March 15, 2023

#107 Terrascope: A Computer Vision Tale

#107 Terrascope: A Computer Vision Tale

This tale starts with a problem Kehan Zhou found when trying to buy a hobby farm. Zillow didn’t have good search options for land and was even worse, so Kehan ventured off to combine computer vision technology and satellite imagery to create a new rural property search platform, Terrascope. But the investors wonder if this innovative technology is wasted on the wrong customer.


Enjoying the podcast? Use this link to text a friend!


Become an insider

Go behind-the-scenes with the founders and investors on The Pitch



Lisa Muccio: The Pitch show, day 2, Pitch 1 [clap]

This is a tale as old as time. Someone has a problem. They start a business to fix it. The end.

In today’s version of that story, a founder solves his own problem using Computer Vision. Which, if you don’t know, that’s taking visual elements, like pictures and videos, and using machine learning or AI, to recognize what’s in those pictures and make recommendations.

This is the same technology that enabled facial recognition, but today’s founder is using it… to help people buy land.

The technology is pretty friggin’ cool. But are the investors ready to close on this deal? Or will the inspection reveal a fatal flaw?

I’m Josh Muccio, welcome to The Pitch. Where real entrepreneurs pitch to real investors for real money. 


Neal Sales Griffin: I’m Neal Sales Griffin, Managing Director here at Techstars Chicago, and I’m happy to welcome y’all to my city

Charles Hudson: I’m Charles Hudson, Managing Partner, Precursor Ventures

Elizabeth Yin: I’m Elizabeth Yin, and I’m a General Partner at Hustle Fund

Jillian Manus: I’m Jillian Manus, Managing Partner of Structure Capital

Mac Connell: I’m McKeever Connell II, most people call me Mac and if you follow me on Twitter it’s Mac the VC

The pitch for Terrascope is coming up after this

The information provided on this show is not intended to be investment advice and should not be relied upon as such. The investors on today’s episode are providing their opinions based on their own assessment of the business presented. Those opinions should not be considered professional investment advice.

Kehan: Hey guys.


Kehan: How’s it going?

Jillian: Fantastic.

[shake shake shake]

Mac: Bring it on. I'm not afraid of you. Here we go.

Jillian: What's your name?

Kehan: Kehan.

Jillian: Kehan! Nice to meet you.

[nice to meet yous]

Elizabeth: Elizabeth. Nice to meet you.

Charles: Charles. Nice to meet you.

Neal: Good energy.

Jillian: Yeah.

Mac: Absolutely. 

Kehan: All right. Hi everyone, my name's Kehan, and I'm the founder of Terrascope. Terrascope is a property search platform designed from the ground up for finding rural properties, including lake houses, hobby farms, and any property that comes with land. During the pandemic, I was looking to buy a hobby farm with nice crop land and close to a river. But Zillow didn't have filters for these variables, so I need no ways to filter down the search result. I had to spend hours manually screening through hundreds of bad matches. And some of the properties I still believe were genuinely haunted.


Jillian: Haunted? As in ghostly woo?

Kehan: Yes. 

Kehan: Eventually I had to work with a real estate agent who showed me some great listings that never made it to my search result. And I wasn't alone. About 50% of buyers bought homes that never appeared during their online searches. Here's the thing: Zillow had all the listings. But a real estate agent who understood my preferences intimately, and understood rural properties, would always do a better job than a simple filter-based search.  And that is why and how I created Terrascope. First, Terrascope understands properties on a deeper level, by extracting important rural data from the listings using geospatial analysis and computer vision tools.  And that allows us to have more data to, first of all, do a better search, and second of all, help people make a more informed decision.  We're currently raising a $2.5 million seed round to increase our computer vision capabilities and expand our product coverage. 

Elizabeth: What is your business model? 

Kehan: So before I jump into that, I just want to give you guys a quick demo. I prepared this QR code, you can scan it, you can take a look at how the product works.


Charles: Find your dream rural property. 

Elizabeth: Oh neat.

Neal: Cool. 

Kehan: It's kind of like, people say it's like Tinder for properties.

Neal: And you see properties right away. Waterfront, new listings -


Elizabeth: I need to check this out because I want to be a hermit.

Neal: Hustle farm?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Hustle homes.

Neal: Hiking, boating, lush, desert, mobile home, raw land. 

