Marco Bitran is an entrepreneur with a wide range of interests that has led him to a successful career in real estate investments and development. With degrees from MIT and Harvard Business School, Bitran initially thought his future would be in engineering, but when an investment opportunity showed unexpected promise, he changed course and hasn’t looked back. Over the last decade, Isalia Property Group has grown to hold interests in over four-hundred properties.
One of Marco’s personal passions is as a pilot. Receiving his license in 2003, he flew for a couple of years before stopping to focus on his family. Returning to the hobby in 2018 came with a new purpose, volunteering his time and plane to Angel Flight and Patient AirLift Services. He assists immunocompromised patients to get to much-needed appointments or otherwise unavailable treatments.
This compassion is also evident in his partnerships for real estate development in some of the more under-served areas around Massachusetts. Marco has always looked for ways to make an impact on his community. Through his entrepreneurial spirit, he has helped turn parking lots into multi-family homes.
Tell us a little about your industry and why you chose to be an entrepreneur?
It started as an investment opportunity that became bigger than I had originally expected. I had already been doing some real estate investment. I was always interested in that field but had been busy following other endeavors. I originally thought I would be an engineer. It wasn’t until I was in college that I found I was less interested in it than I thought. As the investment opportunities became more numerous, I found myself more drawn in that direction and it progressed naturally.
What do you love most about real estate and real estate development?
It’s a creative process. We purchase a lot of dilapidated buildings and recreate them into beautiful new homes. We have several properties in the Roxbury area. Historically, this has been an underserved area in terms of affordable housing. We are working with Madison Park, which is a community development corporation. They develop affordable housing. We are also partnering with the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, which provides job training for underserved communities.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t have a “typical day” per se. Part of what I love about my career is that every day is different than the last. I spend a lot of time meeting with developers or with investors. I also handle permit and zoning issues. We manage several existing properties, so sometimes I am just in the office taking care of things from there. Some days, I am running around like crazy, some days I can work from home. I always make sure I leave time to work out at least once a day and make time to spend with my wife and kids.
What keeps you motivated?
I really enjoy what I do, especially with regard to the development in the more under-served areas. Making a difference for people who are income-restricted, giving them an opportunity to have a nice home is rewarding work. Even during the development phase, watching a building go from run-down to a livable home is something that still leaves me in awe. It’s amazing to watch the transformation.
How do you motivate others?
We give our employees room to be creative in their positions. We want everyone to feel valued and know they are listened to. It can be a delicate balance. Obviously, we need to be sure the day-to-day work is getting done, but we are always approachable with new ideas and looking for better ways to complete tasks. Once an employee understands that you are rooting for their success, they tend to put more effort into their work. We want our employees to be happy with what they do and enjoy it as much as we do.
How has your company grown from the early days until now?
We started with just investments, not owning any properties. Now we own, manage, or have new construction going on about four-hundred properties, all within Massachusetts. We’ve been fortunate to have great investments and investors. Of course, not everything has worked out, but enough has that we have been able to have steady growth since we began.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve always been an industrious person. I love building and growing things. Sitting still has never been something I could do for too long. Of course, my wife and children inspire me to do the best I can. I want them to know that looking beyond themselves is something they should endeavor to do. The best way to inspire is to live the behaviors you want to see.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?
I would encourage them to get as broad a view of the industry as possible. There are so many ways to be successful in this field and finding that niche that works for you is a very important thing to do early on. Making connections with others in the field, in any capacity, can be a helpful resource as you learn how to navigate it yourself.
How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
This has been something I have struggled with, especially when I first started and was growing the company. I am grateful that as we have become more successful, my flexibility has increased. I’m able now to effectively maintain a better balance. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized more about what is really important and I appreciate being able to spend more time with my family.
What trait do you possess that makes you a successful leader?
I’ve always been a hard worker and I’ve always had a wide range of interests. I was fortunate in that I had an excellent education, which was definitely helpful. I’ve also been very lucky in that I have a great group of friends, all of whom are smart and successful and have helped me out along the way.