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November 25, 2023 • Interview with Authority Magazine


Antonio Castelan: Revolutionizing Real Estate with Fortum Digital

Article Summary

Antonio Castelan’s journey, starting from his roots in Houston, led him to pioneer Fortum Digital Services, a company disrupting the real estate industry with innovative digital marketing strategies. His passion for technology, fueled by the values of hard work and perseverance instilled by his immigrant parents, set him on a path to redefine real estate marketing. Through Fortum Digital Services, Antonio has introduced groundbreaking technological advancements, like AI-driven analytics and virtual reality tours, reshaping the way properties are marketed and experienced. His dedication to disruption is transforming not just marketing strategies but also the broader operational model of the real estate industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My journey into digital marketing and real estate is a blend of passion, ambition, and a little bit of serendipity. Growing up in Houston, I was always fascinated by technology and its potential. My parents, who came to the U.S. with a little more than their hopes and dreams of a better life for their family, instilled in me the priceless values of hard work and perseverance. These values, combined with my natural inclination towards tech and strategy, led me to establish Fortum Digital Services right out of high school. I saw an opportunity to revolutionize real estate marketing, and I seized it with both hands.
At Fortum Digital Services, Antonio’s disruptive approach is rooted in leveraging advanced technology to redefine real estate operations. By integrating AI and predictive analytics, the company has shifted the focus from traditional marketing to a more dynamic, data-driven approach. This strategy has transformed property marketing, moving beyond conventional methods to create personalized, highly targeted campaigns that resonate with today’s tech-savvy clients.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The essence of what makes our work at Fortum Digital Services disruptive lies in how we’re redefining the norms of the real estate industry through technology. Our approach isn’t just about applying the latest tech; it’s about reshaping the entire operational model. From integrating AI-driven strategies to enhance property marketing to developing predictive analytics for market trends, we’re not just playing the game differently — we’re changing the rules. Our innovations are not mere improvements; they’re leaps in how real estate functions. Imagine a world where property investment decisions are guided by advanced algorithms, where marketing reaches unprecedented levels of personalization, and where every data point translates into actionable insight. This isn’t a distant future; it’s what we’re building now. Our upcoming projects, which I can’t divulge too much about yet, are set to revolutionize not just how properties are marketed but how they are managed and experienced. It’s this fundamental shift in paradigm that makes our work not just disruptive, but transformative for the industry.
Antonio recalls an early pitching error that, while humorous in hindsight, imparted valuable lessons in preparation and communication. This experience underscored the importance of not just having innovative ideas but also effectively conveying them to potential clients. It shaped the company’s approach to client interactions, emphasizing clarity, precision, and the ability to adapt communication styles to different audiences.

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?

In the early days of Fortum Digital, I remember being overly enthusiastic about a pitch to a potential big client. I had prepared meticulously, armed with data and creative ideas. But in my excitement, I completely mixed up the pitch. Instead, I did not give all the information I had and was not specific enough with my ambitions. It’s funny now but I was terribly embarrassed. After all the laughs and fumbling, I was provided with an invaluable lesson of preparation, communication skills, and the market dynamics.
While Antonio didn’t have formal mentors, his father played a mentor-like role, imparting lessons that would later become integral to Antonio’s business philosophy. His father’s emphasis on hard work, integrity, and making a positive impact deeply influenced Fortum Digital Services’ ethos. Antonio’s approach to business, focusing on ethical practices and building positive relationships, reflects these early teachings.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

While I didn’t have formal mentors, my father’s role in my life has been akin to that of a mentor. His teachings, though not directly business-related, laid the foundation for my entrepreneurial spirit. I remember his emphasis on the value of hard work and integrity. He often shared stories from his own life, teaching me lessons about perseverance, humility, and the importance of staying true to one’s principles. These lessons became the bedrock of my business philosophy. He taught me that success isn’t just measured in profits, but in the positive impact we make in people’s lives. This informal mentorship from my father shaped not just my character, but the ethos of Fortum Digital Services — a company that values integrity, innovation, and impact above all.
Antonio believes that while disruption can drive innovation and progress, it must be balanced with the value of proven methods. He advocates for a harmonious integration of new and traditional practices. For example, while Fortum Digital Services embraces technological advancements, they also prioritize maintaining strong, trust-based relationships with clients, blending modern solutions with timeless business values.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’?

