Renwick Congdon, founder of Imprev, which he sold to MoxiWorks and Vector Capital in November 2019, shockingly passed away a few days ago at just 60 years old. He was my mentor and forever changed my life.
As I posted in a comment on Greg Robertson’s Vendor Alley, Renwick was a gentle giant of the business world, a proud leader in EO, and a serial entrepreneur. He was my mentor, and I was blessed to be a loyal Imprevian, having worked for and with Renwick at Imprev for several years.
He was a true thought leader of our industry and one of the very few people who could see where the puck was going next. Wickedly smart and always ahead of his time, he actually started Imprev in his garage, complete with Herman Miller dividers.
Most importantly, Renwick was a great human: kind and caring with an abundance of empathy. He treated his team like family and was a remarkable father and husband.
The phrase may be cliche, but he indeed was one-of-a-kind. A father of four daughters and an Alaska native, he was an ice-hockey-playing and yoga-practicing serial innovator. Renwick would rather find a quiet corner and have a discussion one-on-one while enjoying a well-aged single malt scotch or a fabulous bottle of red than work a room.
Let me share the backstory about how Renwick and I connected, which resulted me joining him at Imprev in 2011 as Vice President Communications and Marketing. Several years earlier, when I had my own PR firm, I published a weekly real estate email newsletter for agents and had over 50,000 subscribers. I discovered Imprev and wrote a highly positive review.
Little did I know that single act would seal my future business fate.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2011 and a LinkedIn post by Renwick noting he was looking for a Director of Marketing. I finally was getting out of the mortgage business – impacted horribly by the financial collapse of Fannie and Freddie – struggling to get back into PR. He messaged me back to say he filled the position but still wanted to talk. We met at the Bookstore Bar & Café at the base of the Alexis Hotel for lunch.
Almost five hours later, I walked out with a new job, overseeing the new marketing director he hired to run communications and marketing for Imprev. He told me one of the reasons he wanted to meet, and talk, was that “you broke my website.”
Apparently, the review I wrote in my newsletter years ago drove so much traffic to imprev.com that it overloaded his servers. “We were serving jpg images fully rendered,” Renwick told me at the time, “and learned why we needed to change that because of your article!”
I will be forever grateful for his indelible impact on my professional and personal life. He pushed me to make the toughest career change: to do for others what I was doing for Imprev. He is why I ended up joining the WAV Group – and that was the best business decision of my life.
I will miss him beyond words.
As a final tribute, below is the corporate bio I wrote about Renwick shortly after joining Imprev:
CEO and Founder
Renwick Congdon is a serial innovator. He’s been inventing trendsetting technology for the real estate industry for nearly two decades. Imprev, the marketing technology company he built literally from his garage – complete with cubicles – has not only survived the last decade but also flourished. Today, no other real estate marketing technology corporation works with more agents and brokers than Imprev.
Congdon honed his marketing skills as a top-producing loan officer in the 1980s. He helped the agents he worked with create personalized marketing flyers for their listings, relieving them of a time-consuming task. A life-long adopter of technology, Renwick invented software to automate this process.
In the mid-1990s, he began writing code for a PC and Mac desktop software program called “Flyerware,” which would instantly create personalized real estate flyers for agents and brokers. It would become a 1996 Top Product Finalist at the National Association of Realtors Convention.
Congdon would continue to innovate, integrating a feature called ”Phrase Assistant,” which helped agents add pre-written property descriptions, automating another daunting task for many agents. The product became so popular some agents still have a copy of this legacy program on their computers today.
In 1997, Congdon joined the online lending pioneer Homeshark (later iOwn.com) after it acquired the technology he invented. His penchant for innovation continued as he created the industry’s first online-consumer education campaign, rolled out the first online valuation engine, and helped the company acquire and re-develop “HomeScout” as real estate’s first listing aggregator and lead generation system.
Congdon bought back his technology and, in 2000, established Imprev. He would quickly unveil the first subscription-based virtual tour solution, creating the first online Design Center that featured multi-product and multimedia marketing solutions. His inventions helped move the industry from border-centric designs to “full-bleed” magazine-ad style flyers and postcards that dominate current designs.
