Entrepreneur manages start-up real estate office

Sophomore Kyle Ditto manages not just his classwork, but a newly opened real estate office as well.

Ditto runs Flatbook Miami, a real estate services company based in Montreal. Ditto convinced Flatbook co-founder Francis Davidson to open an office in Miami earlier this year. The company helps leaseholders rent out their apartment to travelers who prefer the advantage of an apartment rather than a hotel.

Davidson and his partners Lucas Pellan and Olivier Gareau were initially hesitant to open the Miami branch.

“We decided last minute we didn’t want to go because of lower occupancy rates over the summer [in Miami],” Davidson said. “Kyle had applied for the position and convinced us that the model could work out in Miami.”

Kyle hooked the founders by arguing for Miami’s booming tourism industry.

“I told them I was the man for the job, especially because Miami’s tourism never dies,” he said.

Ditto, who has been the manager since January, takes applications, looks at potential apartments and negotiates with landlords before putting the apartment up for sublease.

An interior designer and photographer also work with Ditto to assist in finding potential renters for the apartment during the sublease period.

“Once the students are off at home and on vacation, we start renting the apartments out to short-term tourists,” Ditto said. “Since it’s shorter term, we can charge a price per night, and because of that we can afford to pay the student’s rent and make a profit.”

While looking for leaseholders, Ditto promotes Flatbook on campus, reaching out to the Office of Housing and Residential Life. He has contacted the off-campus housing department to integrate Flatbook into its system.

“I’m hoping to use that channel to make it more school-approved,” he said. “It’s just a whole mixture of [public relations] and marketing. The actual managing hasn’t come yet.”

Flatbook Miami is taking applications until April 1 from leaseholders to sublease their apartments over the summer. They provide insurance, storage, cleaning and rent negotiation for the leaseholder at no cost.

“In reality, there’s really nothing to lose and a lot to gain with Flatbook,” Ditto said.

Ditto also does not lose any time between school and work. He merged his student and manager lives together by “keeping a good schedule” and “writing everything down.”

“I wanted to join Flatbook because I’m really interested in entrepreneurship and start-ups,” he said.

Since its establishment in 2012, Flatbook has expanded to cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Munich.

“All the sudden, they got super ambitious and wanted to expand all over North America and Europe,” Ditto said. “They found out I was studying in Miami, and they got in touch with me.”