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Next Step Realty bridging gap between grads and landlords

Published: October 11, 2012, 12:08 am ET

Blaire Brandt, University of Richmond Jepson School alumnus and co-founder of The Next Step Realty, said success wasn’t a finite moment at the Robins School of Business Tuesday.

“Success doesn’t exist right now or at any given point in time,” Brandt said. “It is kind of an ongoing process.”

The Next Step Realty, founded in 2010, aims to make the rental process seamless for recent graduates, Brandt said. The goal is to create a bridge of trust between college graduates and brokers and landlords in different cities, Brandt said.

The company has hired 75 brokers in 10 cities, 900 Brand Ambassadors on 225 college campuses and successfully assisted thousands of recent graduates living in cities such as New York, London, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

“As long as you have room to improve, you can be happy, but you can’t be satisfied,” Brandt said.

Senior Claudia Devitt, one of the Brand Ambassadors for Richmond, helped coordinate the event, which was hosted by the Jepson and Robins schools.

“As Brand Ambassadors, we help promote the brand and spread awareness,” Devitt said. “In addition, we help plan events on campus and post news about the company on social media websites.”

This year, Brandt was included on the Forbes 30 under 30 list and was featured in the Sunday edition of The New York Times.

Brandt and co-founder Belton Baker started The Next Step Realty after realizing that college graduates were an optimal market, Brandt said.

Initially, Brandt and Baker sent the link to their website to 1,000 students at Baker’s alma mater, the University of North Carolina. This link quickly acquired 100,000 clicks, Brandt said.

Two months later, Brandt and Baker were booked to speak on Bloomberg, Brandt said.

The Next Step Realty has a no-advertising policy, and its marketing method is to have friends tell friends about it. “There is no stronger salesperson than a customer,” Brandt said.

Brandt emphasized the importance of really observing what is happening around one from a business standpoint, and to take notes and learn about it.

“It’s the day by day stuff that leads up to the big things,” Brandt said. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

The Next Step Realty’s long-term goal is to help every college graduate with his or her apartment, Brandt said.

Contact reporter Jessica Racioppi at

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