Disruption in any industry can be a double-edged sword. It’s positive when it drives innovation, breaks down outdated practices, and leads to better products, services, and experiences. For instance, in real estate, the introduction of virtual property tours was a disruption that enhanced accessibility and convenience for buyers. It solved many problems, especially those with agents showing properties and prospective tenants during COVID-19. However, disruption can be negative when it disregards the value of proven methods or when it leads to instability and uncertainty within an industry. It’s not about discarding what has ‘withstood the test of time’ but about integrating the new with the old in a balanced way. Disruption should be about evolution, not just revolution. For example, while embracing new tech in real estate, we also recognize the enduring importance of human relationships and trust in the industry. Our disruption is about enhancing these values with technology, not replacing them with valuable human relationships.
Embracing cutting-edge technology, such as AI in market analysis, has been pivotal for Fortum Digital Services. Antonio also highlights changing customer interactions as key, exemplified by their introduction of VR tours. Challenging industry norms, focusing on eco-friendly practices, and building strategic partnerships are other areas where Fortum Digital has made significant strides, demonstrating the power of thinking outside the box.

Can you please share 5 ideas one needs to shake up their industry?

I. Embracing state-of-the-art technology can revolutionize an industry. For instance, in real estate, we pioneered the use of AI in market analysis. This allowed us to predict market trends with unprecedented accuracy, giving our clients a significant advantage.

II. Changing the way customers interact with your industry can shake an entire industry. We transformed the real estate viewing experience by introducing virtual reality tours, making property viewing accessible and convenient, and drastically increasing engagement.

III. Sometimes, industries are stuck in a loop of ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ After all, “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” By questioning these norms, we can find new paths. We did this by shifting the focus from property sales to long-term customer relationships, emphasizing lifetime value over immediate transactions.

IV. Integrating eco-friendly practices or social responsibility can set you apart. We started using sustainable materials in our clients’ property developments, which not only appealed to environmentally conscious buyers but also set a new standard in the industry.

V. Building networks and partnerships can create synergies that revolutionize industries. We look forward to collaborating with fintech companies to streamline property financing, simplifying the purchase process for buyers and changing the financial landscape of real estate transactions.

Looking ahead, Antonio plans to extend Fortum Digital Services’ disruptive approach beyond real estate, eyeing industries ripe for technological innovation. He envisions applying their successful blend of technology and human-centric service to sectors like education and healthcare, aiming to revolutionize these fields with Fortum Digital’s unique methodologies.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

At Fortum Digital Services, we’re always looking towards the horizon, identifying the next big opportunity for disruption. Our journey so far has been about challenging the status quo in real estate, but we’re not stopping there. We’re currently exploring opportunities in other sectors that have remained largely untouched by innovation. Imagine industries like education or healthcare, transformed by the kind of technological innovation we’ve brought to real estate. Our aim is to bring our unique approach to these sectors — blending technology with empathy, innovation with tradition, and cutting-edge solutions with human-centric service. We are in the process of developing tools and platforms that will offer more than just a service — they will offer new experiences, new ways of interaction and learning. We’re excited about the potential impact of these projects, not just in terms of business success, but in their ability to positively influence lives and communities. So, stay tuned, because Fortum Digital Services is all set to be a catalyst for change in more ways than one.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

A book that profoundly influenced my thinking is ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. It’s not your typical business book, but its wisdom is timeless. The concept of stoicism, focusing on what you can control and letting go of what you can’t, has been pivotal in my approach to both life and business. Aurelius’s reflections helped me navigate the highs and lows of entrepreneurship with a balanced mindset.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.’ This quote has been my mantra throughout my entrepreneurial journey. It embodies the spirit of taking initiative and not waiting for permission to pursue my dreams. This mindset has been crucial in overcoming the challenges and skepticism I faced as a young founder in a competitive industry.
Assorted Stack of Business Books: Robin Sharma's The 5AM Club, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga's The Courage To Be Disliked, Ryan Holiday's Daily Stoic Journal, Jodie Cook and Daniel Priestley's How To Raise Entrepreneurial Kids, Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and Brianna Wiest's I am the hero of my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I could inspire a movement, it would be centered around fostering human connection, kindness, empathy, and understanding in the business world. I believe that businesses can be about more than just profits; they can be platforms for positive change, creating ripple effects of goodness in society. This movement would encourage businesses to see their role not just as service providers, but as community builders and agents of social change.

Final Thoughts

As Fortum Digital Services’ CEO, Antonio Castelan’s vision for shaking up the real estate industry is a powerful reminder of how innovation, coupled with a commitment to ethical business practices, can lead to significant transformations. His journey from a tech-enthusiast in Houston to a disruptor in real estate marketing illustrates the impact of combining technological advancements with a deep understanding of industry dynamics. Antonio’s story is an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and industry leaders, showing that with the right blend of innovation, integrity, and vision, it’s possible to revolutionize even the most traditional industries. For more insights into Antonio’s disruptive strategies and Fortum Digital’s transformative role in real estate, read the full article here –