Housing Innovation Alliance's Podcast

Grace Mase: Better Life Through a Better Home

February 02, 2021 Housing Innovation Alliance Season 1 Episode 16
Housing Innovation Alliance's Podcast
Grace Mase: Better Life Through a Better Home
Show Notes Transcript

Grace Mase, CEO and Founder of BEYREP, talks with Betsy about the role she plays in housing, building trust, adapting to new technology and her secret recipe for success. 

Learn more about BEYREP and connect with Grace.

Many thanks to our partners at the University of Denver for their editing and post-production talents, specifically Lija Miller and Lisette Zamora-Galarza.

The University of Denver Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management, teaches the full life cycle of the built environment. From integrated project leadership skills to a cohesive understanding of the built environment ––experience the only school of its kind!

"Upbeat Party" is brought to you by Scott Holmes, songwriter from Free Music Archive

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Speaker 1 (00:06):

You're listening to the housing innovation Alliance podcast in partnership with the University of Denver's Franklin L burns school of real estate and construction management. The Housing Innovation Alliance is a nationwide community of game changers driving the future of home delivery through crowd accelerated innovation. We represent thought leaders from dirt to dweller with a focus on the production builders business environment.

Speaker 2 (00:33):

This is Betsy Scott with the housing innovation Alliance. I'm here today with Grace Mase. She's been at the intersection of products e-commerce and creating amazing customer experiences for 20 or so years now and got into the housing space in the last few years with a focus on improving the residential construction experience, both for consumers and industry pros. So we'd like to share her story on housing. So welcome Grace. Well, it's an honor to be here and thank you for having me well, thanks for joining us. So look at your background. It's fascinating. You're from a bit of a different industry before moving into the housing space and you were in product development and user experience design for companies like Yahoo beach body. That's a big leap from Yahoo, a Y P. For those of you who don't know is the yellow pages online.

Speaker 2 (01:20):

So what led you to the residential construction space is actually a funny story. Now I can say it's funny. We've had a frustrating home renovation experience due to bad match, lousy communication, poorly managed process, and lack of accountability and transparency and turn out our experience was very common. And you probably know this home construction has been ranked top three consumer complaints nationwide for last over two decades. And Bey Rep was born out of that frustration. I was actually trained as an architect. I do my undergrad at Berkeley in architecture and worked at Berkeley as a campus architect, working on big projects and then proceed to extend to my master degree in architecture as well, a Yale university. But then I took a pivot, really try something different is learning about technology and I fell in love with it. I love the quickness of how to get things done, but at the same time, realizing what I've experienced with our renovation became clear that we need to make a big difference in our industry.

Speaker 2 (02:22):

Well, that's great. So it gives you the two sides of the coin that you kind of brought together your training, right? And then the tangent that you went on and a technology perspective has become much more relevant in our industry in the last couple of years. So you have great timing for coming back and bringing that experience to it. So that's quite fun. You've said, um, in reading some things about you guys, that your mission is to empower everyone to achieve a better life through a better home, which is just fantastic. I really think in our industry, that's what everyone's mission is. I think everyone's really out to do the right thing, which is why I'm really passionate about the industry myself, for your part. You've launched a construction management tool to improve the home delivery process. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how it's different from Angie's list on the consumer side and some of the other tools for builders that are out there?

Speaker 3 (03:14):

That's a great question. Our goal is I mentioned at Bay rev, is about providing both homeowners and professionals, peace of mind and confidence as they navigate through their projects together. And we believe when values visions and priorities and preferences are fully aligned with an easy to use technology framework that facilitate collaboration. Everyone can accomplish beautiful results and upgrade their lives. And as you know, construction design construction is very much about relationship, a lengthy journey like marriage, marriage in America average about eight years, seven years being together one year paperwork and home ownership is actually 20 years and trust is a foundation and every relationship and construction's no exception. In fact, we're probably have to work harder than anything, any other industries to earn trust because there's inherent negative association or perception about the profession, which is really unfortunate because at the end of the day professionals, like all of us, we want to earn an honest living, take care of our family and our staff, and many services that you mentioned, these service providers focus on lead generations, or just focus on the tactical mechanics of it as a form of directory, like a listing, which is very challenging to build trust and meaningful partnership.

