Travis is the CEO of Tribevest and shares the story of how Tribevest came to be and explains how they are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He also shares what he is noticing in other tribes and how they are approaching the market.
Travis Smith Real Estate Background:
- Founder and CEO of Tribevest
- He is a partner in several investment groups that invest in single-family rentals, multifamily, and commercial real estate
- From Columbus, Ohio
- Say hi to him at: www.tribevest.com
Best Ever Tweet:
“When everyone is panicking and selling, our tribes are pulling capital together, so when the time is right, they will be able to take advantage of great deals.” – Travis Smith
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. My name is Theo Hicks and today we’ll be speaking with Travis Smith. Travis, how are you doing today?
Travis Smith: Good, Theo. Thanks for having me; glad to be here.
Theo Hicks: We’re glad to have you and thanks for being here, looking forward to our conversation. As everyone knows, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, so we’re going to be talking about that today with Travis, how it’s impacting his business, his thoughts on it and what he is doing to combat it. But before we get into that, let’s go over Travis’s background.
He is the founder and CEO of TribeVest, which he will talk about here in a little bit. He is a partner in several investment groups that invest in single-family rentals and multifamily and commercial real estate. He is from Columbus, Ohio and his website is tribevest.com. So Travis, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and then what you are focused on today?
Travis Smith: Absolutely. TribeVest, first of all, just a little bit about the platform. We’re really a collaboration platform for investor groups. You can think of us as an operating system and a banking platform designed for real estate investors to come together, assemble, form and bank together, and ultimately do more as a result of pooling resources and pooling capital. So I’m really excited to talk about that. A little bit of my background – I come from the FinTech space, so digital banking and payments processing was where I came up, and then in 2017, 2018, came full time being the founder of TribeVest.
Theo Hicks: Okay. So do you mind elaborating a little bit more? Give me an example of what I have — I don’t know, $500,000, and I’m interested in investing in real estate, how would I use TribeVest to use that capital?
Travis Smith: Yeah, let me go back to the beginning, which is very relevant today. TribeVest was born from the last global crisis, the financial crisis, the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. My brothers and I, we were on a fishing trip, quite frankly one that we couldn’t afford, and we were seeing the world changing around us. In fact, my uncle, who we had all looked up to and admired because he had a great job, worked for HP, was traveling the world, and after the Great Recession kicked in, he was laid off and was unemployable at the age of 55. It made us realize that everything we had been told to go to school, get good grades, get a good job and retire and die gracefully wasn’t going to work for us. We always saw real estate as a way to hack wealth without having to give up our day jobs, but we had that same problem that we all have – to break into private markets, to break into real estate, you need capital, lump sums of money that we just didn’t have.
On that fishing trip over a few beers, we had a breakthrough. We said, “Listen, guys. Let’s quit talking about doing real estate deals and address the problem right in front of us – lack of capital.” And in that moment, we said, “Let’s each agree to a manageable and monthly contribution of $500 each.” That was a stretch for us back then, but it was manageable, and between the four of us that was $2,000 a month, $24,000 a year, and that was how we broke in. One investment led to another led to another and led to another, and we look back and we’ve realized that by forming and funding that investor group, that tribe, we unlocked a future we could have never dreamed of, and over time, we were changing our future.
About three years ago, people started to notice, and they said, “Wait a minute, you’re investing in what type of deals? How are you doing this?” Then they would say, “Well, wait a minute, I have a tribe. We have shared financial goals. Can you help us form an investor group too?” And that’s when we thought about it, and said, “Is there a market here?” And of course, we realized, we looked back and we thought, “Gosh, what would we have done differently?” and we would have done a ton differently. Ultimately, that’s how we came up with our initial product, that now hundreds of investor groups are using to form and fund whatever their venture.
Theo Hicks: Okay. So your website’s like a fishing boat in a sense, where people come together who want to collaborate on some particular venture deal, let’s say, a real estate deal… And so they all just put their money together on that platform and then go off on their own to buy the deal? I’m confused on that aspect.
