founder

Brick Work Founder John Jung Is Empowering Homeowners

Introduction

The United State’s housing crisis has worsened in recent years. In 2020, 580,000 Americans were homeless, and many more are presumably accounted for. Even after vaccines have been distributed, the economic impact of COVID-19 will likely continue to inflate these numbers.

Brick Work has designed a geographic information system (GIS) map that allows users to make the most of any given property by providing due diligence. The platform can help combat housing needs by increasing available housing, and land owners can use the platform to earn income from their properties. We reached out to co-founder John Jung to hear his advice to similar founders and learn the inspiration behind the company.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Zee Zhong

In your own words, how would you describe Brick Work?

John Jung

We are a single-source platform that is providing housing solutions for real estate agents, developers, and homeowners. Our GIS map will be launching post-raise and will provide initial calculations, determining what type of housing you can build given each municipal zoning code. We are working on a program that will partner with homeowners to help utilize SB-9, a state housing bill that allows them to split their lots to build up to two duplexes and accessory dwelling units

Zee Zhong

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

John Jung

California and Los Angeles are experiencing an affordable housing crisis and a growing unhoused population. Though it will require a multifaceted approach to solving, I felt the initial step towards building anything in cities requires navigating the zoning code and was a problem that we were in the position to provide a tangible solution for. 

Zee Zhong

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

John Jung

Alex Irvine is my partner and co-founder who runs Irvine Associations, a land-use consulting firm. We came together over two years ago as I was searching for consultants to help my clients at the time determine full diligence on the land they were purchasing in terms of housing development. We realized that it was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, and there wasn’t a technology-based, lower-cost solution available. Carlos Lovato is an Irvine project manager that now splits his time between there and Brick Work as our senior analyst. Sergio Gardea and Ashley Marshall are our part-time GIS analysts, and we just brought on Sabinee Enciso, our head of digital marketing.

Zee Zhong

How is Brick Work transforming the real estate industry?

John Jung

We are unlocking zoning due diligence for brokers to better understand and market their listings to developers. We’re going to empower homeowners to unlock the potential of their homes and create intergenerational wealth that comes with owning income-producing real estate. We want to teach real estate development so that talented innovators can come in and bring about more change that’s desperately needed in cities.

Zee Zhong

What is the future product roadmap and expansion plan to other cities?

John Jung

Los Angeles county alone consists of 88 unincorporated cities with their own mayors, city councils, and planning departments. Our goal is to launch our map and expand coverage to all nearby municipalities, then expand to other cities in the state and eventually all major cities in the country. Beyond providing the map, we want to fully engage the community, as it takes a true partnership from the local government, private sector, and residents to spur positive change.

Zee Zhong

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

John Jung

There are other companies that have a head start in launching a GIS map that covers most major cities in the US, but they only provide the surface layer code. The issue lies in all of the neighborhood-specific overlays that restrict the number of units you can build, height, parking, and floor area ratio. We also provide training in teaching our users how to come up with the calculations and explain why those ordinances exist. We plan on really investing in the education and dialogue within those cities to come up with solutions that address the need for more sustainable and affordable housing.

Zee Zhong

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

John Jung

We want to fully fund the initial launch and expansion of our customized GIS map. We also need to scale our sales and marketing efforts to scale our users and be fully ready to partner with homeowners that want to utilize SB-9.

Zee Zhong

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

John Jung

Our long-term vision is to become a first step when you think about real estate development. We want to empower homeowners to take advantage of their state and city laws that allow them to build income-producing properties. In terms of SB-9 and our partnerships, we’ve already identified prefabricated modular vendors that are priced lower than working with general contractors and traditional building, given the rise in material and labor costs.

Zee Zhong

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

John Jung

We plan on continuing to expand in new cities and establishing relationships with the real estate community. Long-term, we would look to sell to a larger company if they present the opportunity and resources to scale faster, or we would look into listing as a publicly traded company. 

Zee Zhong

As a minority and veteran founder, what difficulties have you encountered working on your company? What advice would you give to other minority and veteran founders?

John Jung

It is difficult to start your own company, period. I think having a mindset where the deck is stacked against you is a good one to have. But you are going to experience other people’s biases and prejudices when it comes to seeking partnerships, new clients, and funding. That’s a given but shouldn’t deter you from staying your course. There are great organizations and funds now seeking to help underrepresented founders, so I would reach out as much as possible. Being a veteran, however, is great, as a lot of people I’ve encountered have recognized and expressed gratitude for my service. And it’s always a pleasant surprise when interacting with fellow veterans! 

We look forward to seeing where John and his team take the company. Brick Work is currently raising on Wefunder.

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