[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! Today, we have a very special guest with us. His name is Sean Hsieh. Sean is a serial entrepreneur. He currently serves as the CEO of Concreit building, a simple way of saving and investing in commercial real for everyone. He was the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Flowroute, an award-winning business communications provider, focusing on API-driven, SMS, SIP trunking, and telecommunication resources.
Sean thrives off his lifelong passion for entrepreneurship technology, culture design, and hip hop. His talents have served Fortune 100 companies, including Apple, Linksys (Cisco), and Motorola, pushing forward, new marketing ventures and fostering rapid growth. Sean holds a degree in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine.
He developed his expertise in technology, marketing, and design growing up in Davis, California. Sean, welcome to the show.
[00:00:59] Sean Hsieh: Thanks for having me, Maggiee and Bryan. It is awesome to be here. Long overdue, but very excited,
[00:01:05] Maggie Chui: Definitely long overdue, but we’re super excited for you to be on. So let’s jump right into it.
Sean, where did you grow up and what was your upbringing like?
[00:01:13] Sean Hsieh: I grew up as you mentioned in the intro, in a city called Davis, California. When I was growing up, it was pretty small. You knew all the kids growing up. And my upbringing was really interesting. My parents were immigrants. I grew up in a restaurant family, so we had a lot of, what I’m sure a lot of Asian-Americans experiences, but the clash of two cultures. My grandmother also. I was growing up. She was in a lot of ways, the matriarch of our broader family. And she really raised me to have pretty strong traditional values.
So I felt, culturally, I was very Taiwanese at home. Taiwanese-Chinese at home. And then when I would go to school, I would try to be cool and fit in. And I was trying to really just figure out my own ideas. So there was a lot of this ping-pong it back and forth between the two different cultures and figuring out, where do I fit in and not really feeling you ever really truly fit in any of them, but still just trying to make sense of that as a kid. That’s my childhood I was also pretty big, I would say geek. I played a lot of sports, but I love technology. So I think I’ve always been just curious about things. Got into computers when I was pretty young and started building websites and programming when I was 12. And I was doing that for companies for a while. And so that’s really what kind of kicked off my interest in technology.
[00:02:24] Bryan Pham: That’s awesome, man. And I really love the fact that you have such a strong interest in technology and it’s shown a lot throughout your entire career, right? Shout out to UC Irvine, Zack has a lot of pride.
I wish there were more of us in this field and this game. Cause it’s so fun, but let’s keep hearing about your childhood story and the way that you’re brought up and I’m curious too. , how’d you get into entrepreneurship? What was your parents’ initial reaction to that? What was your grandma’s initial reaction to that? Because it’s very untraditional. How did they take that? And how did you convince them to believe in you? Because that’s the hardest thing with Asian parents, right? It’s doing something that’s unheard of.
[00:03:04] Sean Hsieh: So I’ll start with my parents’ story. I, as they immigrated, I think they also went through a little bit of job exploration, I think like a lot of our parents when they come to the States to figure out what they really want to do. I was lucky, my parents might build a restaurant in Davis and it was something that was always there when I was going through school.
And so I grew up in a restaurant, I remember working at the age of six, going to wash dishes and help out. And I think my family was always very entrepreneurial in nature. But also very traditional and expectations. So of course, while I was growing up, it was like, you’re going to become a doctor.
I was told that I think as far back as I can remember with my grandmother, she would always tell me my dream is that you turn into this doctor that can just go help all these people. And there was definitely an identity crisis, I think, as I was going to college because I was, okay, I don’t know what I’m really good at.
Immense technology. I love video games. I had a series of hobbies and I just didn’t know what I would really be good at in general. But in high school, there was a point in time when I felt I just wanted to have money to buy gadgets and things that I really enjoyed, and we didn’t come from a lot of means.
And so my parents weren’t in the position of you’re, oh, we’ll take care of this and everything. I didn’t get a car until I was really eight getting closer to leaving for college. And it was still a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down where a lot of things aren’t working.
