Back to the lab again: Samir Soriano on improving real estate technology
If there’s one thing that most people seem to want in a colleague, it’s a person who manages to take their work seriously without taking themselves too seriously. Around the ZapLabs headquarters, Senior Product Manager Samir Soriano is that person—best known for hilariously accurate celebrity impressions, pushing for improvements on both our desktop and mobile products, and wearing a big smile all the while.
Samir’s been knee-deep in technology since elementary school, and can often be heard discussing the latest Android development or impressive home automation technology. But when it comes down to it, the most important thing for Samir isn’t the shiny chrome or the almost uncanny artificial intelligence of the gadget he’s using—it’s how easy it is for your average person to make use of it.
How long have you been with the company?
“Three and a half years.” Samir joined as a product manager during the company’s ZipRealty days—and was instantly drawn to the way ZipRealty’s business products integrated with the consumer products. “At a lot of companies, there tends to be a disconnect, so I thought it was cool that they were so tightly integrated.”
Tell us a bit about what you do here.
"I’m a product manager. I focus on reporting tools for brokers, working to introduce team functionality, and I have some experience working on Zap’s mobile app to rebuild and iterate on it.”
Why do you like what you do?
For Samir, working in product management means getting a new challenge each day—and new opportunities to grow. “I like how dynamic it is. You kind of sit in between everything: design, research, engineering, marketing.” Samir’s always been interested in technology. “I built my first computer with my Dad when I was 7 or 8. It must have been Windows 3.1 or something like that,” Samir reflected with a laugh. I laughed too, while making a mental note to look up Windows 3.1’s release date later.
But while Samir’s impressed by the latest in tech, he’s most interested in how it impacts people’s lives for the better. “It’s amazing seeing how tech has made my life easier and how I can use it to help make other people’s lives easier.”
Why do you like working at ZapLabs in particular?
“Oh man, the people here are awesome,” Samir said. “And I’m learning stuff and getting challenged every day. I get to work on products that all different types of people use—data-heavy features, consumer-facing things, things for sales people.” In Samir’s previous jobs, he’d built software for people in sales and marketing, so Samir gets to leverage that previous knowledge while learning about real estate consumers—and working on a product that helps sales people learn about their own consumers. “I truly enjoy working with everyone here, and the team I work with is awesome. Shoutout to Yishan and James,” he added.
What do you like to do for fun?
“I like cooking, climbing, going on walks with my fiancée, and playing video games.”
I asked Samir about his favorite dish that he’d cooked recently.
“I’m getting really good at cooking red meat. There’s this technique called the reverse sear, where you cook a steak at a low temperature in the oven, and once it’s ten degrees below where you want it, you take it out and sear it on really high heat for 1 minute on each side. It’s foolproof!”
“If there's one thing I want people to take away from my interview, it's to take the temperature of their meat.” We'll try it, Samir!
What inspires you about Zap—and what are your hopes for the product in the future?
“As we get more people using Zap, that will give us more opportunity to learn from them and make a better product. Real estate as a whole is pretty ripe for innovation, and Zap has a lot of room for improvement and growth.”
What would your dream home look like?
“Oooh. It would be modern. I think it’s all about location, though,” Samir said. “It has to be walkable—close to groceries, good restaurants, public transport. Right now I’m really into modern architecture and design. Like this new office we’re in,” he added, gesturing toward the view of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge behind a giant glass wall in our meeting room. “Natural light, lots of windows…and a little character. Something to make it unique, like a weirdly shaped staircase.”
What role does technology play in your life?
“I’m really interested in the latest and greatest of everything, and innovations in mobile technology have been really interesting to me. I mean, I built my first computer in ’93, and now there’s a computer in my pocket that’s infinitely more powerful than that machine, and maybe a hundredth of the size. I’m also really interested in how technology becomes accessible and how more people can start using it.”
If tech isn’t easy to use and easy to learn, that can be a roadblock for many users—even people who build technology themselves. “Now that I’ve been busier, I’ve had less time to tinker, so I really appreciate when tech is easy to use, now more than ever.”
Do you have a favorite quote?
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” —Vince Lombardi
As a Senior Product Content Strategist at ZapLabs, Bria creates content frameworks and product narratives that help real estate professionals navigate Zap’s CRM platform, while driving usage of Zap’s consumer-facing mobile apps by home buyers and sellers.