First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Garret McKinney: Thankfully, we are all happy and healthy, although it is tough not being able to visit family that lives in other states. I am trying to look on the bright side of things and am enjoying the extra time at home with my fiancé and our dogs.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded FirstBrick.
Garret McKinney: I spent some time working as a trainer at Apple while going to college. I have always been inspired by building something from the ground up, so I knew I wanted to start a company. I started an Alaska Seafood subscription service in my senior year of college with a classmate. We launched FirstBrick because we saw the wide gap between being a renter and being a homeowner, and we wanted to build something that would help shrink that gap.
How does FirstBrick innovate?
Garret McKinney: We are taking the established and stagnant real estate industry and making it more approachable by building a personal finance app that incentivizes down payment savings by boosting down payments.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Garret McKinney: We are a very new company and have unfortunately never met a couple of our team members in person. It has been a big change, and we have been leaning hard on messaging and video calling tools. In talking with my co-founder, I agree with his sentiment that the toughest part is missing out on the spontaneous problem solving we used to have when we would meet at a coffee shop to work for an afternoon.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Garret McKinney: We have been fortunate as a software company to easily adapt to the remote environment.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and FirstBrick in the future?
Garret McKinney: I try to take a break from working a couple of times each day and take my dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. I find it helpful to get a mental break from work and to get some fresh air.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Garret McKinney: Being a new start-up, we cannot simply plan to stay in the game. We are trying to break into the game.