At that point I was, Hey, I’m going to go make some money. I spent a lot of time on the internet. I was just really curious about eBay. So eBay was the marketplace that had just popped up. I remember PayPal wasn’t even integrated. It was to etsy.com and I started looking for opportunities and this wasn’t so much I’m, oh, I’m going to create a business and I’m going to do this, but I just love tech and gadgets. I got really fascinated with these miniature-looking laptops. Pocket PCs had just become a thing. And so I really latched onto these devices and I found that if you started buying them in bulk from businesses that were actually going out of business nettles, excess inventory of these devices, Holy crap. There are a lot of margins if I can buy in bulk. So, in high school and my parents probably, if I remind them, they’re gonna want to kill me, but I ended up borrowing money one night and buying a whole batch of these devices. And then, so from there I start, I woke up the next day. I was, oh, I should probably tell them, they’re going to see a pretty big credit card bill coming through. And that was the first time I think my parents didn’t give me the Asian, yell or anything, but just were quiet. They didn’t know how to respond. So I felt in that moment, this crazy need to succeed. And I was, okay, that day coming back from school, I figured out, how am I going to sell these things on eBay? And the first month of doing this and then, that are product arbitrage. I made more money than my parents’ business. Within the first few weeks and I was able to pay back everything and have profit and everything.
So from there, I started earning a little bit of confidence with my parents in terms of the endeavors that I might tinker or experiment with. And I just kept up with this, through college and I started selling laptops from Sony Japan, and I started filling in this need in each niche market with CEOs across the United States.
This is cool. I’m the laptop guy now on the internet or specifically for these new NPCs. So that was probably the. The very first thing I did. While also, I was trying to figure out how I make websites for businesses. Cause I was learning HTML. I think a lot of the internet was picking up the skill and it was just always, how do I keep leveling up to make this look better and better. And it served each other, the lessons I learned from how do I sell equipment to even creating a brand and thinking through marketing and how to, actually make it appear. I’m not a high school kid. I’m an actual legitimate business on the internet. So that was really my first experience of being a true entrepreneur and kind of building my own brand.
Oh, sorry. And you had asked a question, how do my parents feel? The conversation around going to college was, I’m going to study Computer Science and become an engineer. My mom, I remember she asked if I could take over the restaurant if, when I’m coming back, sorta hand down the family business.
And I think that was the first time I really let my mom down where I told her no I don’t think that’s for me, I think that’s your dream. But I can help out in a different way, after the fact. And I think for her, I could tell that she was just kinda okay, let’s just see what Sean does and where it goes. Because I know at that point it didn’t feel I had the most support, but they were just, okay, as long as you’re doing well in life, we’ll be happy. And so I knew that at that point, my parents love me and they just want to make sure that I felt supported even though I let them down at that moment.
But I think it was a great opportunity for me to go, okay, let me start to learn to listen to my gut. And what is that telling me? And how do I latch into that a little bit more.
[00:07:54] Maggie Chui: Wow. I love that. That’s super powerful, I think because they saw your potential and, I think as a child, it’s you’re going to feel guilty for borrowing money.
But I think as soon as they saw your potential, you’re actually doing this for learning and educating yourself on how to actually build a business. And they come from an entrepreneurial mindset as well. So I think just, seeing you grow as a person and learning and teaching yourself how to actually build a business, I think that made them feel more reassured.
I would have to say as I got older, I could see that it was penciling out in their mind a lot more after building the first company.
[00:08:31] Bryan Pham: Let’s talk about the first company because I know that you’re working on your second company now, but we want to hear more about your first company, because how did it get started?
You started this pretty early on in your career, right? At a time when I would arguably say the economy is deemed pretty bad at the time. Still having the guts to go out there and start your own startup and be very successful at it, eventually selling it. What was the idea? And how’d you get started and give us a timeline to this is like during the almost recession time. So that’s the more amazing.
[00:09:03] Sean Hsieh: So we were knee-deep in a recession similar to now when I started this started Concreit, but I was just coming out of college and I had met my co-founder at the time, we met in college both co-founders I met in college at UCI Irvine and we were all studying computer science and I think we all had enough overlap, and we were working for a telecommunications company, during college as really focused on voice over IP. And as I graduated I didn’t actually go immediately into building floor out. I worked for an ad agency for a little while, so I thought this is really the direction. How do I leverage a little bit of the computer science that I learned, also respecting the fact that I have an artistic background that I’ve started helping some smaller brands, build themselves up.
