54: How Crowdfunded Startup ShareStates Surpassed $300 Million
The human success story behind Sharestates and how a couple of Main Street kids are living their dream of partnering up with Wall Street.
This real estate startup had surpassed the $300 million mark in total funding. It’s a massive story and there’s a lot of focus on how it’s the real estate industry that is now being blown away and disrupted. I don’t like the word disrupted because it’s creating positive change in technology and innovation and this is creating positive change to the real estate industry. But what really fascinated me was the CEO and co-founder and his story about him and his brothers who really did start with nothing.
They were just a couple of kids dreaming of one day doing business with Wall Street. You can probably guess what happened next but I don’t want to spoil any aspect of the story because we’ve got everything in this one. Technology, innovation, and a beautiful human story that should inspire anybody listening who is thinking of embarking on a startup journey. Let’s get Alan Shayanfekr onto the show. He’s the CEO and Co-Founder of Sharestates.
Can you tell the listeners a little about yourself and your role at Sharestates?
Sharestates is a real estate, marketplace, lending platform where we connect real estate professionals and borrowers that are doing different types of real estate projects with potential investors that could come in the form of equity or debt. We started Sharestates in 2013 and did our official launch in February 2015. I’m currently the acting CEO and I’m also one of the co-founders.
My background was originally in legal work and securities work so when I joined up with my current partners I took the role of general council primarily working on the compliance and regulatory issues, making sure what we were doing was legal or kosher you could say. I had a couple dozen interactions with the Securities and Exchange Commission and state regulators to basically set up our corporate structure.
Can you tell me about your journey of turning a side hustle into what it is today?
My partners and I all come from foreign backgrounds, we’re immigrants. We’re all Persian or Iranian Jews. We moved to the U.S in the 80’s. My two main partners today are brothers; they came here pretty much for the same reason my family did which was to escape religious persecution and to live a better life. In doing so they had to have fake passports and leave the country basically as fugitives and escape. When we all came here we came here with nothing but the shirts on our backs. We had family here already who were able to help us get on our feet but it was very much starting from scratch.
Because we came from that background and realized how difficult it could be we really wanted to create a business where we could allow individual investors to start participating in the real estate industry at a smaller dollar value. Two of the biggest restraints in the real estate industry are the time and expertise and connections that are necessary to find good deals but even more important the high dollar cost. Unless you have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars it’s pretty difficult to break in and part of what we’re trying to do is drop that entry point down to as little as 1,000 per investment.
What advice would you give to someone on a similar journey?
- If you want to build your own business and be an entrepreneur the 9-5 workday doesn’t exist. You can’t expect to wake up in the morning go to work at 9 and go home and 5 and have dinner with your family and expect to become a millionaire overnight. It’s a daily hustle. It’s waking up at 5:00 am and staying at the office until 7-8 at night and doing that on a daily basis until you have built a solid foundation for your business. Then as you grow and want to scale it’s about surrounding yourself with people you can trust delegating that work to.
- Be patient. You can’t make quick or rash decisions because you want to make it big overnight. It’s like caring for a plant, you have to water it every day and make sure it gets sunshine everyday and over the course of a few years if not longer that little plant will flourish and grow into a big tree.
What’s next for Sharestates?
Something that we’re excited about rolling out this summer is called auto investor (or you can call it robo invest). Part of building this platform and allowing investors to get involved has been to give them a passive experience. Not only do we want our borrowers to gain access to this investment class but we want them to be able to reap the benefits and rewards without having to be the boots on the ground doing the project.
If any listeners want to find more information about Sharestates or reach out to you guys what’s the best way of doing that?
They can always contact our office at 212-201-0750 or they can go online to our website at www.sharestates.com and they will see our contact information there.
Check Out Neil’s Column at INC. called Tomorrow’s Tech
Please also see check out the related article from my column: How This Crowdfunded Startup Surpassed $300 Million