Brokerage

Why this Manhattan indie broker never hires industry insiders

As the founder of New York firm Elegran, maverick Michael Rossi pushes innovation boundaries to the wartime level
  • Investing up to $50,000 in each hire who typically comes from the corporate world, indie broker Michael Rossi does not recruit existing agents.
  • Tech-forward firm Elegran likes to work independently on pain points in the real estate industry with its tech solutions.
  • Elegran has been compared to another tech-forward Manhattan-based company, Compass.

You won't see much of Michael Rossi at real estate industry events. The entrepreneurial founder of Manhattan real estate brokerage Elegran is not big on mixing with other real estate people. He prefers to run his business at a slight arm's length so he can see problems -- and solutions -- more clearly. "I've never mingled, never plugged myself in, never worked in another real estate firm," he said. "I don’t have the habits." Taking a page from WWII There's a method behind this approach for Rossi. The former hedge-fund manger ran client service operations for a Wall Street brokerage before setting up Elegran with a college buddy and his brother-in-law in 2008. "We have a willingness to change our mindset as the market changes, separating our talent, isolating them," he explained. He likens it to an idea that came out of World War II, a movement called Skunk Works. Characterized by "small empowered teams, streamlined processes and the culture that values the lessons ...