At BatchService, we’re privileged to work under the leadership of an incredible female co-founder: Anny Draginova. However, real estate doesn’t have a history of being the most inclusive industry. So we wanted to explore how Anny blazed her path to success. Below, you’ll find her story along with her advice for women who want to launch careers in this life-changing industry.
How did you get started in real estate?
My dad owned a small construction company, and I started working in it when I was 17. I learned the ins and outs of construction, everything from remodeling to new builds. So I had a few entrepreneurship role models who taught me about the world of real estate: my mom, my dad, and my brother Ivo who showed me how to start something new.
Ivo was in real estate here and there, so we started pulling out of the family business for the mere reason that Dad was getting older and he needed to retire. We didn’t see it as a scalable business, or at least we couldn’t scale it to what we wanted it to be. So we started flipping houses.
Ivo and I tried doing that alone and then we started doing it together because we realized that Ivo’s weaknesses were something that I could cover and vice versa. From there, we got into wholesaling real estate. We saw an assignment fee on one of our flips and we got frustrated because the wholesaler made more than we did flipping the property. And they made it in, what at that time, seemed like a week’s worth of work compared to the year we spent flipping the property. So we tried to figure out what was going on and how these wholesalers were getting paid.
What was your role in your family’s construction business?
I started by entering invoices and doing accounts receivable and accounts payable for my dad. One of the things that he lacked as an immigrant was command of the English language. It was very, very tough for him. So I would translate as much as my Bulgarian construction dictionary allowed, and then I would invoice our customers.
That turned into me going to the City of Phoenix to place our bids. So I was managing the entire office and the operations at my dad’s facility. We were the City of Phoenix’s number one contractor for low-income families. So any low-income family work that needed to be done, it was our company that was doing all the work.
So you started by helping people who were in financial distress?
We were helping families, but we were also learning the ins and outs of construction along the way. And it positioned us perfectly to start wholesaling. Of course, we didn’t know we were learning the skills and knowledge that we needed for wholesaling. But when we got into real estate, some of our leads came directly from these low-income families that the City of Phoenix was sending us.
Who are some of the women who’ve inspired your career?
Obviously, my mom had a huge role. But there are three women when I think of the wholesale space: Lauren Hardy, Jamie Wooley, and Cassie DeHass. When I met Lauren, we clicked and got along really well. But prior to meeting her in person, she was just an idol.
You see the Brent Daniels, you see these other people, and you’re like, “Wow, I want to be one of them.” It was the same concept from my perspective. Those are just a few women that when I first saw them I was like, “Oh, wow, I want to gravitate towards you because you’re doing what I want to do.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Fail fast, and fail forward.
What are your favorite examples of that?
There are several from our journey with Batch, including products that not a lot of people know about. Some of the products didn’t even make it to the public, but we quickly learned from a lot of our mistakes along the way.
One of the first platforms that we set up was Text Machine Pro; it was live for around two months. Within those two months, we realized that it wasn’t right. We didn’t build it in a way that we could scale it, so we scrapped it and started over. That’s actually what led us to build BatchLeads.
Is there anything you wish you would have known when you started your real estate career? What about your career with BatchService?
Don’t limit yourself as an individual. Don’t limit what you can achieve or how far you can go. Obviously, your mind is limited, but you’ll expand those limits along the way.
Now I can look back at the beginning of Batch and say, five years ago we thought Batch would be a 5- to 10-person company. A couple of months along, our perspectives grew and we started thinking Batch could be a 40- to 50-person company. Now we’re approaching 300 team members. As you gain experience, your mind just starts expanding, your limits are no longer limits, they’re possibilities. So don’t limit your mindset.
Wholesaling tends to be a male-dominated field. Do you have any advice for women who want to get started in real estate? Do you feel like there’s a difference between how men and women are treated in this industry?
I think that there is. However, I don’t think you should limit yourself to thinking that way. In the beginning, I was looking for a real estate women’s powerhouse mastermind group. It’s natural to gravitate toward people like you. You want to feel comfortable in a room speaking to your female peers instead of in a very male, very ego-dominated industry.
But I think that if you can conquer being comfortable in those situations, you can thrive in the real estate space altogether. I think you shouldn’t necessarily look for women-specific groups when it comes to real estate. If that’s something that you want to do, find a group outside of real estate, like a mindset or empowerment class.
I don’t want this to sound stupid, but just be one of the boys. Honestly, if you’re setting yourself apart as a female, you’re already framing yourself as an outcast. So stand out in the crowd, no matter what it is. And if that’s you being a female, stand out, great. I know that they’re going to look up tomorrow and say, “Oh, you were that one female in this one mastermind that I was in.” At least you’ll be memorable that way.
What’s your favorite part of being an investor? What about as a co-founder and business owner?
I think my favorite part of being an investor is the same as my favorite part of owning a business. There’s a new set of challenges every day. I think my strength is problem solving. I think I’m a great firefighter. I put out fires every day and I think that’s the same with investing. They’re just different fires. You have different problems to solve.
I did like the creativity of fix and flip. But I still get to use that creativity at Batch. It’s just housed differently. So I really enjoy the opportunities that come with both.
Keeping a business afloat is hard work that can lead to burnout. Is problem solving what keeps that passion alive for you?
It definitely is. But I’m also driven by building a future for myself and for my family. But thinking about how many people are dependent on us is important, too. It’s not just me, Ivo, Jesse, and our families that are supported by Batch. Now we’re just shy of 300 individuals that are impacted by what we do. And if we take everyone’s families and loved ones into consideration, we quadruple our impact. So, that’s a very strong part of what drives me now.
Are there any challenges you face because you’re a woman in real estate? How have you overcome those?
I feel like women are still undermined to an extent; people think we aren’t as knowledgeable as the men. I think a very big part of overcoming that was learning things on my own. I was very confident with my knowledge. The second part is having amazing partners like Ivo and Jesse. They literally just say, “Well, ask Anny, because we don’t know anything about this.” So we all know different parts of our industry and we know different parts of our business very well.
So if you have expertise in your space, just be confident with that knowledge. Of course, there’s always more that you can learn, but don’t worry too much about what you don’t know. As long as you’re knowledgeable in your field, you’ll be completely fine.