In Conversation Hannah Bomze of Casa Blanca
Describe your Casa Blanca in a few words?
A home matchmaking app that works like a dating app for real estate, combined with a disruptive commission structure and a collaborative culture.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I have been in real estate since I was 18 years old and have worked at some of the best brokerages in New York City, but I realized the way things were being done wasn’t really evolving with the times. Home buyers were paying really high commissions, and looking for a new home was overwhelming because there was no streamlined place to look for or access information. On the other side, agents were arguing over listings and personally paying a lot of fees to brokerages for the privilege of their name. I knew there had to be a better way for everyone involved in the process.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I got my real estate license at 18, and worked alongside my mother at Douglas Elliman, then we brought our team to Compass. When working there I understood the business from the inside out. However, I saw what was happening in the world around me with many other businesses going direct to consumers, and we wanted to combine my industry expertise with the technology and commission innovations the industry was so badly lacking.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Upon learning that 91% of home buying decisions are made by women, I felt nothing had ever been built to cater to them specifically. I have always been someone who looks for the best way of doing things, which I think is at the heart of being an entrepreneur. I think pushing your own limits and finding the ability to excite and inspire those around you is critical to building a momentum.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We initially planned to launch in April of 2020, which I am sure you can imagine did not go as planned due to the pandemic. We decided to hold off until October of 2020, which was great because it allowed us to hone our product and really nail down our messaging. We started with PR and social media, and we will be launching our first ad campaign soon.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Figuring out our tone of voice and how our brand lives on Instagram, we are evolving and excited to re-launch our instagram with a new sound, and begin our additional advertising campaigns.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
How much we have grown within our first year. To see our team thriving and our business growing so much in just a year is really gratifying. Our employee turnover is so low—we haven’t had any agents leave since we started, and all of our recruiting has been word of mouth. We set out to build a better culture with agents who didn’t feel transactional. It tells me that we are building something right.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I look for people who have great interpersonal skills and thrive on organization. I also love to hire people who have been out of the traditional workforce ie: moms who took time off. I find they are incredible at time management, have great skill, and are incredibly relatable.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Business has been growing, despite the challenges of the pandemic. If anything, it has made people realize how important their home is, and movement in general is great for us since ultimately we thrive on transactions.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
You can’t control everything, you just have to do your research and ultimately do what you think is best for you and your business. Network and community are the keys to our success.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Everything takes more time than you think, trust the people around you. Every good decision has come from building a carefully curated team.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I have made it a priority to carve out time for myself and my family. Sometimes that means letting an email go unanswered for a bit while I have dinner with my boys, and sometimes that means having someone take them to the park so I can watch Netflix for an hour. It’s all about balance!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes and no, I don’t think work needs to be in an office 9-5, but I love working and I love my family. I think the most important thing is prioritizing what is most important to you that day and not feeling guilty about it. Your kids won’t mind if they do something else while you take an important call, just like your team shouldn’t mind if you take an hour in the middle of your day to do something with your kids. I was pregnant with my second child when we were building Casa Blanca – balance is overrated.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
See inventor of the ponytail hat!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Routine – from morning smoothie and school drop off routine especially with work and kids and a pandemic is key- of course it is much harder now than ever but so necessary
I am old fashioned in that I need a notebook to write out my daily to do list
My business partner has been teaching me this – you are only as productive as those around you- the most important choices you make are your team – be thoughtful and put most of your energy there. Trying to do everything yourself will lead to a quick crash and burn.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
I value nothing more than balance, between work, being a wife and mother and a friend. I think in leading a team and building a company most importantly I am also building a community for our employees and our users, and that is what being an entreprenista means to me.