This is probably it for me, the agency life. I jumped on the agency. I didn’t really realize the culture was, anyone who works in an agency knows that it’s really intense, superintendents in terms of work hours. It got even more intense, I think, in my experience because we were a boutique agency and we were helping a few different startups launch.
I was blessed with the fact that I started earning a lot of responsibility very quickly. I found myself in these, building two internet TV startups thinking through the brand thinking through more from a creative side and then thinking through ultimately, how do we build the platform and how do we acquire viewers and users and going through the experience of lifting 200 TV start-ups in the course of four or five months and just feeling I’m working through every single weekend, every waking hour that I have, trying to figure out how do I make these.
It taught me a lot in terms of how do I grow something from nothing. So I got the company’s launch and got to do a few of the campaigns, which was awesome. And just cut my teeth in a number of areas with a number of clients. My friends from college where we worked together, they had built a prototype and they’re like, Hey, I think it’s going to be awesome.
These are all the things that we wanted when we were in college, to be able to use those tools and everything. And this is the vision. They had asked me at the time, Jordan Vine to see if I could take a look and maybe help them with a website. And as I got into it, obviously it’s your old friends. So I just looked and was like, I think we need, you guys need a little bit more help than this. Let’s tackle this together. Cause I’m in a spot where I feel, we can be really entrepreneurial and make it if we stand together. The company lifted in the first year, so it was super exciting to see the fruits of our labor take off. It was really tough the first six months of leaving your first full-time job out of college, feeling you’re transitioning to being an adult, having bills, and just your identity shifting. And then all of a sudden, I went and did a 180, and now I’m an entrepreneur again making $0. The only money that we pay ourselves is for pizzas and burritos just a college student mentality.
And we were always so afraid to pay ourselves anything, even though we were profiting we don’t know if this money is really ours or not. And we’re just focused on building and focusing on the customer. And we just hustled through all of that for the first year And we got lucky that year. We also launched a marketing campaign with one of the most notorious hackers on the internet, which is super cool. He gave a presentation at a conference and we built the presentation. We built materials and we’re, okay, from a marketing standpoint we don’t want to just come out and say, this guy, Kevin Munich is sponsored by flare out or anything that, but we built a video that he was doing a demo for. So he effectively was doing a product demo for his talk at this conference and it just always had the Flowroute logo on the top left. No one had heard of us at the time. What is this guy using? And we knew right away if you take one of the top or the most notorious hackers, and they’re doing something where a lot of people are trying to figure out how to do, that’s going to be interesting What is that company?
It worked. The presentation and the materials went viral. It was on Gizmodo at the time. A lot of people remember Gizmodo, but it was his motto dig CNN.
[00:12:57] Bryan Pham: Let’s talk about this company real quick. What does it do? For our listeners to understand more.
[00:13:01] Sean Hsieh: Sure. Flowroute was it started off really as a voiceover IP subtracting platform for people that are not in telecom, which is most people. It was just a way for people to make phone calls on the internet to buy phone numbers and to be able to manage it in a much more simple and easy to use. So back then you would go out and use if you weren’t doing it through Flowroute, you’d go to 18 T Verizon and you’d have to go through these long enterprise sales cycles. And it was all, we could talk to that account manager, let’s negotiate all this stuff. We made it as simple as being able to just go to our website, sign up and get 25 cents of free tax credits and make phone calls to your own connection. And everything was self-service on our portal. So it was very novel. And the fact that you could control everything that typically would take, two weeks, two months working with another carrier, we just made that super easy and accessible. From there we really focus on the pains of that specific customer, which could have been a person working in the larger enterprise or just a bigger company.
It could have been a telephone. It could have been someone that was coming up with a strategic new product for their companies. We ended up working with a number of these new tech companies that are starting. So at the time I remember speaking with Airbnb and they weren’t big yet, and so we’re, we can help you with your phone numbers and everything and figure all this stuff out. We had Etsy go-go air and it was just cool to be able to work with these other telecommunications engineers and to build a product that was hyper-focused on their needs.