Since 2002, Congdon has kept Imprev at the forefront of marketing technology. He created the first Enterprise marketing technology solution for real estate brokerage firms, the first multilingual real estate marketing application, and the first private-label Marketing Center for a leading franchise. In addition, he helped to pioneer MLS integration for automated, data-enabled marketing materials.
Congdon is aggressively pushing his Engineering, Quality Assurance, and Creative teams to provide the latest marketing technology for agents. At Imprev, he launched the industry’s first iPad app for Listing Presentations (the RE/MAX Presenter), a “one-click” to Facebook and Twitter feature from within Imprev-powered Marketing and Design Centers, and the integration of an Imprev Marketing Center into a new, award-winning campaign platform.
Congdon regularly speaks on marketing technology and trends and was an Inman News Innovator Award finalist in 2004 and 2011. He graduated with a degree in History from Western Washington University. The father of four and an Alaska native, the ice-hockey-playing and yoga-practicing Congdon lives with his wife and daughters in Seattle’s Eastside.
A wonderful tribute for a truly wonderful and compassionate man, He is a man all men could model and feel proud.
I observed Rick’s entrepreneurial commitment first hand. He checked all the boxes…with creativity and effective, empathetic leadership. His credibility drew good client and customer relationships. He was dedicated to his vision and, as perhaps the highest of compliments to an entrepreneur, he persevered.
He will be missed.
It was a sad shocker to read about the loss of Renwick. Sincerest condolences to his loved ones and friends.
Great tribute to Renwick. Sending a big hug, Kevin.
I’ll never forget the day I interviewed with Renwick. My phone rang and I looked down to see my teenage daughter, she never called me! I answered to make sure she was OK and said I’d call her back. I then apologized and explained how infrequently she calls. He replied that he was happy that I took the call because family comes first. “In fact, if my oldest calls, I’m also going to make sure she’s alright.” I knew instantly that I could work with this man and it was the best decision. Five great years filled with success and felt like family. Imprev pointed me forward with purpose! Thanks Renwick.
And thank you Kevin for this article, a fitting tribute.
Thanks Pete and your story is so Renwick.
I met Renwick several times over the years, and always found him a true innovator and gentleman alike. Prayers for his loved ones and all those who feel his departure.
Big loss to the RE industry. He was a thought leader and above all, a wonderful man that I was honored to know
This news just took me out.
A nice and gentle man, fixated on detail and brilliant.
Spent lots of time with him when he’d come to visit Portland.
What a nice, sweet, write up Kevin.
Thank you very kindly, Marc.
Beautiful piece, Kevin – as always – so sad, and hitting so close to home. Keep up your great work, my friend – as it, and you, are so appreciated! DMAC
Thanks Darryl for your very kind words.
Thanks for taking the time to remember such a kind and smart man. He will be missed by so many of us. I can’t even count the number of flights we shared together to inman and other places. What a loss to the world and our industry
Thank you most kindly for sharing, Ben.
I was blessed with meeting Rick by chance in 2000 (when I was still in high school) and worked for him for the next number of years (including setting up and working out of one of the cubes in his garage). An incredible individual that I learned from first hand watching a business being built from the ground up, the struggles, the persistence and the hustle to achieve. I was young and didn’t realize how unique that opportunity was, but as I look back and reflect it was an incredible gift. I will greatly miss him.
Thanks so much for sharing Jonathan.
Nice work Kevin. I enjoyed your remembrance as well as the bio you prepared for him.
Thanks, Corrie. I greatly appreciate your comments.
Damn it’s painful ! It is so very sad when we loose a colleague we knew and worked with so many times. My sincerest condolences to his family, loved ones and friends.
Thank you for the kind words about my friend, best man in my wedding, and knower of my true self. Rick and I were inseparable in the late 70’s and early 80’s, due to our mutual love of cars and music. We always knew he was destined for not just great, but good things. The years may have separated us, but we will meet again. I will miss you, Rick, my oldest of friends.
Wonderful tribute, Kevin. I am so sad to hear this. Renwick was a kind soul as well as a smart business leader. He will be missed.