Among the many new career paths taken by workers who joined the pandemic-fueled Great Resignation are those in real estate. In the 12 months through February, membership in the National Association of Realtors jumped more than 5%, thanks in part to a hot housing market. And as more agents flood the industry, established agents are now struggling to stand out from the crowd.
One solution: Building their own brands. But leaving a large real estate firm is both fraught and frightening—liability concerns and logistical headaches have discouraged many successful agents from hanging out their own shingles. Enter Side, a venture focused on transforming agents into companies by giving them the tools to create and grow their own brands.
Side offers a proprietary technology platform that lets agents more efficiently manage transactions as well as day-to-day operations. It also delivers expert support in both the management and marketing sides, from refining business plans to building effective branding strategies. Creating a powerful entrepreneurial toolkit (while disrupting a major industry) has earned Side a spot on Fast Company’s list of the world’s Most Innovative Companies.
THE PATH TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As of writing, Side operates in seven states—California, Texas, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, and Virginia—with more to be added this year. Meanwhile, its unique partnership approach has resonated with agents: In 2020, Side had partnered with 180 agents, teams, and independent brokerages. By late 2021, Side helped create more than 400 partner companies.
Michelle Kim, founder of Mosaik Real Estate, a residential real estate company in the San Francisco area, was Side’s first partner. When first approached by Side in 2016, Kim was generating $20 million in annual sales volume at large firms. Overhead and liability concerns kept her from making the leap to her own brokerage, but she also felt that successful agents like herself should benefit more directly from their hard work.
Side’s recruitment pitch was different. She was immediately drawn in by the company’s commitment to working closely with its partners—while maintaining a low profile. “Side isn’t your typical big brokerage brand—they operate entirely behind the scenes,” Kim says. “We’re the ones that bring in all the business, so why shouldn’t we brand ourselves?”
BUILDING A BRAND BY FOLLOWING A PLAN
Side was actively involved in helping Kim build her brand. The multistep process included developing a business plan, implementing systems and marketing strategies, and even recruiting agents. And Side’s proprietary technology platform allows its partners to efficiently manage the entire transaction process, from contract to escrow, using their computer or phone.
Side’s back-office support and technology platform made it easier for Kim to juggle the demands of growing a business and raising young kids. In fact, it allowed her to write out an offer for a client on her smartphone while in line for a ride in an amusement park with her family.
In the six years since their partnership began, Kim’s sales have grown tenfold—clearing more than $300 million last year. Best of all, she has something beyond a commission check to show for all of that hard work. “My company has value,” she says. “If I decide to retire, I can pass down Mosaik Real Estate to my daughter, who can carry on the legacy. That’s empowering.”