As the company began to scale and we started taking on larger customers, there’s a need to broaden out the risings of all the tools that we’re building. So we got into API driven communications. We were focused on text messaging. We were one of the first companies to build out a cloud scalable messaging platform. So that was super cool to do too. And then I also had a few patents that I came up with during the time with new use cases of news or tech companies stopping and adopting communications. It’s the core of their service, especially around concepts, what we’re so used to today use DoorDash or Lyft, Uber, the ability to call a phone number. That’s not really the phone number of the driver, right? It’s a pass-through phone number. So there are a lot of really cool use cases. If you think about what you can do with telecom back then and even today
[00:15:13] Bryan Pham: I love that. That is quite an adventure, especially hearing that you started a company during a freaking recession is still succeeded and, using, What we call today, very grow hacking skills, where it’s, you’re using, your PowerPoint slide of the presentations go viral and that’s all-new concepts.
Nowadays we understand those concepts, you hear it a lot of entrepreneurship, but just keep in mind. . This is 13 years ago. So, essentially you were at the front of the line. It’d be being pioneering in a space where its worth has not existed before. Instagram was not a big thing. Facebook was still getting there, back in the 08 09.
[00:15:50] Sean Hsieh: This is a generation where you could still poke people.
[00:15:53] Bryan Pham: Oh.
[00:15:54] Maggie Chui: I remember, Facebook was still getting big and it wasn’t even big back then. It was just starting at that time.
[00:15:59] Sean Hsieh: I think we’re still in the MySpace generation.
[00:16:04] Bryan Pham: In some ways, we grew up that a lot, but then walk us through the sale of your first company in transitioning over into being a quote-unquote successful founder. I want to know too, I mean after you have answered the question, what in the right mind made you come back for a second round of pain?
[00:16:23] Sean Hsieh: That’s a fun one. I still ask myself that sometimes. But so exiting Flowroute was a really awesome opportunity. I got to do something that I’ve never done before, which was sell a company in which, we had employed people and grew to a sizeable revenue number. We bootstrap the company. So it was just three names on the cap table, me, Vine, and Jordan, and it’s really weird to think about that now. And to realize that’s an anomaly. But it was an amazing experience going through working with the deal to me. We had a phenomenal deal team as we were preparing to sell the company. I didn’t know what I was getting into. So a lot of things in Florida, it was my first time doing fill in the blank. And I got to run a gamut of all the different functional areas and kinds of spending.
Hiring a new exec and selling the company was no different. I was like, fam coming in really cold. And we had two amazing investment bankers as our sort of guiding and coaching me through the process in terms of how I should probably be engaged. But I was involved in almost every single conversation, every single potential suitor or potential acquirer. And it was long. All I can say is selling a company is similar to raising capital for a company right now. And the engagement was super deep. The diligence is super deep but it is very different than raising money for a company too because there’s so much that was already built.
So in a lot of ways, I was almost just bringing people into the fold a lot of times to show them. The things that we built, [to show] this is super innovative. Here’s how we do it. This is ultimately how the company works. And even talking through the culture the reasons why and everything is a great experience.
So I sold the company and I had this feeling of I was relishing in it for a little bit. Maybe a solid month or so. This is a parade. I don’t know if I need to do anything anymore. And then I just started getting the feeling, and it was hard to shake it, which was, what am I doing with my life?
Am I doing enough? Having exited doesn’t mean, I was retired. It just meant that I had the opportunity to take a step back and think about it. And it just felt the fire was still there. I wanted to go and do something different. And I thought about where I was in life at the time and realized it, life is pretty short, so we don’t have a lot of years here in, this world, and I want him to do something that really felt I was aligned with my purpose and when I had built flare out it was great. We were solving a business problem and I was coming out of college. Everything’s new and fresh, but I felt it never was truly a part of my own identity of I want to solve this problem for the world.
And so I started spending a lot more time introspecting, all of a sudden, a steward of my own wealth and then having to make investments. And that’s when I started getting into real estate. Looping back to my childhood story. My family was always into real estate. The desire was always there to be financially free and have homes that you can cashflow from. And, owning a restaurant is crazy, active income. It’s super intense, you’re operating all day long. And the desire was always there, to be able to not have to do that. This is my parents’ retirement plan.
