• Gerald Tay

My Investment Journey (Part 2)

Updated: Feb 18





Click here to read Part 1: Sharing –My Investment Journey.


The Early Stage


In early 2010, Wesley, a close USA friend of mine who also a seasoned real estate investor called me and asked if I was keen to do some large property deals with him for the depressed USA real estate market.


Of course, I was excited and immediately sensed it was one of those rare opportunities that you can’t missed in life. USA markets was barely recovering from the recent mortgage crisis of 2008 and property prices were at their all-time low since the 1930s depression.


For our first deal, we brought in a seasoned US residential real estate investor named Adi, who is a close friend of Wesley. Adi owns hundreds of residential properties in the USA and has structured many large profitable investment deals. We could tap on his investment expertise and knowledge as strategic partners.


But, on one condition.


The investment consortium was to consist primarily Singaporean investors, Adi, Wesley, myself with a pool of US$1million and equal profit sharing for all investors. (It was US$2million initially but we decided to lower it at later stage.)


So, I had to find 10 friends or investors with at least US$100,000 each to raise the entire US$1 million.


You can hardly imagine unlike the typical millionaire, I had a limited network. How laughable but not surprising if you remember I’m an introvert by choice and over the years, I’ve discovered networking is never my strength.


I detest attending those ‘pretentious’ network sessions where you’re forced into saying hellos to people you’re not comfortable with, collect a bunch of useless name cards and leave them rotting somewhere in your drawer without ever a second look.


An Initial Tough One-Man Show


I could have easily invested the entire US$1 million dollars into the deal myself and save all the troubles of raising hard equity. But in terms of using other people’s money for leverage, I thought it would have make better investment sense.


Key Challenges I faced:


  • No network of investors with a minimum US$100,000 per investor

  • No investors & friends of the right ‘fit’ for reliable co-partners

  • No credibility or trust with anyone as I was an unknown and a private individual.

  • In 2010, rising Asia was a preferred investment region than crisis USA

  • I love the challenge of raising equity, but believe me, the hardest part of all is yet to come.


The Initial Rejection


In 2011, I approached one of the local prominent property seminar providers, Alex Tan (Not his real name) if he is keen to work with me on the USA deal. I could use his network and he could tap on our USA real estate expertise. I believe it’ll be a good business preposition.


Like many other property seminar providers, Alex was eagerly introducing USA properties to sell to his network but himself does not comprehend the real complexities of the USA property market.


I asked Alex if he is keen to partner us for our strategic expertise. His network of investors can be ensured of a safer overseas investment and better returns because of this strategic partnership.


It is an investment co-partnership, and not a sale to his investors and this will help greatly differentiate his network from the other property ‘gurus’ who make money from sales than from ensuring a safe profitable investment for their investors.


Initially, Alex expressed keen interest working with Adi, Wesley and myself but surprisingly he rejected our deal after hearing of the specifics. His reason was he had another partner who could help source for US properties and introduce to his network.


Alex said his partner who recently migrated to the US had 3 years of investing experience in US property market and confident he can bring good deals for him and his network.


I was surprised and confused. Wesley and Adi were local Americans with a combined 40 years of US investing experience. They definitely knew the ins and outs of the US property market much more than someone with only 3 years of novice experience!


For many seminar providers, it was easier to sell and profit immediately from initial sales commissions given by overseas developers if you’ve a vast network of ready investors behind.


It seems looking after the interests of their investors was a secondary choice for many of them.


Success Depends Entirely on You, and Not Others.


With the initial rejection, I persisted on with Alex and instead, proposed a sharing presentation with his network of investors. He agreed and gave me a 15 minute time slot in one of his regular sessions.


From a positive perspective, this 15 minutes slot reinforces me that one very important life principle that makes successful people, ‘In life, Success Depends Entirely on You, and not Others.’


In Chinese proverb, ‘Kao Ren Bu Ru Kao Ji’


Key Learning for Part 2


To be successful in all things we set out to do, it’ll requires one’s grit to endure and take on the many challenges we faced constantly on that journey.


Success and opportunities are never delivered to us on a silver platter. We’ve to earn them through our own hard work and persistence.


No one owes us a living. You owe yourself that.


If you want to be financially free, you’ve to get it yourself. No one gets anything for you or offer you a chance of becoming rich the free and easy way. You see, there’s a difference between a Hand-out and Help:


Hand-out : Requires one to give to someone else over and over without the receiver doing nothing else with what was given besides using it for their own luxury and leisure.


Help: Requires one to give to someone else but this time the receiver uses what was given to gain ground and stand upright on their own two feet instead of relying on constant future hand-outs.


So don’t seek hand-outs, seek help for good financial education and you will find it. Once you do, try your best to make it work.


Follow up on my next sharing, what happened after that 15 minutes presentation in Part 3: Sharing –My Investment Journey.


Click here to read Part 1: Sharing –My Investment Journey.

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