Steve Capezza Discovers Leadership and Community at His Side – RISMedia
7 mins read

Steve Capezza Discovers Leadership and Community at His Side – RISMedia

Steve Capezza is the first and current CEO of Side, a brokerage platform that offers its agent/broker members a suite of technology services they can use to grow their businesses. He credits Side’s collaboration with being one of the many things that sets it apart in the industry.

In this exclusive interview, RISMedia talks to Capezza about how Side integrates community among employees (“inSiders”) and partners into its core business model, as well as the learning curve it’s been to run the company.

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

Steve Capezza: My opinion, especially given the news today, is that the industry will continue to consolidate, and in fact, accelerate that consolidation around the top providers, whether it’s the buyer side or the seller side of the agent category. The current brokerage model is generally not designed to serve those top professionals. It’s designed to serve generalists. Even part-timers and hobbyists have generally overtaken the value of the brokerage brand that they’re advertising. The Side model is where you take ownership of the brand and the company away from the brokers and put it in the hands of the top professionals.

Running a brokerage is tough. Side is generally a cost center with its cloud setup. The Side app in particular makes running a brokerage hyper-efficient, something that has never been done in the industry.

DM: In your Newsmakers profile you mentioned that Side puts a lot of effort into building relationships — can you talk about that?

SC: Oh, we put a lot of emphasis on community. One of the unique aspects of the Side model is that every participant, every business owner, every partner has a unique brand and business that lends itself to the brokerage platform, which allows participants in the platform to build a community. They see each other as equals, they see each other as owners, they see their competition as the long tail of the industry that is taking up almost half of the transactions in the industry. Because of that, we found organically that the Side community is among, if not this most collaborative in the real estate space. And as that organically took shape, it’s something we’re very much leaning into. We have a program called Collaborate It’s all about mentoring and coaching, and then there’s the element of sharing referral revenue.

We organize one of the best events in the category Next to each other. We bring the whole community together. It’s an amazing peer-to-peer event where a lot of good happens through peer-to-peer content, which is the partners themselves and the agents themselves. We’re also organized so that the frontline Side employees, our managing brokers and success managers, what we call our ambassadors, are actually in the market with our partners. That allows us to have local 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 the same sense of community you speak of?

SC: Our model is tough. It’s not even from a competitive perspective — be careful what you wish for. We’re not a B2C brokerage like every other brokerage in this category. If you’re a franchise, if you’re a corporate brokerage, you’re adjusting your capabilities, you’re adjusting your coaching platform, if you already have one, if you have it around enabling your top producers to consume more market share — giving them more ability to consume more market share will grow your brokerage. We see that in today’s industry, it’s usually solved by the economy of sharing. And that economy of sharing is really a marketing investment that allows me to keep my margins high on low-producing talent. That’s a short-term win, but the long-term gains from that are, I think, fleeting. I believe that’s not just for brokers, but for the industry as a whole, seeing themselves more as full-time “in it to win it” to serve their clients and their top producers. This is what will give you long-term enterprise value and allow you to be part of a consortium that wins at the end of the day.

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

SC: The general feedback is that by unlocking your ability to build your own brand or business, you’re unlocking your entrepreneurial potential. They own that brand and business that they’re building on our platform, which was never available to them. When they start building their team and really see the value actually materialize, that’s very meaningful to them. The partner in itself is worth the price of admission to the Side community. When you go with Side, you’re pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams, you’re independent, you’re not taking on the image of a broker, and you’re not going it alone. You’re in that top 10 in terms of volume of broker/owner communities and some of the major real estate metros in the United States. That’s a pretty powerful group to be a part of, and they love that.

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

SC: Guy Gal, our CEO and the visionary behind Side, has spearheaded the strategic vision of the company and the day-to-day operations, which is a tough thing for any CEO to do, especially at our scale. Even though I come from real estate, the brokerage segment is new to me, so I would say the first half of the year was very much a learning curve. My operational skills from Zillow, I started off relatively solid with them, but I had to really invest in the expertise in that space to learn a little bit more about it. We were focused on aligning the go-to-market organization or the brokerage operations organization to discipline our day-to-day operations. 2024 is really the first real-time period where we could start to operate on that.

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