And I remember hearing this a lot and talking about it, and not really understanding it, but as I started looking into it, I was, this is actually pretty cool. So I started getting to a number of different investments, and I finally got to after doing a few private equity funds after stepping into a few direct investments, I thought, oh my God, this is actually amazing.
Because it gives me the ability to be more entrepreneurial, to feel I’m going to reclaim my life. And I thought this opportunity here makes a lot of sense for my family and my friends. And I had a huge moment where I felt things weren’t fair. Because it was only available to credit investors, being able to step into these private equities, real estate funds.
And I started getting curious. I started thinking through okay, maybe there’s something that I want to do. And it in a lot of ways honoring, that drive, I just sorta dug into it a bit more and more, I’m like certainly not going to real estate yet.
But I’m pretty good at tech building a product. And then thinking through how I construct a business. The desire to help was there. That’s really what I would say was an inspiration to go pursue. What now is the idea of Concreit.
[00:20:29] Maggie Chui: Wow. I just wanted to also commend you because I think this is a really good time to have this podcast with you because it was just announced last week that Concreit had closed $6 million in seed funding and the app launched last week. So congratulations on that shot. That’s such a huge feat.
[00:20:45] Sean Hsieh: Thank you. I would say, this is a huge team effort and a lot of people have really put their hands and minds into this problem. And it’s awesome to be able to bring something this, to the market where we are now coming. I think, when I think about the economy, opportunities like this have a lot of meaning, especially with the public markets and how volatile things are.
The fear is starting to increase inflation, it seems this is the time where alternatives make a lot of sense. And I’m just so happy to be able to be, one of the phenomenal tech companies able to bring this to the market for the broader audience.
[00:21:21] Bryan Pham: That’s awesome. Congratulations. For our listeners, Sean and I met a couple of times, for almost two years, three years now, time flies. Huh. We’re just talking about real estate, and it came to me with this crazy crowdfunding idea first, I knew in your ability that you were able to execute by, I had an idea, but not really an idea of what type of vision you were trying to build, but seeing that all come to life and seeing you put a lot of effort and grit into this company. You’re constantly learning, you’re constantly learning and applying and building, which is to me absurd because you’re basically in a new industry, you’re learning about a new topic, and you were able to understand the nuance behind the scenes in order to create the technology behind it.
And I think that steam is extremely underrated it’s to understand something new, to build a solution for it. It’s absurd. And I have to commend you for that. So congratulations on that. So walk us through Concreit. Because we know it’s real estate related, it’s crowd-funded related, but walk us through Concreit. How does it work? I know you launched last week and at the time of this recording, it is currently September latest. So for our listeners who were, when we released the podcasts in a month or so, I want you guys to refer back and understand that this is late December, not whenever date we released.
Walk us through Concreit, man. Tell our listeners, how can we be involved with this? What is the overall mission statement of that? Where do you hope to take this company to the next five to 10 years?
[00:22:46] Sean Hsieh: So the mission of Concreit is to be able to create financial opportunities, to be able to generate foundational wealth through real estate. And we hold the idea that real estate is one of the world’s oldest asset classes. It has produced, millionaires, billionaires. It’s always in a broader portfolio for people that have. And we got really fascinated when we started digging into how people invest their dollars.
And what does it look when you’re at certain dollar thresholds for net worth? And we found that the more and more wealthy you become, the more and more new you have in private equity or business and real estate. It’s all in that a lot in that bucket. And you take a look at, an everyday person.
Most people, real estate exposure, the real estate exposure is their own home, if they’re lucky enough to have their own home. But it’s challenging to even think of that. You’ve been a real estate investor. You are a real estate investor. So you understand that it’s a liability. It’s not really an asset. It’s not cash flowing. And so I think, back to my childhood, my family wanted to do this, and I think a lot of members on our team also had this desire to be able to generate income through real estate. And we just looking at the market felt it was still really hard to access.
A lot of time talking with investors of different ages, different income levels, to understand the nuance of what was meaningful for them. And I see a lot of companies right now just opening up the doors through. Bringing down the dollar amount to access the asset. And as we’ve done that too, in that particular dimension, but I think in our interviews, a thing that we really learned was this isn’t the only thing that holds people back from investing in real estate.
