July 18, 2022

Navigating the world of an Entrepreneur as a Bio-scientist

Navigating the world of an Entrepreneur as a Bio-scientist

In this episode, a principal at Horizon Multifamily, George Roberts III, takes us through his investing journey where his construction company reached 7-figures in the midst of a pandemic, buying his first deal which had many issues from missing roof to potential fire damage, his drive for entrepreneurialism, his love for networking and getting his and his company known in the Real Estate space.


Segment Timestamps

  • [00:47] Who is George?
  • [02:42] The shift bioscientist to real estate.
  • [04:44] George’s golden goose, Multifamily.
  • [06:36] George’s burning “WHY”.
  • [07:56] George’s first deal and everything that could possibly go wrong.
  • [18:16] Metrics to consider when looking at an asset.
  • [22:41] Biggest failure learned throughout the W-2 and Real Estate journey.
  • [24:09] The inception of the Foundry: Where leaders are forged daily.
  • [26:13] Age-old debate, quit your job and invest or invest while working your job.
  • [31:17] Tips for new & aspiring investors.

 

Episode Highlights

  • “If you shift your mindset and say, hey! multifamily is a team sport, I'm going to build that team, now all of a sudden, it's not so frightening.”
  • “I would say pursue both as you're learning to become an active investor, go and test the waters with being an LP.”
  • “I'll start with my favorite quote about planning. You've probably heard it, Mike Tyson- ‘everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face.’ And that's what happens in the rough and tumble of business..”
  • “You need a margin of safety. So whatever your budget is, margin of safety, and we bought, that was our margin of safety.”
  • “I want to say, underwriting is something, it's always a moving target and that's a good thing because if it was easy everybody would have found their way into real estate by now.”
  • “My favorite days are the hard ones. And I like to practice stoicism. If you go back to and I'm not sure if I can pull the original author, but what you want to say was Epictetus, he said when you have one of those days where you get thrown off that rhythm, what you want to do is say “it was for this I was in training, this is what I prepared for.”
  • “A true leader is somebody who, finds the problem, they define the solution, and they put systems in place so that other people can solve the problem.”

 

More About George Roberts III

George is an award-winning data scientist as well as a published bioscientist with over 600 citations in the fields of genomics, microbiology, and physiology. He is a founder of Walnut Grove Homes, an upscale residential construction company based in Troy, Michigan which reached seven-figure status in 2021. He is also a principal at Horizon Multifamily which sponsors value-add multifamily opportunities in the Southeast for qualified passive investors. He is a General Partner (GP) on a 34-unit apartment near Knoxville, TN. He also owns a 14-unit apartment in Orlando, FL as a joint venture. In addition to his active multifamily investments, he is passively invested in 468 multifamily units in Jacksonville, Florida, and Houston, Texas.

He is the host of “The Foundery – Where Leaders are Forged Daily!”, a podcast devoted to entrepreneurship, particularly multifamily syndication. If you would like to appear as a guest on “The Foundery”, feel free to contact George through LinkedIn.

Relevant Links

Website:          horizonmultifamily.com.

Podcast:          The Foundery: Where Leaders are Forged Daily.

LinkedIn:         George Roberts III.

Instagram:       groberts0429.

Facebook:       George Roberts.

Pinterest:         Horizon Multifamily.

TikTok: George Roberts Multifamily.

Transcript

 

[00:00:00] Marc Cesar: Welcome everyone. In this episode, we are talking with Mr. George Roberts, who is a bioscientist as well as a property management owner. He owns a construction company that actually reached seven figures in 2021 in the midst of a pandemic. So today you will learn George's story and you will also learn how he's managed as a bioscientist to be part of a 34 unit on a general partnership side as well as invest in 468 units in the multifamily space as a passive investor. George, welcome, sir.

[00:00:47] George Roberts: Well, thank you for that outstanding introduction, Marc. It's great to be here.

[00:00:53] Marc Cesar: I appreciate it. So let's jump right into it. Give us a little bit of background about you, George the bioscientist.

[00:01:00] George Roberts: So let's start there. Let's see, it goes back to the early 2000s, completed a Ph.D. in bioscience laboratory and was focused on chlamydia and yeast. So the yeast they were focused on was the more ordinary yeast, the ones that are used in beer and bread. Really exciting, a lifelong dream of mine to work in bioscience, and was really exciting to be able to complete that dream and to go on and do a couple of postdocs and do some very heavily cited work.

