Dominant leader in Nashville's urban marketplace.

Mark Deutschmann, CEO of Village Real Estate //
Number of Employees: 
Annual Sales:
$469 million

Mark's Story

In preparation for playing Hollyhock-host to creativity guru Julia Cameron, Mark Deutschmann committed to her hallmark "morning pages"--three handwritten pages every morning of whatever comes to mind. After 10 years in real estate, Mark had been pondering a socially responsible business start-up. One day of morning pages revealed how he was already living his next big idea. "There are lots of sexy new businesses in social change, but there are also well-grounded industries that need a new approach," explains Mark. In 1996 he founded Village Real Estate, dedicated to countering suburban sprawl, salvaging old buildings, and promoting green development of neighborhood-commercial districts--all starting at home in Nashville, Tennessee. During the current downturn in US real estate, Village is one of few American real estate companies still growing.

Meeting Renewal Partners

In his earlier life as a marine biologist, one of Mark's boats caught fire in the Johnstone Strait. Left stranded on an island Mark wandered into a camp tended by Joel Solomon, who became his trusted friend and eventual link to Renewal. "After I wrote my business plan for Village, I put it in front of my angels: my mother, brother, friends and Renewal. Together they helped me kick-start my business," explains Mark. With support from Renewal, Village has grown from a four-person sales office into a full network of real-estate businesses. As Mark explains: "Renewal has been our strongest investor, watching over us in the lean days and helping us keep our values core to our work. Now with Renewal2, they are advancing their model for how investment can change the world."

Making Ripples

To date, Village has preserved 31 buildings, developed 9 urban communities, and sold 12,476 homes. When Mark founded Village, he donated 5% of the company to the Tides Foundation, imagining the potential of that 5% as his business grew. The Village Fund contributed $300,000 in 2007 to community organizations, and Mark is aiming for $1 million a year within the decade. For Village and the Village Fund it's about whatever will build sustainable communities, from giving clients a membership to Greenways for Nashville to transforming a corrugated wall into a paint-by-number children's mural. And these efforts are multiplied by those they reach. When one group of residents created their own community art show and opened their doors to thousands from the public, Mark saw his vision come to life. Today, Village is being chosen for its success and values to work on cutting-edge urban development beyond the boundaries of Nashville.