Podcast: SaaS Growth Strategies, Trends and Building a Profitable Real Estate Portfolio
November 18, 2021
Recently, Perry Zheng, the Founder of our real estate syndication software, spoke on Asset Management Mastery podcast and shared how real estate syndicators can raise more money and save time with the portal. You can listen to the podcast here or read the partial podcast transcript below.
Welcome to the asset management mastery podcast. Your hosts, Gary Lipski and Kyle Mitchell, have more than 50 years of combined experience in operations and management. More than 25 years of real estate investing experience. This show focuses on educating syndicators and apartment owners on building systems and managing their properties more efficiently to become a best-in-class operator. 100% straight talk, let’s jump in.
Hey everyone. Welcome to the asset management mastery podcast. I’m your co-host, Kyle Mitchell, also joined by Gary Lipski. This podcast is focused on educating operators, building better systems, and becoming a best-in-class operator.
Today on the show, we have Perry Zheng. If you can start by telling the listeners more about yourself and what you currently do.
Yes. I’m the founder and CEO of Cash Flow Portal, a real estate syndication software. In my background, I am both a GP and also a tech professional. I was previously the engineering manager managing a team of 11 people. Previously I worked as a software engineer at Twitter at Amazon. I’m also a GP in 580 units and an LP
in about 2000 units.
Let’s talk about leveraging software to save time and improving investor relations. Tell us about your portal.
I started the company about a year and three months ago when I was frustrated with the costs of syndication software out there at the time. I only had one deal and had to pay a thousand dollars to purchase that one software. I told myself that it’s not that hard to build such software. I wanted to create software to raise money for myself and reduce some of my pain points. The existing software was both expensive and clunky, and they were not exactly built for syndicators. I wanted to create something for the little guys like myself with a more flexible pricing model.
I started the work and built a team of seven full-time engineers, one part-time Community Manager, and a part-time designer, and I’m also going to be on it.
What are some other differentiators of your portal compared to others?
You can differentiate companies based on feature sets. However, that’s not the right way to differentiate things. It’s almost like saying that I want to date a person because so-and-so has a particular net worth and liquidity. That person looks rich. Or, instead, you can look at what you currently have and explore the potential with this person and what the future relationship looks like?
Let’s break it down into two parts.
We help you build your website and CRM, all the way to raising equity. We help you manage investor emails and co-sponsor invitations. We have the distributions, ACH.
From a peer feature perspective, what we don’t have right now compared to some of our competitors is we are currently working on things like automatic ACH integration. That’s coming up in six months.
You can take it or leave it and say, okay, why waste six months? I choose the competitor because we don’t have that feature. That’s why I felt like we are the youngest company out there. So we don’t have that feature.
The other feature we don’t have is integration with HubSpot. That is something on the roadmap, but we don’t have it right now because we’re only a year and three months old. So that’s stuff on the feature set. We have everything except for those two things.
One of the most popular requests is a co-sponsor invitation. Our co-sponsor invitation is amazing. It is very streamlined and smooth.
When you choose software, you have to choose the right one because many things flow through the software, right? I highly admire our competitors.
But I will talk about how we are different from a DNA perspective. Number one is I think I’m one of the only people who have experience in tech and real estate. I’m an experienced and reputable syndicator. I hope. And I’m a good engineer manager. I worked in Silicon Valley for almost all my career, and I know how to build good engineering teams.
Number two, I do not care about marketing or advertising. I so far spent $0 on Google ads and Facebook because I believe that spending on ads is ephemeral. You spend it, get some customers, and then you don’t have a presence in the world. Whereas we focus on content marketing, things like top 10 blogs for real estate syndicators, top 10 webinars, top 10 YouTube channels, etc., because I think those things persist. Content marketing is more like long-lasting rental properties that can pay dividends over a long period. In contrast, advertising is short-term.
That carries over into many parts of how I made decisions about the company. If you are a customer and have a few excellent customers right now, we prioritize what you tell us because I focus more on making them successful than trying to acquire new customers.
My character lends itself to building the best possible product and not necessarily care about acquiring as many customers as fast as I can.
You mentioned two things earlier. I want to get more clarity. You talked about converting more potential investors and also raising money faster. Can you explain how do you do those two things?
Right now, I can tell you some problem statements for syndicators. You are a syndicator. You first create a website that may be Active Campaign or HubSpot or Wix, or WordPress. You will hire a designer to fill out the landing page, and you’ll have a link that links to your investor portal. And you always wonder, how can I connect all the leads I got to my investor portal? How do I send out emails to it?
Also, how do I know this investor? How much money do they want to invest? How do I know this investor will not waste my time?
That’s from a syndicator’s point of view. There’s so much knowledge gap between a person coming as a lead.
From a passive investor point of view, the problem statement is that there might be like 200,000 syndicators out there, but I have no idea who they are. I don’t know how to find their websites. Then when I finally go on their website, everyone’s site is slightly different. There might be a website that doesn’t look like exactly what I was looking for.
When I want the investor database, I need to type in my first name, last name, how much I want to invest, etc. But how do I know this person?
If I invest in 15 syndicators, I have to type that information 15 times. Why would I ever want to do that? And I don’t know anything about this person. I just found out on the internet or met them on Facebook.
We want to make that process much easier so that the syndicator can create a website quickly. The passive investor has a single login that allows him to look at all Cash Flow Portal’s syndicators. So when you add yourself to this person’s investor database, they already have all your information. You don’t have to sign up every single time.
And let’s talk about security real briefly. Obviously, investors are putting their banking information on there, and it’s critical to protect that. How do you go about it? Is it different from the other portals out there?
There is the baseline, and the short answer is you are talking to the right person. We have a dedicated person from Lyft that used to work on the identity and permissions. And we’re really good at that. Everything is encrypted all the way from your PII, personal identifying information at the storage level and in the transport layer. When the data is stored in the database, the whole table is encrypted as well as the columns that contain PI information. It’s called encryption arrests.
I’ve been on security for some time, and the crucial thing for security is the person responsible. It’s not the technology. There’s no differentiation on security. It’s just the baseline.
The most challenging part is so might know the password. We limit the number of people in our company who have access to production data. That’s only like our top engineers, and everything is locked on it. Even if I go to a customer’s data, it’s going to lock. It will prevent anyone from accessing data for whatever reason. All the activities that the syndicators do are locked. That’s kind of on the baseline security level.
Listen to the podcast to hear the full version