Founder's Story: Tony Franco | CEO
A conversation with SafeChain Co-founder and CEO Tony Franco
What’s important about the work you’re doing at SafeChain?
Imagine going to the closing of your home and finding out that your down payment or even your entire payment -- that money you’d saved for years -- was gone. That’s what happens to the victims of wire fraud.
And it’s incredibly problematic for everyone in the supply chain, not just the home buyer. There’s the realtor who's responsible for the overall customer experience, the title company who's often legally liable, and then the lender. So many parties are affected.
What we’re doing at SafeChain right now with SafeWire is allowing title offices, realtors, lenders, and consumers to do business with confidence, knowing that their transactions will be completed safely.
What’s your background?
I would call myself a serial entrepreneur, and my specialty is product market fit. Before SafeChain, I was doing consulting for entrepreneurs who secured their first rounds of funding. I’d look at their product roadmap and evaluate the assumptions that were underlying the features, then validate those assumptions using customer data. And even though I enjoyed helping other entrepreneurs, I was looking for my next idea. I found it with SafeChain.
Why did you help start SafeChain?
When I met [co-founder] Chris Sauerzopf, he initially wanted to build a better workflow software for title. When we dug into it, we realized that we could solve a problem that was much bigger than title workflow.
So many people are required to execute a real estate transaction and so much manual labor goes into it. There are 3,000 counties across the country and 1,800 of them have paper records. There’s a person physically going into a government office, pulling out a file drawer, going through a series of records, typing up a report, sending it to a title office. Then, that office re-enters the report and sends it to an insurance company. A closing table is created, the parties meet there, they sign dozens of papers, then those documents are manually taken back to the office and submitted for recording.
It just doesn't have to be that complicated. We knew we could replace many of those steps with software. What started as a title workflow process became a project with the goal to transform real estate and the way that people buy it. It’s an exhilarating challenge.
Why is SafeChain such a good fit for you?
When you consider new technology and technology adoption, you seldom face the hurdle of whether or not the technology works. There are tons of brilliant technologies and people. The technology that wins usually comes down to whether or not customers and supply chains will adopt them. So first and foremost we're here to build products that serve customers. My role is to keep us incredibly focused on what customers want, and to make sure that SafeChain software is not only easy for them to adopt, but something they’re eager to start using.
What excites you about coming to work each day?
For me, the most exciting thing about SafeChain is applying blockchain in ways that have never been done before. Blockchain has been around through Bitcoin for about 10 years now, but we still haven't found a use case other than crypto-currency. I love being on the front edge of a technology that we're, as a society, still learning how to implement. There's no consensus on how blockchain should be utilized, no knowledge of the upper limits of what it can do, no definition or best practices around any of that. It's very reminiscent of companies learning how to use the internet when that was the emerging technology. I'm excited every day to apply new technology to a real pain point that people have and make consumers' lives easier.