Buidling a successful brand is a challenging operation. In fact, it's almost as arduous as the mission to find a dream apartment in New York City. Blair Brandt has managed to not only counquer both of these feats, but to showcase them on a new reality TV show.
Blair is the founder and CEO of The Next Step Realty, a brokerage firm that specializes in helping renters from all walks of life (but mainly young professionals) find their first home in the bustling jungle of NYC. He and his wildly lucrative company have consistently been featured in publications like CNN, Forbes, Variety and The New York Times. With the assistance of ABC Family, the company has spun into a reality show of the same name, "Next Step Realty."
We were able to talk with Blair, in between his realty reality, and hone in on his much buzzed about TV venture...
On his long term objective to "inspire" with "Next Step Realty."
"We want to make apartment hunting fun again, but we also want to help people find home the right way --- a boutique concierge style experience done efficiently in a matter of hours, with a great representative, complete with luxury amenities and a discount on fees to top it all off.
Because we satisfy 90% of the clients who view apartments with us, we are in a unique position in the brokerage industry to offer more services while also lowering costs, and still grow a profitable business.
All the while, we're giving back to the community through our partnership with 'Habitat for Humanity NYC,' so our clients rent a home and give a home.
Through our ABC Family show 'Next Step Realty: NYC', we want to inspire the millennial generation around the world to pursue their dreams, whether that is doing well in school and pursuing their dream job in a big city or starting their own venture like I did."
A movie scene inspired his company's name.
"There is a scene at the end of one of the American Pie movies where one of the characters toasts at a bar with the cast to "the next step". The co-founder of Next Step and I were thinking of names for a company that relocates recent college graduates and other professionals to New York City, and agreed rather quickly that was the perfect fit."
His top tips for college graduates looking to successfully move to the city.
"Of course, to use Next Step! But generally speaking to make sure you have a job you know will pay the bills, make sure you can get their quickly (i.e. pick the right neighborhood), and don't spend all your money on rent. NYC is an expensive place to live and it's about lifestyle not just your apartment."
On getting involved with ABC Family to develop his "Wolf of Wall Street meets Sex and the City meets Million Dollar Listing" TV show.
"We had been approached by a number of production companies and we felt like the best fit was Lincoln Square Productions (particularly Danielle Rossen), who is in-house at ABC and therefore Disney. They really cared about the project and had a clear passion to tell our story. They really saw the opportunity to follow this fascinating group of people, because it frankly is entertaining and aspirational. It's very much like 'Wolf of Wall Street meets Sex and the City meets Million Dollar Listing'."
His input in making great TV.
"I've had a reasonable level of input in the general and initial vision for the show, but after establishing that basic birds eye view, Michael Driscoll & Danielle, who have the experience in TV, have really produced what they think is good entertainment for viewers, along with the ABC Family network of course. They’ve been collaborative, respecting our brand and mission statement while also developing a great TV show which is inevitably their #1 priority."
On what it's like to "put it all out there" in a reality show.
"Think 'Ed TV' (Matthew McConaughey) or 'Truman Show' (Jim Carey). It's somewhat surreal and you get surprisingly used to it. While I was enthusiastic about sharing my professional endeavors with a public audience, I wasn't too excited to showcase my personal life. Ultimately I decided to allow it because I think viewers will enjoy it, maybe learn from it, so hopefully they do!"
On the unexpected result of making a reality show.
"We've been a successful company for a few years, and most likely the fastest growing rental brokerage in NYC as of late, but there is a heightened level of credibility for any individual or brand who consistently appears on national, and in this case international, TV.
I knew the show would be good exposure to grow our sales, but didn't fully understand the impact it could have until we got closer to the air date.
We've been consistently receiving serious and impressive inquiries from prospective clients, partner companies, investors, new hires etc."
On the only logical question left: "What's your next step?"
"Funny. Well, right now, I just can't wait for viewers to come along for the ride and follow our journey, and for us to continue helping thousands of new renters experience the most seamless (and fun) apartment hunt in NYC!"
Catch Blair and "Next Step Realty" on ABC Family Tuesdays at 9/8 c.