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Recovering market inspires entrepreneurs to go it alone

By Holly Dutton

Best friends since birth, Todd Jacobs and Jordan Sachs moved to New York City with big dreams seven years ago.

The duo started Bold NY, a boutique residential brokerage, in late 2010 with just three people and now have a staff of 25.

The two are clearly passionate about their business, which they started in a one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side.

Their roots run deep. They were “inseparable” growing up together in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Our moms’ joke that they rubbed bellies when they were pregnant,” said Sachs. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Todd.”

Bold NY 2
Todd Jacobs, left, and Jordan Sachs, in their Soho offices

After high school, Sachs attended Tulane University in New Orleans while Jacobs went to the University of Colorado at Boulder.

But they remained close — Sachs even attended UC for a semester in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, forcing students to spend a semester away at other schools.

After graduating from college, the two set their sights on the Big Apple.

Sachs worked briefly in internet marketing, while Jacobs worked at Marcus and Millichap, getting his first taste of real estate experience in New York.

“Being best friends and living together, I’d come home every day and just be real estate, real estate, real estate,” said Jacobs. “And it only took about 12 months before he (Sachs) was like, alright, time for me to join you in this whole real estate adventure.”

And their strong foundation of friendship — as well as a shared entrepreneurial spirit — led to a balanced business partnership.

“It’s a micro versus a macro outlook on business,” said Sachs. “I’m much more micro. In any partnership there needs to be an opposite skill set. We complement each other, but we also both have the ability to go out and sell.”

While Sachs is the first to open the office in the morning, Jacobs is the last to leave at night.

“Throughout our lives it’s been that way,” said Jacobs. “We have a definitive balance.”

The two cut their teeth on the Lower East Side, forming relationships with owners and landlords and eventually building up a clientele of renters who turned into buyers, and then into sellers.

“We woke up woke day and realized we’re working with 10 buyers, have five sales listings, are doing all these rentals, and are running around just the two of us seven days a week, 18 to 20 hours a day,” said Jacobs. “We thought, we need to slow down what we’re doing and we need to package this. We took a step back and established the criteria for Bold NY. We wanted to make ourselves a little more distinct.”

“There’s no model, it’s not like someone says, ‘okay, here’s a to-do list of everything you need to start a business’,” said Sachs. “We sat down together and said, ‘Let’s make a massive list of anything in the world we think we need to do in order to start the business.’ I thought that was one of the more challenging aspects, to make sure we dotted every I, and crossed every T.”

Said Jacobs, “The hardest part was what we didn’t know. It’s just such an arduous process of steps.”

Striking out on their own, the two sought advice and support from family members and former business associates, as well as advisors in banking, commercial real estate and law.

They focused on keeping an open mind, taking as many meetings as possible, and staying humble. “There’s always something to be learned,” said Jacobs.

In addition to the company’s success in Manhattan with rentals and sales, which Jacobs calls “their bread and butter,” Bold has leased several luxury rental buildings in every-popular Williamsburg, including 50 North 1st Street, 47 Keap Street, and 80 Meserole Street.

“Brooklyn is a fantastic market,” said Sachs. “We found we have the ability to market in a very specific type of way, and we got good at it. Landlords were picking up on the level of marketing we’re doing for things as small as three units in a six-story walkup to a 100-unit building in Murray Hill.”

They weren’t the first to stake a claim in the market — many have started residential firms in Manhattan and are now thriving.

Eric Hantman, who founded Prime NYC just a few months after the financial collapse in 2008, stressed the importance of planning and finding your place in the industry. “You need to have a business plan and a niche in the market,” he said.

As a result of the financial downturn, Hantman’s newly-founded firm shifted its focus to the rental market, which was on fire, and did 150 rentals in its first year.

“Don’t just start a brokerage to start it,” said Hantman. “You have to have smart planning, you have to have a niche market and you have to have the backing of loyal people.”

When South African native Shaun Osher started planning to launch CORE in 2005 with Jack Cayre, he reached out to industry veterans. “I spoke to every single person that had done what I wanted to do,” said Osher.

Becoming a known, recognized brand was the most challenging aspect of starting his own business, as was finding the right people who could help him build it.

“Building a business and a brand and running a successful company is very different than being a real estate agent,” said Osher, who now has three offices, 55 agents and a successful reality television franchise.

Now, having just passed its three year anniversary, the men behind Bold NY are also looking to see their name among the city’s leading brokerages.

“As long as we can keep the quality, we would love to become huge,” said Jacobs. “It’s about fostering relationships. We’re not here for the short-term, we’re here for the long-term. We’re trying to build a footprint we’re really proud of.”

“It’s not about changing the business model,” said Sachs. “The wheel works — there’s a reason why we exist. We truly offer a service, but if you can do it differently and provide it in a different type of way, and create additional value by bringing new things to the market, that’s what we want to do.”

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