Young Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Sher Drent of IREC Is Helping To Change Our World

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Don’t rush: I wish someone had emphasized the importance of not rushing in my entrepreneurial journey. I recall a time when I was eager to launch a product quickly and overlooked some crucial details. As a result, my product encountered issues that could have been avoided with more careful planning and attention to detail.

As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sher Drent, the founder of IREC, a networking startup. Originally from The Netherlands, Sher is currently studying at Cornell University. She explains that IREC is actively engaged in the development of a user-friendly world map designed to facilitate effortless navigation and search functions for the discovery of real estate professionals. On the platform, users are able to create and manage their profiles, effectively showcasing their experience, education, and areas of specialization. IREC’s platform is equipped with a comprehensive set of tools that enable users to search for and connect with other individuals based on specific criteria, such as location, industry sector, or expertise. Furthermore, the messaging system within the platform allows for direct communication, offering users the option to organize and filter messages to enhance their overall convenience and user experience.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

In the first seven years of my life, I grew up in The Netherlands, specifically in a small village called Beverwijk, which is located just outside of Amsterdam. My father is Dutch, while my mother is Surinamese. Due to my father’s job requiring frequent relocations, my family and I had to move around often. When I was seven years old, we moved to Bahrain.

You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

I am leading an organization that aims to make a social impact by connecting real estate professionals with each other. Through our platform, IREC, we provide a user-friendly world map for effortless navigation and search functions. Our goal is to foster a sense of community, empower professionals to network effectively, and facilitate collaboration within the real estate industry. By streamlining connections and enabling direct communication, we strive to drive positive change and create a more inclusive and collaborative real estate community.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

At the age of 16, I took a bold step and moved to New York City alone, driven by my desire to establish numerous connections in the field.

In my senior year of high school, I worked at five different real estate companies without pay, solely driven by my intention to make connections. Through these experiences, I quickly realized that individuals outside of the United States, particularly those outside of Europe and beyond major U.S. cities, often lacked valuable connections and contacts within the industry.

This realization became the driving force behind my passion for creating a solution that could bridge this gap and provide real estate professionals with a platform to connect and collaborate regardless of their geographical location. Inspired by my own experiences and the desire to empower professionals worldwide, I embarked on the journey of developing IREC, aiming to address this challenge and facilitate global networking within the real estate industry.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

During my first semester at college, a significant health issue led to my hospitalization and subsequent depression. Taking time off to recover, I reconnected with my passion for real estate. Realizing my enjoyment in connecting people from different places within the industry, I decided to turn my passion into reality by developing IREC, a platform for global networking in real estate. This realization became the final trigger that propelled me to take action and make my vision a reality.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

I credit my father, who started his own company at a young age and continues to pursue his passion, as a significant inspiration. Drawing from his example, I developed determination and drive. I conducted thorough research, assembled a dedicated team, secured funding, sought feedback, and remained persistent throughout the process. These steps enabled me to successfully start my organization and embark on my entrepreneurial journey.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I recall how, at the age of 18, I had the opportunity to travel and meet 20 students worldwide who shared my passion for real estate. This experience left a lasting impression, showcasing the power of networking and the global reach of my organization.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I reflect on my early experiences and recall a notable mistake, although not necessarily funny, that taught me a valuable lesson. I admit that I had a tendency to want to do everything at once and lacked patience when it came to seeing immediate results. I chuckle at the memory, acknowledging that my eagerness often got the best of me. The lesson I learned from this experience was the importance of patience and persistence. I realized that building a successful organization takes time and requires a methodical approach. Rushing and expecting immediate results can lead to mistakes and missed opportunities. I learned the value of setting realistic expectations, putting in consistent effort, and staying committed to the long-term vision.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

I acknowledge the invaluable guidance of my father, an entrepreneur who has provided me with insights and a strong foundation. I also highlight the impact of attending real estate and networking events, where I gained guidance from experienced professionals. Their support and mentorship have played a vital role in my journey towards success.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

As a student on the team, I now have the opportunity to network more easily and effectively within the real estate industry. As a result, I have formed close bonds with professionals and peers from around the world. This increased connectivity and access to networking opportunities has been transformative for me, enabling me to expand my professional circle and gain valuable insights and support.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I emphasize the significance of stepping out of my comfort zone and connecting with individuals outside of my immediate circle. I suggest that if I’m not yet comfortable with international connections, I can start smaller by reaching out to people outside my city or state. I believe that engaging with individuals who hold different viewpoints can profoundly shape my thinking and foster greater understanding and empathy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

  1. Don’t rush: I wish someone had emphasized the importance of not rushing in my entrepreneurial journey. I recall a time when I was eager to launch a product quickly and overlooked some crucial details. As a result, my product encountered issues that could have been avoided with more careful planning and attention to detail.
  2. Choose your team wisely: I highlight the significance of selecting the right people to work with. I share a personal experience where I rushed into forming a team without thoroughly considering each individual’s skills, values, and compatibility. This hasty decision resulted in conflicts and inefficiencies. I advise taking the time to meet and evaluate multiple potential team members before making a final decision.
  3. Continuously learn: I emphasize the importance of lifelong learning, even when I believe I have a great idea. I share a story about initially believing I had a solid foundation of knowledge in my field but soon realizing that continuous learning is essential for personal and professional growth. I acknowledge that in a rapidly evolving society, staying up to date and expanding my knowledge is a valuable asset.
  4. Manage time wisely: I recognize the significance of effective time management. I recall a time when I used to schedule meetings or appointments without a clear purpose, resulting in wasted time and productivity. I advise being mindful of setting up meetings with a clear agenda and purpose to ensure that time is used efficiently.
  5. Seek advice from others: I admit that initially, I was skeptical of seeking advice or accepting criticism. However, I realized the value of having a growth mindset and actively seeking guidance from experienced individuals. I share an experience where I sought advice from a mentor who provided valuable insights and helped me avoid costly mistakes. I emphasize the importance of being open to advice and leveraging the wisdom of others to enhance personal and professional development.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I believe that we, as young people, have the power to create a lasting positive impact on the environment and society. If I were given the opportunity to share one piece of advice with my peers, I would encourage them to prioritize empowering communities in everything we do. I emphasize the importance of recognizing that big efforts alone are not enough to bring about substantial change. It is equally vital for us to support and uplift local initiatives within our communities. By focusing on empowering local communities, we can create a ripple effect that fosters sustainable and meaningful change on a larger scale.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I admire Barbara Corcoran for her expertise and consider her an ideal mentor. Meeting Barbara would provide me with a valuable opportunity to seek guidance and advice from someone who has achieved significant success in the real estate industry. I believe that Barbara’s wealth of knowledge and experience would be instrumental in my own professional development.

Specifically, I am interested in discussing various aspects of Barbara’s career, including building a personal brand, developing effective marketing strategies, navigating challenges, and identifying opportunities. By engaging in a private breakfast or lunch with Barbara, I hope to gain valuable insights and practical advice that can further enhance my own entrepreneurial journey.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn is currently my main platform:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Young Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Sher Drent of IREC Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.