#319 Mail-Right Show Real Estate Photography Insights & Recommendations

Out Special Guests Brendan Hsu Founder of Aerial Canvas

Aerial Canvas is a full-service agency that consistently provides the highest quality photography, cinematography, aerial drone services, 3D tours, websites, and other real estate marketing solutions. Our dedicated team works around the clock to help you leverage your time effectively. Deliver for your clients an all-inclusive marketing package starting at $995 that is proven to make you and your listings stand out.

Interview Transcript

Robert Newman:
 Welcome back to the Mail-Right Show ladies and gentlemen it’s episode number 319. We’re here with Brendan, Who I believe is the way that I pronounce that. Is that correct?

Brendan Hsu: It’s okay. It’s a shoe, like a shoe on your foot. 

Robert Newman:
Shoe Okay. So I’m here with, Brendan Hsu today, or we are here with Brendan Hsu. now Brendan, has a really interesting history with more than just one thing worth talking about, but today what we’re gonna start focusing on is his current project Aerial Canvas, which is, doing some amazing things with visuals for real estate specifically, I’m really excited to get into it, but, before we do, I’m gonna let my co-host and Brendan introduce themselves. So Brendan, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our audience?

Brendan Hsu:
Yeah, thanks so much for having me on the Mail-Right Show, I’m excited to be here. And, I am one of the co-founders and managing partners of Aerial Canvas. Our whole goal is exactly what you said is to bring the visual, the wow factor to real estate. And essentially how we do that is we produce high quality, photography, stunning videos that tell stories, other media assets, such as 3d Matterport, websites, design, social media assets. Those are all things that we help agents with. And we’ve had quite, the momentum coming into the last couple of years, being in California, being in a pretty forward-thinking, state, I would say. We’re always adopting the latest and greatest technologies when it comes to marketing to innovation. And I think with tech, with media coming together, video becoming more accessible than ever, we’ve really been able to build a name for ourselves as well as our clients in the last, four years. We’re currently doing around 700, 800 listings on a busy month, as well as helping a lot of agents build their brands as well.

Robert Newman:
 Well, that is some really, impressive numbers. 700, 700 clients is a lot of clients. John, before we go down that rabbit hole, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to those people that may not know you? 

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. I’m the founder and joint owner of Mail-Right we’re a platform that uses the power of WordPress to build websites that you own, that you don’t lease, and a host of online marketing tools at an affordable cost that will help you market yourself digitally online, back over to you, Rob.

Robert Newman: All right I’m Robert Newman. For those that don’t know, I’m a real estate SEO guy, that’s focused on real estate for the last 16, 17 years. So, Brendan, so John told me to steer the show in the direction of, your work, your photography. And I read all your bios and was immediately fascinated by your story. So I wanna, if we have time, I’d like to hit that yeah a little bit later in the show. But for the moment, can you– You said you have a partner with your,  current, agency. I’m kind of curious, there’s obviously a huge demand for visuals and better storytelling through imagery and graphics, but what made you decide that this project was gonna be the one for you? Real estate is an interesting field to jump into.

Brendan Hsu: Yeah, so I felt that the industry was due for disruption. I think if you look at real estate 10 years ago, it was cost-prohibitive to indulge in creating videos for every, property. The technology that we currently implement such as 3d Matterport did not even exist. And when I saw all of these different solutions, such as video, 3d Matterport, drone, a whole new, industry in itself, come to fruition it got me excited. It said, hey, this is a perfect time and place to really push the frontiers of real estate, media, and marketing in an accessible, attainable way for the masses.

So when I had joined my business partner, he had already been doing it, for, a year or so. And he innovated on a package solution. So essentially we go into a listing, we’re gonna shoot photography, we’re gonna shoot video. We’re gonna shoot a 3d Matterport scan. We’re gonna get the 2d floor plans done. We’re gonna do some drone, footage as well as create this dedicated, website for the listing and do that all at once in a streamlined fashion, deliver everything the next day. For just, a very accessible price point, especially in California. I know maybe for some states it’s not reasonable, but in California, we’re able to do that for under $800, all of those solutions. 

Robert Newman:
Huh. All right. And the uniqueness here I think because being in the industry is the fact that you decided to do all those things combined and that you turned them around in 24 hours, you’re Saying. 
Brendan Hsu:
Yeah. So photography we’re gonna deliver next day before noon, usually around 10:00 AM. The video, the website, the Matterport, everything can be delivered in a neat package, to our clients that want to go on the market, this weekend or tomorrow. And we can deliver everything the next day. So, the turnaround time is definitely, pushing the frontiers in ways. I think it’s almost now expected in some cities where it’s a little bit more fast-paced. I know there are some cities that they’re like, oh, you can get me the photos in a week still. But yeah, with our industry and, the pace that real estate marketing is moving and the real estate industry as a whole is moving, especially in California,  the turnaround time is extremely important.