Travis Smith: No, I’m glad you’re clarifying this. Right now, we are deal-agnostic in that most of our tribes and our customers are coming with a pretty good idea of the deal they want to get done, whether it’s a single-family rental down the road that they’re putting together with their neighbors, or they’re participating in a multifamily syndicate, or a commercial deal syndicate, or whatever, it literally could be anything and that’s a fun thing to get into on what our tribes are investing in. But really, they bring the dream, they bring the deal or what their goals are, and we’re helping them facilitate. I think it’s important to point out here, Theo, and maybe you’re picking up on it – what we’re doing is nothing new. We’ve been surviving and thriving as a tribe since the beginning of time, and certainly in real estate, since the beginning there too, people have been coming together, forming groups to get deals and bigger deals and more deals done.
So we didn’t invent the idea of tribe investing, but what we are providing that was missing out in the marketplace, was a neutral third-party platform that took the burden off the members of the group, especially the initiator. It was always trying to figure out how to market the tribe and the deal and, “Hey, this is my deal” and “Come on in”. And now there’s a platform that takes the burden off of everybody, where the initiator could come in, build a vision and a mission for the group, and then share that out to prospective members and invite them in to collaborate, co-create, “Are we aligned?” Then we’re just as proud of the groups that go on to achieve awesome deals as we are the ones that never get going, because we feel like we’ve done our job.
When we are looking back at our initial tribe, when we said, “Hey, what would we do differently?” one of the big things was, “I wish we would have taken more time to align and qualify and agree on our expectations.” We always say more important than the rules are the rules upfront – the how much, the how long, then what, and what if; all those things you don’t necessarily want to talk about or you feel like you don’t really need to – well, you do, and TribeVest helps you do that in a very fun and systematic way.
Essentially, what we’ve done is we’ve mitigated emotion by making sure that you’re taking care of those things upfront. I think you’re picking up on it. Our main value here is we keep the relationship the main priority – more valuable than any of the deals you’re going to be getting done. It’s more valuable than any of the deals or anything are those relationships. Anybody that’s been around long enough or been in the business long enough would have a hard time arguing that.
So this platform is designed for you to come in, align, assemble, agree, and then all those other things that are out there, but we’ve just streamlined them. We made them super easy, we’ve automated. You can file for your LLC in all 50 states. A really unique thing, at least for business partnerships, is once you have your EIN, your LLC, you can open up an FDI business bank account online with your partners, and have access to this tribe view dashboard with all your documents, all your banking activity, your balance. You can propose deals, you can discuss those deals, vote on those deals. So just a true collaboration platform that happens to have the entity formation and the business banking part of it too.
Theo Hicks: Thanks for sharing that. I understand a lot better now what you guys are doing over there. So your company name is TribeVest, so you obviously have a massive network, a massive tribe. I want to transition now to talking about the Coronavirus. So what are the people in your tribe thinking about this right now and how did things affect their investing, their jobs? You mentioned that a lot of people who do this are also working full-time day jobs? So can you just walk me through where your head’s at and where your tribe’s head is at currently?
Travis Smith: My tribe aside, what are we seeing out there across our network and our community is really interesting. I think one of the things that we’re seeing is, we’ve seen a surge in registrations, just over the last three weeks since this happened, and we’re attributing that to a couple things.
First, I think people are thinking about ways to connect with people they care about, and knowing that we can’t do that physically, we can’t do that or get together and socialize in person, we’re figuring out ways to leverage technology platforms that bring us together, and TribeVest also does that. My brothers and I, our tribe, not only is it the reason why we’ve been able to build wealth and be in the position we are, but it’s also our most favorite thing we do together. We’re spread all over the country and it’s what brings us together. It’s the reason why we’re talking on a weekly basis. So just an interesting thing that we’re seeing is this surge in registrations.