Speaker 3 (04:34):

And on Bay rep, we focus on building trust, starting addressing these pain points. And as we know, we tend to trust people when we are fully aligned with our values, our priorities or preferences. And that's what we developed the matching algo really focused on various attributions to make sure it matching people were compatible to work with collaborating together on big projects where we worked someone we're compatible with no matter how big the problem may be. We always find a way to work it out. But when we work someone we're not compatible with little things can be blown out of proportion. And so to us, it's almost that that's almost like a dating process, right? You want to make sure you find the right person that you are compatible with. And the second piece of this effort is the project management. We tend to trust things when we can actually see was transparent leads to accountability, leads to trust.

Speaker 3 (05:26):

If we have a systematic way to see every aspect of the project, to understand the progress, to know how much thing pay and what's any kind of open issues or changes. If we can keep everyone on the same page, then everyone can say on time and on budget. And the lastly the third piece is the payment as a huge financial investment. It's like buying a house, right? But buying a house has a process safeguarding your money like an escrow. So we thought why reinvent the wheel develop the whole escrow concept where the owners deposit money before the pro get started per so, you know, the money is in the bank. And oftentimes unfortunately some cases where the homeowner don't pay and when the work is completed and that's not fair for the professional field, the builders of the world. And so we want to make sure we find a way where keeps everyone on the same page and let equal ground. So there's no power. Struggle is all about focus on getting the home built. And all these features are built on top of real-time comprehensive communication platform, which fosters a healthy, productive collaboration. And we have two patents already on our platform. So we're really excited about delivering to more service, providing more service to them.

Speaker 2 (06:40):

And you're working predominantly with custom builders and then remodelers. So it's almost the match.com thing upfront. Yes. Make sure that you're not going to really regret your decision later, somebody into your house to do something that's very disruptive, but very important for you at the same time, or whether you partner with somebody who's actually doing a new construction build for you. So you get that part out of the way. That's very interesting and element that I haven't really seen yet on the tech side in our industry. So that's pretty cool.

Speaker 3 (07:10):

Funny thing, you mentioned that to us, we often joke about ourselves. We're a matchmaker and wedding planner for home construction. And our mission is about empowering people to cheat. As you mentioned to achieve a better life through a better home and pay rent, we help people to collaborate more effectively, take control of their projects from start to finish when they do so they will be Philly support. It

Speaker 2 (07:33):

They'll feel like it's a good date. Yeah, good really

Speaker 3 (07:36):

Good day. Right. Once we continue

Speaker 2 (07:38):

On, well, this is, this is very cool. It's very interesting how you've brought your experience in other industries and your professional training initially, to kind of this forefront, which brings me to the other thing. I want to switch gears for a minute and talk about your perspective on being in the housing industry. Because one of the things that we're trying to do is to demonstrate to people. Obviously you play a very interesting role at the intersection of project management and customer experience of what other women can be doing. What other people you might not typically see in a, in a very male dominated white dominated industry, and really trying to attract those next generation of leaders into the mix as well. So since you've been doing this, what's the most inspiring thing that you've seen happen with your work in the residential construction space,

Speaker 3 (08:30):

Because we're right in the middle, we have the opportunity and privilege to see both sides of the equation. Especially as you know, just home construction general, the decision-maker tend to be women or a counterpart of construction builders. We're about 98, 98% male. It's not that we don't communicate effectively is ourselves are different. It's not intentional. And so what we discover ways to kind of bridge that gap is providing this tool. And when people are at the same level, they actually are a lot more engaged. For example, one client that we have here, it's effectively a new bill, even though we consider us a remodeling, but we were talking about multimillion dollar project. And while they're building the second floor, the homeowners really excited and she not typical, it would be cause you know, walking through the construction site, when I met her at the job site, she was very excited about second floor.

Speaker 3 (09:27):

There was a ladder going up to the second floor and she doesn't even know how she's just so bright. It's like I never done this before. And I show her how to go up the ladder and hope to come down the ladder. And just from that experience and for her to go through the whole entire breadth of these, this entire construction project, she feel empowered. And what's great about it is she brought her two little girls to the job site on the weekend to see that space. And for me, I trace back my first experiences with my dad when I was five years old, go into construction site, concrete rebar, sticking out nails, broken nails. That was my experience. And what was so special is seeing the transformation, not just the physical transformation it's transformation in a person. I saw my dad's face lit up and how proud he was.