It’s a very simple thing to think through and go let’s execute this a tough thing to run a company, to be able to handle that. But when you start thinking truly about the investor and what does that mean for them in their life. This real estate is complex. It’s complicated. There’s a lot of nuance to it.
And there’s just a lot to love that you got to do against those investments, especially private ones. Publicly traded REITs, one thing it’s super correlated with the stock market. It’s something that we wanted to provide people with a different opportunity to get into the private stuff that
people will cut bigger checks for. So, in our interviews we realized, God, there are so many more things that are holding people back. It’s not just the dollar amount. It’s the understanding, it’s the access to capital, it’s the will have to understand what’s going on. And how do I really be connected to my investment?
Part of our thesis here is we’re really defining that there’s this future of investors and we call them the digital class of investors. And it’s the people that are technology, not just technology-enabled, but technology is a huge component of their day-to-day life. And they just have a different set of preferences and they’re very focused on experience connectivity.
And that is the audience that we’re really going after. And we’re trying to be thoughtful around where. Can we provide additional opportunities and value, and what does real estate mean for that group? The first product that we built is one where it’s super easy to invest.
It operates a lot of savings accounts. We actually use a tagline. It’s a great way to supercharge your savings strategy by investing in real estate income. And it’s a real estate fund behind the scenes that you’re investing into the mobile application that’s designed to feel everything else in the FinTech realm right now. So to be super simple and we’re the first platform on the internet that allows you to earn the moment you tap to invest into this real estate fund. So you start a cream, the same dividends that our investors get while your money is transferring.
And then we also have been paying out weekly dividends and that sort of the cadence for very different, we’re the new school version of real estate investing. It’s the way I like to think about it. So we have weekly dividends. We have weekly liquidity that we promote as well, that we’ll work towards.
We’re trying to simplify the whole process. And I would say the long-term vision of Concreit is to make real estate investing as simple for those people that want access and exposure to this asset class, to be able to treat it your betterment of private, real estate.
It’s just something that they could spin up, choose the dimensions and their interests and their portfolio. And we’ll start automating, filling that in for them. That is the goal here. So a much broader vision, but what feels like we’ve reached this milestone one right now, and that’s the part that we’re.
[00:27:07] Maggie Chui: I love that. Honestly, Bryan is more knowledgeable in real estate than I am. And so just hearing, the mission behind Concreit, for someone who, may not have as much capital or they don’t have that education about real estate and commercial real estate behind them, it was super important for them to have easy access to real estate and investment.
And I know that your app allows just a few buttons to invest in. You can start off as little as $1 as a starting investment. I think that’s super important for people to have that simple foundational knowledge and be able to have easy access to it. And you mentioned that your family is also really into real estate as well.
And to our listeners out there, Sean, Bryan, and I, we’ve met a few times. I met Sean through Bryan. We’ve talked a few times in person and, obviously, your family was very inspirational to you and, creating the businesses that you started. So I want to know a little bit about, your parents and your dad and were they part of your inspiration in developing you into having this entrepreneurial mindset and developing the mission behind your brand and your company and everything
[00:28:10] Sean Hsieh: I think, as I go back and look at my childhood and we learn a lot from our parents. Not by what they say, because they say a lot. And I think what we do is we watch. And the repeating theme was my parents were always very generous to the community around us in terms of giving their time. We had a restaurant so we could get food, and that was with the thing that we could do. And we fed the church, we bring food to our friends and their families. So I think that really impacted me in terms of thinking through, how do I give back to the community?
And that’s really what was really influential when I was thinking about what I wanted to do next. After sewing floor out I think in terms of their sophistication of real estate, I would have to fully admit they never got into doing an apartment building or anything that was much bigger in terms of complexity.
But the aspirations I could feel we’re always there. So that drive to be there. I always felt that was very much aligned. So I do think a lot about them. I also think a lot about my friends, back in Irvine and when you were younger I felt I was pretty bad with money and use it as you get older, you feel like you need it really understand, how do you manage money? And how do you have it grow and work for you? And so all those things fed into how I was thinking about.
