By Dan Orlando
Darrin Harrold wears the mantle of successful real estate entrepreneur the same way Bruce Wayne wears his Batman cape.
A strong believer in the motto, “Do what makes you happy and you’ll never work a day in your life,” the owner of Tri Properties appears determined to involve himself in every activity that does, in fact, bring him joy.
By day, Harrold teaches elementary physical education at the Canadian International School based in Singapore and works as the referee-in-chief of the Singapore Ice Hockey Association.
A husband and father of three young children, one may think that growing a business in the demanding field of real estate would not be an option for the native Canadian.
But by night (and whenever he can spare a free minute), Harrold resumes the role as the founder and CEO of an accommodation service that currently serves an excruciatingly specific genre of customer.
“It’s built for property owners anywhere around the world,” said Harrold, “for triathletes to access those homes.”
Tri Properties allows home owners to rent out living space to visitors who are scheduled to compete in triathlons nearby.
“It’s such a growing sport and vacation rentals is such a growing industry, that marrying the two together just makes sense,” Harrold told Brokers Weekly. “The person that would list on our website would be anyone that owns a property in a triathlete event area.”
No marathons? No 5ks?
“As of right now, we are strictly triathlons,” insisted Harrold, “but we’re open to more.”
The idea for the unique venture was sparked by a 2006 Ironman triathlon event being held nearby his then home in Canada.
The teacher noticed that his neighbors had found an interesting way to make extra cash, as they were providing living quarters to athletes who needed easy access to the race site.
An entrepreneur at heart, Harrold opted to do the same when the next event came to town, and soon, a business model was born.
In 2008, Harrold made his first official dip into the vacation rental pool and founded Peach City Rentals.
Though it was spurred on by the success that he witnessed during the Ironman event two years earlier, this particular venture was open to all clients seeking temporary vacation housing.
But the thirst for both entrepreneurship and real estate runs deeper than a fortuitous brush with athletic competition.
“I’ve always been interested in real estate,” said Harrold before mentioning that he bought his first house when he was 19. “I couldn’t fathom paying rent to someone else. “[It was] throwing money away in my mind.”
Owning a home before his 20th birthday put Harrold in a unique position which allowed him to monetize his living arrangement by renting out rooms to friends to pay the mortgage during his college years.
The first taste led to a craving and, by 2005, Harrold embarked on a five-year bender of fixing and flipping homes in his free time.
Currently, his main real estate interests lie in developing a more structured plan of attack for his young company.
Founded in October of 2013, Tri Properties is not yet profitable as it is still in its infancy, but changes are coming to help boost revenues.
“We took the idea on where we would do a premium website where people could list their property for free,” Harrold said, explaining that features like space for additional photos would cost the home owner extra.
As the company continues to grow, so does it’s philanthropic footprint.
“What we’re doing with the Tri Properties website,” said Harrold, “we’re going to build a home in this area and donate it in East Asia. Every time we reach 1,000 properties, we’re going to build one house for a family in need. Basically, we’re going to donate 15 percent of our earnings.”
That’s a sizable chunk for a fledgling enterprise, but Harrold has demonstrated on multiple occasions that financial victory is not his driving force.
A few years ago, Harrold said he began to question how he defined success. He decided to pose the question, “What do you think success is?” to his young students.
When the answers disheartened him, as they typically correlated to wealth, Harrold added yet another project to his already crammed schedule.
“I wanted to go around to local businesses that people have built from the ground up and ask them that question,” said Harrold. “They did a presentation to the kids about what their business is about.”
Now, Harrold organizes the “Path to Success” which allows his students to learn from local business leaders and get hands on experience in entrepreneurship and other careers.
When asked if the teacher, entrepreneur and philanthropist plans to walk away from one of his careers, Harrold admitted that he’d eventually like to lighten his load.
“I don’t know if I can actually walk away from teaching because I do love teaching,” he said. “I’d like to be able to do it on my terms.”
If he does walk out of the classroom full-time, Harrold plans to be a substitute.
But regardless of how he decides to divide his time, there will be focus on his unique real estate venture turning Tri Properties into a niche company on a global scale.