When Nancy Almodovar watched her parents flipping houses during her childhood, she realized that entrepreneurship was a path that she wanted to follow as well in life. But building a company from the ground up is no easy feat. As a female founder, she faced additional challenges as well. But her perseverance and the energy and time invested into becoming the best in her field has paid dividends as she’s built the largest local real estate company in Houston. Nan and Company Properties has now become synonymous with Houston real estate and billboards across the city are adorned with Almodovar’s image. We caught up with Nancy for her insights into what it took to build a successful firm in a male dominated, highly competitive industry.
How did you choose real estate as your career path?
Nancy Almodovar: My parents actually used to flip houses during the majority of my childhood, so I was surrounded by real estate from a very young age. Seeing the impact a home can have on a family really made me fall in love with the industry. I started with flipping properties of my own and then got into real estate sales. The process of helping somebody find their dream home and then navigate what is often the most important purchase of a person’s life became extremely fulfilling to me and I knew that this was the career path I wanted to devote my life to.
Did you work in the industry prior to starting your company?
NA: I did! I worked as a sales agent at a real estate company for a while, but always found myself wanting more from a brokerage firm. Having experience on the ground floor of an agency really gave me amazing insight into what was lacking in the industry at the time. This motivated me and made me realize what I needed to provide at my own brokerage firm.
As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I also have a lot of experience in flipping houses and investing in property. That was my precursor into real estate sales. In fact, flipping homes is actually how we made enough money to pay for our wedding, by flipping our first house!
What was the biggest unexpected challenge you faced in the early days of building Nan & Co?
NA: My biggest professional challenge was starting my own real estate company from the ground up with very limited funds. I think I thought I knew how much work and perseverance it was going to take, but looking back I had no idea just how challenging it would be!
I had to learn how to strategize, develop business savvy practices, and learn how to market myself successfully in order to make sure my business generated revenue and continued to succeed through the years. I was able to begin my journey by qualifying for an SBA-backed loan to purchase real estate, and now we are in the midst of building our second office in The Heights of Houston.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
NA: Yes! I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and run my own business. I think it stems from my parents being entrepreneurs and always being involved in different business ventures. I've been working since I was 14, and I've always had a passion for entrepreneurship.
What are some of the unique challenges you’ve had to overcome as a female founder?
NA: I've definitely had to overcome not just a lot of sexism in my career, but racism as well. Being Latin and a woman has made lots of people look at me and not take me seriously, or not take my ideas seriously. Men still dominate the real estate industry and even to this day there are still times where my success and achievements have been questioned because of what I look like.
Is there an underrated skillet that you think more founders should focus on honing?
NA: Execution. Lots of people can and do have great ideas but the mark of a successful entrepreneur is executing those ideas and actually getting things done.
What are ways that female leaders can empower other women who want to enter entrepreneurship?
NA: We can encourage each other to speak more freely and tell your stories. Speak about your experiences, and never be afraid to tell your story.