Dream work Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002

Don't doubt that Robert Fortney eats, sleeps and dreams business.

He says it's a fact to which his wife, Ruth, and daughters Katie, Jessie, Megan and Chelsea could easily attest. But lately, the entrepreneurial bug has bitten Fortney again, this time in the form of a new venture called Upfront Commissions. The start-up, in which he is a 50 percent owner, is based upon a simple, but wildly logical business idea.

The idea is to provide real estate agents with their money today from a sale today, keeping a cut for the company while it waits for the deal to close in order to collect. The longer the amount of time until the deal closes, the more money Upfront Commissions stands to collect. For example, Fortney says a 60-day close would cost a real estate professional who wanted to use the service roughly 8 percent.

"We started this business in August, and since November, we have been at basically break even, which is great for a new start-up," he explains. "Over six months, more than $1 million worth of commissions have been generated. Once you get somebody inside the system, there's a lot of repeat business."

Upfront Commissions is currently attracting customers through good old-fashioned marketing, but Fortney says a full-blown Web presence is in development. In the meantime, you can get more information about the service at www.upfrontcommissions.com.

Hearing Fortney talk about his new business venture, one begins to think that sometimes he's having so much fun, he can't believe it himself. The truth is, sometimes, he can't.

"Oh, legitimately, I don't have a job," he says. "I'm doing what I was born to do, and I love every aspect of whatever I do, even though at times it may be stressful, and even though at times I don't know what I'm going to do until I do it.

"I got a lot of people who get a little bit upset with me because they're working at a job and I'm living out a dream."