Editor’s note: Here is the second part of our UpTech Artificial Intelligence series interview with UpTop CEO Frank Barletta.
- For you, obviously, the space is constantly changing and evolving, including technology. So how are you personally innovating? How are you staying up-to-date on the latest with technology and figuring out what you should apply to your business or not?
I would say candidly, speaking to people, having an open network, being comfortable sharing what you’re good at and what your bad at, and being open to feedback—learning what the industry wants, learning what the technology capabilities are.
There’s so much that’s out there that’s still in its infancy that, as the technologies mature, you can apply to your business and apply to specific aspects of operations. So, it’s just the desire to want to learn. Continuing education is important.
A good team is also important—being open to listening to your team. Your team gives a lot of feedback about things that they’ve seen and heard. So, it’s not just me. This isn’t me by myself. I have a team of people that bring very, very good ideas that we all talk about—spitball and white board.
- That’s powerful that everyone is looking at things differently. So, when you have a team or advisors or other folks that you can talk to, I appreciate that point. Do you have any favorite websites or places you go to for technology? I guess you have industry news as one thing, but overall business and the way it’s going. Do you have any reading lists that you like that others could look at too?
No website in particular. I tend to use my Apple News feed that I specifically curate to the topics that I’m interested in the most, which gives me my syndication of different news articles I can look at.
- I use Flipboard, so same concept.
Yeah, same thing. It’s just it’s easier for me that I try to spend less time on the organizational aspect of it.
- This is the new newspaper. We’re going to one place. We just open our Apple News or Flipboard app and we get whatever sources we’re most interested in.
Yeah, it’s true. I mean, one of my team members goes on Reddit often and is always looking at the technology threads, learning from there what’s new and great. So, it’s just being open to other people’s opinions and sharing information.
- Do you have anything on your book list or audiobook list that you’re reading or listening to in the last little while?
It’s How It’s Made. So, the podcast about How It’s Made is very, very enticing to listen to. One of my favorite ones I just recently finished up was Haim Saban. He created The Power Rangers. So, it’s him and Airbnb listening to similar stories. Everyone wants to try to connect somehow. So, listening to how other people did it—the craziness that they went through—that’s exciting to hear. So, that’s the answer to my question for audio, but it’s podcasts really.
- What’s one difficulty that you’ve had to face in the past year or so in growing your business that was a great learning experience?
Hiring the right people. The team is so important, and you really never know who you’re going to be working with. It’s important to make sure, even if you need someone desperately, that you spend the time to find the right person. A bad hire ruins businesses. And those are the challenges that I faced—finding good people.
It’s never easy to find someone that you can trust, that really fits into your culture, that you believe will benefit personally and professionally from what you’re offering, but it’s also reciprocal. The way I see it, you want someone that is going to want to give their all.
But you also want to be able to give that person every opportunity to grow personally and professionally so that this is a place that they call home. You spend a lot of time with the people that you’re around, and I want to make sure that the team benefits from this just as much as any shareholder or client.
- That’s a powerful outlook—the team, the importance of it. How big is your team right now?
We’re 14, 15 people total.
- Got it, fantastic. Hurdles to go over is getting the right team and building that, and obviously you’re still in the process. But you’re right on your way to being able to pull it together. Where do you see your company five years from now?
A global platform that interchanges relationships around the world—being a decentralized global platform.
- Wow, so what hurdles do you need to overcome in order to be the global, decentralized place that renters and owners are using?
Finding good team members—that’s it. Execution is the challenge. To execute, you have to have a good team. I cannot stress that enough. That’s it. There’s capital everywhere. If they believe in you, your vision, and your team, they will work with you. There’s knowledge that you can learn to build software. You can do this stuff. It’s just finding the people that you want to do it with and that want to do it with you. That is the toughest thing ever.
- You’d have to have a clarity on your vision to be able to. You have to do a good job at communicating that vision to your team.
Communication—hey, I said that.
- Communication. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Frank, for sharing both your journey that you’re on and this insight that you have. I’m excited to see these next few years as you get to global domination and decentralized ownership of renters. So, for those who want to learn more, they can go to liveuptop.com.
Yes, thank you.
- Any other info that you’d love to share or want our viewers to know about?
If my daughter, Celeste, who’s eight months two days ago, sees this in a few years, let her know that daddy’s working his butt off to show her that anything is possible for anyone. Candidly, I’m a college dropout. I worked my butt off. I don’t come from the multi-family or rental industry at all. I’m taking this from an approach of a technology professional and a renter who wants to genuinely make a change and work with a lot of people together.
Have you seen a company using AI, machine learning, or other technology to transform the way we live, work, and do business? Go to uptechreport.com and let us know.