Jillian: Talk to me a little bit more about this computer visualization 

Kehan: Definitely. I think the funny thing is I'm talking about computer vision in a podcast.

Jillian: Right.


Kehan: So I actually have prepared a little bit handout just so you can see visually -

Charles: Oh. Thank you.

Kehan hands each of the investors a printout. On it, you can imagine a google earth image but with everything tagged so you can see exactly what percentage of land is covered trees, pavement, cars, or even people. 

Kehan: The computer vision element is we're using satellite images.

Jillian: Right. 

Kehan: So we're extracting data -

Jillian: - Google.

Kehan: Google, Maxar, Planet. So there are a lot of sources we can use  But as we delved into this space we realized that computer vision is fairly new.  In the medical space, in medical imaging, it's pretty well-known and well used. But when it comes to real estate application, especially outdoor space real estate, when it comes to rural properties, it hasn't really been used a lot. 

Mac: So let's double click on that a little bit, right. Like I'm gonna ask you the four most VC questions that every entrepreneur hates and most VCs hate and I'm not gonna ask you the way that most people say, like, what's gonna stop Zillow from doing this. Right? But - but -

Jillian: I was going to ask that.


Neal: I mean, actually want to know. 

Kehan: I'm ready.

Mac: No, no, but that's not my question. My question is, what happens to your company if Zillow does do this? 

Kehan: Well, I think  the most important business for Zillow is the urban space. That is their largest segment. They're not worried about - let me  expand to the rural space. They're most worried about fending off all these up-and-starters -, Compass, Redfin - from encroaching into their urban markets. So that is their priority.  Can Zillow do this? And my answer is - they can, but at a significant cost. Because the way we search is very unique. So it's based  - it's built for rural properties because there are more data to consider.  If you click on the listings on our site, you will see we compiled a lot of data that's generally not really available on Zillow. For example, recreation. Sixty per cent of buyers in the rural space care about recreation. They want to know if there's a lake, snowboarding, fishing, hunting - they want to know where those resources are in relative to their property. But without Terrascope, you have to crosscheck a lot of different resources.  for them to pivot and add all this data, and change their search engines, search infrastructure, is very costly. Because they have people who are used to the particular way to search on Zillow. 

Jillian: I don't think they'd have to pivot. I think that they would add this as  an option to search for rural properties. No?

Kehan: Yeah, sure. Let's say if we have a Zillow Rural and then have similar interface and have similar data - yeah, they could do it. But it's just gonna be much cheaper to acquire us to do it for them. And that has happened in this space before. 

Elizabeth: Can we go back to the business model for a second?

Kehan:  Oh sure.  Yeah, so the current business model is we take a part of the commission. We introduce buyers to the agent. When they close a transaction, we get a percentage of the commission.

Elizabeth: And have you gotten any commission to date?

Kehan: Yes. We closed one transaction.

Jillian: One transaction. 

Kehan: Yeah.

Jillian: Okay.  And how long have you been  up -

Kehan: So the product's been live - been live about one and a half years.  

Mac: How long ago was that first close?

Kehan: This was in March.  

Mac: It's been eight months since then.

Kehan: Yeah.

Jillian: What have you been doing wrong? Because you only  had one sale. 

Kehan: So the.. the way we acquire customers, mainly two ways. One is we use paid acquisition; we run ads on Google. And then funnel people in that way. Second way is we use organic traction. We write a lot of articles, what it means to live in rural spaces, how to buy rural properties, how to set up your own hobby farm. We also create - actually our data scientist wrote a 14-page white paper on the future of the rural real estate market.  So we're using this to draw in new customers. And we send that -

Mac: But you've been doing that so far.  But it doesn't seem like any of that stuff is working. You've still only got one sale. So what are you going to be doing different? And what are you going to be doing new? What are you going to be trying?

Kehan: Yeah.

Kehan: I want to be clear, because once we generate a lead and send it to the agent or the lead gen - the partner who close the leads, it's out of our hands. We do generate a lot of leads. We generate  500 leads since  - since we launched. We do have a lot of leads that comes through the pipeline. Could be better, for sure. But we don't spend a lot of money on paid acquisition, because it's not very sustainable.

Elizabeth: But to Mac's point, you don't get paid for all 500 leads?

Kehan: No, we don't. That's - that's the bad part of the deal.

Charles: Yeah.

