Built Piece by Piece: Jimmy Mackin of Curaytor  

That's a season wrap! This week, we have Jimmy Mackin on the show. Jimmy is the co-founder of Curaytor, a full-service digital marketing company specializing in Facebook marketing and advertising. Created in 2013, Curaytor has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The Huffington Post, USA Today, and American Express Open Forum. Jimmy is also the co-host of the hit podcast #WaterCooler.

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About Jimmy

Jimmy is from Boston, originally a small town in New Hampshire, a small town called Pienaar Ville. He was born and raised about 45 minutes north of the city and has been in the city now for the better part of about 10 years. 

Jimmy went to college at the University of New Hampshire. He is one of six kids. He has three sisters and two brothers. Many of them work for him in Curaytor and every single kid went to college, every single kid went to the University of New Hampshire. His oldest sister, his older sister, his two older brothers, all went to the University of New Hampshire. 

When the time came for Jimmy to go to college, it was sort of like already preordained. He was going to go to the University of New Hampshire. He went there and for the first year while he was in there, he found himself just completely uninterested in school, completely uninterested in the topics they were teaching, and he dropped out his third semester to start his first company. So he does not have his college degree. He dropped out before they could fail me out.

Jimmy’s First Company

He and his partner in crime Christ Smith were the Yelp before Yelp existed. The first company he started with his partner, Andrew, decided to put menus online, because at the time which was around 2000 to 2003, in New Hampshire, there really was no place where you can find restaurant menus and a central database on a website. 

What Jimmy did is they created a website called NH Dine, which Jimmy actually still owns to this day, for nostalgic, nostalgic reasons he renews every year. But it was a site where they basically had to learn how to code and they got the menus from these restaurants, they took photos of them, converted them into HTML, and upload them to the website. It was the first business they started and it was a categorical failure, but it certainly got him started on the path of entrepreneurship.

Prior to Curaytor, after his first failed company, Jimmy was 19 years old at the time. His friend who was working in a bar with the same bar where he met his wife, got him a job at a mortgage company. This was a company called Aegis lending. If anyone who's familiar with the subprime mortgage crisis, just lending was sort of the king of subprime, interest rates of 9-10%, five to six points on every loan. 

Jimmy got hired as the youngest salesperson history at this organization and probably had a couple of 1000 employees. And when he got hired, he had no experience whatsoever actually doing any sales that were not an area he had any expertise in. So he read every book and get his hands on Zig Ziglar and the Dale Carnegie's and the Jim Rome's and the Guru's from YesterYear, and more or less just did whatever they told him to do. 

Within a few months, Jimmy became Top 10% of all salespeople in the entire organization making more money than he thought was even imaginable as an 18-year-old. Just being able to live that lifestyle, but like most of these stories go, it was a completely unfulfilling job. And one day after working there for about six months making, upwards of $100,000 in that first six months, Jimmy found himself feeling like he was going through a midlife crisis at the age of 19, which is and he just woke up one day he said, he doesn’t want to do this anymore. He hasn’t done anything in his life.

As he’s gonna move someplace and woke up that morning, looked up where to live. Jimmy sorted through a pennant, data map, and said that he’ll move to Las Vegas. Jimmy bought a ticket got on the plane, and flew to Las Vegas that same day, packed, packed up, just his bag, and then he was out the door. Jimmy lived in Las Vegas for a total of one week, before he realized that a 19-year-old couldn't be living off the strip in Las Vegas. Overall. There was no plan. Yeah. The plan was to get out of New Hampshire. 

He stated he will either gonna go to California or Florida. Through some guidance of a friend, he ended up in Florida. That's where he spent the next three and a half years of his life. He continued in the mortgage space because he had to make money. But he started getting into consulting, and at that time, learning about, marketing, that's really what began a sort of the beginning of his career in marketing, was understanding how to put yourself in a position to attract customers and having to learn how marketing actually works was,  absolutely instrumental at that point.


Marketing Career

Jimmy was doing mortgage loan processing because he was somewhat familiar with the real estate industry. He was doing a lot of Google Ads to attract agents to process their loans. If you talk about timing, timing, being one of the X factors in a business run, timing really matters. 

The timing of this was like, 2007, 2008. So it was right at the beginning of the sort of crash, the famous 2008 crash. That business, where people were looking to cut expenses, they were not looking to outsource that time. But one of the things that he learned through that process was just how to attract customers. And that was so interesting because he looks back at that period of his life, and realized that that's when he really uncovered his passion for marketing, realizing that every business on the planet has got to be great at marketing if they want to grow. They've got great marketing. It was a skill he really wanted to hone.


