another startup? or any other thing?

  6. how exactly did you come up with the idea of this, how did you manage to combine IB analyst position with preparing to launch a startup (did they overlap?)?

  7. any other possibilites of monetization going forward beyond the one you mentioned?

May 27, 2014 - 12:39pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
wdb:

well done. SB. good luck!

1. were you confident analyst position was not too early to leave? would you stay if you had exit opportunities on higher levels, would you prefer career (say IB to buyside, etc.) or would you end up in this (or any other) startup anyways?

2. I understand what it is like running a startup and your doing lots of different stuff yourself but still curious what's your average day like?

3. how many people are there in Zenly's team now?

4. how many co-founders are there in Zenly – it's only you and your brother or more people?

5. hope this never happens and you'll manage to get the funds, scale, etc., but what are the alternatives – you coming back to IB or you launching another startup? or any other thing?

6. how exactly did you come up with the idea of this, how did you manage to combine IB analyst position with preparing to launch a startup (did they overlap?)?

7. any other possibilites of monetization going forward beyond the one you mentioned?

1) The circumstance I was in (not satisfied in IB and not getting an exit opp I liked), combined with the timing and progress we had with Zenly gave me the push to pursue it full time. If I got an offer from KKR it would definitely be harder to give that up. I'm glad I'm pursuing this now in my career rather than later. Can always go back to a salaried finance job if this doesn't work out.

2) Average day has really varied every month as the focus shifts. A month ago I was very focused on sales, marketing events, and hiring. Now I'm more focused on sales and operations. Each day is different really.

3) The team is very lean (less than a dozen).

4) Just two cofounders.

5) Tough question but one thing I'm considering if this doesn't pan out is getting into real estate finance given my banking background. Would not have much interest pursuing another startup after this.

6) Been through the apartment search myself and saw the inefficiencies. Gradually came up with the full business plan as we did more research. Quit banking before things got really busy with the startup.

7) Too early to say.

May 26, 2014 - 3:12am
PEinAsia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Congratulations to you! I also left my IB analyst job to launch a start-up. It was extremely tough, although a valuable life experience. After about a year, I closed down and went back into IB. I feel much more comfortable in my life now, psychologically, after having at least tried to start my own business.

I hope you guys do well.

Go East, Young Man
  • 1
May 27, 2014 - 12:41pm
zenly, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Asia_i_Banker:

Congratulations to you! I also left my IB analyst job to launch a start-up. It was extremely tough, although a valuable life experience. After about a year, I closed down and went back into IB. I feel much more comfortable in my life now, psychologically, after having at least tried to start my own business.

I hope you guys do well.

Thanks, props to taking the risk as well. Curious how you got back into banking after leaving for a startup. Did you come back as an analyst where you left off, or had to go back to school, etc.?

May 28, 2014 - 8:47am
PEinAsia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Getting back into banking was very tough. I had some very serious soul searching at that time. Things worked out in the end. I quickly got promoted from analyst to associate after less than 3 months on the job. I now have a very good life balance and got married last month. My life feels quite settled now. However, it was a very very tough year, between struggling with the start-up, recognizing failure, and then fighting to get back into IB.

Go East, Young Man
  • 1
Jun 1, 2014 - 2:47pm
CuriousAnalyst, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Dec 23, 2014 - 4:01pm
Stats_Wiz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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