[00:01:38] Marc Cesar: Very nice. As a bioscientist, I know that takes a lot of schooling, a lot of gruesome hours, and so forth. Can you detail how the passion behind that and how that turned off because I'm not a big fan of spending too much time in school!

[00:01:57] George Roberts: Yes, so in college, I found myself at the top of the class in my science courses, and felt a real calling. It is wonderful, it's an exciting career. You're absolutely right about the hours, it's long, long hours, and probably minimum wage by the time you finish working all those hours for what you get. So I remember when I was in graduate school, I got paid less than $20,000 to teach some classes and to do all the research. And when I got to be a postdoc, I got to double that. So you could imagine for all those hours, that really wasn't a whole lot of dough, but it was a great and exciting career.

[00:02:42] Marc Cesar: I guess that sounds very fun. Kudos to you on achieving what you've always wanted to do. So let's fast forward a bit. You're in real estate. You're the founder of Walnut Grove, which is an upscale residential construction company in Detroit, Michigan. How did the shift from bio-scientist, a long-life dream into real estate transpire?

[00:03:08] George Roberts: Yes, so I was a landlord even before that, but didn't really take it seriously, didn't take it as a business, really busy in the lab and it was hard to really focus on that. So, I did the whole mom-and-pop thing, didn't raise the rents, but didn't get a whole lot of calls on the telephone and so it felt like a decent success. My sister was the one who came to me with the idea that hey! let's build homes, I helped her found that company, but really don't have a big day-to-day role because what I wanted to do was go in, I realized, wait, entrepreneurship is awesome. It totally lit my fire. And I got the taste for that at the construction company and decided well, let me pivot into something that can be all my own. And that was value-add real estate. I figured, I already understand what it means to be a landlord. If I professionalize things and go for the economies of scale, boom! I've got something.

[00:04:07] Marc Cesar: Very nice. So, with that said the construction company was also part of the management company, I presume?

[00:04:15] George Roberts: So, that's residential construction, totally separate from anything else that I'm doing. So that's in Troy, Michigan, where I grew up, but not located anywhere near my whole day family investments, which of course we went for the Sunbelt, most people who are looking to use the syndication model, it's great to have a place where those populations and the jobs growth is likely to push the rents, in the direction you're going to need to go.

[00:04:44] Marc Cesar: Awesome, I appreciate that. So you also are the principal at Horizon Multifamily, and as you alluded to, you focus on the value add that have value-add play along the southeast corridor. What about multifamily and the value add caught your attention that said, okay! this is my golden goose that I want to pursue?

[00:05:07] George Roberts: Well, I figured it's going to have to be real estate because that's what I already know. And I’d listen to all the gurus a lot of them say don't do multifamily that's advanced and they are right, it is advanced. But what they don't mention to you is that they've probably been running their own show for a long time. And they do everything themself. And so it does seem like a big job to them. But if you shift your mindset and say, hey! multifamily is a team sport, I'm going to build that team, now all of a sudden, it's not so frightening.

[00:05:42] Marc Cesar: Awesome. So did you go into multifamily with the mindset of, hey! I want to be a GP, or did you test the waters with the LP side? Because we know that today, we hear a lot of speculation about where you should start, as an LP first, to get the scope of the business as opposed to starting a GP?  What was your take on that?

[00:06:05] George Roberts: So I'm a big fan of parallel tracks. There's, no reason not to be an LP unless you need to conserve all your capital. If you got to conserve all your capital because you've really got only enough to hopefully be part of one active deal. I totally get it. But I would say pursue both as you're learning to become an active investor, go and test the waters with being an LP, but I don't think you absolutely need to start there.

[00:06:36] Marc Cesar: Okay, well answered. I appreciate that. Now, what is your burning “Why” that wakes you up in the morning and says, hey! I want to do real estate. I'm very passionate about it. What is that drive for you?

