Former Real Estate Organization President Earns Big on Shark Tank
By: Darla Vasquez
Texas Tech alumnus and former president of the student Real Estate Organization, Junior Desinor, has been active in the real estate industry from an early age. His entrepreneurial spirit, along with his strong determination to succeed, took him on a unique path which eventually led to his appearance on the hit television show, Shark Tank. Originally from Dallas, Desinor began at Tech in 2002 and received his bachelor's degree in 2007. While in school, Desinor and a friend founded a party supply company that would provide DJ services, as well as food, drink and entertainment to student groups and organizations. From there, they would take the earnings to buy, fix and sell houses. Throughout their time at Tech, Desinor and his partner flipped ten houses, a warehouse and a small development in downtown. With this hands-on experience, Desinor graduated and stepped into the world of real estate.
Unlike many other graduates, Desinor took an entrepreneurial approach to the real estate industry. Rather than joining an established organization, he used his own resources to create jobs. In fact, he hasn't worked an "official" job since being a doorman at the Lubbock grill and draft house, Crickets, at the age of 19. Desinor received a real estate license at 23 and a broker license at 24. After earning his broker license, he opened his own shop. That experience helped him learn about both the broker aspect of real estate, as well as the agent aspect.
Desinor opened his shop as the economy began bouncing back from the 2008 recession, resulting in a spike in the real estate industry. Looking for a way to offer better service to customers, he was frustrated with his inability to give buyers the attention they deserved. Like many realtors, he was only able to service 1 or 2 people on a Saturday - the busiest day for showing homes. Rather than working within the barriers set in place, Desinor began to wonder if there was a way to allow clients to tour a property without him, providing convenience to clients that booked with nearby agencies or on their own. This idea would allow buyers to work with agents they want, rather than the single agent on that property because there is more flexibility for touring.
Following his usual entrepreneurial approach, Desinor immediately began trying to find the best steps to accommodate buyers. Realizing that a lock box could simultaneously be secure and accessible to clients and agents, he began looking at the shortcomings about boxes in existence. After hand-drawing a sketch with thoughts about the flow and protocol of using a box in conjunction with a phone app, Desinor contacted the best patent lawyers in Dallas. Filing a patent before even contacting engineers or designers ensured his ideas remained his property. Once patented, he hired the best mechanical and electrical engineers, who turned his drawing into a successful rendering. Although he had enough for investors at this point, Desinor went above and beyond by creating a scale model. He then wanted to make a functional model for investors. It took several months for a mechanical engineer to create functional mechanics for the lock, in conjunction with an electric engineer for the electrical components and app designers to put together the look and usage of a phone app. Ultimately, this small idea turned into two years of Desinor using his own money to create the concept and item, but it paid off because he is now at the manufacturing stage.
Desinor admits that there are always doubts when investing so much time, money and energy in one project, but he persevered because he was confident that he knew the industry. The biggest challenge was financing. A culmination of hard work and sacrifice in terms of his personal finances as a broker have led to his success with the lock box.
"Entrepreneurs don't realize that they too often bring on partners to get over the next road block - if you do it alone, there are less obstacles and you can create what you envisioned without altering it to meet the expectations of others who might have different goals for the project," Desinor said.
That being said, it is important to get feedback. Beyond simply asking your friends or spouse, ask consumers. That was the motivation behind Desinor's Kickstarter campaign. The campaign gave consumers the opportunity to give feedback and invest dollars, not just ideas or words for support. With Kickstarter, he was able to create a relationship with consumers that goes beyond investment alone. Although the campaign successfully drew in a large amount of support and money, Desinor went one step further by auditioning for Shark Tank.
Initially, getting featured on Shark Tank wasn't a specific goal, but it proved an incredible opportunity. Shark Tank and Kickstarter can propel an idea, but it's important not to be reliant on them. With the mentality that the goal will be reached, no matter how long it takes, there is a determination that will make it difficult to fail. Then, opportunities like Shark Tank can put you a step ahead of where you were on your own.
For the television show, there were constant milestones to pass. Originally, Desinor was one of 4,000 entrepreneurs to audition in Atlanta. Two hours after his audition, he received a call from producers informing him he'd made it to the next round. For this, he had to create a five minute video showing his personality and describing the product in more detail than he had in the first round. Following the video, there were various background and credit checks used to determine that the product is real and the applicant isn't a criminal or trickster. Ultimately, producers decided the lock box could sell and that Desinor seemed good for television, so the show flew him to California. From there, the process is pretty fast paced. You have a chance to look at the set to design your own props, there is a practice round in front of producers and the following day you are live in front of the sharks.
For Desinor, the show proved an incredible opportunity, but there is always a risk associated with taking your company and product public. Even with a great product, if the judges don't buy it, a company can be set back because viewers respect their opinions. It's important to remember that only 120 out of 40,000 entrepreneurs that audition are chosen, and less than half of that 120 get deals.
"The key to success for any entrepreneur is confidence and passion. Believe in yourself and your product or idea. Be confident in your knowledge, and others will be confident in you," Desinor said.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.