Brad Hinkelman is a successful entrepreneur from Canada who now lives and works in Medellín, Colombia. He is the CEO of Casacol, a company that deals with real estate and helps people invest in properties. Brad started his career after graduating with a degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and furthering his studies in finance at New York University.

In 2013, Brad left his job in New York and moved to Medellín, seeing a great opportunity in the city’s growing real estate market. He started Casacol in 2013, focusing on helping both locals and foreigners invest safely in Medellín. His company has grown quickly and now manages over 500 properties, making it the largest hotel and Airbnb operator in the city. 

Brad is known for his deep understanding of the real estate market and his ability to spot investment opportunities. He’s passionate about transforming Medellín into a top destination for tourists and investors alike. Under his leadership, Casacol not only offers property management but also legal and accounting services to help foreign investors.

Brad enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience and is often invited to speak about entrepreneurship and real estate. His work has significantly contributed to the growth and modernization of Medellín’s tourism and real estate sectors. Living in Colombia, Brad has become fluent in Spanish and also knows Russian, reflecting his international outlook and dedication to his adopted city.

How did you get started in this business? 

I started my journey in the real estate business after seeing the potential in Medellín’s emerging market back in 2008. Initially, I was an investor myself, which gave me firsthand experience of the challenges and opportunities in the sector. Recognizing the lack of high-quality investment and legal advice for foreigners wanting to invest in Medellín, I founded Casacol in 2013 to fill that gap. This allowed me to leverage my background in finance, passion for real estate and hospitality and my growing understanding of the local market to build a business that could really make a difference.

How do you make money? 

At Casacol, we generate revenue through a variety of services focused on real estate investment. These include property development, sales, and property management, as well as providing legal and accounting services tailored to foreign investors. We specialize in maximizing returns for our clients by identifying prime real estate opportunities, managing properties to high standards, and ensuring a seamless investment experience for our clients.

How long did it take for you to become profitable? 

Casacol became profitable within the first year of operation. The path wasn’t easy; it involved meticulous planning, a deep understanding of the Colombian market, and responsive strategies to adapt to the evolving needs of our clients. Our commitment to delivering comprehensive and trustworthy services quickly established our reputation, which in turn accelerated our path to profitability.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that? 

Certainly, there were doubts in the early days, especially when faced with the complexities of the Colombian real estate market and the challenges of establishing trust with foreign investors. I focused on building a strong team and investing heavily in understanding the legal and economic landscape. Persistence and adaptability were key—I always looked for solutions rather than being deterred by problems that are routinely presented in emerging markets. 

How did you get your first customer? 

Our first customer came through a combination of networking and showcasing our deep market knowledge at real estate seminars. By positioning ourselves as experts in Medellín real estate for foreigners and offering tailored investment advice, we attracted our first clients who was looking for reliable and informed partners to guide their investment in Colombia.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business? 

One effective marketing strategy we use is content marketing, particularly through informative blogs and social media engagement. By providing valuable content about the real estate market trends, investment tips, and the lifestyle in Medellín, we attract potential investors looking for trusted information and help them make informed decisions. Additionally our own hospitality guests often make inquiries about how to invest with us. 

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months? 

The toughest decision in recent months has been navigating the impacts of global economic uncertainties on the real estate market and Colombian politics. Deciding to prioritize certain projects while delaying others required careful analysis and projections to ensure the long-term health and growth of our business.

What do you think it is that makes you successful? 

I believe my success stems from a strong commitment to integrity, in-depth local knowledge, and a client-centered approach. These principles guide every decision and interaction, helping to build lasting relationships and a strong reputation in the industry.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business? 

The most satisfying moment in business was seeing the completion of our first major development project in 2017 and witnessing the positive feedback from our clients and the community. It validated our business model and our focus on quality and sustainability.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about? 

The future looks bright with plans to expand our development projects and enhance our property management services. I am most excited about integrating more sustainable building practices and technologies to provide eco-friendly living options for our clients.

What business books have you inspired? 

“Zero to 1” by Peter Thiel, Walter Isaccson biographies, and Ray Dalio’s “Principles”. They provided insights into financial intelligence and effective business strategies, which have been instrumental in shaping my approach to business and investment.

What advice would you give to your younger self? I would advise my younger self to start investing and take bigger risks earlier and to focus on building networks and learning from every experience. Embrace risks thoughtfully and always keep learning and adapting.

Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?

Yes, I am open to mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and investors in Colombia. Anyone interested can contact me via email on our website or through my LinkedIn profile for a more direct conversation about their goals and how I might help guide them.

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