Robert Newman: Huh. I agree with that. So I have a quick question for you and, I’m not trying to, I’m just curious, I’m sure you had a reason, but I’m looking at, the package that you just quoted everybody on. Is it your premier package or something else? Because your website has different pricing than what you just said. 
Brendan Hsu:
That would be the care package. It’s essentially a dialed-down version of the premier package. It’s a shorter video, a few, fewer photos, and essentially we do have more accessible pricing in SoCal. So the pricing you’re looking at is in Northern California, in Sacramento, as well as, San Diego and LA our pricing is as much as 20% discounted. 

Robert Newman: Very Cool. Yeah. So, I have some follow-up questions about some specific, resources that I know of in San Diego, but John, why don’t you go ahead and, tee up some of your Jonathan specials for Brendan.

Jonathan Denwood: So you said in some markets, speed, has been a real strong competitive element of growing your business, but to turn around the photos, get a website, get the aerial photography, the 3D done up and running in 24 hours, 48 hours it’s really, so how long did it take you and your partner, and your team to button-down? I would imagine you use online forms to get as much information out the possible client and remove any, variables that could interfere in delivering on the time because you really are putting yourself under a lot of pressure here. So how long did it take you to really button down the internal processes? And so the offering was predictable and satisfied the need.

Brendan Hsu: Yeah. Definitely. So the speed of delivery is definitely a huge component of what gives us, the agency experience. a lot of times the freelancers can’t keep up if they have like, five projects, back to back, they might fall behind on some delivery times, maybe editing the videos, maybe just, being able to respond to, customers. So I think we were able to really dial in, as we scaled the agency and started building out individual departments to handle the delivery and coordination of each, component of the project. Each component, whether it’s the photography, the video has a different workflow and, it gets uploaded. The content gets uploaded for editing to a different team. 

And, we also have– we did the math, and it just made sense for us to employ a substantial amount of our editing team overseas. We have editors in the Philippines as well as Portugal that help us edit while we’re sleeping. So that allows us, to speed up the delivery time. And then most important systems, I think, you look at a company that’s extremely efficient, in processing an order like McDonald’s or like, Amazon. Essentially we’ve built out the tools, the software tools, as well as, the standardized processes to get our clients, what they’ve ordered as fast as possible. So it starts with the booking experience. We actually started off with some online forms, but, within a year we were able to partner up with John, who leads, a software company called Tanomo. Our goal with Tanomo is to create the most, comprehensive Immersive, turnkey real estate marketing platform, through the use of the software.

And essentially think about, Tanomo as the Airbnb or the grub hub of the real estate marketing experience. If you’re an agent, you’re a company looking to get next day turnaround on high-quality content, you utilize a real estate marketing company that is backed by Tanomo the software that allows us to manage seven to 800 projects in a busy month and coordinate the efforts of over 80 team members right now. Actually over a hundred if you include our overseas team. So, all those fall together, I mean, it’s definitely something that was not overnight, in the beginning, we had longer turnarounds on video. The response time of my business partner and I was as fast as we can answer the phone, but sometimes we were busy for a couple of hours. Once we started building a team and had a dedicated person, as our customer success representative or our project managers, we’ve been able to deliver a more and more, compelling and pleasing customer experience, to our clients that are extremely demanding because, we’re in one of the most competitive real estate markets, being in California.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Just before I throw it back over to Robert. So have you got a couple in your mind notable, examples that your photography or what your service you feel that’s really, helped an agent get a fantastic result? Is there anyone or two that come to mind?  
Brendan Hsu:
Yeah. All the time. I mean, we’re in a hot market, so we can’t take all the credit, a lot of the markets doing, putting pressures on the sale price. But,  we’ve been featured on articles where our video and photos, and marketing helped sell a listing for 40% over asking, $2 million over asking. And I know part of it is, the agent and their strategy and their network, but a huge component is our marketing assets. Like we have on a weekly basis, agents reach out to us, unsolicited following up saying, Hey, great job on the photos and video, they totally helped get, asking price that my buyers or my sellers weren’t even expecting.

 And we’ve had anecdotal evidence as well. Like we’ve had a top producing agent saying, Hey, I sold this listing solely because of the Twilight photos. Like this buyer literally noticed the Twilight photos and felt compelled to reach out, to see the listing. They said they had to see the listing because of the Twilight photos. 

Then a lot of the other tools, that we’re, providing, the solutions, they help increase the productivity of our agents. Like for instance, Matterport the 3d tool, helps our agents leverage their time more effectively, instead of trying to show the house to like prospective buyers one after another, they’re able to say, Hey, instead of having you drive an hour to see this house, have you seen the Matterport? Have you seen the 3d tool? Have you seen the video assets and photo assets? Are you truly excited and interested in it? And, and if not, let me help you find the house you are looking for.

