Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are Montreal-based real estate pros Justin Comeau and Anthony Coletti, who we caught up with to find out how they’re bringing something new to the industry and what advice they would share with other young professionals…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell
Our job is a blend between selling real estate and spearheading the growth of our agency, M Real Estate – a premier real estate agency working the Greater Montreal Area.
Why did you start your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Justin: After years working at a local Sutton office in Kirkland, Anthony and I felt that we wanted/needed more. As we began evaluating our options (looking at other local agencies/franchise opportunities), it became clear that no one in our market offered the type of working environment that we were striving for.
While other major markets in the US/Canada incorporated “new” tools/media as common practice in bringing homes to market, in Montreal there weren’t any agencies or brands that catered to brokers who were looking to stand out. We decided that we would provide this environment. Beginning with our brand’s identity, our focus was on the aesthetic of our materials (signs/cards/brochures/web) and forward thinking (including the use of superior visual media in bringing homes to market). We also committed to accepting only real estate brokers who shared our vision, knowing well that in an industry fuelled by quantity, quality would be the biggest asset to our growth.
What is the bet part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Justin: The best part of my day (and it doesn’t happen every day) is the moment when I realize that our team has innovated, or created something that will permanently change the way homes are brought to market – something that others will quickly begin trying to emulate. I love that we are recognized as first-movers or trendsetters. Every time we reinforce ourselves in that role, I feel the same rush.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Anthony: I will admit that it’s always tough to maintain balance (in the traditional sense) when you’re working towards something where the bar you set for yourself and those around you is constantly changing and getting higher. Our “balance” stems from a strong team and professional support system, starting at the top. We have always leaned on the rest of our management team (Denis Comeau, Paul Martinelli, and our agency’s director, Daniel Dagenais) for support, while our close friend and initial investor, Leighton James, continually offers valuable perspective when looking ahead.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
We plan to be ahead of the curve still – opening more M offices and growing the team substantially, while still working closely with our own clients in the sales/purchases of their homes.
What does success look like to you?
Justin: I bring up all the time how crazy it is that two years ago our company didn’t exist. I remember brainstorming different ideas and plans with Anthony in our previous office and felt that something big was going to come of it. Today our company has gown significantly and M Real Estate is a brand that people not only know, but respect. It’s bigger than any one of us. Success is being able to create something from nothing, something so present and strong that it’s hard to believe that it didn’t exist before you created it.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Justin: We updated some features on our website a while back and one of the things we integrated was a map on our main “properties” page displaying a black “m” peg for every active listing that our agency had under contract. It might not have been a huge step for the company, but in that moment, seeing everything in one place, it was the first time we realized just how far the company had come.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Justin: Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy. Many will tell you how things can go wrong, while seldom will they tell you how they can go right. If you’re willing to work on something, focus on the best-case scenario rather than the worst one.
Anthony: I agree entirely with what Justin said. In addition, I’d add that you should surround yourself with people with whom you have a mutual respect and that have similar aspirations and goals. Greatness is contagious, and you can learn so much from the experience of others if you only take a moment to listen.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in the city?
Lately we have been spending a lot of time in the downtown core and Old Port of Montreal. A mix of business and pleasure. When we do have downtime, you can find us dining at Barroco and Dolcetto or having drinks at Philemon.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Justin: I love Florida, it feels like a second home to me.
Anthony: I love the history and culture of Europe. Coming from an Italian family, it’s always nice to go back and visit family and take in the sights (and food).
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Justin: AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I have no idea why, it just makes me feel badass.
Anthony : Justin said “Back in Black,” didn’t he? Every time he drives I have to hear that song (at least twice).
Do you support any charities? I so which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We’re very proud that we have an extremely generous team that tries to help out whenever given the opportunity. One example would be M’s “Pink Campaign” we ran this past October where, in addition to personal donations by our team of brokers, we raised funds from the local community in support of the Fondation du Cancer du Sein du Québec. The company also made a donation for every home our brokers listed for sale that month.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Justin: I have serious commitment issues when it comes to this subject. I currently have an iPhone, but the others always intrigue me. Are those virtual reality glasses that Samsung is offering now for real?
Anthony: iPhone through and through. It’s user-friendly and straightforward. Plus the idea of having to redo every level on Candy Crush is reason enough to stick with it.