Mac: So then how do you - how do you - how do you help that then? Like, cos if you're generating 500 leads, you gotta get more than one across the fence. Like, is there anything that your company can do to support the agents to help get that - like, what can you do to increase - can you just start charging for the leads? Cos like, if you're doing 500 leads, I'd rather you be charging for that than charging for the close.

Kehan: Exactly. That's how Zillow does it. They have more negotiating power, so they can do it. For us, like, as a startup, we don't have a lot of negotiation power.. I want to step back a little bit. Rural properties,  most of the times, people don't think about innovating for the rural space. But 20 per cent of the US real estate market is rural. It's a very, very large market . 

Jillian: Yes.

Kehan: So the largest leader in the rural real estate space is And they were acquired in 2017 for $31 million in cash by CoStar Group, which is a commercial real estate database.  Today, that company is worth 350  million dollars. It's more than a ten time return.  And here comes the really interesting part - the company's worth a lot of money. But if you go to their website, you will notice that their UX/UI is significantly worse - 

Elizabeth: It's terrible. I've used it.

Kehan: And they don't even have a map view for you to view listings on a map. So it's a very easy market to disrupt. 

The investors agree that the rural search market is a fixer upper. But with only one customer to date, something isn’t lining up.

We’ll be back after a short break.


Welcome back. The investors are very interested in Kehan’s computer vision tech. The problem is - people aren’t using it yet - and the investors want to know… why? Here’s Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Let me ask you this, what kind of people are searching? Are they actually individuals like you had described yourself? Or are they more on the commercial side of people wanting to do something with that land?

Kehan: Yeah. Both. So most of our users are looking for residential properties. We cover mostly residential. But the commercial piece is very interesting because we just attended the TechCrunch, we were at this year's TechCrunch 200. So we spoke to a lot of companies, like insurance companies, developers, even some military contractors who said, okay, this data you extract from images can be used to help us select development site, help us estimate the risk for tree overhang or wildfire, when people buy their insurances.  So we built a computer vision tool as an important underpinning for the search product, but as we're talking to other businesses, we realize this is the same critical underpinning that can help a lot of other companies. 

Jillian: You hit upon the insurance application, which is very compelling. Obviously this would be able to inform insurance companies of the liabilities  of properties.  Are you thinking about  licensing these capabilities to them? 

Kehan: Absolutely. So  on the B2B side,  We're talking to two insurance companies, two developers, and also a big hedge fund.  It's still very early days on the B2B side, but we're developing our own models, we're building on the forefront of the computer vision technology. So the goal is to build a whole suite of computer vision applications that are very, very defensible. 

[00:28:07] Mac: So what's your current burn rate? 

Kehan: The current burn rate is about 20k per month.

Mac: You're doing 20k per month. How much have you raised so far to date?

Kehan: 330k. 

Mac:  What's your priority list right now on your product roadmap? Like what are the things that are like top of mind like these are the next two things I have to get done?

Kehan: Yeah.  So the first thing we need to do is truly enrich the listing beyond any competition. We have more data right now. We have better data.  for example, internet speed. People care about that a lot when they try to move to rural.  But I want it to be a super delightful experience for the users to when they got on it they're like, okay, I don't need to go anywhere else, I don't need to check the crime hot map, I don't need to check the economic condition from the Fed, I don't need to check anything besides Terrascope. We haven't gotten there yet. The data needs to be extracted more effectively and more accurately.

Mac: Okay.  if I was you, I'd be prioritizing things that would help agents close more than just data for customers. Cos you got people coming, you got to show that you can get people to close.  The other thing is, yeah, your UI/UX is better than your competitors, but it's nowhere near as good as Zillow, right. So I would tell you, I wouldn't be so - I wouldn't rest on my laurels that you're at a good place just yet. I think there's still some more refinement you can do there.

Elizabeth: Well, I think to be fair,  Zillow's actually, I think, in my mind, a different audience and different kind of home you're trying to buy. In looking at some of these land platforms, they are terrible. So I think on a relative basis actually I think what you have is - is good enough to stay ahead of those, at least for now. But to Mac's point, that means I would be spending all of my energy on customer acquisition. I think what I'm not hearing what you say is, like, how can I get more leads, or how can I improve  that closing process in the funnel. Whatever it is. I feel like the organic content, you know, you've been doing that for a while  and to Mac's earlier point, you have one transaction - I would try some other things because it feels like something else needs to be done in order to get more closed volume.

