Terry E. James
There is no doubt as to Terry James’s extraordinary career. He rose from a young financial advisor with Morgan Stanley over 20 years ago, where he won the National Sales Director Award before moving to UBS Financial Services. In the early 2000s, Terry left the financial services industry to focus on his real estate ventures, where he participated in over half a billion dollars in transactions. He’s also a successful serial entrepreneur and founder of the James Real Estate Group companies, which includes a construction/development company, a consulting firm, and serves as a real estate licensee for Compass in Bellevue, WA, the top-producing office in the state and the #14 producing office in the country. There is no dismissing the many well-earned awards that have marked his journey. Yet, he’d humbly tell you that his success was merely a byproduct of a bigger mission.
This is not the story of a man in pursuit of money or power, fame or status. It is one of an inspirational business and community leader led by family, faith, and philanthropy and driven by a profound sense of purpose—to lift up as many people as possible. He’s a champion of inclusivity, diversity, and bringing people together, and he’s spent a veritable lifetime doing precisely this. Now, as he enters the next chapter of his life, Terry has an even greater mission in mind. “How do we impact more people, more lives, how do we deepen these connections?” he shares. “This is what excites me the most about where I’m at today, and the future, that at this point in my career, I can say, ‘Okay, now we can do these things that really matter and make a widespread impact.’”
With this in mind, in 2020, Terry reached beyond the real estate corridors to become the COO and cofounder of Offleash’d, a social app created by pet people for pet people—and a venture that he considers “the biggest thing he’s ever been a part of.” Given its immediate popularity upon its launch in the summer of 2022—with over 20,000 people engaging across all platforms in Seattle and beyond in its first six months and Offleash’d already being considered as one of the top five startups by Seattle Inno’s 2022 Fire Awards—Terry is well on his way to seeing his bigger dream realized: to touch millions of people’s lives. As of January 1, 2023, Terry has been elevated to the role of CEO of Offleash’d and is excited to lead the company as it expands into California launching in LA February 11th, 2023 and across the country moving forward.
What is Offleash’d?
From dating to friendships, Offleash’d is about more than a casual online connection. It’s a safe, inclusive community where users can connect and engage with fellow animal lovers. From pet parents to animal enthusiasts, Offleash’d joins people based on a mutual love and appreciation for the furry, the finned, the feathered, the leathered, the slithery, or the maned. “We see ourselves as a movement rather than an app,” Terry says. “Pets break down the barriers between people and allow them to connect in a way they normally wouldn’t. When you come to Offleash’d, you have an instant commonality with others because you all have this shared interest.” As Offleash’d continues to expand to every major city in the U.S., they’re rolling out an “Events and Groups” feature to connect with people across the country. Whether looking for friends in the free app’s “Social Mode” or that special someone in “Dating Mode,” get ready to mingle with those who share your passion!
We spoke with Terry, who shared more about Offleash’d, some sage advice for young leaders, and the bigger mission of an app that is changing the definition of “social.”
With all your accomplishments as a business and real estate leader, you view Offleash’d as the most important endeavor you’ve ever been a part of. Why is this?
In every role, and in every one of my companies I’ve always strived to help others. Offleash’d will give us the ability to potentially touch millions of people’s lives. It’s a way to connect through pets, letting pets be the new driver of how relationships are formed, whether platonic or romantic, and regardless of income, background, socioeconomic status, race, or sexual orientation. We all need more love, more connection, and this brings it into our daily lives based on a simple, instant commonality. If you have a love of animals, you already know the person on the other end has a shared quality.
What has the response been from Offleash’d users thus far, and can you share some of the new features you’ll be rolling out in the future?
The response has been everything we hoped for. Users are excited by the idea and opportunity to be a part of a platform that allows them to feel an instant connection with others, regardless of who they are or what kind of pet they love. Next, we’ll be launching our “events” feature that will bring users together on an even deeper level.
What advice can you give to other aspiring leaders and young people as it relates to success?
When you have achieved success, then you can use that to help other people—now you have the resources, the ability, the credibility and the voice to do so. You’ll face obstacles, especially people of color, women, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups. We all do. It’s just how we meet these challenges and then having the perseverance to overcome them that will determine our success—whether in life, in career, as a community member or as a citizen, however we define it.
You also see a bigger mission for Offleash’d. Tell us about this.
If you can use that as platform for conversations about race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., then together, we’re pushing society and humanity, forward, and having pets as part of that conversation. I’m so excited about this, to use this as a bridge for mental health awareness, open, honest discussions about race, and deeper connections.
Terry E. James
Chief Executive Officer/Founding Partner
President/Owner at James Real Estate Group Companies