Jakub Hejl founded Westside Capital Group as a one-man show in 2016. Now 30, the University of Miami alumnus has shaken up the real estate industry.
The results are certainly there. Westside’s recent acquisitions include a portfolio worth approximately $150 million, with almost a $500 million development pipeline owned by Westside.
But the firm’s achievements go far beyond the financial. Westside takes an innovative approach that includes a genuine appreciation of real estate, as well as a passion for building communities of value — that is, communities that truly serve the people who live and work in them.
It all began three years ago, when Hejl gave up the comfort of a multi-million-dollar compensation package to carry out his vision. He scheduled a series of investor meetings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The entrepreneur presented a path for expansion, raised capital, and laid the foundation for his firm’s success. He then returned to South Florida, home of his alma mater, and built his empire from the ground up.
The name of Hejl’s company is an homage to those initial investor meetings. And in just a short time, Westside has accrued an impressive portfolio of multi-family, hospitality, and other commercial assets.
“I think the main factors that have contributed to the firm’s growth are relationships and trust,” Hejl explains. “Delivering on our promises has really fuelled our development.”
Westside operates with integrity and accountability in all areas. These unwavering principles can be traced back to the founder’s roots.
At 15, Hejl moved to the U.S. from his native Czech Republic. He was a competitive athlete at the time, and while his aspirations of becoming a pro athlete have long since passed, he still thrives off a healthy sense of competition.
“There’s something that drives me to always achieve more,” Hejl admits.
In addition to hard work, Hejl believes his achievements are a product of his upbringing. Hejl’s parents encouraged their son to always live with a goal in mind.
“It’s the ability to focus — a constant effort not to give up,” Hejl elaborates.
You might say Hejl’s focus is what brought him back to Florida. Though he began his career in New York and London, Miami’s dynamic Brickell neighborhood seemed like the perfect place to launch his business.
A substantial part of the UMiami alum’s network was in Florida, and Hejl had plenty of professional relationships in the area — but his decision was more complex than that.
“I think that over the next five to 10 years, there’s going to be continuing, tremendous opportunity in the Southeastern United States,” says Hejl. “In terms of demographic growth, job fundamentals, and quality of life, that’s been a big focus of our business.”
Plus, Hejl met his first mentors through the university’s real estate advisory board. While many of them are based in New York, he attributes much of his business success to the South Florida community.
Now he wants to give back.
“Being involved here, and being able to give the same type of opportunity and experience that I received as a student, has influenced my decision to stay in Miami,” he explains. “Brickell is a place I’m proud to call home.”
Hejl says he’d eventually like to teach at his alma mater. For now, he’ll continue investing back in the local talent pool. (Currently, Westside offers a number of career opportunities to UMiami students through its internship program.)
“I think the most critical component of career success is having the right mentors,” he says. “That way, by the time you’re making decisions, you’ve been shaped by the best people in your industry.”
Today Hejl runs his firm with an emphasis on creating value.
Preserving capital. Maximizing risk-adjusted returns. Making strategic investment decisions.
In the real estate investment space, these items are crucial. Westside, however, operates on an even greater scale.
“I believe in using our resources to focus on transformational projects,” Hejl explains.
These projects include sustainable, person-centered communities. And they not only generate value for Westside and the company’s stakeholders, but they allow the firm to shape the communities themselves — the very places people live and work and send their kids to school.
“The beauty of real estate is that you are doing something tangible,” says Hejl. “You’re leaving a footprint, you have an impact, and the ability to apply that impact and change the world people live in is remarkable.”