Kehan: Absolutely. I totally agree with that.  Me being the only business person attending conferences and doing pitching calls and doing the business plan and also the marketing, it's a lot.  Like, I really try my hardest to work on customer acquisition as well as streamlining the funnel, but we need more help on the UX/UI, acquiring customers more effectively, and on closing more deals. 

Charles: I was just going to say - I'm - I'm out on this one. I really appreciate your clarity and you're one of the most honest founders I've seen about the things that you understand about the business and where you actually are like, hey, I need - you've been very clear, I need help here, we're working on this. For me, it feels like the principal challenge with this business is not technical, it's commercial. And it feels to me like the weight of the company right now is on the technical and I - I'm a big computer vision fan and I was looking at your chart and I was like, that's pretty cool that you're can - that you can extract that many features from an image. I just worry that like there isn't enough weight on the commercial go to market side. And I think you've got to lead [inaudible] without tilting the energy of the company in that direction. Somebody more commercial with a less good product might come to market and beat you to the punch.

Kehan: Yeah. 

Elizabeth: If you want to continue down this sort of Zillow-like path, I think you have to understand your current customers better. To Mac's point around - conversions are the things that matter - you need to be in the process, understanding who your customers are, why are they not closing, how can you close them. And even be almost like a real estate agent yourself in having high touch to really understand them.  The further up the chain you can go with developers or people who do this on a recurring basis and hand hold them and be a partner with them and showing them listings, that would be helpful as far as the numbers go.  

Kehan: Absolutely.

Mac: So -

Jillian: 100%

Elizabeth: So I think,  unfortunately I'm going to be out because I think I would want to see more direction, at least, in something customer acquisition.

Kehan: Sure. Thank you.

Mac: So, this is tough, because I think what you're hearing is everybody up here wants to like this. This is a space that we know is ripe for disruption and there's some really cool stuff here. But you're falling into two traps that we see very commonly with entrepreneurs. The first one is, you're doubling down on your strengths and not focusing on the stuff that needs for the company to grow. 

Kehan: Yeah.

Mac: The second part is, this feels like a solution in search of a problem. Right. Like you've built this really cool tech. You don't - you still don't know who your customer is. Like B2C is what you want your customer to be, but you don't know if that's right.  cos you're building all this amazing tech, and your tech can do a lot of things, you don't know what thing you're solving yet.

Kehan: Yeah. 

Mac: Right, and these are common things that happen especially for first time founders, like we see it time and time again. But those are the reasons that I'm out. 

Kehan: Thank you. 

Neal: So it's interesting, because I focus on investing in companies that have an unfair advantage in customer acquisition.  And we've spent all this time talking about how that's something you're still trying to figure out.  It sounds like what you're hinting at is that there's a bigger opportunity on the B2B side and that  this space right now and the traction you're trying to get may not be the most important thing. So I love that you have conviction around your product focus.  I'm out at this moment, but I am absolutely curious in following your journey because I think you might be on to something with that bigger idea, but we just don't have the inputs or the data right now to understand whether there's a there there or not.

Kehan: Sure.

Neal: But keep at it -

Kehan: I'll add you to the newsletter.

Neal: Yeah. Please. I want to track this.

Jillian: I think,  when Airbnb began,  Brian actually lived with these hosts. He went and he lived like a host.  So I would live like an agent and get into their head.  For me, I think the B2B  is your bigger sale - I think licensing this to industries that are trying to assess these rural properties  from liabilities in terms of for fire liabilities, right, for building road infrastructure, for urban planning, for - I mean, there are just so many different applications for this data. And I think that's really, to me, the big value of this company. I don't see this as selling to a customer looking for a property.  I think this could be much, much bigger.  

Kehan: Yeah. I agree.

Mac: You in or you out?

Jillian: I'm out!


Kehan: You all be in at some point. I promise you.


Jillian: I actually really love that.

[great attitude]

Kehan: I will be here, like, I have overcome a lot of adversities and when I commit to something, I'm committed.

Mac: Okay. 

Kehan: And I agree with you guys - that's a big space, but I need more clarity, I need more concrete contracts, signing things, making sure that it works to  derisk it for you guys. I totally understand the perspective and I really appreciate all the advice.

Jillian: Thank you so much. 