YouTube Channel

Chris Smith, Jimmy’s business partner now for almost a decade. They were both kind of bloggers back in the 2010 era. Jimmy was writing about Facebook, he had this really popular blog called Tech-Savvy Agent. The two of them got connected through that sort of small ecosystem of individuals who are writing about the future of marketing, writing, social media, and they got connected, they became friends and Chris was kind enough to help elevate Jimmy’s brand to a much larger audience. They immediately felt that they can do some amazing work together as a team. They brought a ton to the table, with very different skill sets at the time. 

They were on tour for Agent Reboot where they met the same guy, Jimmy built the Facebook application called the MLS App. And it was a free tool that people could use on Facebook to display their listings. Their belief system was like if the consumer uses Google to find real estate, it is inevitable, they will use Facebook to search for real estate.

People like looking at listings on Facebook, but they don't search for listings on Facebook. They ended up sort of having to sort of pivot the business because they realized that that wasn't going to work. But Jimmy did want to say one thing, during that timeframe, in that sort of right when he was getting his PhD in real estate, he had an opportunity to get connected with an individual named Linda Davis. She was his mentor. At the time, she was a 60 some year old REMAX agent, who was he had an opportunity to speak and, and she was someone who just sort of embodied the best of their industry. And he just found out last week she had passed away from cancer. 

He was reflecting on how much she helped me in his early career in real estate, understanding the psyche of an agent understand the challenges that agents face every day. And as a 20 something-year-old individual is looking to sort of break into this industry, she really took me under her wing and really helped me as a business owner. And as a marketer, appreciate the work that you guys do every single day. 

Jimmy would be remiss if he didn't say for those of you who are listening to this podcast, or looking to start a business or maybe looking to grow your business, Linda was an incredible mentor to him, someone who he’d eternally grateful for, and he thinks this is one of the big, missed opportunities. Jimmy thinks this industry is really lonely. And he thinks not enough agents go out there to seek mentors in or outside. And if you have yet to meet a successful person who has not, yet does not have a mentor, someone, they work with, or talk with or consult with them in their lives. So just some advice.  as he reflect on Linda and her impact for me, it was just so instrumental. Jimmy thinks that he owe so much to her. And he thinks it's an opportunity for everyone here is listening to realize there are people out there who will help you get to where you want to go.


WaterCooler Podcast

The WaterCooler was a podcast about marketing, sales, and technology. It's hosted by Jimmy and his partner, Chris Smith. They've done now 120, something episodes. And they started it because, at the time, they just felt like there was an opportunity for them to share their ideas to a larger audience using a media, which is video at the time that their customers would really be drawn to. And they did the show at 9 pm. At night, they drank and they burst on air. And they got a lot of people saying more to Chris than to him, you're making a huge mistake, doing this as it's hurting your brand. But what they didn't realize, and what they believed is that this is who they are, they're gonna be real. 

He thinks a lot of people in and outside the industry, they hide all their scars, where they provide a fake facade and hope that it's going to appeal to people. And the reality is that, growing a business, trying to market trying to build trying to recruit trying to retain, it's as hard it's messy, it's ugly. They were just honest and open about that. In such a way where people who would watch the show, say, hey, he love your ideas, but even more than your ideas, he loves what you're trying to do, he wants to be a part of it. It became this thing that just drove incredible growth for the organization because it was, represented the ethos of the Curaytor brand and if you look at the landscape today, there are just there are that many public founders meeting they hide behind their products or services like they're very public and open. They're and that's just one of their superpowers. It's what attracts people to the Curaytor brand. It's what did in the beginning, right, and it certainly does to this day.


Building Curaytor

It feels it feels like 20 years ago, but it's been probably around that time. What's interesting is they tried. And this is what one of the important lessons for your audience today is. There's a saying that anybody in Curaytor, who's an employee here knows he got roughly 50 somethings employees and they've heard Jimmy say it ad nauseum, which is when you innovate, you grow when you don't, you don't. And what this show represented, was their desire to innovate. So they were using every damn video platform out there. 

They were using Blab, they were using YouTube. They're using Google Hangouts, they were using Facebook Live. They were doing any tool that they could get that would distribute their content live on the air, they would use and then they would engage with their audience, they'd follow Twitter, they'd have a hashtag. People would ask questions, they would,  respond, those questions live on the air. Because they were one of them. 

