Got ID?

Edward Poteat, 29, Robert Horsford, 30, & Alyah Horsford, 32: Horsford and Poteat Realty Corp.

The slowing economy and the attacks on the World Trade Center weren't enough to stop the partners of New York City-based Horsford and Poteat Realty. "There's always going to be a need here in New York City for building more affordable housing," says Edward Poteat, who, along with sibling partners Robert and Alyah Horsford, build, develop and manage affordable housing in New York City.

Poteat and Robert Horsford met their freshman year in college and decided they'd follow the path set by Horsford's grandfather, who'd been in the real estate business in Harlem. So Robert studied civil engineering at Brown and Poteat studied economics at Yale, and when they graduated, they worked in the private sector to save money until they had the skills and finances to start their business in 1995. Alyah joined them with the managing skills she'd picked up working for her grandfather and working at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for New York City. A few years of sweat equity later, the city is their main client, and sales for 2002 are expected to reach $3 million. The trio hope to expand their business throughout the state of New York.

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Success Secrets

What prompted you to become an entrepreneur?
Edward Poteat: My father had a factory job for about 40 years, and he lost his job in the recession of the early '90s. So just seeing that and thinking that I didn't want to reach the end of my work years and have someone say "Listen, it's been nice, but you have to go now."

What does it take to make it as an entrepreneur?
Robert Horsford: It's the commitment and the drive to accomplish what you're setting out to accomplish. You have to be open-minded to help--be it partnerships, joint ventures--but you've got to be intelligent in making those decisions on who those partners and joint ventures will be. Sometimes you need the capital and the expertise of someone who's been there before to get to the next step, and sometimes you can't get it accomplished at the pace you'd like to get it accomplished by yourself.

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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Got ID?.

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