For Lynn Leegard, a top attorney at several major Twin Cities real estate firms for decades, starting a start-up wasn’t high on her list of career priorities.
But at a time when many top executives are already dreaming of retirement and formulating an exit strategy, Leegard has launched a Twin Cities-based company that fills the last virtual gap in the home-buying process.
“I was very focused on solving the problem [seen] As a real problem for the industry,” she said.
Inventors and entrepreneurs were nowhere on Regard’s list of career goals, but when she launched TrustFunds in 2013, it helped homebuyers submit deposits electronically instead of using paper checks. Becoming a Twin Cities technology company.
With deep corporate-level expertise and familiarity with the many state and federal laws that govern the industry, Leegard knew that real estate executives could not easily embrace radical innovation. .
Yet international tech companies are pouring billions of dollars into ideas that transform the buying and selling process, giving them a foothold.
Leegard’s goals were less ambitious. She simply wanted to make things safer for the buyers writing the checks and the agents and intermediaries handling the checks.
Typically, the buyer wrote a check and gave it to the agent, who then received the check from the listing agent. The listing agent delivered the check to the trust account holder. The trust account holder deposited the check and waited for the funds to clear the buyer’s bank. TrustFunds does it all electronically.
“I said, ‘It’s crazy, we’re going backwards,'” she said. “I said, ‘We need to find a way to do it faster. is not the way to do business.”
Leegard was well aware of the risks of processing paper checks. For decades, she served as corporate advisor to her one of the largest brokers in the Twin Cities. She also served as president of the Minnesota Real Estate Association.
“The idea for TrustFunds came out of my passion for managing risk in the industry,” she said.
Leegard had little experience in the tech world, but he was convinced his idea was unique. An Internet search confirmed that belief.
She enlisted a partner familiar with the electronic payment business to help her with the technical work and assembled a team with the kind of skills she didn’t have.
“I combined their expertise with mine,” she said.
There were many lessons to learn along the way. Ms. Leegard had little clue about her bill, as she was the first to offer such a service. Based on the reaction of her early prospects, she said her bill was too high and she immediately reviewed the price.
“When you’re a brand new concept and a brand new idea, it’s hard to understand the tolerance for pricing in the market,” she said. We had to be flexible and pivot as needed.”
She also learned not to assume that the most obvious innovations or the most logical business solutions have already been tried.
Today the company is used by over 440 brokers in nine states, and Leegard is trying to pitch the idea to more brokers.
Her pitch is often met with enthusiasm and hesitation as she presents her ideas to brokers and leaders of multiple local listing services.
Potential customers, she says, sometimes say they can’t believe wire transfers weren’t already an option for buyers and their agents.
“It made a lot of sense and they thought someone was already doing it,” she said. “But on the other hand, it was a paradigm shift.”