Investor Network, an Atlanta-based investment company, is on the move. Not ones to be idle, founders Brandon Thompson and Will Hardy have expanded in both traditional and unexpected ways. These partners regrew a successful business after the economic downturn and have continued to analyze the real estate investment market to find opportunities to adapt and grow.
Founders Brandon Thompson and Will Hardy Have Found a Formula for Successful Growth of Their Company, Investor Network, and They Freely Share It
There’s no grass growing under the foundation of one Atlanta-based investment company. Investor Network is on the move. Not ones to be idle, founders Brandon Thompson and Will Hardy have expanded in both traditional and unexpected ways. These partners regrew a successful business after the economic downturn and have continued to analyze the real estate investment market to find opportunities to adapt and grow. Their goal is 500 to 1,000 properties in the next five to seven years.
The partners have rebranded Investor Network to reflect the fact that they now offer—under one roof—all the investment services clients need. They’ve expanded outside their home turf of Atlanta, Ga., to Memphis, Tenn., and have their eyes set on other markets, too. They’ve started providing real estate education for free. They’ve even launched a technology product. And this targeted growth is benefiting both the company and investors.
“Since 2014, we’ve actually had a 40 percent increase in business, year in and year out,” says co-founder Brandon Thompson. “Our main focus for our second market is Memphis, but here in Atlanta, we’ve been strong in the big flip market.”
In addition to Investor Network’s growth, their clients appreciate how the various investment options grow their portfolios.
“The lowest return is 20 percent on our flip program and upwards of 66 percent—but right now the average return is 36 percent,” says Thompson. “So our investors are extravagantly happy at this point with those strong returns.”
Strategies for Success
The partners offer four strategies depending on what’s most profitable in market conditions. The flip program in Atlanta uses the investor’s capital to buy a residential property. Investors get 5 percent annual return for the duration of the note, with 50 percent of the profits when the property sells. A second strategy in Atlanta is buy and hold for multifamily and commercial property. It’s a new approach that’s booming.
“We’re buying in a lot of historic communities and taking these commercial, dilapidated properties and renovating them, bringing them up to code and leasing them out or tending to them for great ROI,” says co-founder Will Hardy.
In Memphis, the company specializes in a buy-and-hold strategy thanks to the low cost of homes.
“Nowhere else in the United States can you get single-family homes fully renovated for less than $50,000,” says Hardy.
Their goal is several hundred units in Memphis in the next few years. They plan to sell those units wholesale to hedge funds to buy out their investors. So investors will earn 9 percent return on that program.
The fourth program is wholesale—a strategy that has earned them a name beyond their home turf.
“We have real estate ready to sell to investors in bulk packages,” says Hardy. “These properties are either fully renovated that have just been flipped and ready to be sold at wholesale cost, or they’re also tenanted and cash-flowing. So investors from all over the world can come to us and buy bulk real estate from either our Memphis or Atlanta inventory.”
Whatever strategy, Investor Network has refined the most effective systems, logistics and teams to make properties perform well. One guideline is that Investor Network only makes money upon the successful running and resale of the properties, which the partners say makes investors feel safe and secure knowing “we don’t make money until they make money.”
The company is interested in the long-term advancement and protection of the investor. That value has resulted in a waiting list of investors.
“We’re following the principles of helping out others and stewarding their money well—that has given us the reputation we have,” says Hardy. “One of the most gracious compliments we can get from our investors all over the world is, ‘We’ve never dealt with a company that gives us the communication like you as owners of the company do.’ We are personally involved by phone, email or in person with every one of our investors on a weekly basis.”
Investor Network rebranded to better communicate the company’s full offering to investors. Thompson and Hardy noticed competitors might offer in-house flip programs or in-house wholesale programs, but few companies offered a true one-stop shop for all services. Since 2014, they brought everything in-house, including real estate agents, property management, availability in Memphis.
“When you come to Investor Network and get in our buy-and-hold program in Memphis, we’re able to get you into fully functional pieces of real estate for less than $50,000—which is incredible,” says Hardy.
The partners have been careful to grow in keeping with their guidelines rather than chase income at any cost.
“We’re happy to say that we’ve never lost an investor money in Investor Network,” says Hardy.
“We wanted to build the foundation first before we started building on top of it. Now it’s solid and stable,” says Thompson.
Sharing Their Knowledge
Thompson and Hardy remember what it’s like to be at the beginning of the learning curve. So unlike experts who “charge you an arm and a leg” for real estate education, Investor Network has launched its own free training. Their podcasts and tutorials on social media teach both novice and experienced investors.
The two began about 10 years ago as a small operation, but have grown into a multimillion-dollar company successfully stewarding wealthy individuals’ capital. Now they’ve started sharing the information that helped create their thriving company.
“All these gurus out there are asking astronomical fees,” says Thompson, remembering years ago when he spent thousands of dollars to attend a big real estate conference. “Most people—95 percent—who buy that kind of program don’t ever use it.”
So the founders of Investor Network decided to offer their expertise for free on YouTube, iTunes and other social media. Future plans include eBooks. While their advice is free for now, they may monetize their real estate university one day with a reasonable monthly subscription fee. While they point out, “We’re capitalists!” they abhor the bait-and-switch practice where gurus offer short conferences aimed more at getting attendees to pay again for a second conference rather than supplying useful investment advice. Besides, most education is learned in the trenches from the school of hard knocks, they say. So the partners are releasing several “power tips” a week filled with how to get ahead and insider techniques they’ve learned through the years. Topics cover how to rehab, write a contract, deal with a lease purchaser or market your business.
“We get calls and emails all the time from people really appreciating the information we’re putting out, so we’re excited to see where it goes from that,” says Hardy.
The Investor Network founders are happy to offer education through their channels, as well as speak at seminars and conferences.
“We found out that for a lot of people throughout the Recession, poverty became real,” says Thompson. “So we’re not trying to give them a handout—we’re trying to give them a hand up.”
Realty Cabinet Launches
It’s easy to get buried under all the paperwork generated from even one real estate transaction. So Thompson and Hardy harnessed technology to solve the problem. Their recently launched product, called Realty Cabinet, is “an easy filing tool for real estate documentation.”
Acting on the move to go paperless, this desktop and mobile application acts as a virtual office, securely storing all the documents needed for unlimited properties, tracking mileage and expenses, storing property photos and sending professional invoices. Members can organize projects and collaborate with their team thanks to the “best cloud storage available.” The partners call Realty Cabinet “a simple online filing solution” for all participants in real estate. The two designed it to be simple to use both on the road or in the office—and for those who are naturally organized or who work on the fly.
On The Horizon
The Investor Network partners are actively considering expansion to other cities in the near future, making sure as usual that the right statistics, systems and people are in place to make new markets successful. They’re moving forward based on their basic principle that “the only way to build a company is to get your foundation built right, first and foremost.”
“We’re taking this to be a national company in the next 10 years, and we’re only going to be operating in the top 10 cities that are actually doing well for investment real estate,” says Thompson.