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John_VatistasWhen Scottsdale entrepreneur John Vatistas, founder and CEO of Launch Real Estate, came up with the idea for the brokerage last year, his goal was to abandon the traditional way of doing things and offer something unique to consumers in the local luxury real estate market.

Although he doesn’t sell real estate himself, his company employs those who do and those who support those who do. He believes his approach is one that will be a success because he treats agents the way he would want to be treated.

“My business is serving my agents and giving them as much support and backing as possible,” says Vatistas. “As an owner, I personally select agents who I think are talented. I choose people I want to be around each and every day—those who I respect, like and trust, and who have an impeccable work ethic, people who I would trust working with my best friend, my parents, my kids, or anyone really important to me. If I feel like an agent doesn’t have those qualities, I decline to make them an offer to join Launch.”

Vatistas believes this philosophy is different than most in the real estate business, and that his unique strategy will lead to significant growth in 2017.

“I take great pride in who we don’t let in the door. It’s critically important to me to protect the integrity of what we’ve built in one short year. I care not one whit about accolades, who’s No. 1 in our market, which company has grown by X agents or Y offices. It’s not about just making money. I’ve done that, and money has no soul,” says Vatistas. “Now, it’s about continuing to surround myself with fantastic agents and employees. Having said that, I anticipate growing our agent base by 50 to 60 agents this year.”

Vatistas also plans to open another office this year. “My goal is to head up to North Scottsdale and associate our company with some talented agents who dominate their markets,” he explains. “I highly doubt we’ll find a strategic partner or an interesting acquisition target. It’s very hard to find the magic we’ve created internally. Unless you’re a part of Launch, there’s no way to truly understand what we’re all about.”

In fact, Vatistas compares Launch to becoming a father for the first time.

“Until I saw my daughter’s beautiful eyes, and how precious she was, I couldn’t possibly understand that feeling, no matter how many times I heard it before,” he says. “The same goes for Launch. Until you’re invited, accept our invitation and cross the line, there’s no real way to understand the mojo we have going on.”

The biggest challenge Vatistas faces is finding quality people to join the business, as he hopes to hire people who want to retire with Launch. For those looking at it as just a short-term job, he’s not interested.

“My goal is to help my agents achieve their goals. If they want that business, I will do whatever I can to help them,” says Vatistas. “It all comes down to who you know, and putting yourself out there in a meaningful way. I have several strategies for this, and I’m putting them into practice in the next few months.”

Forget training—that’s not what Launch is about. And while technology is interesting, Vatistas doesn’t rely on it as a crutch.

“It’s all about personal relationships coupled with opportunities and being ready to execute on what your client truly needs,” says Vatistas. “It’s about sitting face-to-face with your clients. It’s about doing what you say you will do all the time. It’s about knowing the market like the back of your hand, understanding the inventory and pricing. You have to truly listen to what your clients are saying. You can’t do that with a text, a chat, a Facebook post, an app, a video or the latest and greatest website.”

To that end, Vatistas’ vision of what type of agent is right for the firm is clear—someone who wants to take their game to the next level, someone who already knows the craft, and someone who wants to be proud of the agents they associate with.

“I love real estate in general. I love how my employees care so deeply about doing a great job. They’re dedicated and selfless,” says Vatistas. “I love how our agents want to contribute more than just bringing in their business. They care about their clients and Launch. It makes me feel good when I see them trying to make us better. I’m a servant leader and I work for them, not the other way around. Without them, there’s no work at all. I always try to think three or four steps ahead.”

Vitals: Launch Real Estate
Years in Business
: 1
Size: 1 office, 135 agents
Regions Served: Scottsdale, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler, Ariz.
2016 Sales Volume: Approximately $450 million
2016 Transactions: Approximately 650 units

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