[00:06:48] George Roberts: Well, I would say first, in general, it's creating a legacy for my family, and for my community. But again, in general, entrepreneurship, it's just an amazing tribe, I get to meet great people like Marc Cesar. And when I come and I go to your meet-up in the evening, and I get to hear from people like Jeff Holst, I'm talking about, you are not going to meet people like this regularly, anywhere else in the world. So being able to meet people and being able to develop myself. Even as a bioscientist, I developed myself very narrowly, and very deeply. But it's nothing, like the entrepreneurial world, where I get to feel as anything I do to develop myself, it impacts, whether it's doing something like Toastmasters, or my podcast where I get to become better at speaking to an audience, or whether its leadership, understanding finance, entrepreneurship is amazing. It has been the greatest personal journey of my life.

[00:07:56] Marc Cesar: Awesome, I appreciate you sharing that. Now, as we all know, we like to hear a journey that our speakers experienced in their multifamily or real estate endeavors that they did not perceive or planned for. Can you share with us one or two scary stories that threw your entire plan out of sync and how did you manage to overcome that situation and how did they help you become a better and savvy investor?

[00:08:29] George Roberts: Yes, great. Well, I'll start with my favorite quote about planning. You've probably heard it, Mike Tyson- ‘everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face.’ And that's what happens in the rough and tumble of business. So I'll describe my first apartment deal. Great deal, got in the pandemic. So to take two steps back, how do we get into it? Well, the seller had two deals fall through because people are not really sure how you value things in a pandemic, is everybody to leave, or maybe they're forced to stay because nobody has mobility. So after they walked, it was really easy for us, we decided to put in a lowball offer. We put it in a fair bit below, what we were told would even be taken seriously. Well, low and behold, he was ready to deal. So we got in at a super great price. And then as soon as we got into the deal, we realized things were much worse than we had imagined. And it's funny because some of the things were obvious. This was advertised as a new roof. But you can look at the pictures that were included that show it was plainly not a new roof. So, in retrospect, maybe it should have been obvious that there will be other things as well. Well, this is Central Florida, and I'll tell you, if you're not familiar with the area, you have rainstorms tear through every day at about 2pm, and it seems, in the summer and through much of the rest of the season as well. But a lot of people tell you, when you inspect a property, make sure you inspect it during a rainstorm if you have the opportunity, make sure that you're there. Well, guess what? We saw they're always telling you, come this way, not that way. Well, there was a tenant who had his door open. And he can hear me griping. Well, guess what? We went into the other door and found out that his ceiling was leaking through, and he was self-evicted through the process. So that was our little Niagara Falls experience. And so, after that, there were a couple of other places that were damaged. A couple of tenants literally self-evicting. And, did we get a discount? No, because he was literally not willing to deal with us, that’s an opportunity. Some people call it “Re-trading”, but I think when there are material misrepresentations that is not a re-trade. But we decided, look, we got the best deal we could possibly get, lowest transaction value of the year in Orlando. So we decided, we're not going to hold, we're going to do, and it was a good choice. But again, not bragging. So let's get into the real stuff. So, we got rats and cockroaches. And if you're from the north, you'd be surprised how many pests you get down south. One of the great things about cold weather is that it kills everything in the winter, and they got to start over. So we got no house flies at least half of the year, where I live in Michigan. But coming down to Florida, a lot of things grow, everything grows. So it was a pretty big mess. We saw there was an electrical fire in one place. But it wasn't until we got to the very end of our reposition, we found out that there was a lady who didn't have an electrical fire yet, but all her outlets have gone out but one and she was using one of those giant power strips that people use for their computers to run her entire unit. So happy to say we got there before something bad happened. But that was obviously the next electrical fire waiting to happen. So let's see what else went wrong? Well, because you have these enormous rainstorms tearing through literally every day, sometimes two a day, it took a long time to get that root properly fixed. And when we did after months and months awaiting, guess what? Another one tears through that was not expected. So you need usually at least three days in a row of dry weather. So they barely got up there in time to put the tarps up and had some damage on the other side of the building. But this time at least thankfully, not Niagara Falls, a little a water stains up there.

[00:12:59] Marc Cesar: Wow, that's a whole lot to unpackage there. But how did you guys manage to overcome those obstacles? with the roof, with the outage, and so forth. Did you guys budget that into your CAPEX? Or was that something that you didn't plan for, and you had to scramble and work it out?

