Think like a CEO: 20 questions w/ Harley Courts

By Harley Courts

Nooklyn, a tech-powered real estate platform geared toward the millennial set, got its start back in 2010. Nooklyn’s founder, Harley Courts, founded the company as a blog focused on keeping apartment listings up to date, looking to overturn traditional real estate listing platforms that lacked transparency.

Today, Nooklyn provides a simple solution to apartment renters looking for a new home. The socially integrated platform allows users to easily track appealing listings, find roommates and get a sense for potential locales through the company's original neighborhood guides.

We caught up with Courts to discuss how he sees the company moving forward, the qualities he looks for in employees and what has surprised him about running a tech startup in New York City.

How would you define the employee culture at Nooklyn in 3 words?

Sharing, diverse and happy.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at the office?

Drink coffee and choose a focus for the day.

What’s the last thing you do before you leave the office?

Update my calendar.

How do you see the company changing in one year?

I see us going beyond the one-time rental transaction and expanding our listing base into lower Manhattan.

How do you see the company changing in five years?

In five years I see us as becoming a neighborhood platform for major cities. Everyone in real estate tech wants to be the modern-day Craigslist and our goal is to be bigger.

How do you see yourself leading/creating that change?

It’s a team effort — my outlook is that I work for our employees, they don’t work for me. I see myself leading by connecting people and building new relationships.

As a CEO, what’s the most challenging part of your job?

Financing all of our ambitions.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping people.

Who is your role model?

My grandfather and Steve Jobs.

What’s the best part about leading a company headquartered in New York City?


What was your first job?

I started Substance Skateboards right out of high school and I’ve done a ton of odd jobs and gigs.

How did you come up with the idea for Nooklyn?

I got evicted out of my apartment because my roommates didn’t pay rent. I have first-hand experience with a lot of the troubles that renters have to deal with.

Where does the name Nooklyn come from?

Nooklyn started as my personal blog. I wanted a short memorable name not typically used in real estate but still relevant. I found Nook and I was working in Brooklyn — Nooklyn.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I love folk music and rap.

What qualities do look for in potential employees?

I look for people with strong leadership abilities that compliment our weaknesses and are intrigued by our vision to shape how people find apartments.

What do you consider the most significant accomplishment of your career?

The high retention rate of our employees and creating a unique culture of engineering and design in real estate.

What other company(s) do you most admire?

Apple, Nike, Amazon, Anti-Hero Skateboards and Deathwish Skateboards.

What is something that has surprised you about running a company?

How much longer things take then you would hope.

What personal habits have served you well in your career?

Waking up early and being obsessive about everything I take on.

How would your employees describe you in one word?