Speaker 3 (10:15):

He's able to provide this space for us. I got to have my own room and that is so powerful. And on the other side of the professionals, what we're seeing is they're much more conscious about engaging homeowners. And I think just recently with the pandemic, you know, most of the pros you asked them about zoom or video chat they're best experienced, probably maybe Apple chat, FaceTime, maybe at best, but they never connected with the clients that way. With pandemic, they're forced to adapt new technology. They begin to think about how they operate their business and what they can do to be more effective over and over and over. We keep hearing from our pros that we helped to save 30% of their time. They no longer have to deal with fussy clients because we mash it with them, with someone that they're compatible to work with. They're not bogged down with stress and just uncomfortable conversations they actually could enjoy. And I see them, you know, sketching things on the ground or on the plans, but really focus on problem solving and that it was as exciting if you're able to put, you know, push the noise away and bring the essence of why we exist, why we deliver as well, delivering that experience for them to work together effectively.

Speaker 2 (11:33):

That's very cool. I just think it's a great step forward. And in the woman showing the girls, not just the dad showing the girl, so it's good that the homeowners are even open to doing that is great because I think a lot of times I get excited about housing and I have three sisters when I was a kid that never would have happened in terms of, of getting that. So that's very fun. Appreciate that story. You've done a great job in terms of looking at technology and looking at customer experiences in a lot of different sectors, we talked about couldn't get much different than Beachbody and yellow pages. So what is your, what's your secret recipe for success?

Speaker 3 (12:14):

The secret recipe probably break down to three things, curiosity, um, counseling, curious. And for me, what was attractive to Yahoo beach body and yield pages is their different processes. Yahoo was all about connecting consumers and the sellers and bring them together, finding them information they need. And for Beachbody was all about how do you transform a body, a person's health. In some ways, what we do here is about transforming the home's health and also the family's mental health. And that part is really interesting, just really derived from just curiosity. And second is about empathetic listening is really, truly understand the other person what their wants and what their needs. Oftentimes, people talk about, want this home, second story, two floors and so forth, but that's just the basic stats. But if you start engage with them, getting to know the core, why they want to build this house, that becomes an interesting conversation and that's where you can help to make a difference in their lives. And third piece is our core value. And the core value I live by is honesty, integrity, exceptional experience, legacy over currency, and problem solving. If we live by a core value, you can't go wrong.

Speaker 2 (13:26):

So what would you tell females or young people in general, grace who are considering getting into the housing space,

Speaker 3 (13:33):

Looking back my experience. And if I were to tell my younger self, like the female coming to this industry is be kind to yourself and be kind to others because everyone is on their own journey. And I think about my early days where I didn't think I was good enough, I didn't think I was qualified or I know how to handle things, but the reality is just be yourself and be kind to yourself. You'll figure it out.

Speaker 2 (13:57):

That was meat. And I have never received a response like that before, but that was absolutely a great response. I think it speaks really to, with all the people that we've interviewed, the fact that everybody has their own unique perspective and value to bring to the table and in dealing with this, with this product, which is really like the biggest consumer product that you can deal with. It's the thing that people fund typically, unless they're blindingly rich and even so even though it's a very

Speaker 3 (14:28):

Right, it's an emotional investment because this is one profession where they come to your space, not so much going to doctor's office or mechanics, you're going to their space. This is where, when things go wrong, that scar will re you'll be retaining that scar for a long time. You don't get a second chance immediately. And so it was hard to have a closure, but if you find a way to be kind to yourself

Speaker 1 (14:52):

And be kind to your clients that way we can have a better experience altogether and navigate through the journeys more effectively.

Speaker 2 (14:59):

Yeah, absolutely. So if you'd like to learn more about Grace's company BEYREP and see how her tool works, be sure to sign up on our website and it's BEYREP. And at some point, if you want to connect with her on LinkedIn, she'll tell you where the name came from as well. But if you would sign me up, I would love to do a demo of your tool and share, share some thoughts on that front, on LinkedIn as well. We'll have a great holiday. Thanks for your time. I'm excited to see your tool up close and personal.

Speaker 1 (15:29):

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it very much on behalf of the Housing Innovation Allaince and the University of Denver. This is Dr. Eric Holt. Thank you for being part of our journey. This is where innovation calls home.