[00:13:25] George Roberts: Well, now you used a really big word there that I'd like to define, budgets. You need a margin of safety. So whatever your budget is, margin of safety, and we bought, that was our margin of safety. And again, I want to quote somebody super famous Warren Buffett, he wasn't really the one who came up with the idea of margin of safety in finance, that would be really more his mentor, Benjamin Graham, but he's probably made it more famous than anyone else. And you gotta realize going into any transaction, particularly real estate, there are going to be things that you literally could not know, and I could go on and on about what was wrong about that place and things that even we know this guy ran it like a slumlord. And we had no idea what it would actually look like when we open up the walls. There's another thing you open up the walls, you're doing a heavier reposition. This is different than construction and ground-up construction. You got a lot of things, you got to look out for right lumber prices, that's what hit us in 2021. But you have a completely different game that you're playing when you are doing a reposition because you can have an unexpected by the very best, you can have all the construction knowledge walking in. But when you open up those walls, you've never know what you're going to find, one quick example, we found wires of different gauges that were wire knotted together. So that's another, that's asking for a fire. So after we saw that we ended up, well, maybe we're not going to tear on all the wiring on the Niagara Falls side of the building. We're going to do that on the other side as well. And we're glad with that decision, because, again, that lady that had the giant power strip was on the other side. So now we feel good about it. And again, no, did we budget for that? No. But when you buy right, that's the first thing that protects you. The second thing that protected us is a joint venture. So being a joint venture, it's not like you have to go back to 15, 30, or 100 investors and say, this is not a three to five-year hold, this is going to have to be essentially an infinite hold. We're going to have to turn this into a cash flow play, versus that we're going to get you out in five years. So that also made it easier. Certainly, I think we could have made the deal work either way and probably would have hit our numbers. But again, joint ventures are easier in the sense that usually you're working with people who have the net worth, they have not only more sophistication but they're intimately involved, I mean there's nothing to explain. We're all part of this. We know. And I'm calling it an infinite hole, by my partners are not necessarily down with that yet. But again, we're looking at this as a much larger thing. And then the other thing is, it's all about your due diligence, There's the due diligence of the deal. This is due diligence in the area, and we could see, and part of why we pivoted is that we do see the gentrification of the area, everybody around us has successfully repositioned the apartments, this was smaller, and that's why it was left. This was like a tiny little pearl in the oyster and the big fish weren't going to go for it. So it was a great first deal. We got a lot of good things going on. There's the Virgin Express coming through and that's going to connect central Orlando to southern Orlando all the way down to Miami. And we also have a great road expansion project that's going to link this to the Mall at Millennia. Anybody who's been to Orlando has probably been to the Mall at Millennia and the roads were just kind of weird, I have to say that you had a head sort of wangle around to get out to that mall. But now it's going to be connected to what I call the nicer side of town and you got all these things going for us. So again, that pivot was something we were able to do because we're continuously doing the market research and we see this really makes sense. And we've been vindicated. Our first unit went for more than double, the original rents. So, everything from below-market rents. Because it's not that there's nothing good about the slumlord, they were seriously below market and hadn't been raised for quite some time. When you see everybody on month-to-month leases, that's another sign that you're dealing with either a mom-and-pop or slumlord situation. But again, that impacts the underwriting. Because when you see, I don't have to wait, two months to kick out 10% of the tenants and six months to kick out half of the tenants, boom! we could go as quick as we want it. And so that was a great thing knowing going into it.

[00:18:16] Marc Cesar: Wow, that's actually amazing. I just want to backtrack a bit. You mentioned a few items that you look at when looking at a property. Can you elaborate more on the metrics that you and your team typically look at when assessing an asset and deciding that, hey okay, this is what we want to buy!