All of these tools have different roles, that play in helping boost the exposure, as well as the results for our agents. We have a video partnership right now with Zillow, which any videos that we produce organically help that listing get 2X exposure on Zillow. And that’s like an internal, algorithm and partnership that we have as a premier photography partner with them. And those small things add up and have a compounding effect on the results of agents we work with.

Jonathan Denwood: Oh, sounds fantastic. I think it’s time for us to go for a break, Robert, and then you can ask another of your questions. 

Robert Newman:
Well We’re gonna go to the break and, you coming on the show has provided a unique opportunity and I’m gonna ask for everybody’s forbearance because just my research on you said that you have a take on leadership that I also have. You have a lot of comments and content on your site about leadership, about mindset, about, people leaving testimonials, talking about what a great leader you are, and just some various things. So I wanna ask a couple of questions about your general thoughts about growing people and companies, which I think that anybody can find use in at any time, like whether that’s real estate agents or other entrepreneurs. I think that talking about purpose and mindset is always an avenue to increase productivity, increase, happiness, increase everything. 


Without any further ado, we’re gonna go to break ladies and gentlemen, please stay tuned. Yeah, we really appreciate you joining us if you haven’t already done so whatever platform you’re listening to us on, please hit that like button. Please leave us a comment if you’re listening to us on iTunes. Thank you, John and I are so appreciative that you have all made us one of the top real estate marketing shows that exists for real estate agents. We’re really, grateful. And, we’ll see you in a minute. 

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Robert Newman:
 Welcome back to episode number 319 of the Mail-Right Show. John and I have done this 219 times or something like that together. And, we’re really grateful that today we’re being joined by Brendan Hsu and he is, did I get it wrong again?

Brendan Hsu: You got it right. 
Jonathan Denwood: Respond to that 219 times we’ve done this together. 

Robert Newman: It’s just like, OK. Alright. And, we’re coming back. So as part of the show, preparation, for everybody that’s listening, usually, John sends me some notes, like some website links and things like that. 
Jonathan Denwood: Which you normally don’t read,

Robert Newman: Yea I normally don’t read but I did this particular time. And one of the things that really stuck out for me is that Brendan’s storytelling style about himself is actually the same as mine, which is incredibly hard to find. which is complete transparency and focusing on humanity and authenticity before you focus on any particular element of sales or business or call me or I’m gonna do this great thing for you. Usually, I’m one of the only people that I’ve ever run across that says, Hey, I’m a high school dropout. I’m,15 years sober. And I talk about my life journey. And then I talk about, later on, I talk about what that’s taught me about people and how that’s translated in business. You seem to have struck an almost completely similar note on your personal website, your Brendan Hsu website, which is not the– so for everybody listening, that is not the website, AerialCanvas.com, which is the company that we’re talking about. But before you build a company, you, seemed like you were building yourself, is that is an accurate statement.?

Brendan Hsu: Yeah, I think, any person who wants to achieve their potential is always learning. Like we are forever students of life, and yes I’ve been working on myself before I joined Aerial Canvas for 28 years. And, it’s been 3 years and changed since I’ve been with Aerial canvas, and the amount of growth and learning that I’ve been able to experience just, helping run a company, being responsible for 80 plus employees in the states and another 40 overseas. It’s a tremendous responsibility. And it’s taught me a lot. It’s, helped me become more disciplined. And it’s also helped me, I think a little bit bigger, I think for more than just off that, but rather think for my entire team, for the entire company.

Robert Newman:
So there are people who are listening to the show right now that that is in the business growing business like they’re recruiting agents. There’s a whole bunch of different ways to make money in real estate. One of those ways is for people to build teams. So I’m kind of curious, you already had a business, you exited out of that business when you were younger, that business, according to your, your own literature was about 12 people. Now you’re talking about a business that has 80 to a hundred people. What’s the difference in running a 12 person team versus running a hundred-person team in your eyes?

Brendan Hsu: Yeah, I would say the biggest difference is obviously the scale, everything that, you’re doing is affecting a whole magnitude more, number of people. So, each decision that you make, when you’re dealing with a small team, it might affect one or two people that are serving that role. Now it affects 10 people, potentially spread across different time zones. And I would say the hardest part about getting there is things are no longer super intimate. When you have a small team of 12, you know everyone on a first-name basis, you know their dog’s names. And trust me, as someone who is very personal, I try to get to know everyone on a deeper level. When you have a team of 80 plus it’s much more difficult. And I would say that’s the hardest part. People sometimes become a statistic because you’ll interact with them maybe a couple of times a year.

To put this in perspective let’s just say there are 200 working days in a year. I have less than three days. I have two and a half days to give to each individual if I just wanted to spend time with those individuals on my team. And it’s gotten to the point where, the only way to sustain growth is that the leaders that I’ve put in place, the managers that I’ve put in place that, lead these other smaller teams within my business, carry the same energy, the same values, the same torch, into each meeting, into each, decision. And that’s the only way to really scale is through culture is to shared values, shared outlook, shared goals.

