Editor’s note: February is Black History Month—a time for us to come together to celebrate the diverse set of experiences, perspectives and identities that make up the Black experience. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight Black-led startups and how they use Google Cloud to grow their businesses. This feature highlights DOSS and its co-founder, Bobby Bryant, a Forbes contributor and real estate expert who’s transforming the industry through powerful analytics and conversational AI.
Believe it or not, Conversational Artificial Intelligence (Voice) is the next paradigm shift. One day, in the near future, you’re not going to be typing as much into your smartphone or the keyboard with your desktop computer. I’m sure that’s great news for all the one-finger pecking typers out there. Conversational Artificial Intelligence (Voice) is unquestionably the future of how we are going to interface with digital devices, and that opens up vast business opportunities in all sorts of industries, including real estate.
I’ve been in real estate for over 20 years, and I can tell you that it’s an industry ripe for disruption. Coupling new approaches to delivering and charging for services with technologies like voice recognition creates new opportunities for agents, buyers, renters, sellers, and service providers.
Throughout the real estate process, people want to be able to ask questions easily, and quickly get answers they understand without feeling stupid. They want better information about neighborhoods, schools, mortgage options, home services , and other vital details in one place—all with the goal of finding the perfect home to create the best lives for themselves and their families.
What is DOSS?
Through a website and mobile app, DOSS offers consumers a voice-activated personal assistant that’s an expert in all things real estate. Leveraging natural language and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, it provides personal, responsive experiences and instant answers on property buying, selling, and ownership. Users can ask questions by speaking or typing, tapping into a depth and breadth of data on property features and surroundings not aggregated on any other real estate portal.
For those seeking further information or interested in taking the next step with a REALTOR®, loan officer, or other specialists, DOSS asks users if they’d like to be put in touch with a local expert and choose how they’d prefer to be contacted. DOSS then connects the customer with an agent at our real estate brokerage, our in-house mortgage firm, and/or one of our vetted service providers that can fix, install, or service anything around the house.
In beta since early 2021, DOSS currently covers several major markets in Texas and North Carolina, with plans to expand across the U.S. by the end of the year. While we currently focus our revenue-generating activities around properties for sale and mortgages, we are broadening to include rentals, both long- and short-term, in addition to ancillary services for homeowners and renters.
Although everyone can easily use our platform, we’re admittedly looking to the current and next-generation of homeseekers, who are already used to doing everything from their smartphone or smart speaker. DOSS is currently increasing its users month over month. Unlike our competitors, DOSS reduces the high cost to transact real estate making the transaction for everybody more economical. This is one of the many reasons why more and more users are choosing to list, search, and service their home with DOSS.
Moving from AWS to Google Cloud
When creating DOSS, we were inspired by Google as a market leader in AI with products such as Google Assistant. Because much of our solution is based on Google technologies, we decided to move our application hosting from Amazon Web Services to Google Cloud.
Even better, Google was happy to invest time and money into DOSS. I went through the three-month Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders program, which helped me build relationships with expert Google Cloud engineers and mentors. Since we’re bringing a mix of entirely new services to the real estate market, they’ve been instrumental in helping us solve problems that others in our industry haven’t yet addressed.
Today, we use DialogFlow for conversational AI, which helps us provide customers with more intuitive and lifelike experiences. We also use the TensorFlow library for machine learning development, and Google Maps Platform for our location-based features. And, I’m sitting here at a restaurant in Houston on an Android smartphone, using Google Workspace to communicate and collaborate with our dispersed DOSS team.
Google Cloud for Startups: Black Founders Fund – Celebrating the power of diversity
I am also a proud recipient of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, receiving $100k in capital along with Google Cloud credits, Google.org Ads grants, and incredible hands-on support to help keep us from spending too much time trying to solve problems on our own. We used the funds primarily for data, development, and server costs. We’ve raised $1.6M for our Family and Friends Round. And currently, we just launched our Seed Round ($5.5M). As a first time startup founder, raising capital is not easy! It’s an intimidating process that feels like a full-time job within itself. And at the same time, you have to grow a business, manage people, etc. The investment from Google was unbelievable. The benefits far exceed the monetary investment. From the affiliation and support to the Google Cloud credits, we are fortunate to have this opportunity.
I was very lucky! My parents were awesome, loving, strong, and supportive. Raised in Mobile, Alabama I eventually ventured out into a world that was routinely attempting to discourage and limit me. Fortunately, due to my upbringing, I knew I couldn’t be defined by other people’s ideas of what I could be, so I focused on my education and successfully completed two(2) Masters Degrees before I turned 30 years old. .
I often think of a quote from Audre Lorde, a Black woman, lesbian, and mother born in the 1930s, and who became a noted poet and civil rights activist. During a speech she gave at Harvard University in 1982, she said:
If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
I took inspiration from my parents, change agents like Audre Lorde, and others as I defined myself for myself. I know who I am, and what I’m becoming. I understand my responsibility and how it can impact others. And, I’m built for everything I want and see for myself.
Along the way, I’ve found that there’s power in diversity, so I try to live an inclusive life. If you remove color, gender, sexuality and all the other boxes, I find that everybody equally wants unrestricted access to opportunities, to take care of themselves and their family. We all want the same thing, which is a chance to lead and live fulfilling lives. Give people opportunity, liberty, and a voice, and you’ll see thriving communities, cities, and states. But, it takes a profound sense of self, empathy, and respect for all people in general to create a better tomorrow for everybody.
Above all, to succeed, you have to believe in yourself. You have to put in the work! Focus on your strengths and develop them. I always try to instill hope in people that are facing and/or have faced obstacles and setbacks of a popular adage: It’s not how you start out in this world that matters. It’s how you finish. You must find the confidence and strength to believe that you are the one. That if your life is going to change, it’s up to you.
Hear DOSS founder Bobby Bryant chat with Google’s Head of Startup Developer Ecosystem Jason Scott and fellow Black Founders Fund recipients Del Smith and Tiffany Whitlow about building on Google Cloud in a recent Google for Startups Instagram Live.
If you want to learn more about how Google Cloud can help your startup, visit our page here to get more information about the new Google for Startups Cloud Program and sign up for our communications to get a look at our community activities, digital events, special offers, and more
By: Bobby Bryant (Founder & CEO, DOSS)
Source: Google Cloud Blog