[00:18:38] George Roberts: Sure, there are a lot of things. I think you have to start at the very beginning. You’re going to look at things what's your breakeven ratio, how many units need to be occupied that we can cash flow this thing. Another thing that's kind of obvious or should be obvious is the debt service coverage ratio. Some people say like 1.2, 1.25 if you want to get financing and it better be at least that good. Some people I see push that up to 1.6. What I would say is that no deal has everything. So, when you look at the deal, if everything is good or pretty good and you can have a few things that are really good, then that's a decent deal. You don't want to have anything out of place and there better be some things about the deal that you're able to make really work. So let's see, what else did we cover, how about the cash on cash? This is important for any deal, but if you're going to syndicate it's very important because I don't see people coming into these deals without a decent preferred return. So you want to make sure the cash on cash works, particularly if it's syndication. And then again, I'm talking mainly in terms of the syndication metrics rather than the actual underwriting, which we can go back to, but that internal rate of return, for longtime people in saying, hey! we know we're conservative because we're not counting on a refinance. Well, if you've been paying attention to what's going on with inflation, those refinances may be absolutely impossible. So, we may go from a timeframe, where it's conservative underwriting to not count on the refinance to where you can't count on it at all, and you better find something else if you want to call yourself conservative. So again, I want to say, underwriting is something, it's always a moving target and that's a good thing because if it was easy everybody would have found their way into real estate by now.

[00:20:31] Marc Cesar: Yes, I agree 100%. Now, what is success to you? Everyone has their own definition of it. Can you elaborate more on what is your secret, quote/unquote to success?

[00:20:45] George Roberts: Well, first of all, the definition, I would say, is personal growth. Anything that truly allows me to grow as a person, that is a big victory. My favorite days are the hard ones. And I like to practice stoicism. If you go back to and I'm not sure if I can pull the original author, but what you want to say was Epictetus, he said when you have one of those days where you get thrown off that rhythm, what you want to do is say “it was for this I was in training, this is what I prepared for”. So I actually love those hard days, the days where I'm on the phone all day when things are going sideways when I have to jump to the helm to ride the ship. Those are the best days. Those are the days of personal growth, a day like that is worth 10 days when you're in calm seas.

[00:21:40] Marc Cesar: Awesome. And what is the biggest surprise that you found in your success? What happened? What is there something that happened that you did not predict or expect?

[00:21:50] George Roberts: I don't know. I'll take public speaking. I had a very long path to becoming a public speaker. As a scientist, I was always presenting but never felt comfortable. I became a Toastmaster that helped, but I still felt it was like Winston Churchill, one of the greatest orators of all time, but he memorized his speeches. So, I felt like well, I'm still not there. But podcasting, going on other people's podcasts, getting up at the various meet-ups, including my own. When I took it to a field where I was truly passionate about, when I wasn't going to Toastmasters and talking about finance or Warren Buffett, that's when things became real. So something unexpected is the value of having the opportunity to become a true public speaker.

[00:22:41] Marc Cesar: Powerful. Is there a failure, or a big failure that you've learned from over the course of your journey, whether it be on the W-2 side or real estate?

[00:22:53] George Roberts: So in terms of failures, a lot of it is not starting soon enough. Anything that I had mentioned as starting off soon enough was a big failure, not getting a VA soon enough, not being willing to do what every leader says, I'm the only person who can do this task. And realizing no, you're not. If you're a true leader, a true leader is somebody, just reading the Pumpkin Plan the last couple of days, great book, a true leader is somebody who, finds the problem, they define the solution, and they put systems in place so that other people can solve the problem. So realizing what it truly means to be an entrepreneur, I would define it as entrepreneurship is leadership, but it's very different than corporate leadership because although you're a decision-maker, you have a much greater appetite for risk. But the vision component is also different. The vision component is primary. Whereas, as a lower-level or even middle-level management position, you don't really need to have quite as much of the vision, it can be more about tactics, etc. Strategy and tasks.

[00:24:09] Marc Cesar: Perfect. Speaking of entrepreneurship, you are the host of The Foundry: Where leaders are forged daily, an amazing podcast, I had a chance to listen to a few episodes, what brought that podcast about?

