Dennis Saglam is an innovator with a real estate license. He has a sense of what rings true with the community that he works in. AI (artificial intelligence) intrigued him and it resonated for his needs as a realtor — and with a cousin in tech development, he figured it out. On February 17, they bootstrapped and launched listingcopy.ai and with little advertising they’re getting over twenty sign-ups a day globally at rates starting at $19 per month.
Dennis, are you from the East End? How did you get started in real estate?
I was a sales manager at LA Fitness in Smithtown and I was studying to get my real estate license. I was 19 years old at the time when I worked my way up at LA Fitness. Within months I was the top sales counselor in the district and the region. I noticed that I was killing it, selling these gym memberships, that it’s coming to me very easily. I asked myself what else can I sell that is of value?
You obviously have a natural talent for sales.
I’ve shadowed a lot of the top people in the gym membership industry, read a ton of books and I had it in me as well. LA Fitness taught me about structure, the system of sales, but I wanted to work for myself so I began studying for my real estate license because I always wanted to be my own boss. This man kept coming into the gym. His name is Gary Cooper and he’s a founder of Hedgerow Exclusive based in Bridgehampton. He asked what I was up to, that I was a young guy. He wanted to know why I was selling gym memberships.
I thought he was being kind of cocky and asked him what he did. He said, “I sell oceanfronts in the Hamptons.” I told him how I was getting my real estate license. He told me to call him after I got it and that’s how I got started. I ran into him again randomly at the Chase Bank down the street from the gym where he was depositing his half a million dollar commission check and it felt like fate. He had connections with Elliman and brought me in. He was still in collaborations with some of the agents there, as he didn’t have Hedgerow at the time. His style was very outside of the box — I have nothing but good things to say about Cooper.
I’m grateful to him because I’m still with Elliman, which is such a great brand with amazing, supportive managers and brokers with a great culture. They do things the right way for the client and it’s not just about the commission check. It’s a great fit for me. I’m in it for the long-term relationship.
Real estate is really a great fit for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and although it’s very competitive, there seems to be plenty to go around on the East End. Your interest in AI for real estate grew from there?
I’m an entrepreneur. I see opportunities and I’m very good at networking and putting the right people in the right places and creating teams and foundations for much bigger things to happen. I’m very tech-centric. I also have a Web3 video game in development in addition to listingcopy.ai.
I guess you see how tech zigs and zags and something vibrates with you enough to tackle it and perhaps turn it into something?
I think if you don’t learn how to use these tools to your advantage, that’s where the problem really is and you can drop the ball. I think you have to stay ahead of the curve and see it as another weapon in your toolbox that you can utilize to make yourself better than other agents. It’s just another opportunity, like what it was like when the internet first came out — now there’s crypto exchanged for real estate and Web3 is being further developed. Somehow AI has people scared. It’s always the same, with people saying it’s another trend… until it stays and scales and becomes something we’re using ten years later. My strength is seeing the bigger picture whether it’s technology or friends or anything. I always look and ask, what is this going to do in five years or ten years?
What was going on when you saw that ChatGPT was growing at the pace that it was?
It became headline news last December when it was released for public use. My ex actually texted it to me and asked if I had heard about ChatGPT. I looked at it and said I have to do some research first and played around with it. I sat there for 10 minutes and asked myself what niche could it work well in. The real estate world, where if you build a brand that actually has a real product that provides real value to the consumer, it will become something tangible with a sustainable business base.
So there was an a-ha moment?
So I sat there and said, people are using it for copywriting. What’s missing is to make it powerful for real estate agents. I realized that it needed to be optimized and it needed a front end that was intuitive and with ChatGPT, you need the right prompts to get good results in that blank text box. You’re going to see a whole industry of prompt engineers popping up because we have to make this easier and more accurate to use. It was a week before Christmas when I reached out to my cousin, Carl, who is a programmer.
He said he’d take a look over the holidays. I said it was urgent to build this and would I need someone for the front-end design too and could we piece the whole thing together. I waited until January 3 and called him again. Offering him payment for his work, he said no and that he wanted to be in on this. He handles the entire tech side of things. We partnered up and we just created this team where he codes and I structure the business.
What is your end exactly?
How are we going to build it? What is it going to look like? How is it going to help and fit the agent? User interface and user experience. And most importantly, how are we going to push this out? How are we going to get this in front of people?
I think it’s totally ready and primed for some Venture Capital at this point. We bootstrapped this entire thing, we have a proof of concept, we’re reinvesting and we’re at about 20-plus signups per day with very little marketing.
How are those agent sign-ups learning of listingcopy.ai?
I was reaching out to people saying, hey, if I had a tool like this would you use it? And the response was, “Oh my God, absolutely because I hate doing it.” No one likes to write copy for their listings. It really started with word of mouth so we could see what it needed and it began leaking out.
Artificial Intelligence is really the concept that the technology learns as it goes.
Yes, exactly. So, for example, we had a situation where the description was spitting out the walking distance to the village. It was obviously something that we can’t be saying in the description box of the actual house specs, so I told Carl that we needed to write the prompt to prevent that from happening — now it doesn’t.
Will it replace copywriters and proofreaders … or, gasp, writers?
Once the technology is good enough, it will be the tool of the copywriter and proofreader. Maybe writers. You can build frameworks of how people are going to use this technology and be the outsourcing company producing for copywriters for every niche. There are lots of ways it will help the copywriting industry. It’s not going to replace it in the way you think, because the ones that are forward thinking in any field, even real estate, have to be on top of it and it can elevate their business to new heights. So, the old-fashioned mind and the old-fashioned way of thinking is not going to suffice in the world with AI anymore.
You’re probably going to see a lot of competition.
Listingcopy.ai was the first ever. Now, there are a few smaller ones popping up. This was the first listing AI-powered description generator for real estate. Our mission really is to empower the agent with the latest AI tools to streamline their workload to stay ahead of the competition. A portion of what we make, we want to put back into the real estate community somehow, whether that’s education in the tech, how it can benefit their businesses, or putting it back into communities to help people. We’re not just an outside tech company that’s doing this for the money, but we genuinely want to elevate real estate.
What’s the next stage?
So the brand itself is listingcopy.ai — once a customer enters our ecosystem, they’ll see our other services. We give them two free listings a month. Next, they can use the optimized headline generator. Then they will be able to stage a room with the room stager, which is still in beta. It’s still being tested because it works like more of a room renderer where you upload the image and it’ll kind of renovate the whole room for you. So that’s already there. After that, we’re working on real room staging where if you upload the photo of the empty room it’ll throw the furniture in exactly how you want it and you can pick from modern farmhouse, transitional, traditional — you can pick whatever you want and it’ll do it for you. We’re also working on a headshot generator. It’s very simple. For example, a real estate agent that’s new, they’re not going to go and invest $200 on professional studio photography. They can take an iPhone image of themselves and upload it and it’ll literally put them in a studio with a suit, with a dress, with whatever.
It sounds like it could turn into a SASS system that a brokerage can purchase to make it an in-house system with their own branding in a white label situation. Sounds exciting.
Eventually we’ll offer other languages so that it can go international. We’re seeing signups from everywhere. I haven’t advertised in Turkey, yet I have Turkish people signing up left and right using it for properties. AI is a global conversation and we’re seeing the signups, and that’s what really shows me we’re on the right track.