Top 10 Highlights from Inman Connect 2019


Last week, real estate agents from all over the country flocked to Vegas for an action-packed week at Inman Connect 2019, and Side was there to join in on the fun. Days were packed with keynote speakers, controversial debates, breakout sessions, and learning labs. Nights brought networking opportunities, decadent dinners, and a few rounds of high stakes poker. Day after day, powerful knowledge was shared and important industry relationships were made. Side even got a few brag worthy shout outs from well-known panel participants!

Without further ado, here are the top 10 highlights from Inman Connect 2019.

1. BRIX Wins Most Innovative Brokerage; Side is First Runner Up

Inman Innovator Award winners, selected by the Inman News editorial team, represent companies who consistently try new things, adopt new technology, create a new culture or approach to real estate, or achieve an unmatched level of success.

We applaud Minnesota-based real estate boutique BRIX and broker/owner Danny Dietl for winning the 2019 Most Innovative Brokerage award. BRIX takes client satisfaction seriously; in fact, everything they do is driven by their mission statement - clients come first. And it shows! Congratulations, BRIX! Way to represent the power of boutique brokerages.

The Side team was honored to be up on stage, alongside BRIX as the first runner up. Together, we beat out big box incumbent brokerages Redfin and Compass, further demonstrating our belief that the future of real estate is local, agent-owned, and boutique.

>> See the full Inman awards announcement and video coverage.

2. Paul Levine: Agent-Centric Brokerages are “What’s Next”

Paul Levine, the Managing Director of Sapphire Ventures, took the big stage to give a presentation on What’s Next in Real Estate. Four areas on his radar that “hit the bullseye” for real estate focused venture capitalists include iBuyers, tech-forward brokerages, new types of financing, and transaction automation.

Levine called out the fact that Side, a tech-focused brokerage targeting top producing agents, is grabbing significant market share, and he sees lots of promise in our model. Levine said, “Side gives agents their own brand, an amazing tech stack, and an economic model that's really built to help them scale and grow their business.” Levine wraps it up with “What you're seeing here is really emblematic of the future of real estate brokerage. It's tech-forward, it's agent-centric, and I think that's going to be the winning formula.”

Our data also supports the idea that agent-centric is the way forward. As Levine said, “The average agent who partners with Side’s is closing 36 transactions per year.” That’s pretty compelling, especially when you consider that the average Compass agent only does 5.8 transactions per year.

>> See the full Inman article.

3. Merritt Hummer: Agents Leaving Traditional Brokerages

In a general session called Where is All of This Headed, panelists talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in regards to real estate trends and how the industry is evolving. Merritt Hummer, Principal of Bain Capital, spoke about the trend towards “agents thinking about ways to consolidate the economics [and swaying] influence in the industry back to themselves and away from the traditional brokerages”.

Hummer identified Side as “a company I met recently that’s illustrating this trend very well by touching on a lot of exciting themes when it comes to empowering teams and agents.” Hummer continued, “Side allows teams and real estate agents to really break out on their own and develop autonomous platforms where they can essentially be [their own boutique brand] and not have to rely on the flagship brands that we all know.” By providing support and tech tools that take care of a lot of the backend work, agents and teams are able to focus on what matters - maximizing face to face time with clients and offering unparalleled support.

>> See Inman video coverage.

4. Patricia Nakache: Innovation Helps Agents Build Businesses

A Lay of the Land: Direct from the Venture Capitalists featured Patricia Nakache, General Partner of Trinity Ventures and Clelia Peters, President of Warburg Realty. These two incredibly successful women talked about how real estate investment has shifted over the past year, and explained what venture capitalists are looking for from entrepreneurs.

Nakache explained that real estate venture capital will continue to evolve. When referring to Side, Nakache said there’s “lots of interesting innovation going on” in that the company “is helping to innovate with a white-label brokerage platform to support high producing agents. It’s really about helping agents build their own businesses.”

>> See Inman video coverage.

5. Vikki Bartholomae Makes the Executive Move to Join Side

It’s official! During the Inman kickoff, we announced that Vikki Bartholomae has officially joined Side. Bartholomae, a recognized leader in the real estate industry with over 20 years of experience, previously served as President at eXp Realty, and in leadership positions at Disney and Keller Williams. We’re excited to welcome Vikki to the team.

“When I first heard about Side and realized that it offers true equity in a way that allows agents to own their own business, and grow that business without having to operate it, I had to be a part of that. I just had to,” says Bartholomae. “The model, combined with the technology and platform, is truly one-of-a-kind. Side is a partner that innovates on behalf of top agents and ensures that they continue to grow.”

>> See the press release and Inman’s coverage.

6. AgentBoss: Kelli Griggs says, “Don’t Rent Your Brand”

Our AgentBoss Learning Labs were a hit! Over 250 attendees joined us for six afternoon sessions of hands-on learning, all guided by expert agents who own businesses that produce $60 million to $170 million in annual home sales. Presenters included Kelli Griggs, Val Vandervort, Nicole Solari, and Brett Jennings.

