Anthony Lolli rose from humble beginnings to become a wildly successful real estate investor, developer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
The son of an Ecuadorian immigrant and a first-generation Italian American WWII veteran-turned-schoolteacher, Anthony grew up poor in Brooklyn, NY. When he was just six years old, he made his mother a promise that he would make their family wealthy one day. And to her credit, she never let him forget it. That promise lit a fire under Anthony that led him to get his real estate license at age 19. By 23, he was a millionaire with his own brokerage, Rapid Realty NYC, and a growing portfolio of rental properties to his name.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Anthony built Rapid Realty NYC with his own two hands. He started the company in a mixed-use building he had purchased in the heart of Brooklyn. Having spent all his savings on the building itself, he couldn’t afford to hire a contractor to renovate the property for him. Instead, he hired day laborers and rolled up his sleeves and went to work right alongside them, learning all they could teach him about construction along the way.
Always happier to carve his own path than to follow the pack, Anthony broke from tradition when he designed Rapid Realty NYC to specialize in apartment rentals in the outer boroughs, rather than the Manhattan sales market that virtually every other New York firm at the time was fighting over. With his intimate knowledge of Brooklyn, he recognized that the borough was about to become the next hot destination, and that renters were a sorely under-served market.
It was a gamble that paid off. In the early 2000s, renters began flocking to Brooklyn in record numbers. Anthony was able to grow both Rapid Realty and his portfolio of investment properties, and even opened a real estate school, which he gifted to his parents in honor of his father’s career in public education.
As the company grew, so did Anthony’s portfolio of investment properties. His reputation for creative, fair, and effective negotiation made him a sought-after consultant for other property investors who needed help getting a deal to the closing table, or who were struggling with a tenant relationship.
When the home sales market crashed in 2007, demand for rentals shot up even further, creating an unprecedented need for brokers who understood the fast-paced rental market. Anthony positioned Rapid Realty NYC to meet this swiftly growing need. Which is how, at the height of the crisis, while other real estate firms were closing their doors, Anthony was able to expand his company.
Once again, he broke from the accepted wisdom in New York City real estate, this time by choosing to turn Rapid Realty NYC into a franchise. The first Rapid Realty franchise opened its doors in August, 2009. Within the next few years, under Anthony’s watchful eye and hands-on leadership, the company grew into one of the largest real estate firms in New York and, in 2012,
debuted on the INC. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America.
With Rapid Realty expanding by the day, Anthony’s innovative approach to business garnered recognition at the local, national, and international level. He won the Silver Stevie in the Real Estate Executive of the Year category of the International Business Awards, as well as being named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Golden Bridge Awards–making him the first real estate professional to receive this prestigious honor that had previously gone to tech giants. (See Awards for more.)
The atmosphere of youthful energy, celebrated diversity, and plentiful opportunity that Anthony created at Rapid Realty NYC generated incredible excitement among the agents and franchisees. So much so that, in 2013, the eyes of the world turned to Rapid Realty when a news story that over 40 of its agents had gotten tattoos of the company logo suddenly went viral. (That number has since grown to over 100.) In the span of weeks, Anthony was interviewed in media outlets everywhere from Austin to Australia. In one day, Anthony appeared on The Today Show in the morning, and Jay Leno joked about the story in one of his final monologues as host of The Tonight Show that night.
The exposure created massive interest in the brand that could inspire such loyalty in its agents, opening doors for Anthony to take the Rapid Realty franchise to new states across America. All the while, he continued to add to both his portfolio of investment properties and his range of business ventures.
Over the last few years, Anthony has branched out into property development, technology ventures, and entertainment. Through his production and talent management company, Lolli Brands Entertainment, he has worked with visionaries like Spike Lee, produced award-winning short films, and collaborated with stars like 50 Cent, Raekwon, Fat Joe, AZ, and Uncle Murda. Additionally, Anthony’s house, known as the Lolli Mansion, has served as the backdrop for numerous commercials, music videos, and TV and film projects.
Anthony is a regular speaker at colleges, high schools, and business forums. (See Speaking & Events for more.) He also frequently shares his unique insights into real estate, franchising, and more on radio programs across the country. You can find many of these interviews, as well as Anthony’s personal insights, on Soundcloud.
Since the start of his career, one of Anthony’s bedrock principles has been the importance of giving back. He believes that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has something to give to help those who are less fortunate, whether it’s money, time, or their voice. He encourages everyone he works with to find some way to get involved and give back.
Anthony has supported many different causes over the years, and continues to do so, but the one that is closest to his heart is ensuring that people from all walks of life have access to the same educational and career opportunities. When he was first starting out in real estate, he was turned down for a job by numerous firms for looking too young and talking like a kid from Brooklyn–which is precisely what he was. From the moment he started his first company, he made it his policy in his own businesses to give people a chance regardless of what they look like, what they sound like, where they come from, or who they are. That’s why it was particularly meaningful to him when Rapid Realty NYC received the Special Achievement Award from the National Minority Business Council and the New York Urban League named Rapid Realty one of their Champions of Diversity. (Please see Philanthropy to learn how you can get involved with a number of wonderful causes.)
Anthony’s commitment to creating opportunities and putting people front and center in the often-cutthroat world of real estate is on display in his first book, The Heart of the Deal: How to Invest and Negotiate Like a Real Estate Mogul, released in Summer 2017 from Diversion Books. Part memoir, part insider’s guide to building a career in real estate, part all-purpose advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, The Heart of the Deal contains anecdotes from Anthony’s inspirational rags-to-riches life story, as well as plenty of hard-won lessons and motivational techniques to put any budding business leader on the path to success. To learn more about the book and order your copy, visit theheartofthedeal.com