The past two weeks have been eventful and life changing for North Charleston real estate broker and technology entrepreneur Seth Siegler.
Siegler's start-up tech company, Robot Workshop, announced March 15 that it has been acquired by the real estate software firm Showing Suite, an 11-year-old California company.
Terms were undisclosed.
"I'm not rich now, but it was a nice deal," he said.
The following Sunday, Siegler proposed to his long-time girlfriend on the beach at Sullivan's Island (she accepted), and today he leaves for San Diego, where he will be the new chief technology officer for Showing Suite.
"It's a nice success for the Charleston tech scene," Siegler said. "Not many companies get acquired."
The deal shows that the environment is improving for scrappy, innovative startups in places like Charleston, as long as they have a good idea, he said.
"It's a golden age for entrepreneurial ventures in tech right now," he said. "You don't have to have $100 million, or a lot of staff, or be located in Silicon Valley."
In fact, Siegler's company has no staff, and no formal office. His workplace is wherever he decides to fire up his Apple laptop and crack open a can of Red Bull.
That's the energy drink of choice for workaholic Siegler, who is prone to pulling all-night sessions and working through weekends.
He typically runs Robot Workshop from a small space in Park Circle, or from the offices of Simplistate, a Mount Pleasant real estate firm that Siegler and former America Online executive Reggie Fairchild founded several years ago.
Robot Workshop is a roughly 18-month-old company offering a suite of real estate software to agents across the country. The fledgling company was a finalist in the "most innovative real estate startup" category at last year's Inman News Innovator Awards.
"It's pretty cool that it went from new to sold in 18 months," said Fairchild.
What Robot Workshop offers are software products that agents can incorporate into their websites and Facebook pages, for monthly fees ranging from $24.95 to $99.95.
"One of the goals of this company was to make it so that any agent could have a web presence on an agent's budget," Siegler said.
His company's IDX Robot product is a customizable real estate search tool and lead-generation interface for use on agents' sites.
The Neighborhood Suggester product is a tool for websites and Facebook pages that helps real estate buyers narrow their home searches based on neighborhood criteria, such as "quality schools" and "pet friendly."
The neighborhood information comes from a third-party vendor that "aggregates millions of data point," said Siegler, who developed the interface and the hired contracted code-writers to build the software.
He said the result is a real estate search that gives buyers the context needed to narrow down the area where they might look to buy a home.
"Without context, people are just wasting their time," said Siegler. "It's filling in a hole in the search process."
His new tech-firm job in California is an interesting outcome for the 32-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., who moved to South Carolina 14 years ago and attended the College of Charleston in large part because of his interest in competitive sailing.
Siegler's career goal while in college was to become a meteorologist, or a writer for car enthusiast magazines.
He doesn't have a technology-related degree; he majored in communications and media studies. And instead of becoming an automotive writer, Siegler became a real estate agent the same year he graduated, in 2002, jumping into the business at what turned out to be a great time to sell property on the South Carolina coast.
Siegler worked for Prudential and Carolina One before co-founding Simplistate, but always had his hands busy with entrepreneurial ventures as well.
An earlier business attempt that didn't work out involved producing high-definition video tours of homes for sale.
"I've really been in technology my entire life," said Siegler, who added that he's getting to the point where he can write software code himself.
He said he has several products in development, which he will take with him to Showing Suite. And Showing Suite should be able to expand the market for the Robot Workshop products that Siegler developed, he said.
Showing Suite's products include software that helps automate the importation of agent's listings from the Multiple Listing Service, and the HomeFeedback product, which is used to gather input from buyers' agents that sellers can use to improve their prospects for a sale.
"We want to make the business work better for customers and agents," Siegler said.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552.
At a glance
Name: Seth SieglerAge: 32From: Long Island, N.Y.Residence: Park Circle, North CharlestonFamily: Engaged to marry Maggie Stuart.Education: Graduated from College of Charleston in 2002 with a degree in communications and a minor in meteorology.Occupation: Recently hired chief technology officer for Showing Suite; founder of North Charleston tech startup Robot Workshop; and co-founder of Mount Pleasant real estate agency Simplistate. A real estate agent since 2002.Website: Robot-Workshop.com
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