During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
SellFolio 4.0 can help pump up your portfolio
Builders need to show off their homes on the Web. Unfortunately it often takes a Flash designer and a huge investment to get a site up and functioning. Now with SellFolio 4.0, all you need is an afternoon and an open mind to create a slick web presentation of your latest project.
Two examples of landing pages created using SellFolio 4.0
Most software programs catering to the building industry deal with back office or design applications. But SellFolio, now in version 4.0, offers something a little different. SellFolio 4.0 helps builders, sales teams and real-estate agents create portfolio Web sites to show off their latest work or hot properties. Unlike high-powered CAD programs or flash presentation building, anyone who can turn on a computer or find a picture file can use the program.
"It's built like a tank. It runs like a tank," says SellFolio's Russ McNeilly, who partnered with his brother Steve on the program. Says Russ of version 4.0: "It's like PowerPoint on steroids."
"Very simply, there are three key points. The first is that it's very fast to use. Second, it's easy. You only need minimal experience doing anything on a computer to use it. If you have some more experience you can do much more with it," says Steve. "And last, the output is really incredible. It looks like you just spent thousands of dollars going through a multimedia firm getting your work produced."
Russ and Steve, who have a combined 30-plus years experience in the tech field, had a spot of serendipity during the early years of SellFolio. "It was pretty much a simultaneous thought. Years ago I showed Russ some concepts and prototypes that I built. I approached him with the idea, and Russ expanded on the idea," says Steve. Adds Russ: "I thought: Hey, I've been thinking about something like this for awhile. Steve kicked it down the field a bit further."
Steve, who had developed software for the aviation industry, made a lateral move to the new project. "(SellFolio) was along a similar line of development, from a technical standpoint, for me."
By 2003, the brothers devoted themselves full-time to the product. It didn't take long to develop. "Steve's pretty quick," Russ says. "It was a matter of months, maybe the spring of 2004, when we had something we could show customers and sell."
But sales, at first, weren't stellar. "We may have been a little early to market the product. The first explosion of sales for us happened Christmas 2004, when everyone was getting digital cameras ... and (people) began realizing what they can do with those things."
"From the start we had quite a variety of biters. But early on it was definitely real-estate agents," says Steve. "The National Association of Realtors named us a key player in virtual tours in 2004. The NAR realized this was a good product for what their members want to do."
|Users only have to choose images, settle on a template and follow the step-by-step instructions to put together flash-based presentation with SellFolio.|
SellFolio ships in three editions: Basic, 4.0 Client Projects and 4.0 Complete. The brothers say the new version creates output that looks like an expensive Flash custom design. Users download and install the program, whereas many software services require a monthly or yearly subscription. From there it's a matter of choosing a presentation template — there are 12 to choose from in the Complete version of the software — and following the step-by-step instructions.
For those going for the quick-and-dirty, you'll end up with an animated Flash introduction, a main menu, image modules, quick-info pages and a contact page. If you don't want all of these sections, you can build a project that resembles a standard-looking Web site. In the complete version, users can move, resize and color objects; select fonts; and add buttons, photos, .SWF files, video, text and sound — again, all without Flash programming.
For those handier with a mouse, the program's File Launch and Weblink modules allow customers to integrate additional rich media such as video or PDF documents in an all-new Live Layout environment. "Live Layout allows a user to design a project, basically in what-you-see-is-what-you-get. This enables the person to place text, video, images and sound any way they want to," says Steve. "The step-by-step process makes sure the presentation is going to look great. But at the same time it has the ability to let the user customize it any way they want. It really depends on the company's marketing goals on how elaborate they want to get."
"You can make it and show it to your boss that day. IT is a big expense. For the marketing person to have something in hand they start to feel like they can really run with the program," Russ adds, "There's a little bit of 'Hey, let's get ambitious with this thing' going on.'"
Once projects are finished, users can upload their work to the Web, burn it to CD or e-mail the link to their contact list regardless of which SellFolio edition they use. Because SellFolio is Flash-based, no special players must be downloaded or installed on the viewer's system.