They were not the sort of outsider who was telling them how to run their business. They would say, hey, listen, this is what they're learning. This is what they think the world's going on. This is what you should they should do based on that information. And he think people felt that that that authenticity, which is what attracted them to them, they try. They did everything they were innovating like crazy with the show, and it was certainly a major driver of growth for them.

They did get Gary Vee but it was the point where it was like nine o'clock at night and he was laying down in bed. Pillow behind his name, he thinks about to go to bed but he was still doing the podcast as a favor to Chris and he met him he was still absolute fire while he's laying down in bed right before he was putting out some incredible advice. 

They interviewed some amazing authors, Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, they interviewed Chris Brogan, famous blogger from the sort of, Web 1.01 point 2.0 days. They interviewed, obviously, Tom Ferry early in the process, and he was just absolutely delivering a ton of value they had, but they also had agents. They have a lot of top-producing agents. They had David Acosta, one of the top agents in Texas at the time, they had Mark Spain. People probably know who Mark Spain is. They had some incredible people, Cliff Stevenson in REMAX, who's doing amazing work up there in Canada, they had a mixed bag of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, people like speakers and authors like Gary Vee, but then they also had top agents come on the pod and just deliver a ton of value. So for them, what they kept saying to themselves is whatever adds value for their audience will pursue and that really drove the initial success of the show.


Curaytor Launch

They launched Curaytor alive at Inman Connect in 2012, 2013. Brad Inman is one of the other people that they look to as a mentor and someone who's helped their careers, both his and Chris personally, but also Curaytor. He gave them a shot and allowed them to sort of present that new kids in the block at Inman Connect. But he wanted to remind everybody that when they launched Curaytor, they didn't launch it as a consulting service and a technology solution because they didn't have any of those things. 

What they did is they launched it as a search engine for real estate conversations. The time they had all these different groups that they were managing tech support group, which has 15,000 members, the what should he spend his money on group which he like 20,000 members, and a few others and what other ones out there, and they aggregate all this data from Facebook. 

They scraped all this data and they put it into the database and then built a search engine on top of that to allow people to basically search for the most popular conversations that were happening with these groups. Someone might come in there and say, What's the best CRM and they can cross 10 different groups, and they'd be able to display all those conversations.

Same day that they launched Curaytor, curating all these conversations in one place, the same day that they launched it. Facebook introduced something called Graph Search, which was basically the equivalent, which is you can now search Facebook groups, which you couldn't do beforehand. There's a famous article written by them by its publication called Pando Daily, and it's called the Startup Blues, and the story of how Curaytor built this product and launched it the same day that Facebook introduced a search tool. 

They had really no choice, but to shortly thereafter, pivot the organization towards not being a search engine, but now being a professional service that helped people with their marketing and advertising. Then they slowly over time, began to build technology. They started with using everyone else's tech and bringing it together. They were effectively the ones were plugging everything in to make sure it worked for people. That was their initial business model, professional services, managing your kind of tech stack and your marketing. And it wasn't for quite some time or began to build their own proprietary technology.


Curaytor’s Technology

They began to build their own technology in offer their own professional services in and around that time. And they started with building out websites, they realized, for them, that was sort of the tip of the spear, if you will, which is that, they want to say, they can build beautiful websites that looked amazing, make it really easy for their customers to create content on those platforms. Consumers had a reason to visit and to stay. That became the focus for them. And they made sure that during that time, they began to listen to their community to understand where can they add value. What became really clear to them is one of those early areas where their customers needed the most amount of help was just basic social media marketing and email marketing and content marketing. So the very first service they actually introduced was a service called Marketer. 

This is where their marketers would effectively create content every week for their customers, advertise it on social media, or email it out to a database as a way to help their customers stay top of mind, not only with a new audience, that they're engaging on social media, but then also their, their database. The very first service they offer was Marketer. 

This was a big hit for them, they got a lot of customers using it, and a lot of customers still this day use Marketer, they've gotten a lot better at what they do. And they've gotten a lot more sophisticated what they do, but the core principles are still there, high quality, consistent marketing, done, right. can drive growth for any real estate business.

If he can say one thing about the Facebook group that they have, and in the community, that is that is the Curaytor community. The Curaytor community is the heartbeat of their organization, they work with some of the most talented agents and most ambitious agents and the most innovative agents in the industry. 

