As an immigrant, education is usually extremely important. What did your parents say about you dropping out?
You’re right, most immigrant families do definitely push for higher education and to their credit, it can truly be something important for most people. I didn’t feel it was in my case. My mother always pushed me to get a degree and I believe that she was very disappointed when I dropped out. However, my father always supported me and let me make my own choices. He said if getting a job and finishing school won’t make you happy then what’s the point? That was very encouraging and helped me push for something higher than the average out there.
Tell us about how you got started in real estate at such a young age in high school…
When I got started with real estate investing I saw what other people were doing, and really got amped up when I met another mentor of mine. I saw that fad and saw the massive appreciation that regions of the states where having so I obviously wanted in. In just like everything I have done, I did it together with my father. He is more like a friend and mentor to me than just my father. So together we went to Phoenix Arizona which at the time was an incredible market and was booming.
At such a young age I didn’t have credit to buy a house so what I did was put a down payment on my credit card just to hold the house for me while it was being built. I was buying “preconstruction” projects. It was crazy to think that someone could do that. The awesome thing is that I put down only $2500 per house and picked up 3 properties. I never had to close on them because as soon as the construction was done, I immediately sold the property or assigned the property for the current market value. It was an amazing first couple of deals because each property appreciated about $60 to $80k within 6 months and I was able to take that profit and use it for further deals. It was quite a rush. After that I did a few flips, and purchased a bunch of rental properties for some residual income. It was an awesome start and I’m thankful for everything that I did and every lesson that I learned at such an early age. It definitely was fun, interesting, and knew that one day it would pay off.
You mentioned buying property because of the fad but that lead to the bubble and housing crash in 2008. What did that do for you?
Unfortunately, the real estate market crashed and crashed hard for me and many other people around the US. I lost a lot during that time and essentially had to start over. 2008 and 2009 was very hard, but I believe that it was actually a blessing to go through that at a young age and not when I was older. The lessons that I learned are priceless and now I understand what to do and what not to do. The truth is, when we want something bad enough, no matter what, we will always find a way to make it happen and bounce back from whatever took us down. So when everything was falling apart and everyone was complaining, my father and I together started a new senior care business that would pull us back up.
I would like to say I never regret anything I do because I learn from it, but the reality of it is that yes, I do sometimes. Even to this day I look back and wonder “What if? However, that hasn’t done anyone any good so we just move on. If I had the financial power to sustain all the properties and investments during the downturn it would have paid off tenfold, but it is what it is.
I am extremely grateful for the experience and the real life education I received during that time. It was a very expensive education, but it was an education that I would have never gotten if I didn’t do what I did. I am just happy that by pushing through and working hard and smart was able to turn things around, and was able to get back on the right path.
The idea actually started because of the experience my mother had as an RN (registered nurse) and the past experience my father had in the industry. We saw that there were so many amazing opportunities in this field to not just make a great living, but to truly help seniors. We saw that more times than not, the news and media were reporting negative things about peoples’ experiences in these types of facilities, and I really wanted to create something with a higher class of living and the highest possible level of care for the seniors in the area. We knew that RCFE (residential care facilities for elderly) investing was an awesome opportunity now and in the future because of the huge increase of the age demographics in the United States. The baby boomer age needed and still needs care so here we are. We tapped into a market that was pre-existing and just did our best to make it better.
Running a RCFE business takes a much larger initial investment. How did you validate your idea?
When it comes to RCFE investing, real estate or any other type of business, I can’t stress enough how important due diligence has been for me. Learning the hard way has been an amazing teacher. When it comes to businesses, I now spend countless hours researching and making sure that the market will be able to sustain the idea, and there is not only room, but a completely open door for whatever the business is. There is no excuse for losing money because you don’t take the time to research. So as important as it is to have a good gut feeling, it’s even more important to make sure the data proves you correct and that way I can comfortably invest and move forward in whatever the project may be. That, along with using creative financing, has been a huge help for me in moving forward and expanding the RCFE business along with the other businesses as well.
For anyone that wants to get involved in the RCFE business do you have any advice?
I actually think this is an awesome industry for people to get involved in because there is not only currently a HUGE demand, but also because the demand is growing at a rapid rate and will continue to grow. One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give someone would be please don’t be cheap. What I mean by that is don’t try and skimp on prices by getting subpar locations, resources, staff, or anything in the business. If you put out a quality product you will be rewarded with quality. I feel the same about any business though. I actually apply that to anything like RCFE, real estate, retail, my new businesses, and anything else in life. Always be a stand up person, full disclosure, and always provide the best for your customers. Put out quality and you will get back quality.
What’s next for you and your businesses?
Currently I am working on a lot of projects and there are a lot of new things coming down the pipeline. I am still running the senior care business and will continue to do so for some time. However, I have 2 new businesses and projects that I am even more excited about. The first one is a software company that I launched and we are building out some really great stuff for clients whom unfortunately I can’t discuss, but it has been something that I have been working on for over 2 years now. I am very excited about what the future holds for this business. Every day that goes by things keep getting better and bigger, and the future keeps looking brighter and brighter. Really excited about what it holds.
The second business that I am working on now whom I am just as excited about is my new company called Ghiotto Artisan Gelato. Just as the name indicates it’s a gelato company. I mean come on who doesn’t like gelato? It will be mainly a gelato shop but will feature gourmet small bites, quality wines, and champagnes. I am really excited about this project which will launch in early spring in northern California and then will be opening up in Florida shortly after. All of the projects that I am working on are just really fun, and I have awesome hopes for them all. Along with those two new businesses I am still investing and have done some land acquisition in Europe and will be prepping for some pretty awesome development projects. Just keeping things different and making sure that income will come from as many areas as possible.
It is without a doubt a lot of work but I would rather work some of the years in my life like most people won’t so that I can live the rest of my life like most people can’t. I always believe that it is really important to always be happy with what you have but never be satisfied and always strive for more. I don’t only mean that from a financial point of view. When all said and done, business aside, the biggest motivation for me with all of this is to be able to have full freedom to travel the world with my girlfriend, and create a future that will be fun, adventurous, and to hopefully set an example for others as well.