Duo Team, Huyen Do & Donnie Trinh Tackle Ice Cream and Real Estate

Duo Team, Huyen Do & Donnie Trinh Tackle Ice Cream and Real Estate

From Vietnam to Texas

When Huyen first immigrated to the United States at the age of 12, she recalls a mischievous classmate who stole her oatmeal cookies a handful of times. After being a victim of bullying, she spat on the cookie and loosely dropped the F-bomb in retaliation. Getting cookies stolen was a stark contrast to the hardships she faced in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. As a little girl in the village, Huyen recalls how her family attempted to escape poverty and starvation several times until they finally succeeded and settled in Texas.

She remembers being placed in a classroom with deaf students because her teachers thought she couldn’t hear when in fact, it was just a language barrier. Her experiences growing up in extreme poverty and famine influence who she is today – a strong-willed, opinionated, and passionate woman. She wears multiple hats including a mother, wife, partner, business owner, mentor, chemical engineer, real estate broker, syndicator, and the list continues.

One of Huyen’s keys to success is her customer-centric attitude, whether it is operating  Baskin-Robbins (serving the “best ice cream in the world’) or creating a warm community for tenants. She brings the same type of conviction and customer service skills to the world of real estate syndication.

If you are familiar with the Pareto principle then you know that 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits which can also apply to tenants (higher the retention, higher the profits). Focusing on customers is only one piece of the puzzle; it is also important to value employees/ property managers/stalk-holders as equal partners to drive performance and value creation.

Huyen and Donnie cutting the ribbon on their newly opened Baskin-Robbins in Houston, TX
Huyen and Donnie cutting the ribbon on their newly opened Baskin-Robbins in Houston, TX.

Husband and wife team

One of her biggest assets is her college sweetheart and lifelong partner, Donnie. As an accountant by trade, Donnie is savvy with numbers and lets data drive the decision-making process. Both leverage each other’s strengths to conquer the world of marriage and syndication.

Huyen and Donnie collaborate on their yearly goals, business strategies, and mission to obtain alignment on their targets. It is through their methodological process that provides clear indicators on which properties complement their portfolio. If they ever disagree on a deal, they create a pros/cons list but all verdicts must ensure that both partners are on board and zealous about their next investment.      

Contrary to popular belief, working closely together on their joint business ventures has brought them closer together. While their 2 daughters are their primary focus, they are able to tackle real estate syndication after their kid’s bedtime.

During the first 3-6 months after enrolling in a mentorship program, Huyen and Donnie were able to simultaneously complete the foundational courses (in underwriting), network at any event they were able to find in the local Houston area, and tell their friends and family about their new endeavor.

Fundraising is the nucleus of syndication, so updating their immediate circle was a crucial step in holding themselves accountable. Huyen was initially quite skeptical about multifamily syndication, however was lured in by the scalability while Donnie was attracted to the tax benefits and cost segregation advantages.

Don’t be like NATO

Don’t be like NATO (No Action, Talk Only), is the acronym that Donnie coined, thus the duo has taken massive action on their path to success. Huyen does not see sex as a barrier to entry in a male-dominated industry.

As a chemical engineer by trade for Royal Dutch Shell, one of the top 5 largest oil and gas companies in the world, Huyen has already showcased her capabilities in project management to her male counterparts. Thus, transitioning into the real estate world was effortless as pumping gas into a tank!  

Huyen and Donnie celebrating the holidays in 2021
Huyen and Donnie celebrating the holidays in 2021.

Female in a male-dominated industry

Huyen states that she leverages her female identity and approachable demeanor to seek advice and guidance from other successful females. Women are innately nourishing and want other females to succeed as long as they are confident in their abilities to drive results. She affirms that results grant you a seat at the table, never shy away from voicing your opinions. Viewing sex as a limitation is one-dimensional but results equalize the playing field and separate the committed from the non-committed.  

DROX Investment Group’s first syndication deal, Calder Square, a 164 units Class B property in League City, TX
DROX Investment Group’s first syndication deal, Calder Square, a 164 units Class B property in League City, TX.

Favorite book & advice

Huyen highly recommends The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill which shares 15 transformational lessons designed to help create the life you’ve always envisioned. Massive action begins with a mind shift change where she credits 80% mindset and 20% how.

As a pragmatic person, many people including herself tend to focus on the how aspect rather than the paradigm shift that will enable you to persevere through the challenges. She advises that the right attitude along with showing up consistently is winning more than half the battle.  

Success leaves clues and if there is anything that Huyen has learned, it is to take massive action and to leave the comfort zone behind. As the power couple follows the oatmeal cookie crumbs, the trail leads them to an ambitious target of 5 deals in 2022!

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About The Author

Kristina Xie

Kristina Xie is a real estate syndication enthusiast. She invests in properties in NYC, however became interested in large scale multifamily units after attending her first real estate conference in November 2021. When she is not actively interviewing people or writing articles, she enjoys the outdoors and traveling around the world!

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