Kehan: Thank you guys so much.

Jillian: And we don't doubt that we will see you again.

Charles: Yep.

Kehan: I'll be here. 

Kehan: Thank you guys so much for the advice, and I'd like to stay in touch, if that's okay.

[yeah let's do it absolutely]

Jillian: So you know, that's the type of founder you like. You know.

Mac: I think he's the type of founder, it's the type of industry, but again like those first time founder quirks that come up. Like, he found the right industry, he's built the interesting product, he doesn't know how to sell it. He doesn't know who he's selling it to.  And having been doing this for a year and a half, that's a problem.

Elizabeth: Yeah. He needs to hit the pavement more and talk with more people.

Neal: Well the sniper shot was the timing around that one transaction. It was March. Oh, okay, what's been going on? It's been eight months, right? 

Mac: When I asked him that question, he was very confident. He put it out there. It was like - most founders would be like, well, March.  

Neal: He's very honest. Right. Very upfront  it's refreshing to see, cos you don't get it all the time.

Charles: Yeah.

Neal: But at the same time, it revealed the fundamental flaw, which is I'm not focused on what actually matters to make progress on my business.

Jillian: I don't think he knows his customer.

Mac: He doesn't.

Jillian: He doesn't know his customer. Right.

Elizabeth: He does not know. 

Mac: Charles, how did you feel. You haven't said anything.

Charles: I was just, I really like this guy. I'm out on this one, but I want to let the conversation to go for a while. But I knew pretty - I probably knew 15 minutes in. I didn't want to pull the trigger.  I was thinking, I was channeling my inner Elizabeth -

Elizabeth: He doesn't have hustle. That's - 

Charles: Well, I just - I just kept thinking, I was like, I would - to your point - I was like I would just be asking them all, hey, was that lead I sent you, was it properly qualified? Is the issue that like these people are really in browse mode and like we're sending you unqualified leads? Did you even make contact with - like, there's a bunch of like -

Mac: He's never talked to one of the leads.

Jillian: Right. 

Charles: The agents have the answer of like what went wrong, and I was like, this is very obvious to me that that's the missing link.

Mac: But… 

Elizabeth: Yeah, and he's not aggressively following up on these little bits, right? 

Jillian: Yes. 

Elizabeth: So that's - the speed is  not now - where I would like it to be.

Josh: Speaking of speed, we are behind.

Jillian: Okay, let's go.

Josh: I want to make sure you guys have a decent lunch break, so if this could be the fastest turnaround of your life that would help us

While the investors grab some lunch, let’s take an ad break. When we come back, Kehan takes the investor feedback to heart and changes his business. And then I give him the ultimate business challenge… get a customer.


Welcome back. A month later, I called Kehan to check in, and first things first -

Josh: Have you thought a lot about what happened in the pitch room? 

Kehan: It was really interesting because before going to the pitch room, I had some expectations or anticipation of how each investor would respond or react to the idea, because I've known them, right?

Josh: Mm-hmm.

Kehan: like, even though they don't me know me, but I know their behavior pattern or investing pattern.

Josh: they didn't match what you expected?

Kehan: no, actually I thought Jillian was gonna be more harsh on this idea versus her actual response. But eventually she was actually really interested and she gave me a lot of good ideas and she saw the potential of this as a B2B business.

Josh: So have you changed anything about your plan for terrascope because of the feedback from our show?

Kehan: I think we're soft pivoting.  I was really  on the fence about whether to go into B2b and b2c, but I think hearing the investors  feedback on the B2B side just further  encouraged us that this is an area that people gets excited about, that people do see value, and also  actually corroborates with the feedback we've been getting from  going to conferences, going to trade shows that people  believe that this is where the value is, and that we do also believe that.

Josh: Yeah, it's almost like you have two paths. Like you build something really cool  and if it isn't resonating with customers, right, you can either build something different for those customers, which we would normally call a pivot or you find a different customer, that matches  what you've already built. And you're essentially doing the latter right now. 

Kehan: Yeah, exactly.  At the end of the day, one thing I think we, I'd realized throughout the process is that we build this technology to help consumers learn more about properties, but I think we, we overestimated how much of a difference this would make for them.

Josh: Hmm. 

Kehan: Getting marginal data is meaningful to the users, but not as meaningful as it could be for a business or an insurance company who can use this data to automate, to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on labor. 