One of the things that makes Curaytor think fundamentally different, they're not looking to get to 10,000 users or customers. They think about the quality and the depth of the relationship they have is paramount to what they do. Because as you begin to scale with any technology company that has professional services, you begin to dilute your offering, if everybody in your market is using the same stuff it takes away from, from the overall impact that you can have. 

When Jimmy thought about the Curaytor community, he thought there's a few things. 

1.What makes them special is people's willingness to share because they know they're not sharing with their competition, they know that they're not going to turn around and bring on 15 more agents in their market. 

2.The thing that binds them together is there's nobody in the Curaytor community is looking for the easy button. What Jimmy means by that is that there's been this big lie in real estate that you got to automate everything until to create efficiency. What you do is you strip away sort of the soul of the organization, in an effort for efficiency. Jimmy thinks this lie of efficiency has caused so many people to make so many bad decisions. 

The consumer doesn't care about how efficient you are, they care about the quality of your work, and how well you can actually deliver upon the promise that you're making to them. For them, the thing that their community has in common is that there's no nobody in their community who said, oh, hey, can he just automate all of this? Do what you don't have to do it? Do he have to do any work like the community they have today, which is why they're so willing to share is every one of them is willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work.  Veronica Figaro was number one EXP agent the country. 

She does the work right? Thrive Realty, indie brokerage is going to be probably, by the next year 200 plus million dollars. They build an incredible culture. She does the work. Jason Cassidy right in San Diego. He’s on Instagram. He's on Discord. He's on Clubhouse. He's everywhere where there's a new medium to reach consumers. He does the work $80 million in production with a seven-person team. One more guy for you, Dan Shan. Dan Shan is selling like 300 to 4000 houses Wisconsin, he did over $120 million in volume this last year, roughly. It's kind of tiny team of like 10 people, he tracks every single conversion he has to a spreadsheet to help manage where he puts his money and the little things that you can't automate,  recruiting innovation tracking.

Jay Marks is doing amazing work for this foodie Friday series, someone who just pours back into his community, Amy Youngren, who's a pioneer in the video space, who again, is doing things the right way with North Group. They got people like Ken Posek back in Orlando, Florida who's just killing it with YouTube. In video. 

He's got this new media company launched to feature like, like, what it's really like to live in Orlando at Disney and it's a highlight of the community. He is like innovating like crazy. This dude is he calls himself that's he totally agrees with Walt Disney were to be in real estate, it would be Ken Posek and that's like exactly what he has just added out of the box ideas to help build his brand. He's doing hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate.

And then lastly, Brian McCollum, you know, the Curaytor client who has just absolutely shown that you can build your business without making a single cold call. You can build your business by attracting not chasing and using video to do that. He's got $100 million in production just this past year. So yeah, just overall increase ages. And again, the reason the Curaytor community works, is they bring them together, and they create an environment where it's safe for them to share ideas. And then they challenged them to think bigger to think differently to push their businesses. That's what's really driven, the level of engagement that they have.


Tips in Starting a Real Estate Team

If you're a new agent joining a team if you plan to do it on your own you’re out of your fucking mind. It is so hard. It costs so much money, you have a razor-thin margin for error, you have got to have the support of a great team or great brokerage. What Jimmy said he would look for in a great brokerage is for one that has the following:

A.Rockstar admin staff, you want everything that doesn't make you money, like transaction management, you want that taken care of for you.

B.A strong leader at the top of the helm. Someone who isn't necessarily 100% in production, because they're not going to give you the time of day. So you're gonna be removed from production, and they can still sell houses. But if they're selling 99% of the houses, it's gonna be really hard for them to support you. So, someone who's not necessarily totally in production, it can support you can be that mentor, you need.

C.   A strong tech stack. You better have a CRM, they better have a great website, they better have good marketing and advertising going out for you, they gotta have been able to create leads for you if that's going to be sort of where you want to start your business and build your network, you got to have those opportunities.

And then beyond that, Jimmy thinks the other things he looks for, as part of the team is looking at the individual growth within the agents they've hired before, show me the track record, have done this, does this organization have the ability to take someone who's doing you know, three transactions a year and help them to get to 20 transactions a year because if they can do it with one person they can do with you? Jimmy’s advice as a relates to a new agent is to get yourself and choose very wisely. Jimmy stated that he doesn't care what the split is. 