[00:24:25] George Roberts: Well, it was the realization again, that entrepreneurship is a different type of leadership, realizing that entrepreneurship is one of the greatest proving grounds for talent, where there are people like Henry Ford, didn't start tinkering on the side until he was 37, didn't found Ford Motor Company till he was 40. You have people like Steve Jobs that truly didn't find their way in the world, didn't find their place until they started executing on their own vision. So, another person that I'm really inspired by would be Mr. personality, Kevin O'Leary, and he points out that people who are bad employees are often great entrepreneurs, vice versa. You might be a great entrepreneur and you might be struggling someplace; you might feel like hey! I'm not a great employee, but maybe you're like Kevin O'Leary, and you don't want to be ordered to get down on your knees and scrape the gum off the tile floor. Maybe that's not for you and there is a place in the world for people that don't like to be told what to do. It's not an easy place or a comfortable place but it can be a very exciting ride and that's entrepreneurship. So for me, entrepreneurship lights my fire. I don't want to be a manager in a corporate situation where being a better manager means finding more things that can go wrong and putting more processes in place to make sure that things go run down the narrow channel. I want to look for revenue, I want to drive new lines of business, I'm looking more on the positive sides than in preventing bad things from happening. So whereas I felt in the W2 world, which I love, and hope that I keep my W-2 for a long time, because it's great to have multiple streams of income. But I realized that really couldn't be the place where I developed myself to the fullest that I had to be an entrepreneur.

[00:26:13] Marc Cesar: Wow. Now, you said something that is very interesting. And it's a very age-old debate that we have now where you'd like to keep your W-2 as long as you can because you want to have multiple streams of income. But we typically hear a lot of people in the entrepreneurial world, especially in real estate who say, quit your job, and focus on real estate. What is your take on that mindset?

[00:26:26] George Roberts: Well, I'll start with the first YouTube channel that I found, that really changed my world, Phil Pustejovsky He talks about how he was living in his pickup truck, eating baked beans, and he had too much pride to drive from Tennessee to Texas to see his parents, he decided he was going to make it happen. And he did and he became extremely successful. But that was pain, he quit his job right away. I know a lot of people who do, they quit their job very well, and they make it work. But you know what, that's a very painful path to go on. And one thing I like the most about multifamily real estate, whether you're doing it passively or actively, or some combination of the two, you can get much closer to passivity with this than you can with anything else. The economies of scale, having all your units in one place, having a team, you can really scale, like people talk about, sometimes you get a downshift your career, maybe you have a child, and you want to focus on your child and that's the appropriate thing to do and that's beautiful. Well, guess what, if you're in multifamily, you can decide to take a smaller percentage of the deal and get more great partners and you can do those things, you need to do.

[00:28:00] Marc Cesar: Wow, I like that. So, you heard it first here everyone, don't be so quick to quit your job. Make sure you learn how to leverage that position, until you can make a decision where if you do want to quit your job and you're successful at real estate, then you can pivot full time. Thanks for sharing that tip. Again, it's the debate that I hear constantly and it's never-ending. So it's a real bottomless pit with this debate. So I appreciate your take on it. Now, do you have a position within your company that you dislike the most or wish you didn't have to do on your own?

[00:28:38] George Roberts: Wow, that's interesting. Because when I came in, I thought that automating the website was fun. That was cool. We're getting ready for this torrent of investors. And I did enjoy it. But you know, what's, I'm still manually making my Zoom meetings. I didn't get this app for that. So, once I emerged over into focusing on things, I'm going to make our loss leader, I'm writing the eBook, I'm going to do the investor relations. Now all of a sudden, a lot of those things don't excite me much anymore. So, capacity is limited. I've reached my bandwidth. So those things, I'm glad that I got somebody, my partner Pav Prokop he is amazing with that sort of stuff, and he really enjoys it. So again, you got to find a great team.

[00:29:31] Marc Cesar: I agree. Now, do you have any best time-saving hacks that you find helps you out with your day-to-day?

[00:29:41] George Roberts: I think more than anything passion. I'm going to say when you really want something, you don't waste time. So I have all kinds of hacks. If I was doing this in my office, I'd be able to pick up, I set up my environment for productivity. So I got my Jim Rohn quotes on the desk. If I find my still staring off into space then that's a place that I can go and get re-energized. I got Grant Cardone's top 10 tips, things like that all around, you want to set up your workspace for productivity. I've got maps all over the wall of Orlando because if you're out of state, which if you're in multifamily, and you're all certainly out of state, you need to know that market. And if it's not someplace that you're driving through every day to work, live and play, definitely, I would say, put those maps up on the wall, know your neighborhoods and when you walk by, lifting weights, or I'm passing into the other room, take another look at that and you got to just burn that into your brain. So, I would say, you got to feel the passion. If you're not feeling passionate, you're wasting time. Sure, you can use time management tips and you can, plan out your day, and all that is good. But I would say, take one step deeper. Our emotions, they're there for a reason and people think that they're useless or superfluous and we should be logical, but they're there for a reason. If you're bored, you're not feeling your passion, you got to find that again, or else you're always going to be going back to the time management tips, it's, never going to feel like first nature.

