How did you first get involved in real estate?
I started investing in 2005, when I was convinced by my wife Elizabeth to quit my job and start the company. She agreed to be the “breadwinner” until I got DeRosa off the ground.
We started the company with specific values in mind. To start, we wanted to transform lives through real estate by providing great, safe, and affordably priced housing. We wanted to take something that’s been neglected and bring it back to life. Today, we aim to bring all our properties to their highest and best use—so that we, and the people that use the property, can be proud of it. We take pride in what we create and we want our residents to view our properties as a place to raise their families with pride.
We also want to provide employment for our people, and we will not invest in a project that does not meet this requirement. We believe our projects need to support our vendors and employees with fair compensation, and we aim to offer these vendors and employees long-term contracts they can rely on.
We also transform lives by providing reliable investments outside of what’s available on Wall Street. We know that our investors want to diversify: they want the tax benefits, appreciation, and cash flow that only real estate investing can provide. Investors trust us with their retirement accounts and their children’s college funds. They rely on us to secure their financial future and we don’t take this responsibility lightly.
What we do allows us and our investors to make money while we make a difference.
In addition to leading DeRosa, you’re also an author! Why did you decide to write a book?
I’ve always wanted to write a book. I have several book ideas in my head and Raising Private Capital was the first I ran with. Raising Private Capital tells a bit of our story and how we transitioned from a smaller self-funded company to create a network of investors to partner with. The book highlights many projects we completed with our investor partners, as well as the lessons, challenges, and opportunities that came from them. It gives the reader tools to structure their own partnerships and teaches them how to find those investor partners within their own network.
How do you handle risk and competition?
In terms of risk, we try to mitigate it as best we can and be conservative. For competition, we aim to be as transparent as we can, and make that our differentiator.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
The number one challenge, above all, is staying focused. I have a bit of “shiny nickel” syndrome. When I got started, I went from deal to deal, strategy to strategy, partnership to partnership, and didn’t focus. It didn’t get me very far and we made a big mess. Once I started to focus on a business plan and build a team around it, we flourished.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Yes! I learned how resilient I am and how hard I’m willing to work for what I want once I set my mind to it. This business has given me a bunch of chances to quit. I never considered it once.
I also learned that I’m pretty good on camera, which is why I do well with my YouTube channel.
Have you ever invested in Winston-Salem before? What drew you to North Carolina?
No, this is our first deal there. North Carolina is a great center of growth in the U.S. The business laws are very favorable for the growth of companies. This creates jobs, which in turn creates a need for housing.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd?
It goes back to our mantra: "Transform Lives Through Real Estate." Republic allows us to offer what we do for more people, giving them an option to grow their wealth using vehicles that weren’t available to them until now. We want to offer these investments to ALL people, not just those with inside connections.
Investing in real estate can be intimidating for many. Any advice for people just starting out?
Choose a market and a business strategy before spending any money. You can waste plenty of time, as I did, trying new markets and strategies every week. Once you choose a direction and focus, the path gets easier.
What’s your team culture like?
We have a very collaborative culture. We all have our roles, but we all also have a say in what we do. We also have plenty of fun together!
What is your superpower?
I can explain complex topics in a simple way. This involves enrolling others in an idea and getting them to stand behind it. I can get people excited about an idea, and it helps that I can finding humor in almost anything.
I should also add that I am an ENORMOUS Captain America Fan. Why? Because Cap is the one superhero that was strong on the inside before he became strong on the outside. He always had courage and a big heart to begin with.
What’s your kryptonite?
Things that are repetitive or take a long time.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
I have two young kids (7 and 3), so they are my hobby. I also enjoy working out, skiing and making wine.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Delegate things you aren’t great at, sell the properties that aren’t serving you, and be more impatient.