Tim Heyl, founder of Homeward, drew inspiration to become an entrepreneur from his father.

His dad was fired for moonlighting around the time Tim was born. His dad launched a book-on-tape kiosk rental business that became a video store. When his employer found out they fired him. Tim’s dad went on to create a chain of ten video stores which he sold to Blockbuster in the early ‘90s.

His dad used money from selling his video business to start Heyl Homes, a luxury home builder. Today, Heyl Homes is one of the largest custom home builders in Austin.

“I grew up thinking I would go work for my dad,” Heyl said. “But I think what rubbed off on me more than homebuilding and even real estate was that entrepreneurial bug.”

Heyl watched his dad go through major highs and lows. His dad builds luxury spec homes and when the economy is up, things are great but when the housing market goes in the tank, life gets tough, Heyl said.

“I think having a parent who is an entrepreneur you sort of grow up with an expectation that it’s Ok to work for yourself or take risks or not have a stable income,” Heyl said. “All of those things that seem so odd to people seem a little more normal to me having seen it.”

During high school and college, Heyl always had a job, but he never really liked his job. He was bored and frustrated, and he wanted to do something he was passionate about. When he graduated from college in 2009 with a finance degree, he interviewed at 30 banks. But it was right after the 2008 financial and housing crisis, and Heyl couldn’t get a job.

“I was living in my parent’s basement,” Heyl said. “I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car. I used up my savings trying to figure out how to get a job.”

That’s when he decided to get his real estate license. And he read Gary Keller’s book “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.” Heyl fell in love with entrepreneurialism and the book taught him how to build a business. He realized he could be a real estate agent and a business owner.

Initially, Heyl struggled because he didn’t know what he was doing. But after about a year, he figured it out and he never looked back.

“I was hoping my dad would hire me to work at his company, and he told me I needed to go work somewhere else for a couple of years, which is the best thing he could have done because it really forced me to go spread my wings and figure this thing out,” Heyl said. “And I fell in love and never turned around.”

In 2009, Austin’s housing market was floundering, and homes took about 185 days to sell, Heyl said.  Despite the challenging market, Heyl figured out how to build his business. And in 2012, at 24, he became Austin’s number one real estate agent.

With the commissions from his home sales, Heyl hired full-time salaried employees and created The Heyl Group, a real estate team with listing specialists, showing agents, marketers, transaction managers, and more.

At The Heyl Group, he created other businesses including a title company, home insurance agency, a real estate coaching and training business and a company focused on lead generation.

 “The real estate industry is filled with small business owners,” Heyl said. “They are incredibly motivated and passionate, but a lot of them lack the systems to turn that into a business.”

That’s where Heyl saw opportunities.

“But the challenge was these businesses that I created, while it was a cash flowing machine, I hadn’t solved any problems uniquely in the homebuying transaction,” Heyl said.

When he turned 30 Heyl did a lot of journaling and through that experience, he came up with the idea for Homeward. He also realized that he wanted to make a bigger impact on the world. He saw a real opportunity to make the home buying experience more modern and as enjoyable and seamless as Netflix.

That spawned Heyl’s brainchild: Homeward which solves a problem he encountered as a real estate agent. Homebuyers couldn’t buy a new home until they sold their old home. Homeward allows its customers to make all-cash offers to secure their next home before selling their existing home. The Homeward Cash Offer eliminates the financing, home sale, and appraisal contingencies.

The company filled an unmet need in the market and has grown quickly as a result. Homeward had 20 employees in 2020 and today it has 400. The company expects to hire another 300 employees this year, Heyl said.

Homeward also had the largest funding round of 2021 landing $371 million, including $136 million in equity and $235 million debt. The company has used the funds to move into new markets. It’s now in Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Arizona, and it plans to expand further into Florida, California, Washington, Oregon this year, Heyl said.

The pandemic hasn’t slowed its operations. When it hit, Homeward shut down its office and it’s never gone back. It is a fully remote company, and it will remain that way, Heyl said.

Heyl has three kids under the age of seven and working from home allowed him to see them and his wife more often. He also wasn’t stuck in traffic during a commute.

“I started to see all these benefits,” Heyl said. “Everybody has got a life. You work to live. You don’t live to work.”

Working remotely forces people to get better at things they weren’t good at before, Heyl said.

And as the recovery from the Pandemic continues, Homeward isn’t slowing down.

“The next five years are going to completely transform what we’ve known about how to buy a home,” Heyl said. “We’re doing it in a new fun way.”