[00:31:17] Marc Cesar: Love it. And in regard to the maps on the map that you mentioned scenario, I actually see one of my mentors, he had that in his office one time, and I asked him, why do you have a map of Albany, New York? And he elaborates, I thought it was crazy at first, but he definitely elaborated on the same sentiment that you share, which is to know your areas, you see it every day, you know, and you can pretty much pinpoint the exact areas where you're buying and what makes sense. So that's definitely an amazing trick. And I also have a map of North Carolina in my office, where I definitely look at it and say okay! avoid these areas, these are the areas I want to focus on, and it gives you that passion to understand the market and know it in more detail. So that is a great tip. Now, what top three tips would you share with a newbie, who's looking to get into the space or an aspiring investor who was considering investing or becoming an investor. What are your top three tips that you would share with them?

[00:32:22] George Roberts: Okay, so number one is going to do your homework, A lot of people will say, ‘get a deal, get a deal’. But you know what, that's because they're successful and they didn't get washed out. Hold those people who got a crappy deal the first time around five times, it's harder to get back off to that. So do your homework. Don't feel you're wasting time. If all you do today is listen to three hours of YouTube videos, or five podcasts, as long as you're learning, that's a great first step. So make sure that deal, that first deal is awesome. Then I'd also say focus on networking. There's no business I've ever seen, where networking is literally so important. So many layers to the transaction, you got brokers, property managers, you got all of the trades. These are all people who could possibly bring you a deal. So know those people, you're going to want to know, other people who are owning and operating buildings like you, maybe they can bring you a deal, maybe they can help you take a deal down. So, make sure that you're constantly networking and cast a wide net. I go to single-family meetings too because you'll find people, who may be a distressed landlord and you talk about being a passive investor. That makes sense, all of a sudden, what I could possibly be doing as well giving my money to an experienced operator. And you also going to find people who haven't really started yet. You can talk to them and say, why don't you start in multifamily? You are a bright guy, you've done well in your career. So why don't you start here, Cut the nonsense because I'll take you to meet people who have been in this 5, 10 years and they say, oh yeah! I waited until year four or year six to get into multifamily and I'm still selling my single-family homes. So, I guess step two, would be networking, cast a wide net, there are a lot of people that can help you, a lot of people you can help, and look where you can add that value. And the third thing is you got to differentiate yourself. And that is difficult. So for me, I differentiate myself, largely through networking, I got all kinds of things going, got weekly networking online, I've got an evening networking, that's a little bit more like yours, I'm going to start inviting speakers, had our first session, I've got the YouTube videos, and I'm always getting up there through every social media channel. That's what I'm trying to do to differentiate myself. If people learn it from you first, then you're the one they're going to trust. You're the one that they're going to want to do the deal with.

[00:35:03] Marc Cesar: I love it, I love to two and three, I've actually implemented that into my day-to-day. Since the pandemic started, where we all have lived on Zoom and we've all attended the same amount of networking events, but a lot of people were starting to connect with the same people. But I decided to actually cast a wider net and branch out into different meetings where if it's a stock or financial meeting, or as you mentioned, a single-family meeting, you're meeting a different perspective of people who may not necessarily know about multifamily or may not have thought about it, and you're coming in as that authority figure where okay! I have the knowledge, this is what I bring to the table, and entice them. And so that is a powerful tip, I appreciate you sharing that, George. Now, we're coming down to the wire, what is next up for George and Horizon Multifamily, as well as Walnut Grove homes.

