Ross Hamilton and his staff are settling into newly renovated quarters in downtown Wilmington. In March of this year, the company moved from its incubator space at tekMountain.
Part of Connected Investors’
concept is to provide a social network for real estate investors that enables individuals to find friends and groups within the industry and thus increase potential business volume.
“Real estate is a very networked industry,” Hamilton said. “Our platform allows people to post, to send friend requests.”
But most of all, Connected Investors shows participants possible sources of funding for deals and where to find deals: the basis for success in this business. The entire operation is online.
“We sell data to real estate investors to help them find investments. This information is not available to the general public,” Hamilton explained. “We call these pre-MLS; the best deals before they hit the Multiple Listing Service.”
Since the founding of Connected Investors in 2006, the company’s gross revenues have doubled each year, according to Hamilton. The current economic climate is helping fuel that growth.
“I don’t know if we’ll see appetite this good again in my lifetime. Anybody with capital wants real estate. Finding deals is a bigger problem than finding money,” he said.
Because of the company's rapid growth, Hamilton says the company is focused this year on setting up processes that will form a foundation for future expansion.
While Connected Investors facilitated some investment crowdfunding earlier in its existence, the company has abandoned that strategy. Instead, it operates much like Lending Tree, letting lenders compete to finance a deal. Investors looking for a loan complete an application on Connected Investors’ website; the five lenders from CI’s network that are best suited to finance the proposed investment receive that application and respond.
It’s no accident that Connected Investors follows the Lending Tree model. Doug Lebda, has long been Hamilton’s mentor and early investor of Connected Investors.
“It’s fast and fluid; no telephone calls,” Hamilton said of Connected Investors’ operation. “Traditional lenders assess their risk based on credit [of the borrower applicant]. Connected Investors lenders assess risk based on the quality of the asset and the [borrower’s] experience.”
Hamilton says that $3 billion in loans flows through the Connected Investors portal each month.
“Our model moving forward is to grow 20-25% each year. Our stretch goal this year is $15 million in gross revenues. To hit that, it’s all about good hires,” he said.
The tech company spent much of last year building out its tech team, according to Hamilton, who said CI's hiring focus this year is on sales and marketing as well as customer support. Some of those hires will be people who can work flex hours to respond to customer needs and potential new lenders in other time zones.
“Everyone here is like an entrepreneur; they have to run as fast as we want to run,” he said.
Correction: This version of the story corrects the timeframe of Connected Investors' move to downtown Wilmington and corrects the Doug Lebda's role with the company.
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