Newsmakers Spotlight: Steve Capezza Discovers Leadership and Community at Side

Steve Capezza is the first and current president of brokerage platform Side, which offers member agents/brokers a suite of technology services they can use to grow their companies. He believes that Side’s collaborative nature is one of the many things that makes it stand out in the industry.

In this exclusive interview, RISMedia speaks with Capezza about how Side melds community among both employees (“inSiders”) and partners into its primary business model, and what the learning curve has been leading the company. 

Devin Meenan: What do you see as the industry’s future and what role will Side play?

Steve Capezza: My view, particularly given the news of the day, is the industry is going to continue to consolidate, in fact accelerate that consolidation around top providers, whether it’s on the buy or sell side in the agent category. Today’s brokerage model in general is not set up to serve those top professionals. It’s set up to serve the generalists. Even the part-timers and hobbyists have generally outpaced the value of the brokerage brand they advertise. What Side’s model does is it takes ownership of the brand and company from brokers and puts it into the hands of the top professional. 

Running a brokerage is hard. Generally, Side is a cost center through its cloud brokerage setup. The Side application, in particular, is making running a brokerage hyper-efficiently, something that’s never been done in the industry. 

DM: In your Newsmakers profile, you mention Side puts a lot of effort into relationship-building—can you talk about that?

SC: Oh, we put a lot of focus on community. One of the unique aspects of Side’s model is every participant, every company owner, every partner, has a unique brand and company that lends itself to a brokerage platform that enables those participating in the platform to community build. They see each other as peers, they see each other as owners, they see their competition as the long tail of the industry that’s consuming close to half of the transactions in the industry. Because of that, what we have found organically is that a Side community is among, if not the most collaborative in the real estate space. And because that organically took shape, it’s something we lean into quite a bit. We have a program called Partner Up that’s all about mentorship and coaching, and there’s even a referral revenue share component to it.

We throw one of the best events in the category called Side-by-Side. We bring the entire community together. It’s an awesome peer-to-peer event with lots of goodness happening through peer-driven content, meaning the partners and agents themselves. We are also set up in such a way where the front lines of Side employees, our managing brokers and success managers, what we call our ambassadors, are actually in the market with our partners. This enables us to host locally driven events that bring the community together in a really productive way. 

DM: What advice would you give to other brokerages that are trying to cultivate that same sense of community you’re describing?

SC: Our model is hard. This is not even from a competitive perspective—be careful what you wish for. We are not a B2C brokerage like every other brokerage in the category. If you are leading a franchise, if you’re leading a corporate brokerage, gearing your enablement, gearing your coaching platform, if you already have one, if you have one around enabling top producers to consume more market share—giving them more capacity to consume more market share will advance your brokerage. We see in the industry today that is generally solved by split economics. And those split economics are effectively a marketing investment that enable me to keep high margins with low producing talent. That’s a short-term win, but the long-term gains on that I believe are fleeting. I believe not only for brokerages, but the industry as a whole, viewing itself more towards the full-time “in it to win it in it” to serve their customer and their top producers. That’s what’s going to give you long lasting enterprise value and allow you to be part of the consortium that wins at the end of the day.

DM: Can you share any specific feedback you’ve gotten from Side partners about why they like the model that you use?

SC: The general feedback is that by unlocking your ability to build your own brand or company, you unlock one’s entrepreneurial potential. They own this brand and company that they’re building on our platform, which is something that’s never been available to them. As they start building out their team and really seeing the value actually coming to fruition, that’s quite meaningful to them. A partner in and of itself is worth the price of admission in the Side community. When you go with Side, you are realizing your entrepreneurial dreams, you’re going independent without taking on the paint of brokerage and without going it alone. You are in this top 10 in volume community of broker/owners and some of the major real estate metros across the United States. It’s quite a powerful group to be a part of and they love it. 

DM: What has your journey and responsibilities as the first president of Side been like?

SC: Guy Gal, our CEO and the visionary behind Side, found himself leading the strategic vision of the company and the day-to-day operations, which for any CEO—particularly at our scale—is a difficult thing to do. Though I come from the real estate category, the brokerage segment is a new one for me, so I’d say the first half of the year was very much learning. My operational chops coming from Zillow, I came in with those being relatively solid, but the domain expertise was something that I had to really invest in learning a bit more about. We’ve been focusing ourselves around gearing the go-to market organization, or the brokerage operations organization around regimenting our day-to-day. 2024 is really the first real time period where we’ve been able to start to execute against that. 

Thank you to our 2024 Real Estate Newsmakers Sponsors:

Newsmakers Gold Sponsor
Real Estate Webmasters

Newsmakers Bronze Sponsors
American Home Shield
FBS Data
Forbes Global Properties
Realtors Property Resource

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