April 15, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Alison Bernstein, Founder and President of Suburban Jungle, real estate advisory and tech platform

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

There was not that specific aha moment for me— on a daily basis I see opportunities where others do not… it is just a matter of timing and execution. This particular business, The Suburban Jungle – was started while I was at Columbia Business School — The concept was born of both an industry demand and personal experience.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The first thing I did was to devise a system by which the company would work; how we could add value to the average consumer while making a substantial profit. I always ask myself, with every new venture “how much effort will it take me to earn $1?” This helps me to generate the process flow. Once I felt comfortable with this piece, I set up the corporation thanks to a friend who is an attorney. My goal was to spend nothing, until I made something. I then went out and spoke to a multiplicity of contacts about the concept -which ultimately led to my first deal. When this initial $20k came in as a result, I was afforded the opportunity to create an inexpensive website and move forward. Once I had that first deal it all snowballed!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Our client stories are our greatest asset. We use press and social media to share them and they inspire customers to connect with us.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are up 2 fold since Covid as panicked urbanites fled metro areas. We have always provided work from home flexibility and will continue to do that heading forward.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Empowerment is the critical to maintaining a successful, happy and dedicated team. One of the greatest keys to empowerment is allowing for as much autonomy as possible. Assuming you have hired the right people, this should further yield a greater work product. I always say, ‘I manage and lead the way that I parent’. There is a great deal of freedom available to you, but there is great accountability for both successes and failures.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

-iPad Pro with the new magic keyboard. It allows me to read through articles at a faster pace, catch up on emails efficiently, and is truly a workhorse and allows you to move around to different rooms while being productive and not necessarily chained to your desktop.

-Slack is something we have used for years- and allows us to communicate efficiently without clogging inboxes

-Google drive, google hangouts, Trello for prioritizing our tech initiatives…

Keeping it simple and just having a few go to items is key …. Otherwise you spend your days going in and out of various apps and it is too time consuming…
We have built our own proprietary technology — and continuing to improve the workflows within that where we “live” for our business daily has been key.
It has been getting a lot more attention and we have been launching a ton of new productivity features.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I read a ton of business publications, business sections and anything else that can keep me abreast of what is up ahead. There is no standing still.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Company leaders are often inclined to become bogged down with business plans, projections etc.”, says Bernstein. “This only leads to analysis paralysis and before you know it, you have fallen behind. Business is dynamic, and with tech and the world changing so fast, it is important to for a leader and his/her team to stay nimble and at the ready to embrace a new course. Chances are, if you are forging ahead with blinders on, you might not see that the end of the road is just up ahead.

Where can we go to learn more?