This is where new agents get big they get their own head they go all you know, hey, he loves your team. he loves your culture, he loves the fact you guys provide me the love that you have mentorship, but you know, and there are other brokerages offer me 80-20 split. Okay, cool. go their way, six months, burn a bunch of cash, get no support, and then come back to me when you're serious. Say, Jimmy. That has got like that is the biggest mistake these new agents make is they jump into the split conversation. The split of zero is zero. It's zero. Put yourself in a position where you find an agent saying if they're going to give you 50-50 or 60-40, whatever it is, you know, you obviously can see it, he can deliver upon that with some value.


What’s Next for Curaytor?

Right now, Jimmy became he was the co-founder of the business and then about two years ago, he became the CEO. He made the transition from being co-founder ad the way he describes it as a co-founder has all the responses, all the power with none of the responsibility. A CEO has, has universally kind of no power when it comes down to it, but all the responsibility, meaning that you are accountable to the board, you are accountable to your employees, you are accountable to your customers, and you're responsible for each of those constituents being successful.

The fun part of being a co-founder is you get to work on whatever you want. The part about being a CEO is you got to work on what's required, which is sometimes exactly what you want to work on. So, so they built out a leadership team over the last two years, just incredible people at every single part of the organization. They got a Chief Operating Officer, Tim Harvey was a major in the Marine Corps, who was just helped operationalize the courier business to create consistency in the way they deliver value. They brought in some really talented people at you know, key positions like their Director of Customer Success, Tricia Turk, who's got comms a lot of experience, Allison, their Al, excuse me, who is leading their marketing, now director of marketing.

They just acquired this company, out of Toronto, and to bring on some incredible engineering talent. One of the things that they see in terms of the future where the world's going is their mission, and their focus for 2022 is to attract more listings for their clients. Everyone is out there right now trying to build them all-in-one. Let me kind of handle every part of the transaction. That's not the game that they're gonna play.

The thing that drives growth for every top team in the country is their ability to control the market. In order for them to do that they have to be singularly focused on doing one thing, which is attracting more listings. If you attract more listings, you can create more opportunities to market your brand to new people, you can use that listing as an asset to attract buyer leads, right, you can use it as a tool to recruit potential future agents, you can use that listing to then create more listings.

Think about the champagne tower of your business, it really is all about attracting more listings. This acquisition that they made to acquire this company that Toronto was really designed to help their beef up their technology team, and bring in some professional leadership to say, hey, let's start continuing to develop tools that really help their clients.

They were two former Microsoft engineers who started a company called Four Walls. And what they basically did was use real estate data to help provide their agents, you know, things like IDs, solutions, but then also marker report data. One of the things that stood out to them was, their ability to use data to help the agents was sort of The X Factor for them.

At Curaytor, they have access to hundreds of 1000s of campaigns across YouTube, Facebook, ad roll, right email, their website, blogs, listings. What their plan is to use the data that they have now and bring in the professionals who know how to take that data and turn that into meaningful insight to understand what marketing actually works.

The best way to describe this, is that it this is something quote from Andrew Yang, he says data is the new oil but what he didn't say is it's unrefined. Meaning it's just the oil you pull out of the ground, you can't put into your car, you got to find that oil. 

They brought this organization on to be able to be that refinery, right to come in there and say, here's all these marketing campaigns from all your customers across all of America. Here's the marketing actually drives an ROI. Here's the marketing actually helps attract more listings. What you can expect to see from Curaytor in 2022 is continuing to develop software and services for that singular focus to attract more listings for top teams.



For anyone who has read the book measure what matters by John Doerr. It's a framework which objective and key results and what he will say is this whatever structural organizational framework you use to establish your goals, the single most important thing this is a Steven Covey quote is to keep the main thing the main thing.

He meant that is if your organization has 25 different initiatives, all have which make complete sense. But the reality is, is that creates chaos yellow surface. For their, what they had to come to a consensus on was to use the leadership because they were just in Boston together for three days. Us on together say what is their primary function? Why do they exist? Can you tell the concept?

It's and then you look at that say, okay, you're in customer service, how would the function of your job be to enable customers to get the most out of Curaytor? How do you do that through this lens? Yeah, you help people, you know, on one-to-one calls on group coaching or mastermind help them attract more or less.

Jimmy thinks, whether whatever, whatever framework you end up using, because there's a bunch of different flavors to it, it's the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing, make sure that every meeting, you start getting with it, make sure you're communicating as a leader, often to the point where you're sick of hearing yourself say it, that's when they really begin to listen. That is the type of consistency and focus from the top that any organization needs to be successful.

Connect with Jimmy

Follow Jimmy Mackin on Instagram where he shares advice, tactics, tips on how to grow your real estate business.


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