In the session titled Power of Your Own Brand and Business, Kelli Griggs of Navigate Realty excitedly declared, "We tell our clients that it's better to own rather than rent, right? There are a lot of agents who are renting their brand. Own your brand!”

Griggs shared how doing so took her business from $18 million to $67 million in production in under four years, all while giving her the control to build a strong company with a happy, healthy culture.

>> See video highlights.

7. AgentBoss: Solari and Jennings Compare Business Models

In the AgentBoss session, Structure Your Business Like a CEO, Nicole Solari, the Founder CEO of LevelUp Realty, went head to head with Brett Jennings, the Founder and CEO of Real Estate Experts. The two compared their very different business models, proving that many roads can lead to success.

Solari’s “Producer’s Model” took her business to over $120 million in annual home sales in less than five years. Solari made this model work by building a robust team of buyer agents and staff but maintaining her presence as the core listing agent at the center of the transaction. Trial and error taught her to leverage the DISC profile, which stands for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness, as she built her dream team. Solari is a D-C type, meaning she’s both a driver and is consistent. To work effectively and build a balanced team, she’s surrounded herself with S-C types, who are steady and consistent.

In contrast, Jennings used the “Operator Model” to grow his business from $10 million to over $165 million in annual home sales last year. As his business grew, things got hectic, and Jennings realized he needed to take a step back from the day-to-day details to maintain his sanity. He said, “I’ll only participate in 12 out of the 211 transactions I’ll do this year.” He continued to say, “I’m moving towards going from producer to a business operator. And ultimately, my destination is to just be business owner.” Because of that, he’s looking for team agents who are mid-level drivers and influencers. He wants to grow and develop these agents, so they’re able to launch teams capable of handling 50+ transactions per year.

>> See 7 Stages of a Real Estate Business  for a roadmap of roadblocks and leverage points.

8. AgentBoss: Val Vandervort Uses Data to Dominate Her Market

During the Dominate Your Market AgentBoss Learning Lab, Val Vandervort, the Founder and CEO of Veritas Homes, shared how she uses data to win clients. Vandervort pulls county-level MLS data from the last 365 days of transactions and benchmarks her performance against it. She then shares this data with prospects, leveraging it as hard evidence that she can get better results than her competitors.

Here’s an example of the data points Vandervort shares:

  • - Veritas median sale price is $1.79 million vs. $1.46 million for the average agent

  • - Veritas average days on market is 12 days vs. 26 days for the average agent

  • - Veritas average # of annual transactions is 43 vs. 10 for the average agent

  • - Veritas sales to list ratio is 112% vs. 105% for the average agent

Vandervort points out that “a 7% difference between me and the average agent in our area means $125,000 to clients at our average price point, so it's a significant amount.” This tactic is core to her value proposition and helps her win business against the three or four agents that a prospect may be interviewing. Being data-driven drives Vandervort’s success, securing her a consistent spot in the top 1% of agents in San Mateo County.

9. Alice Pak Named Inman Ambassador

An Inman Ambassador is a real estate industry professional who is recognized for their insight, commitment, and guidance within the industry. These individuals are committed to raising the bar through education and events. Ambassadors have a strong command of the latest technology and have a history of innovation, service, and professional mindfulness. Connectors, influencers, team players, mentors, and leaders who earn the title of Inman Ambassador are well-known within the real estate community and have earned the trust of their peers.

We’re excited that Side’s Director of Partnerships, Alice Pak, was selected to be a distinguished Inman Ambassador this year. Alice has over a decade of experience in the real estate industry and has served in leadership positions at award-winning FinTech company Sindeo, as well as at Trulia and Zillow. She’s spent years working with brokerages and real estate professionals to take their online presence to the next level.

Congratulations, Alice! We’re lucky to have you on the Side team.

>> See the Inman Ambassadors Announcement

10. AgentBoss G&T and InSider Caipirinha Cocktail Recipes

We hosted an event at the Juniper Lounge featuring handcrafted cocktails - and we had many requests for the recipe. It would be greedy of us not to share such tasty drinks with our agent friends, so both recipes are listed below. Cheers!


  • Ingredients

  • 2 oz Sacred Cardamom Gin
  • 5 oz of tonic water
  • A few sprigs of coriander
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

  • How to Mix

  • 1. Put a few sprigs of coriander into a highball glass and muddle gently.
  • 2. Add ice and gin. Stir.
  • 3. Top with tonic and add the bay leaf and edible flowers.
  • 4. Enjoy!


  • Ingredients

  • 2 oz Avuá Cachaça
  • 1 lime, quarter for garnish
  • ¾ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ½ oz orgeat
  • Dash orange blossom water

  • How to Mix

  • 1. Mix cachaça, lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup, orgeat and orange blossom water together with ice.
  • 2. Garnish with lime.
  • 4. Enjoy!


Side is very proud of our industry impact and of our Partner Agents who took the stage to share their incredible knowledge. To those of you we had the pleasure to connect with, it was great to see you. To those who weren’t able to make it, we hope to see you at the next one.


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