SMU freshman combines photography, videography to reinvent luxury real estate marketing

In December 2015, James Foster and Arman Sagart were two young students wanting to get into the real estate industry in Southern California despite having no funds to go directly into buying and selling homes.

To compensate, they created Rise Media Productions, a company producing real estate video, aerial photography, and online marketing in San Diego and Los Angeles for real estate agents. This “backdoor entry” allowed the cohort to delve into the real estate world, tour luxury homes and gain entrepreneurship experience and connections for future endeavors.

The startup then realized the niche the company filled in the market shortly after launching.

According to Foster, research shows that 80 percent of home buyers would rather watch a real estate video rather than scan through photos of listings to know more about the home. Traditional online marketing using still photography falls short of providing the potential buyer with a feel for their new home and the lifestyle they will have living in it. While companies who help realtors market their homes solely focus on photography, video or only aerial media; Rise Media Productions includes all three without outsourcing.

“Our team consists of video and marketing experts–we can guarantee a quality product every time,” Foster said. “We put time into every project we do.”

Now one year later Foster, a first-year student at SMU, and Sagart, a first-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles, plan to continue expanding their company to Dallas as they noticed they could fill a hole in a market outside of their home state.

“We plan to expand to the Dallas and more specifically Highland Park market,” Foster said. “I believe that starting in Southern California where my team and I are more connected and aware of the area, that we have more potential for creating success and learning more about the industry.”

Foster said within the next year, the company hopes to work with large, luxury real estate companies like Sotheby’s International and Berkshire Hathaway to then receive referrals from the agents we worked with in San Diego and Los Angeles and connect to agents here in Dallas.

“In the long run, I see other SMU students working hand in hand with Rise Media Productions to greater expand our team, ideas, and creative thinking,” Foster said. “I believe that with SMU’s incredible networking and alumni community, it will be really cool to contact an alum working as a real estate agent here in Dallas and try to work with them and their listings.”

The co-founder hopes the company will become the standard in the real estate video industry in the future, and will become more than just a real estate service.

“The luxury home market has set us up to enter other luxury markets in areas that go beyond real estate,” Foster said. “Our strategic location puts us in the heart of luxury lifestyles. We want to start in the real estate market, but evolve into a lifestyle brand for anyone trying to promote themselves in that way. And I think that’s where the true opportunity lies.”

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