Leaders & Influencers: An Interview with Kelda Roys

Continuing our series on Leaders & Influencers, we chat with Kelda Roys, CEO/Founder at OpenHomes, an online real estate broker. Prior to founding OpenHomes, Roys ran a nonprofit and served as a representative in the Wisconsin state assembly.

Tell us about Open Homes and why you started it.

KeldaRoysOpenHomes is an online real estate brokerage. We making selling a house more convenient, enjoyable, and affordable.

I got my start in real estate during college selling high-end homes in New York, then I left that career to go to law school and do other work. But later, when my husband and I were trying to buy a house for ourselves here in Madison, it just seemed like that every time an agent got involved, the process became more complicated.

I found myself asking why this industry couldn’t be transformed. Middleman services like travel agencies and financial services had been displaced by the internet, but for some reason real estate had been impervious. I started thinking about my vision for buying and selling a house, and how technology could be used to solve the inefficiencies and frustrations.

We’re at a great time now in that people are more inclined to do things themselves online, rather than always hiring an “expert.” Real estate is transforming with things like the public-facing MLS listing and people, in general, are more comfortable with the authenticity of buying online that now makes it possible for OpenHomes to be a transformative, disruptive business model.

How did you use the startup/entrepreneurial community here in Madison to help you get started?

When I got serious about the idea of OpenHomes, I started attending meetings and events like Capital Entrepreneurs and Startup Weekend. My husband has experience working with startups and had co-founded his own startup company before it was acquired, so when I got further along he encouraged me to talk with (Gener8tor co-founder) Joe Kirgues, whom I also knew from my state assembly days. Joe told me I needed to go through the Gener8tor program right away, and so even though I didn’t even have a website yet, I started in the accelerator program. OpenHomes was definitely an anomaly for Gener8tor in terms of how young we were—I literally incorporated the company the day before I started the accelerator program!

How does your experience running a non-profit and being in the state assembly compare to the work you do as CEO of OpenHomes?

Running a non-profit is very much like running a business. At the end of the day, you’re doing your best to build something that matters, with limited budgets and big dreams. You learn a tremendous amount and wear many hats, and there are big highs and lows.

Running a business is very different from being in the assembly. In the political world, taking risks and being innovative is considered an infraction that should be punished. The world is open when you’re an entrepreneur, and especially in technology. As a business owner, I get to wake up and decide what I want to build today, what I want to accomplish. The burden and the opportunity are all on me, but so much of what you do in politics is determined by the agenda of others.

What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?

All of a sudden, being an entrepreneur is the cool thing. It’s taken years, but now there’s this “entrepreneurial chic,” which is great because people are excited and want to participate—and that can only help all of us. With respect to its size, Madison doesn’t have nearly enough early-stage capital. It can also be a challenge to find and keep great talent, especially folks who have technical skills in coding. We have a lot going for us, lots of passionate and committed people who want to see Madison succeed and understand that one startup’s success will benefit everyone. I think this cooperative ecosystem will just continue to develop.

What book do you think every aspiring entrepreneur should read and why?

The Founders Dilemma by Noam Wasserman. It’s a great resource for anyone who is considering founding a startup. It really gets into the nitty-gritty of how a startup fits into the larger goals you have for your life, and considers that there are actually many different ways to define success, and each implicates very different strategies. I also listen to lots of podcasts in the car and at home—StartUp is one I think is particularly great.

 

Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses like OpenHomes succeed. 

FPC Client of the Week: CraftOptics

   

 

Painting, sewing, quilting, scrap-booking, beading,  everyone has their own unique “craft.”  But what happens when you are working on those fine details and you can’t quite see that tiny pin hole to thread your needle through or that one spot on your painting you need to get just right?  Do you squint your eyes, hunch over and try over and over again to get it just right, pushing yourself to the point where you want to scream?  Well then, sit up, relax, and shake off the steam, because CraftOptics has the answer for you.

CraftOptics is a Madison based company that offers detailed-orientated hobbyist of all ages the ability to optically view their own crafts at a comfortable, clear, low-cost.  CraftOptics attaches telescopic lenses to your everyday glasses in order for you to be hands-free, to focus solely on your craft.  Designed to allow comfortable working distances for crafts and hobbies CraftOptic’s Teleschopes even prevent back and neck soreness and eye strain.  The glasses allow adjustable working angles and let you easily choose and change your position.  And don’t fret, when you don’t need that extra magnification, the telescopes flip up and out of the way for times when magnification is not needed.  They are light weight, portable, and even come with a protective storage case for easy transport.

So, if you are a quilter, a dentist, a painter, or even a botanist, CraftOptics Telescopes are just for you.  Take the strain, pain, and fury away from those tiny details and order your own pair CraftOptic’s Telescopes today!

To learn more and how you can even perfect your craft further please visit: CraftOptics.  We here at Fine Point know you won’t be sorry!

 

Photos Courtesy of CraftOptics.com

FPC Client of the Week: Natural Resources Foundation

  

 

Sweet, Sweet Summertime.  The perfect time to be outdoors, embracing what Madison, Wisconsin, and nature has to offer.  That is the motto of our newest FPC Client of the Week, Natural Resources Foundation (NRF)!  

NRF is a non-profit organization that connects generations to the wonders of Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife through conservation, education, engagement, and giving.  Formed in 1986, with the support of donors and members, the foundation has boosted private sector investment and involvement in state-managed natural resources; our waters, lands, and wildlife.

The list of the lives they’ve touched and the education they spread is endless, but just a few of the things they have done are as follows:

  • Raise money for the care and management of public lands, like State Natural Areas, wildlife and fishing areas.
  • Raise money for the interns that radio track Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin, support research and monitoring of Kirtland’s Warbler and other rare species of birds
  • Manage 65 endowment funds that donors have established to benefit a special place, animal or part of the natural world dear to them
  • Give out small grants to nature centers, classrooms to get students outside, and Friends groups doing conservation projects in all 72 counties in Wisconsin
  • Coordinate the largest field trip program in Wisconsin that takes participants to some of the most beautiful parts of our state from the Mississippi River to Lake Superior, led by the expert researchers and naturalists


We here at Fine Point are incredibly humbled to be able to work with such an incredible organization that not only protects this beautiful land we call home, but also touches the lives of those around them.  So next time you are hiking, swimming, or strolling through the many different marshlands, forests, and lakes, or embracing the beautiful wildlife here in Wisconsin, think of the Natural Resources Foundation.  Think of all the people that clean this land, educate on it, and embrace all it has to offer!  And if you want to become a member or learn more about the NRF, the foundation has kindly offered complimentary memberships to all Fine Point blog readers.  All you need to do is send your contact information to info@WisConservation.org and you will receive their seasonal Bridges newsletter and early access to sign up for field trips in the Spring of 2015!

So sign up today, get outside, and enjoy everything this beautiful state has to offer!  Live by the NRF Motto and connect with the Wonders of Wisconsin! 

 

To read and learn more visit: http://www.wisconservation.org/

Photos courtesy of Natural Resources Foundation