Think Tech Labs Tailors Salesforce to the Real Estate Market

5/17/12Follow @XconomyDET

Yesterday, we published an article about why VC guru Jason Mendelson is feeling bullish about Michigan as a hub for entrepreneurship. He pointed out that the state’s tendency toward collaboration is an important asset that should continue to be championed. Vijay Mehra, CEO of Think Tech Labs, wholeheartedly agrees. It’s exactly the reason that, six months ago, he relocated his growing company from Miami to Ann Arbor.

Think Tech Labs is an IT and cloud computing consultancy that specializes in the implementation and optimization of Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and Google Apps.  Its REthink product, which helps realtors manage customer relationships, is a top Salesforce app and last year won a Salesforce AppExchange Customer Choice award. “Out of the box, Salesforce is not tailored to the real estate market,” Mehra says. “It’s geared toward the traditional sales person. If you look at real estate, it’s a very defined business methodology, and we’ve completely tailored REthink to mirror the residential or commercial real estate process.”

REthink’s customers pay between $49 and $107 per month for customized automation, dashboards, email templates, and analytics accessible by desktop computer or mobile device. Think Tech Labs also offers REthink customers help with website design, search engine marketing, training, and 24-hour tech support. Mehra says that REthink has been so successful that Think Tech Labs now plans to create a similar product geared toward the financial services sector.

Mehra studied engineering, but found himself working for a commercial real estate firm in New York City. He was constantly frustrated with the way his colleagues kept track of their sales calls. “A lot of people were so backwards about managing data, and, because of Salesforce, I knew there was a better way,” he says. “I pitched it to my boss and he said no. So I left to start my own company.”

Mehra couldn’t afford to grow his business in New York, so he relocated to Miami Beach. However, that soon proved to be a mistake, he says. “It’s a beautiful place, but they have no entrepreneurial spirit,” he adds.

When deciding where to move Think Tech Labs, he considered San Francisco; Austin, TX; the Research Triangle area of North Carolina; and Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor impressed Mehra the most, he says, because the talent was “phenomenal” and it was a cost-effective, intimate community. “It’s very entrepreneurial—a lot of people want to be in the startup space,” he adds. “The vibe is really cool.”

Think Tech Labs is now an Ann Arbor SPARK Central tenant with six employees, though Mehra hopes to have more than 20 employees by the end of the year. He expects revenue will soon hit seven figures, and says the bootstrapped company has grown 200 percent in the past four years.

His next goal is to add the state of Michigan to Think Tech Lab’s list of clients, which includes Ann Arbor SPARK and New York University. The state manages hundreds of different initiatives, many under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s umbrella, and Mehra wants to train unemployed recent graduates in how to implement Salesforce’s technology to maximize the platform. The work Think Tech Labs has done with SPARK will serve as a sort of pilot program to show the state what’s possible. “There are so many inefficiencies,” he says. “We’d love the opportunity to work with the state of Michigan and show them what’s possible.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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