Josh: Yeah. Technology. can do that. And you're building some  interesting technology. . 

Kehan: Yeah, I think we're, what we're building is interesting, you know, like we spend, so, like this weekend I worked 24 hours in total labeling data, like it's, it's so intensive. What we're building is very, very difficult and very labor intensive.

Josh: You're training the model, like labeling things  that it saw in an image and was like, what is this? You went in and said, that's a dog, for example.

Kehan: Yeah. Exactly.  We have to go in and say, this is a front yard, this is a pool, this is a house, this is a tree. So you can imagine when you are looking at the subtle image that's very densely packed.

Josh: Yeah. 

Kehan: Each image would take me 30 minutes to label . It's a very very challenging. Thing. But the reason we're doing it ourself is because the data set out there, the quality is lacking because if you, if you are not very careful with the labels, it directly affect how efficient the model would be. 

Josh: When are you trying to have your first customer by? 

Kehan: yesterday

Josh: Yesterday?

Kehan: Josh, I would like to have had my first 10 customers by now by now

Josh: but you're busy tagging data.

Kehan:  I mean, okay. If Mac were here, he would be like, well, are you not supposed to be tagging data?

Josh: Yeah. Get outta there. Stop tagging your data So you can run your company how you want. But I would challenge you to try to get a first customer before the episode goes live. 

Kehan: I think it's possible.  I accept that challenge and I'll try my best to deliver.

Josh: Alright. Sounds great, Kehan.

A few months went by… Hanukkah.. christmas…new years. Valentines day, MLK day, presidents day, and then national fall asleep in public day, which is in fact an actual day, February 28th. 

I couldn’t let another holiday pass… so finally, just before St. Patty’s Day I called up Kehan: 

Josh:  Kehan, we really only have one question.

Kehan:  Awesome. Makes it easy for me. 

Josh: Do you have a customer? 

Kehan: Oh, we are very, very close.  So this is a government agency, so they have some process they need to go through internally, but they are very, very much engaged on, on, on the product at this point. I think I should be hearing back from from the government today actually. I was hoping it would come through before the, the call. 

Josh: Oh my gosh. 

Kehan: This application is helping local governments monito changes in property so they can get alerted if they build a new structure on the land so they're not missing out on tax revenue.

Josh: Oh, you put a new shed on your house, you need to pay another grand in property taxes.

Kehan: Exactly. we’re the bad guys.

Josh: Oh, listeners are not gonna be happy to hear that. 

Kehan: It's a funny story because, it's one of the applications that we, we thought about as a team, we envisioned that this could be really useful. 

Josh: Mm-hmm. 

Kehan: It honestly, it felt really good after a long while kind of trying to find a problem for our solutions. And so when they finally click, then people said, okay, I really, really do wanna use this.  We have been looking at some of the, the vision products. But they don't do what you do. We don't have enough people to survey the states. It's a more of a rural state, so people tend to drive around for hours and looking for changes that may or may not even be there. So you're kind of hunting for some potential changes and all of a sudden this solution becomes just, so meaningful and makes a lot of sense for them. 

Josh: do you feel as excited about the B2B side? Do you feel as  passionate about this as you did about, you know, helping consumers find hobby farms?

Kehan: Yeah, definitely. I think my passion kind of evolved over time. The way I see it is this technology makes planning and building and using rural resources more effective, and that makes me excited.  It's not just gonna be for detecting and and reported structures. The, the true power computer vision, we are just beginning to see in fact, one, one of the things I'm really excited about is  next week I will be giving a TEDx talk at MIT talking about computer vision. 

Josh: Oh, really? 

Kehan: Yeah.  I'm, I'm really excited about the, about the, the platform being on the platform and talk more about computer vision and h all these potential uses. Right  in insurance property development, tracking climate change impact. Consider this, this scenario, we can actually track how the wetland or the rainforest. migrates over over years. We can give you a very quantitative measure and it's very powerful to, to know this impact on a quantitative level. So there's a huge array  of applications. I don't wanna pigeonhole this to become a government product for, for monitoring changes, because this is just the beginning for terrascope 

Josh: All right. Well, we will try not to pigeonhole you

Right before we published this episode, we heard from Kehan. That contract he was talking about earlier? it’s signed! 

Kehan: woo woo!

This tale…and this Ultimate Business Challenge…is complete. 

