Spark’s Resident Mr. Fixit
Hey everybody! At Spark, we are equal parts real estate enthusiasts and tech wizards and a deep interest in both is what bonds the distinct teams within Spark — from Sales and Customer Success to Product and Development, the intersection of these two fields align us to our mission: to power more deals, faster.
Leading the team that builds Spark it self is our resolute Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Ryan Ilg. From early days when Spark operated out of a living room, to accelerator programs and to where we are now, Ryan has led a tight team of Developers to build a leading platform with enough flexibility to power the ever-changing life cycle of new development real estate projects in over 100+ cities around the world.
Ryan took 5 minutes in between scoping client requests, eliminating bugs and building a new roof to chat with us about how Spark has grown, where he envisions where the company’s headed and more!
You were one of the original Sparkies. As a co-founder, what has it been like to watch Spark grow from what it was when you founded it to where it is now?
It’s been an exciting adventure over the years. We started as Allur, aiming to provide better tools for showcasing and marketing new development projects to potential buyers. But our clients had been asking for tools to manage the leads they were collecting through the platform, so we started building Spark. We wanted to build tools that were visually appealing and user friendly, capturing the core functionality that the industry needed, while moving away from the spreadsheet style interfaces that were common at the time. Since then we have added a lot of functionality like contract writing, generation, and signing, parking management, and custom reports to name a few. Our team has also grown in a lot of ways, from a small team of 4 stuffed into a tiny spare bedroom, to a team of 30 in a large Yaletown office. I am extremely proud of everything the team has accomplished.
The development team, including yourself, has remained remote for the most part since the start of the pandemic. You even moved out of the city. How has that transition impacted your team’s efficiency?
Overall I would say that our team is more efficient now than ever! Before going full remote, we were already performing most of our communication & planning through online services like Slack, Asana, and Github. So the transition has been quite seamless, requiring only minor tweaks here and there to make things more efficient. A major benefit for going remote has been the ability to grow our team without having to hire only in Vancouver, and it’s also given the team the freedom to leave the city and live the lives they’ve been dreaming of.
What is coming down the pipeline for Spark’s future optimizations and what can Spark users look forward to?
We are planning some big features which are continuing to push our contract functionality to new levels, opening up even more flexibility and customization. In addition, continuing to improve the performance and security of Spark are some of the top items on my list, both in the application, as well as in the underlying infrastructure that runs it.
Indy definitely has OG Spark dog status. How is he enjoying his new life on the coast? Is he still as sassy as ever?
Being almost 16, Indy is definitely a Spark OG, you could even consider him a co-founder! He really enjoys the chill life, sleeping more hours than not in one of his many beds around the house. I’d say he is sassier than ever before! During the short window he isn’t catching ZzZs, he is usually demanding treats, food, or to go outside and relax in the sun. He really enjoys lounging in the grass watching the trees blow in the wind, and making friends with the wildlife.
As a remote CTO, you spend most if not all of your time face to face with a computer. What do you do to unwind?
When I am away from the computer, you will still find me using my creative/engineering brain to its full potential. I really enjoy hands-on hobbies like woodworking, metalworking, building remote control vehicles, or doing home renos. I also have interests in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and music production, and lately I’ve been learning video game development in Unity.
Where do you see proptech heading in the next five years? How do you see Spark playing a role?
We are going to see more things become automated, and likely see machine learning become commonplace in the industry. Because we build tools specifically for the new development industry, we are in a unique position to work with our worldwide clients & partners to ensure we are capturing the data points and implementing functionality they are looking for. What we learn is translated into the things we build, and all of that functionality is available to all of our clients.
Not only are you involved in Spark’s vision, but you also oversee client requests and how we can accommodate them. Have there been any recent projects that you’ve particularly enjoyed working on?
One feature we’ve been working on for awhile is Inbox. It allows our clients to sync their email communication automatically with contacts in Spark. It’s been an interesting project due to its underlying complexity. Unlike traditional CRMs which treat contacts/leads as a global profile where all communication is visible, we have additional layers due to companies and the multiple projects that live under them. The feature needs to be smart enough to track the communication against one or many projects, and automate the assignment when possible. Inbox also includes a new user interface technology that is more performant, which we will be porting over to other areas in the application in the coming months.