Our Founder's Story

Mike Cimmarrusti
June 17, 2020

2016 was an exciting time to be in crypto

Coming from a trading and private equity background, I was doing what most in my profession aspired to: building a business. After spotting the opportunity,it took a little more than a year to carve out a niche in the ecosystem. Imagine my surprise when our team ballooned from just a developer and me into a team of thirty.

Moving fast

People I hadn’t heard from in years would text me out of the blue, “hey, so you’re in crypto, right?” Overhearing strangers talk about making thousands of dollars in their personal accounts trading this-coin and that-coin made me simultaneously confident and uneasy. Isn’t this what bubbles are? A lot of people, making a lot of money, really quickly? But our trading isn’t dependent on the prices going up, so we should be fine…

Like most overnight success stories...

eventually the hype died down. This was an inflection point for me. I’m not a trader at heart. We were just in the right place at the right time. I liked trading but what I loved was building a business – wading into the mire of ambiguity to find the unseen and overlooked.

The genesis of Realize

I often joke that Realize born out of a lazy afternoon of staring at my couch… and to be honest, it’s not that far from the truth. Danielle and I were house shopping, looking for the cozy place we might call home. We’d tour an apartment here or there, but ultimately, the bulk of our options kept getting shot down in the Zillow browsing phase.

The Cimmarrusti family

It looks too dark  •  I don’t like the wallpaper  •   I don’t like furniture they have in it

These were the soundbites that I continually heard from Dani. As I started to listen, it became clear that we weren’t the only couple having this recurring conversation. That summer, both my in-laws and my cousin lamented having to invest thousands of dollars into the homes they were trying to sell. At that point, I realized that Dani’s reaction so clearly explained why these investments had to be made. Sometimes, you just need to see it.

Realize was born out of a desire to unleash the creative potential in everyone

The more we played with the idea, the more conversations, focus groups and market research that we conducted, the clearer our thesis became. People don’t only want to visualize a space when they move, they want it when they dream, when they design, when they shop.

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