RG 163 – The Pros & Cons of Starting a Digital Real Estate Business with Darryl Glade

Nuts and bolts

Darryl is the co-founder of Stilio, the largest real estate photography company in the US, Stilio connects photographers with real estate agents. Before he was the founder of Emoto Photo and a founding member of the association of real estate photographers. Darryl made his first dollar washing cars, his father was an accountant and a small business owner. Darryl initially started as an insurance broker and went into risk management when we was 23 years old but hated it and didn’t like the way he was spoken to so he quit after 2 years. He went back to school and got an MBA and wanted to be an entrepreneur so started with the education and in the meantime he worked as a real estate broker and agent.

While he was a real estate agent he was hiring someone to photograph his listings and help with the marketing. He knew photography was important so he made friends with the photographer and when his friend asked for advice on starting a business they decided to go in together. At this time he was feeling a little jaded with the real estate business so he went to law school and was thinking about going into the real estate side of law when he graduated. Between 2nd and 3rd year of law school was when he started the photography business Emoto Photo with his friend and by the time he passed the bar the business was profitable enough that he never had to practice law. The photographers in the business were all independent contractors so he couldn’t supply training as some of them were in other states, so it was quite hard to control quality. The interview was an important part of the process because he needed someone who would buy into the vision of the business, so if they talked about money in the interview they were out.


Emoto expanded to markets outside of driving distance so he had to give us some control of the business and quality control but he still did all the photographer interviews. In the early days they started with all their own money and no investors, they struggling initially with getting paid after handing the photos over so had to build a new site where agents pay first. The company grew so much and became one of the top 5 (be revenue) real estate photography companies in the US. 2 years ago the exec team came together to write down every issue and obstacle that the stakeholders have – this means photographers, clients, homeowners, exec team. They analysed these issues which helped with building the new website, but there were left over issues that couldn’t be solved as Emoto. For example the photographers were paid per product and there were only so many shoots per day which put a cap on their revenue. They also don’t have 24 hour customer service because this meant they would have to pay for a round the clock service team and raise the rates to pay for it. At this time Darryl learnt about platform networks which are places online to connect 2 or more parties, like Amazon for example. He decided to apply the platform networks model to real estate photography, so the photographers run their own businesses through Stilio technology and agents can go online to find a photographer.

Top tips

  • Most important habit – regular meetings and communications in team
  • Most influential person – dad
  • Most important tool – audible and podcasts
  • Imoto.com stilio.com

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