I think the other thing that we also empathize with is there’s this mass consciousness happening right now. It doesn’t happen all the time, and usually, it happens during these moments of crisis, especially global ones, where we’re all in similar situations and observing the same news and have the same fears, and it’s an incredible time to rethink your future. Like my brothers and I, during the last financial crisis, we didn’t want to be a slave to our paycheck, we didn’t want to be dependent on our 401(k) on Wall Street, and everybody we knew that was independently wealthy and had true financial freedom was investing in real estate, but we didn’t know how to start.
That’s one of the main things, Theo, that TribeVest enables people to do. It gives people the ability to start; you can form with people you know, like and trust. So there’s confidence and safety in numbers, and then being able to pull capital in a manageable and monthly way, is super powerful.
So one of the things that we do is, even before you form your LLC, or before you open up a business bank account, before you formalize, we give you the ability to start contributing capital in parallel together. So I’m putting $500 a month or $1,000 a month into my personal FDIC savings account. But, Theo, you’ve agreed to that too, and so has Sue and so has Jeff, and we all log into the same dashboard, and we can see collectively how much capital we’re pooling, so that when opportunity does knock, when a deal does come across our table, we have capital and we can answer the door and the opportunity.
So that’s one way that our tribes are taking advantage of it. While everybody else is panicking and selling, our tribes are pulling capital in a manageable monthly way so that when the time is right, they’ll be in a position to take advantage of great deals and build wealth that way.
Theo Hicks: Is there anything else as it relates to your business, your dealings and the Coronavirus that you want to mention before we sign off that you haven’t talked about already?
Travis Smith: Yeah. I think we touched a little bit about it – from change comes opportunity. And the winners of the next year, two years or three years, whatever this is going to look like, are going to be the ones that have capital and are able to reinvest or invest in different opportunities that come from this change. No doubt, we don’t know what this is going to end up looking like, but things have changed, which again means there’s opportunity. So just keeping that mindset and always looking to grow for that opportunity.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. And then where can people reach you to learn more about TribeVest?
Travis Smith: Tribevest.com. They can follow me at @TribeTrav at Twitter. We’ve also built a landing page for your audience at tribevest.com/bestever, and we’ll have special information for them there.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Well, Travis, thanks again for joining us today and telling us about your platform TribeVest, as well as your thoughts on the Coronavirus. So just to summarize – and I’m pretty sure I fully understand how TribeVest works now – it’s a collaboration platform for investor groups. You call it the operating system and banking platform designed for real estate investors to pool resources and capital. Basically, I, me and a few friends have an idea of a business idea, or maybe we just have a particular deal that we want to do, we don’t know exactly how to get started, we can come to TribeVest and they can help us with all of the things that we need to do to set ourselves up for success including, it sounds like, strong focus on creating an upfront business plan with the correct rules, the correct expectations and the correct vision, and basically help us facilitate that deal.
You mentioned how the idea was born from the 2008 recession, and that you realized that you needed capital to break into real estate. So rather than focus on finding deals, you focused on ways to get capital, and you and your brothers each agreed to do $500 per month, and that’s how the business started. Then what you also mentioned, that I really liked, is that the one thing that’s more valuable than the deals and really anything else are going to be the relationships. You try to focus on that a lot at TribeVest.
Then more COVID-related, you mentioned that you’re seeing a surge in registrations over the last three weeks and you attribute that to number one, people needing ways to connect virtually because they can’t do it physically in person. And then also, the fact – and this is a very true point – that everyone’s really in the same situation; the news is the exact same for everyone, it’s always about Coronavirus. So everyone has the exact same fears, which means it’s a great time to rethink your future and what you are going to be doing once this eventually ends, and that the winners of the next few years and after this ends are going to be the ones that have capital to invest in the different opportunities that come from this change. Obviously, that starts with, as you mentioned, the most valuable thing, which is your relationships and your network.
So again, Travis, thanks for joining us. Best Ever listeners, as always, thanks for listening. Everyone, stay safe, have a best ever day and we will talk to you tomorrow.
Travis Smith: Thanks, Theo.