And I would say that’s the biggest difference is when you’re small, you have control. When you’re big, you have to let go, you have to let go of control and trust. You have to trust a lot more. When you’re small, it’s easy to have your hands and everything. And even with a team of 12, you gotta, build a lot of trust with them. But like when you’re a team of 80, you just have to trust that the people that you’ve put in place, the systems that you’ve put in place are gonna take care of the business.

Robert Newman: Got you. So I have one follow-up question then John I’m gonna toss it over to you. So I think I wanna rephrase the question with a little bit more background on why I was asking it that I asked earlier. I asked you why Aerial Canvas and you gave an answer, but I want to ask a different way. So the reason I was asking you that is that again, according to your website, you have, it looks like your Brendan Hsu website was a coaching leadership site. Like where you almost seemed like you were, you were attempting to have people hire you as a speaker or a coach or a mentor or something like that. But as part of that, you seemed to be very forward-thinking, you said you were an early adopter or an early investor in both Bitcoin and Tesla.

If that was true and you put any amount of investment into that, that means that right now you were, or are sitting pretty and most likely like, and this is just me making some assumptions, which is always a bad idea, but let’s just roll with the assumption that, okay, here’s a guy that has a choice about the next business that he could be in. He has choices about who he could work with. He has choices about whether or not he could get into crypto or something else that’s really hot in the marketplace. Instead what you chose was photography and imagery and content production for real estate. So considering all the choices that you theoretically had to make. What was it about this choice that, that inspired you to become? Cause the way that I’m understanding this is that it seems like somebody else had already founded Aerial and then they brought you in as a partner. Is that correct?

Brendan Hsu: Yeah, I’ve always been creative at heart, I was a club photographer. I actually introduced the founder of Aerial Canvas, my co-founder to his first camera. I in ways inspired him to purchase his first drone and I helped build his business, when he had, lost his job with, a startup that, he was working within California. And so I was there throughout the whole journey but I would say what inspired me the most to just be aligned with Aerial Canvas is that to me it’s a family that I’ve built. It’s a family that has trusted in my leadership to guide them in their careers and to build an opportunity for them. And yes, is there an opportunity, five steps away that is potentially a 10X opportunity that is in, I don’t know, like weed or crypto or biopharmaceuticals or solar. Yeah. There are opportunities everywhere.

A message that I received from just I’ve always had the shiny object syndrome, looking at other companies and looking at other opportunities. But over time I’ve found that the grass is greener where you water it. The grass is not greener on the other side, I’ve had people jump on the other side that has chased money and money does not make you happy, purpose makes you happy. Doing something you enjoy. And for me, the visual arts of photography and video and creating a marketing solution that is communicating to helping our clients communicate better to their clients, as well as the world that excites me, it’s something I’m good at. And I’d rather double down on my strengths, than just chase an opportunity that for me is not as meaningful and not as I would say fulfilling because I’ve already invested so much in growing this business that I want to make sure that the business sees its potential through my efforts and vice versa. I wanna see that everyone that’s joined the business also is able to be part of that journey.

Robert Newman: Wow. That’s I love that answer for you, man. That’s so powerful, John.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I think, leave my question for the bonus content. Robert, we need to kind of wrap up the podcast part of the show, Robert. 

Robert Newman: Okay. So, for those of you who don’t know, we at the Mail-Right

Podcast. We do an extra 10 minutes, Brendan, where we ask one final question. Sometimes it’s even an outlier. Are you willing to, do you have the time in your schedule, Brendan to stay with us? 

Brendan Hsu: Absolutely. 

Robert Newman: All right. So, in Boston where it’s cold and you can’t go outside and do anything but sled right now.

Jonathan Denwood: It’s snowing here, Robert 
Brendan Hsu:
It snowed for the first time, you know?

Robert Newman: Oh my God. It is raining in California and my cats and I are very sad. I’m not that far from you, man. I’m in van heights you’re down in San Diego, but, it’s raining. You’re not missing much in California right now. It’s not 70 or 80 while you are shivering in the cold. Yeah. so for those of you who have joined us on the podcast stuff, I’m gonna once again, ask that you leave us a comment or if you’re enjoying the show, if you are enjoying the content, if you’re a long time follower, please do us a favor, leave us a comment, leave us a something someplace where we can pick an up and, and see, hear what you’d like us to do with the show or hear what you didn’t like about the show, what you did like about the show. We’d really appreciate it. 

John’s gonna ask a question. We’re gonna go to break our final break and then hopefully all of you will move over to YouTube, which is YouTube/Mail-Right and then you’ll catch the video format and see all of our tired faces.


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