As senior undergrads scramble to polish their resumes and bump up their GPAs before graduation, Steve D’Agostino doesn’t worry about impressing future employers. He’s already working for himself.
Steve’s shift in college is all part of legitimizing his one-man real estate management business, Dagostino Real Estate Group. Deciding at the age of 12 that he would own his own business, Steve won’t settle for working under anyone but himself.
When his father struggled to rent out his new investment property in Philadelphia two years ago, Steve began finding tenants and handling complaints and repairs for his dad. Loving the work, Steve bought a website, made business cards and started pitching himself as a property manager to local landlords. He made his own part-time job.
On Oct. 15, 2010, Dagostino Real Estate Group became a registered business. From broken heaters to burnt out light bulbs, Steve’s heard all the complaints that landlords dread. He admits that balancing his duties as a business proprietor with his responsibilities as a student is not easy. His sleep schedule and social life have taken a toll, but Steve still manages to find time to pursue another passion: standup comedy.
Performing a handful of times, Steve says presenting in front of investors is nothing compared to standup.
“It’s much harder to make someone laugh than buy your idea,” he said.
While Steve will continue his comedy routine on the side, his business comes first. Not wasting any time, Steve spent his winter break studying for his real estate sales license. After graduating, he will begin studying for his brokerage license, which will allow him to hire employees and buy and sell property in addition to renting it.
As part of his entrepreneurship capstone, Steve developed a five-year business plan, which he entered in this year’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, organized by the Fox School’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute. While other students invented proprietorships for class, Steve applied his work to his already established business.
In three years, Steve wants to expand his one-man show to hire a few employees, and in five years he plans for his real estate group to be a full-service brokerage. Steve’s not sure where he will be in 10 years, but he hopes Dagostino Real Estate Group will still be expanding, maybe even controlling the East Coast.
“All it takes is just starting to do it,” he said. “There’s no manual. There are no tricks. All you need to do is work. It’s frustrating at times, but if you just stick it out, good things start to happen.”
– Meg Hughes
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