They’ve built a steady foundation. Now this real-estate power couple is taking on the industry together.
Story and Photo by Emma Whalen
Throughout Austin, there are touches of Ryan and Angel Rodenbeck. The couple behind Spyglass Realty and Investments has been investing in Austin real estate and helping clients buy and sell property since 2008.
With Angel Rodenbeck’s design and staging expertise, homes throughout the city show traces of her improvements. Ryan Rodenbeck, the owner, head marketer and chief negotiator for Spyglass, works alongside her to manage their team of real-estate agents and fill homes with Austinites both new and old. Among their growing list of clients, the Rodenbecks have cultivated a wide circle of friends, including a painter who chose to incorporate their son into one of his murals, yet another way the Rodenbecks are quietly integrating themselves into the very structure of this town.
We sat down with the couple in their colorful office on South First Street to discuss how they manage a company—one responsible for $163 million worth of property sales in the last eight years—and still make time to cultivate their fun and dynamic relationship.
Austin Woman: When did you first start working together and what inspired you to collaborate?
Ryan Rodenbeck: She was working as a CPA for an accounting firm and, about 12 years ago, I owned a property-management company. It was probably the worst job of my entire career and we had a property manager that left us. The accounts were in disarray and she left her job to come help us put that together. Then we worked [together]over the next year, getting things ready to sell for the property-management company.
AW: What have been some of your biggest challenges so far?
Angel Rodenbeck: At first, it was just Ryan, and me helping him. So, it was a big adjustment making our first hire, which was our office manager. We were nervous about having an employee again and being responsible for that.
RR: I would say the challenge we’re dealing with now is scaling the business: what direction we want to go in, how we scale it and how we take what we do and do it to a larger degree without having to bring on the work. We want to work less and do more.
AW: How do you balance family and work life?
RR: The balance of family and work is more of a myth than a lot of people really realize, and I think it’s more of an ebb and flow. You have weeks where you work a tremendous amount and then you have weeks where you don’t. I work for vacations, and I think that we work a whole lot and then we play a lot too.
AR: I try to have all of our work done by 3 p.m. So, I pick our son up from school and then I put on the hat of being Mom and then we’re having play dates and going to the park and all that stuff. So, when he’s off of school, I try to be there for him 100 percent.
AW: What are some of your proudest moments?
AR: When I work really hard on a house and I spend a lot of time on it and the market responds and then Ryan’s excited because our Facebook page is blowing up or we’re getting all these hits on our videos. I’m proud of that because I know what I’ve put into it to get it to that point.
RR: Seeing the finished product when we work on a house that we’ve helped the seller coordinate every little bit of. Then we get the pictures and video back and it looks gorgeous and the seller will email us and say how wonderful it looks.
AR: And they want to buy it!
AW: Angel, what do you admire most about Ryan?
AR: His work ethic. He works really, really hard, even when he’s at home in bed. There’s always a video going and he’s learning something. He walks around with his phone going or his computer. He works a lot. And then I’d say just the way he leads the team too. He loves to teach and he loves spending time with new or old agents and sharing his knowledge. He always makes time for people.
AW: Ryan, what do you admire most about Angel?
RR: I’m really proud of the design work that she’s done. Every year, she comes up with the coolest colors and design ideas. Also, I’m really proud of her balance with life. We work really hard and do all of these transformations and then she’s also an amazing mother and spends a lot of time with our son.
AW: When you’re not working, what’s your favorite thing to do together?
AR: We love to go out. We love to eat and we love to drink and so, we love to just go out and socialize. Our clients inevitably become our friends, so we have tons of people that we associate with and hang out with, and we just like having fun.
RR: We love our neighborhood. We live in Barton Hills and there are a lot of very cool parents there that we hang out with and work with as well.
AW: What’s one thing you each like to do on your own?
AR: I like going to the gym and doing kickboxing classes.
RR: I like to watch videos on marketing.
AW: What aspects of your relationship allow you to work well together?
AR: We don’t work side by side. I’m rarely in the office because my work is at the property or at home, where I do our accounting work. So, we’re not in the same space all day, which is hard for some couples. We communicate a lot through text and email during the day, but we’re not really together during the day.
RR: We each have our own veto power over our own department. She gives me a pretty long leash when it comes to the direction of the company, and I do the same thing as far as her on design and remodeling. That’s important. If you don’t have a separation of what you do then you’re just going to butt heads.
AR: I don’t want to do what he does. I don’t want to sell houses or meet with buyers. I want to make [the home]pretty. We both have our own good qualities, but they’re separate and completely different.
AW: What advice do you have for couples looking to work or run a business together?
RR: Don’t be afraid to fail. … Don’t take your defeats very personally. Get up and do it again and take it easy on each other. Have a lot of patience with each other.
AR: Keep in mind that what’s most important to you, hopefully, is the relationship.