Lauren Haw: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Lauren Haw, a Toronto-based real estate broker and owner of Zoocasa. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her and what advice she would share with other young professionals…


1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I run, a Canadian real estate brokerage. We just relaunched the website we acquired from Rogers, so lately I’ve been renovating a Boeing 747 in-flight!

2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I was a franchisee with College Pro Painters right after my first year at university; I was 18 and had 10 full-time employees for four months. I ran the business and had to do it all: lead generation, marketing, estimates and sales, hiring and training. You really learn how to manage a team and build a profitable business, and I got addicted to challenges and rewards! I was most passionate about the hiring and training aspects. Sales is a lot of fun, but I’ve realized where I truly get career satisfaction is from finding amazing people and creating environments where they can grow and flourish.

3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
In most recent history, it was the day we were successful in acquiring Zoocasa. We spent a long time on that process, and it was about being in the right place with our real estate team at the time,, our people, sales and our processes. The combination of all that coming together to allow us to take on this amazing opportunity was pretty exciting.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Five years is pretty easy: Zoocasa will have offices in major cities across the country for the boots-on-the-ground agents and teams, and will be ranked number one for search terms that matter most to Canadians. We’ll be the chosen consumer resource for real estate information.

Ten and 20 years seem like a lifetime away! I was graduating university nine years ago, and a lot has happened since. Trying to pinpoint where I’ll be in 10 is a very scary prospect, but I have a personal goal of taking a round-the-world trip with my family – which we can only obviously do if Zoocasa is in the right spot.

5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Just do – done is better than perfect. You can only do so much thinking and reading, and at the end of the day, you’ve just got to go out and get things done. I do also think your values and how you apply them to your business decisions are really important – your reputation, how you treat people. That will affect your long-term career and happiness.

6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Right now we’ve been focused on relaunching and kicking off the new website, but this is a huge goal for 2017, both from a corporate and personal perspective. To be able to give back is a big priority.

7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
When I sold my first service-based business, it was really important from a valuation standpoint that it could run without me – I couldn’t be crucially responsible or important to our clients or our processes. Learning how to set up management and how to delegate the decision making was a big challenge.

8. What does the word notable mean to you?
My go-to would be something that’s different, exceptional, above and beyond – we’ve got notable people and players and partners at every level. They’re people who are outstanding in their roles.


1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Honestly, it’s at the cottage. I find when I’m in the city, I’m focused on work. I live close to work, and especially being in real estate and coming from being an active realtor, it’s 24-7. When you’re here, you could and should be working, so to really unplug with friends and family, I need to leave the city. If we’re talking just Toronto, though, the Shangri-La hotel lobby’s live music is great – any night of the week.

2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
The new site has been my obsession. Otherwise…Gmail? Does that count? I’m not that cool. I’ve been on Amazon a lot lately, according to my credit card statements. I’m also constantly looking at the market stats – Inman, Salesforce, and Google Maps.

As for music, a “most played” doesn’t exist for me, I let Google Play set the playlists, but I always enjoy 90’s R&B, early 2000’s country, and current indie folk. Recommendations welcome!

3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I don’t follow anyone specific on social media. I honestly don’t follow celebrities, but I do follow lots of personal interest accounts like Humans of New York, home design curators and lately a few mom-lifestyle bloggers.

4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I love France for the food and pace of life, and Scotland for the rolling landscapes and the feeling of home I have when I’m there. If Alberta counted as another country, though, that would win. Jasper is my favourite place in the world to be. And, given the size of Canada, by the time you fly to Edmonton and drive to Jasper, it’s further than France!

5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
The greatest FOMO is when friends are together and you can’t make it.

6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Long bubble baths with a magazine and a good red wine!

7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Frivolous things we don’t even pay attention to – things we don’t need and clothes we already have, or convenience food out. I don’t regret spending money on great meals, but if we had a little more time, I’d do a lot more home cooking. Whenever we look at our budget, the piece that’s always the worst is the money we spend on convenience food.

Right now, I wish we spent more on furniture – we moved into our new house in January and we still don’t have main floor furniture. The problem with that is it requires commitment and time.

8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success with work is, quite frankly, keeping promises of growth opportunities to people that we bring on board. It all comes back to people. The bigger and better you get and the bigger and better your company is, the better the people you can attract to it. It’s a huge thing! I think the best reflection that we’re doing some things right is being able to attract amazing people.

When it comes to personal success, I feel like balance is an overused, but crucial facet to my happiness. Being able to relax, spend and enjoy time and being present, that’s big for me.