[00:36:05] George Roberts: So, for Horizon Multifamily, the next big thing is about building the name. So, it's more like tip three, writing the eBook, when I wrote our last paper, it was 30 pages long. So, I'm extending that into a full-length book. Writing is something I do well, after writing a dissertation, after writing scientific articles, for some reason, writing for a general audience doesn't seem so scary at all. So again, it's all about getting the name out there and it's about leveraging people. So I got a business coach, Charity Brown, she's helping to do some great things. And I've got a VA, it's all about passing off more tasks, or maybe getting a second VA. So again, it's all about taking the founder experience, where you're like the chief everything officer, and becoming a true leader. So that's where I'd say I'm with Horizon Multifamily. As for Walnut Grove homes, it's all about the financing. So we're getting more and more professional. Now we've sold three homes, they were all, I don't want to talk too much about the pricing, but let's say that they were well above a half-million dollars a piece, so that was great. Things are headed in the right direction for us in terms of home prices just about any market you're in is going up. So we're going to start to build things faster. And it's pretty amazing how long it takes and how expensive, just laying down the streets and getting all of the utilities in there. Wow, talk about a cost sink and getting the business to the point where it's no longer an alligator, we've got the working capital. Well, the next thing is that we're going to start rolling forward. We've got some decent working capital, don't need to add capital to business anymore. And building those homes a lot faster.

[00:38:08] Marc Cesar: Awesome. Now, you do host a meet-up as well on Wednesdays, can you share a little bit about the meetup and what it entails?

[00:38:17] George Roberts: Yes, it's at noon Eastern. And what I like to do is just network. I like these pure networking meetups because it's a great way to meet 12 or 24 or 50 people. So, I like to do noon time, Eastern Time. A lot of people I know, they're either in Orlando or someplace in Florida, or in Michigan, someplace in between. So I chose noon Eastern. So the other thing is that I also like to have a meet-up where people get to learn some more. So that would be my in-person meet-up in Michigan, or I'm going to start doing the first week of the month, I can only do this once a month. I'm not like you, Marc, I'm not able to do this every week. But once a month, I would like to have a meet-up, where there's a speaker and you can come in and learn about somebody in depth.

[00:39:08] Marc Cesar: Yes, so it's our listeners, I am a member of George's meetup at twelve on Wednesdays and right after this, we're actually jumping on his meetup. So that is pretty fun. So, we will definitely be dropping the links and all the references and resources George mentioned throughout the episode in the show notes. So I hope to see all of you guys there. Now, one more question for you, George. If you have to start over with the knowledge that you have now, what would you have done differently then?

[00:39:38] George Roberts: Yes, the couple of things that I mentioned I will underscore is network more earlier, go to conferences earlier, of course, COVID threw a monkey wrench into that. And then passing off tests earlier, automating more earlier, and not being afraid to spend a little bit on the business. And that's the great thing about having the first deal, once you have that first deal, you know that this is productive. And those small expenses, they all look really small. So not being afraid to spend a little bit and getting that virtual assistant very valuable, should have done that sooner. But again, getting the right one was very important and I'm very happy with my choice. So again, you want to make these decisions earlier and faster. But again, make sure you're making the right choice because a hire is a very fateful decision, you hire the wrong person and it's hard to get rid of them. So easier when it's contract work than when they're actually signed on as a full W-2 but again, it's very important to pick the right people.

[00:40:49] Marc Cesar: Awesome, great stuff. So we've come to an end. George, I want to thank you so much for surviving our hot seat and sharing your amazing story with us and with our audience. Again, listeners, all the contact info for George will be posted in the show notes. And with that said, Happy investing to everyone and to your success. Thank you again, George.

George Roberts Profile Photo

George Roberts

Principal

George is an award-winning data scientist as well as a published bioscientist with over 600 citations in the fields of genomics, microbiology, and physiology. He is a founder of Walnut Grove Homes, an upscale residential construction company based in Troy, Michigan which reached seven-figure status in 2021. He is also a principal at Horizon Multifamily which sponsors value-add multifamily opportunities in the Southeast for qualified passive investors. He is a General Partner (GP) on a 34-unit apartment near Knoxville, TN. He also owns a 14-unit apartment in Orlando, FL as a joint venture. In addition to his active multifamily investments, he is passively invested in 468 multifamily units in Jacksonville, Florida, and Houston, Texas.

He is the host of “The Foundery – Where Leaders are Forged Daily!”, a podcast devoted to entrepreneurship, particularly multifamily syndication. If you would like to appear as a guest on “The Foundery”, feel free to contact George through LinkedIn.