Peter Rex has a big vision. The 37-year-old founded a growing company called MakeRise, a family of technology, real estate, and investment businesses with the mission to “elevate humanity.”
The company, which Rex built from the ground up, currently has approximately 500 employees. In the long run, Rex sees MakeRise as a trillion-dollar alliance of businesses known across the globe.
“I want to do something that impacts people globally, and technology is a great platform for that, because we can build things in Seattle that can be used by someone (anywhere),” said Rex, who once worked as a construction worker, then built a real estate investment company worth more than a billion dollars, before he first imagined MakeRise five years ago.
One of the ideas Rex has built through MakeRise Launches (the company’s arm dedicated to venture funding and operations) is a mobile app that connects service industry professionals to jobs, and people looking to have work done to people who will do it. The backbone of this concept is that the workers have flexibility and agency: Their data and reputation as generated on the platform belong to them.
“We’re structuring ourselves to really be disruptive to a company like Uber, which commoditizes workers and drives people into cog positions,” Rex said. “At Uber, the reputation of an individual worker is attached to Uber. But a person who does jobs on our platform can keep their information to do other jobs. Through the platform, they’re an entrepreneur.”
For example, Rex continued, someone can go to a house to do construction work, and the good reviews he receives will be a part of his profile, if he then wants to offer rideshare services. People build credible reputations via myriad jobs, and those looking for someone to hire can see a long history of the work that person has done and the reviews he has received.
At the beginning of October, MakeRise Launches plans to roll out its newest product to replace what MakeRise business InvestRes has been running for the past 17 months. Though the first product is different from what Rex envisions that soon-to-release product to be, he said it has allowed him to test a lot of different theories and verify the existence of markets.
And having made the first product produce at a $10 million annual run rate, Rex feels confident that the second product will be just as successful.
“We’re not a typical startup, because our DNA is huge,” he said. “I intend for MakeRise to be a trillion-dollar company. We’re making plays that are very big, bringing in global executive talent, and positioning ourselves to be a massive company.”
The projected size and prestige of the company are why Rex moved MakeRise’s national headquarters to Bellevue last year.
“I looked at a map around Seattle of where executives at public companies were located; from there, I picked the most central location possible,” said Rex, who hopes to recruit from companies like Starbucks, Costco, and Microsoft.
To begin building the massive DNA for the company he envisioned, Rex traveled to 85 countries over 18 months beginning in 2015, during which time he had more than 1,000 meetings with business leaders, politicians, nonprofit leaders, and more to corroborate that his vision would work across cultures. The trip confirmed for him that his idea would be a successful one, though he recognizes the complexity of the process and the time it will take.
“Sometimes we may lose money, but it’s more about deciding what’s best for the customers, because ultimately that’s the way we’re going to do the best profit-wise,” said Rex, who planned to take a small cut from each transaction made on the first product, but envisions the main source of revenue to be gatekeeping for Wall Street banks and insurance companies when securing loans and insurance for his customers. “We’ve been taking losses the first year, but we’re playing the long game. I think that’s how business should be done: by creating more value than (you’re) making. It’s better in the long-term. Maybe not in the first three years, (and) maybe we would have gone further faster if we were (grabbier). But I’ve never done business like that, and that’s always paid off for me.”
Currently, MakeRise Launches is breaking into the real estate and construction markets as a starting point, in large part because Rex has experience there and because both are considered “old economy” industries that he wants to revolutionize.
“(Real estate) is one of the few green fields in technology that hasn’t been disrupted,” Rex said. “Globally, it’s a multi-trillion-dollar industry. There (are) tons of entrepreneurs in the real estate space, and I understand that well because of (my previous company), InvestRes.”
Ultimately, Rex wants MakeRise to touch industries beyond real estate and construction. He envisions it becoming the world’s largest economy: connecting people to technology and capital and helping usher them into the new economy.
“We believe that talent is broadly distributed, people deserve better than platforms that distract, and that everyone is entitled to technology that will amplify their ingenuity and drive,” Rex said. “We’re building a community where anyone, anywhere can create, find opportunities, solve problems, and build businesses.”
And Rex, who knows that his vision is optimistic, also is realistic about the work and the money that are required to get where he wants to be. He looks at MakeRise as his life’s work and said that he is willing to do “whatever it takes.”