[00:29:17] Bryan Pham: That’s amazing man. And then your parents must be very proud of who you are today and what you’re able to accomplish. I just want to put it out there and, I’m personally very proud of you for promoting Irvine people out there to really hustle for more school and do more. I have a really miscellaneous question. How’d you end up doing? Why did you move to Seattle?
[00:29:38] Sean Hsieh: Sure. So I grew up in North Cal, so I’ve always looking at my flight path. I’m very West Coast. We were working, and we got to the point where we need to scale, we need to hire more people.
And so we were thinking through a number of cities, and Seattle was on the list. So we came to visit. We came during, I would argue, is one of the best times of it in Seattle. So it was late summer. And it was beautiful. I’ve never seen a city like this before, how come no one’s ever told me about this.
And we talk as a team. We’re like, Hey, we’re all at the point where we’re young enough, we can move. It wasn’t going to be too insane for a life change and our team was small enough. So we’re, okay, we can do it in waves. And we chose Seattle and then I move, and I get here in December. I felt fully felt I got catfished. But we had already committed and we started building the company in Seattle, and I really came to love it. It felt it was right for me for the next chapter of my life. I think I developed a terrible and amazing habit of getting super deep in a coffee up here.
Got really into the roast, the grind, the extraction, all of that. And then the culture was so rich here around that. And I think we’re seeing a lot of that now, in San Francisco and LA too. But up here it was just. Seattle is known for coffee. I’m going to Starbucks, it has headquarters up here, so it was fun to have that in infuse my life with something really unique and fill out the next chapter of my life.
I’m still here building. My co-founder Jordan lives here with his family too. And I think the desire to keep Concreit in Seattle was really intentional. So if you think about Seattle and what does it mean to service the real estate tech space. It’s the backyard and Zillow and Redfin. A friend of mine, Ryan is running arrived homes. And so he’s doing single-family rentals and that’s out there. So I think there are just a lot of, innovative approaches to real estate and thoughtfulness. And also the network, yours is very strong in terms of what we can do with tech. And we are also the backyard of Microsoft and Amazon right now.
So it just feels it’s still a very great place to be. I think that the culture and the city have their night and day from when I first moved here. We’re the fastest-growing city in America for a while. And then it dipped and then we’re back to that. And I’m seeing it with the billings and the cranes and people coming in and it’s just every year, it’s different.
[00:31:53] Maggie Chui: No lie, the coffee culture is so big. It’s so strong, Bryan and I, sometimes we watch it on Tik TOK videos. People fall in love with coffee so much that I’m just, man, I didn’t know. People were so obsessed with coffee.
[00:32:08] Sean Hsieh: We’re past the age of Folgers. There’s so much more nuance to it now. I got to give them to Starbucks, a great way to teach the whole world how to drink a lot of coffee. There’s way more to it now. It’s treated like wine. There’s so much nuance and varietals and it’s fun to think about the origin, the time, which it was grown, and to think through all that because it comes out if you have a really nice coffee, you can taste those milks.
[00:32:31] Maggie Chui: So I do have a question, I want to know, being a first-time founder with Flowroute, what did you learn? As being a part of Flowroute, what did you learn and apply to being a second-time founder at Concreit? What were some of the things that were your biggest lessons and you were able to apply to your second year?
[00:32:50] Sean Hsieh: So Flowroute was a really formative set of years for me. Just coming out of college really learning to be an adult, then learning how to manage teams, and the mind and will to be a leader all of that while growing a business. There were, there are so many different challenging lessons and chapters in, in that journey.
And I think. What I came out with at the end of the day. There was a time when I told you guys when I was going to college, it kinda felt I let my mom down a little bit. When she asked me if I could take over the restaurant, and it was hard for me being a leader in this organization in the early days.
When we started hiring more people because I always felt I was going to hurt people’s feelings by being very direct with them. And I learned that it’s really important that I do share my opinions. And also to trust my gut, and to pull people into that and not be afraid.
As I exited the floor I could just see a huge change in terms of how willing I was to even be vulnerable and to expose, my thoughts to someone, because there’s this whole concept, don’t disrupt the peace, make sure everyone’s happy. And at the end of the day, I think. people want to join a startup because they want to make a difference and they want to feel they’re winning and whatever it is that they’re doing. And sometimes in business, when you make everyone happy, you’re not necessarily winning as a business. There’s a difference between creating an amazing work environment and creating a phenomenal company.