And we all lived happily ever after. On a hobby farm.

Next week on The Pitch…we’ve got a story that’s been cooking for six years… 

Ismail: at that time there was nothing  like nothing could take away our success, except that was a thing and that thing was completely unexpected and it  wasn't investors. It wasn't other people. It was something else.

Josh: Did you ever think you would start another company?

Ismail: no

Josh: You thought you would just keep doing consulting? 

Ismail: No. No. God, no.

In this special bonus episode, a postmortem… And a comeback.  The story of Qleek. 

The Pitch is me, Josh Muccio, Lisa Muccio, Kerrianne Thomas, Anna Ladd, and Enoch Kim.

Music in today’s show is from The Muse Maker, Breakmaster Cylinder, The Brow, Astronaut Club and Onders.

You think you’re ready to pitch the investors on our show? Applications are now open for our next recording event. It’s this June in San Diego CA. For more info and to apply, go to It’s super simple, all you have to do is upload your pitch deck.

You can check us out on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, AND TikTok @thepitchshow

And if you want more of The Pitch, subscribe to Pitch+. You’ll get ad-free listening to the entire catalog and occasional bonus content. Plus, it’s a really good way to support the show. Just go to to learn more.

The Pitch is made in partnership with the Vox Media Podcast Network.

The Pitch, Inc. and their respective employees and affiliates do not provide investment advice or make investment recommendations. The information provided on this show should not be used as the basis for making investment decisions. Listeners should conduct their own research and consult with their own investment advisors before making any investment decisions. 

Jillian Manus // Structure CapitalProfile Photo

Jillian Manus // Structure Capital

Investor on The Pitch Seasons 1–10

Jillian Manus is Managing Partner of an early-stage Silicon Valley venture fund, Structure Capital. Branded “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy," they invest in underutilized assets and excess capacity. She was named one of the top 25 early-stage Female Investors by Business Insider in 2021. Jillian serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, these include: Stanford University School of Medicine Board of Fellows, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Charles Hudson // Precursor VenturesProfile Photo

Charles Hudson // Precursor Ventures

Investor on The Pitch Seasons 2–10

Charles Hudson is the Managing Partner and Founder of Precursor Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investing in the first institutional round of investment for the most promising software and hardware companies. Prior to founding Precursor Ventures, Charles was a Partner at SoftTech VC. In this role, he focused on identifying investment opportunities in mobile infrastructure.

Elizabeth Yin // Hustle FundProfile Photo

Elizabeth Yin // Hustle Fund

Investor on The Pitch Seasons 6–10

Elizabeth Yin is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Hustle Fund, a pre-seed fund for software startups. Before founding Hustle Fund, Elizabeth was a partner at 500 Startups, where she invested in seed stage companies and ran the Mountain View accelerator. She’s also an entrepreneur who co-founded the ad-tech company LaunchBit, which was acquired in 2014. Her book is called Democratizing Knowledge: How to Build a Startup, Raise Money, Run a VC Firm, and Everything in Between.

Kehan ZhouProfile Photo

Kehan Zhou


Kehan Zhou is a serial tech entrepreneur, startup mentor, and founder of Before his startup life, Kehan was a proprietary bond trader on Wall Street and later an investment banker in London leading deals with a combined value of over $600 million.

Currently, Kehan focuses on developing machine learning applications and proptech solutions to make real estate more efficient!

Neal Sáles-GriffinProfile Photo

Neal Sáles-Griffin

Investor on The Pitch

Neal Sáles-Griffin is an entrepreneur, teacher, and nonprofit leader. He co-founded the first beginner-focused in-person coding bootcamp, and ran for mayor of Chicago in 2019. He's currently the Managing Director of the Techstars Chicago accelerator as well as the Techstars Rising Stars fund, and is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering where he teaches entrepreneurship.

Mac ConwellProfile Photo

Mac Conwell

Investor on The Pitch

McKeever "Mac" Conwell II is managing partner at RareBreed Ventures. Mac is a former software engineer and was a former DOD contractor with top-secret clearance. He was a two-time founder with an exit and a failure. Next Mac moved on to venture capital via the Maryland Technology Development Corporation as part of their seed investment team. Mac went on to found RareBreed Ventures, a pre-seed to seed venture fund that invests in exceptional founders outside of large tech ecosystems.