An entrepreneur at heart, Daphne De Groot was driven to create an alternative to Toronto’s outdated real estate model. Today, Daphne is the CEO of Justo — a new type of real estate brokerage. She is responsible for bringing this client-centric real estate brokerage to fruition and providing strategic oversight across the organization. Determined to bring fairness to the marketplace, she successfully developed a profitable solution for both buyers and sellers.
My first job was… as a veterinary assistant. I love animals and actually studied marine biology at university!
My proudest accomplishment is… My friends and family. I’m lucky; not everyone gets along with their families, but mine is very close-knit. I’ve also managed to maintain amazing friendships throughout my entire life, and I’m really proud of that.
My boldest move to date was… Starting my company, Justo. There is a lot of competition in the Canadian real estate industry, and a lot of very deeply rooted norms, and we’re trying to change the way things are done. Disruption takes guts!
The idea for Justo came about… because my own experience trying to buy a home in Toronto was terrible. I felt like my agent only cared about his commission, and not what I needed from him. Buying or selling a home is a huge process, and it can be stressful and challenging. I started Justo so we could give our customers a great, positive, and helpful experience.
The real estate industry keeps me excited because… it is everywhere and it touches so many different aspects of life. It incorporates aesthetics and design, culture… It’s also all about people – what they want, what they need – and helping them find a place to call home.
“Pay attention to the details. If you pay attention to the details, life becomes more interesting and more satisfying.”
It’s also a business that will never disappear because everything relates to real estate. Someone needs a place to live. Someone opens a business and needs a place to work. Someone launches an e-commerce business and needs storage. No matter what the need, people will always need places to exist, making real estate the most long term positive business cycle. That’s what makes it so fascinating. It’s like a living organism that is constantly evolving, and it differs in every country, or city, neighbourhood.
My greatest advice from a mentor was… Pay attention to the details. If you pay attention to the details, life becomes more interesting and more satisfying.
My biggest setback was… due to a lack of balance. If you are too extreme, you’ll fall off of your path. It’s important to be determined and focused but to balance that out with what you enjoy.
I overcame it by… falling. And picking myself back up again. And learning from the experience.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… understanding that you can be a good business person and still be a good person.
I surprise people when I tell them… that I have a degree in marine biology.
I stay inspired by… other entrepreneurs, who take on the challenge and fear of failure, determination and grit and all the hard work and details that need to be noticed to make something work. When you’re on the outside, you’re not aware of how much thought, time and patience is needed to create something.
The future excites me because…Justo is my baby, and watching the business grow is like watching my baby grow up. Like I would for a baby, I have dreams for Justo, what it will become and how it will evolve. It gives me great pride and joy.
My next step is… I’m not thinking about what’s next, yet. I’m still in the middle of this current step, which is growing Justo and being part of a trend that is fundamentally changing the way real estate is done.