And I think about that a lot in terms of how I’m approaching Concreit today. It’s still a very challenging I would say challenging balance to find, and I’m still going through lessons. I’m playing the role of the CEO in this company right now. And bringing on team members, and every day is a series of lessons for me.
As much as I’m okay, foundationally I’ve changed. That’s leveled up in terms of how I can approach and develop some principles. There’s so much amazing nuance to all this. And it was so cool to get the opportunity to work with people that are constantly showing you that you can still grow.
There’s still so much here. And at the same time being able to build a company faster and learning from your mistakes in the past apply that. But those are all really cool.
[00:35:03] Bryan Pham: That’s amazing man, to be able to apply lessons learned and to be able to even be in the position to apply those lessons is amazing.
Because a lot of us are taking a jump right now, late thirties, mid-thirties, early forties. And then the jump wait earlier. So we have one final question for you. That question is. , what advice could you give to, sorry to all my listeners, I want to make this very niche. What piece of advice would you give to a UC Irvine student who wants to start their own business right now?
[00:35:33] Sean Hsieh: I’m going to pull it from Nike right now. Just do it. I think when we’re in college I’m just putting myself back in, the time I was in college and. It felt I was trying to learn the system, how do I get this job?
How do I do this in so many, there is just rules of the rules. And I think what they don’t really tell you in college in times it’s, just go figure it out, go do it. It’s okay. Don’t be that afraid to give something a shot to fail.
I think all of us are taught to not fail. We fear failure. But failure, if you can, and I’m sure you’ve had a lot of phenomenal entrepreneurs come through and just say failure, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you can learn from it and you can learn quickly and learn how to apply and get better.
It’s just part of the path to then figuring out the right answer. So, if there’s anyone from Irvine I would definitely say use that time to look at yourself too. And what’s really driving you, especially when you’re going to different classes and pay attention to the ones and the professors that inspire you because there’s something else there.
I would dig deeper into that. I would say, as when I was in college, as I was a dancer and so I would also do that at night. And that it just felt I was just. I didn’t spend time, looking into myself introspecting and I just filled up my time with things to do and not learning enough about myself.
So that’s what I would say, dig into yourself dig deep and figure out something, and don’t be afraid of it.
[00:36:52] Maggie Chui: Oh, I didn’t know you were a dancer, Sean. I learned something new today, but I love that you kept a simple, just do it. There are just so many playbooks out there that they say you have to follow step by step to become successful.
This is how not to fail. But it’s every person’s situation is different, you just have to go into it and find out what will happen because it’s not ever gonna go according to plan. But we tend to idolize these, follow these playbooks and stuff that, but you just have to figure out the situation and just go with it.
[00:37:22] Sean Hsieh: . I think the ability to be flexible and the ability to adapt is a supercritical skill, I think, for anyone going into the workforce today or coming up with a new company, right? These markets are so fluid. All the rules are constantly being rewritten, technology shifts things so quickly.
And so, sometimes even for me, I thought I knew something and then, six months later, the whole situation has changed. I need to adapt. And I think that’s what I learned as an entrepreneur and it was like a muscle was building adapt and learn and, keep going.
[00:37:55] Maggie Chui: Love it. Sean, where can our listeners find out more about you and Concreit online?
[00:38:00] Sean Hsieh: They can go to our website Concreit it’s spelled C O N C R E I T in the real estate investment trusts. That’s Concreit.com. You can also find us in the app store, so we’re in both the Apple App Store and also the Play Store. And then if anyone’s interested, they can email me I’m sean@Concreit.com.
And I will probably be hanging out in the Facebook group for Asian Hustle Network and on the website. And if I know you guys are planning a conference and then planning an event. If anyone would like to link up there I would love to see you guys in person. Awesome.
[00:38:32] Maggie Chui: Thank you so much for being on this show today, sean it was amazing learning about your story.
[00:38:37] Sean Hsieh: You so much for having me.
[00:38:38] Bryan Pham: Thank you for being on the show and a shout out to Michelle Chetty for introducing us. Thank you, Sean.