The day online real estate firm Redfin launched its IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange, CEO Glenn Kelman was energized and excited. He was giddy with enthusiasm as he rang the Nasdaq opening bell and celebrated with Redfin employees.
But he tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that he won’t let that important milestone snuff out Redfin’s entrepreneurial spirit. “I think companies psych themselves out and say now that we’re public we’ve got to get all stuffy. We’ve got to be a certain way and the entrepreneurial spirit dies,” he says. “What you got to keep alive is the intimacy, the energy, this crazed sense of purpose.”
Since Kelman became the CEO of the firm 11 years ago, he has disrupted the traditional real estate business model. Instead of hiring independent agents on commission, he brought in full-time employees and put them on the payroll with benefits. The employees are awarded with bonuses based on customer satisfaction. He slashed listing fees, saving home sellers big money in commission costs. He has invested heavily in technology to make the real estate process easier.
Kelman vows to preserve that innovative, experimental streak even though Redfin is now a public company. It’s a message he keeps repeating to Redfin employees. “I’m saying they don’t have to adapt at all. We just got to keep focused on the customer and building great software and doing all the stuff that got us here in the first place,” he says. “The only thing I’m worried about is that we’re going to lose sight of that.”