Brent Dahlstrom, '07, started by mowing lawns in high school and selling tickets out of his college dorm room when he was a freshman finance and real estate double major at UNI.
Today, he owns and develops more than 1,000 properties.
"I don't think I ever thought I'd be where I am today," said Dahlstrom when asked if this is what he envisioned for his career when he was attending UNI.
As an undergraduate, he assumed he would end up working at Principal or Wells Fargo after graduation. This was before the housing market crash that would aect a vast number of his classmates. When he opted to strike out on his own, rejecting the more traditional career path that was perceived to be safer" at the time, there was no shortage of doubters.
In addition to his real estate developments, Dahlstrom is also involved in a number of other business ventures—including Dollys Tickets, Dollys Party Bus and Dollys Taxi— but has ceded control of the day-to-day operations to his business partner.
His focus remains squarely on real estate, including Panther Builders, a custom home building service based in the Cedar Valley. Started five years ago with the initial goal of building a few houses each year, Panther Builders now builds close to a hundred homes each year.
When talking about the keys to his success, Dahlstrom is quick to credit the team of people he has surrounded himself with, many of whom are UNI graduates.
I partner on almost every one of my projects with friends and people that Ive met along the way," Dahlstrom said. It makes it more enjoyable to do it together than all by myself. I want to continue to make long lasting relationships."
He also stresses that patience is one of the most important qualities for a budding entrepreneur, having personally endured tough times with each of his own business ventures.
If you look at all businesses, whether its Google or Apple or Facebook, and look at the beginnings, no one ever started and just exploded. Most of them go through financial hardships. It takes time and effort, and it takes [from] people their guts and their blood.
"It takes so much that no one ever sees."