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In this episode of the Fintech Focus podcast, we chat with Brian Dally, a founder who didn’t always want to be a founder. In 2012 he founded GROUNDFLOOR, a real estate investing platform open to everyone, even non-accredited investors.
GROUNDFLOOR is, according to Dally, the first and, at this point, only investment product that allows everyone to participate directly in real estate debt deals. Only want to plop down $10 as a minimum investment? You can do that. Want to invest $100,000 across several different properties? You can do that too.
Listen to the podcast below to hear about his journey and what he’s doing to help anyone with hopes of getting in on the real estate investment game.
Brian Dally: 00:02 Welcome to Benzinga’s Fintech Focus Podcast, your weekly dive into the world of Fintech featuring conversations with leaders on the front lines of the financial revolution.
Spencer Israel: 00:17 Hey everyone. Welcome to episode 20 of the Fintech Focus Podcast. I can’t believe we’ve already done 20 of these, but here we are nonetheless. I’m Spencer Israel, and today, I’m taking you to the GROUNDFLOOR of Fintech, and I mean that literally. We are talking to Brian Dally, the co-founder and CEO at GROUNDFLOOR. I’m referring, of course, to the real estate lending marketplace and one of the things I found most interesting about Brian is he didn’t always want to be a founder, but what he has always known is he’s passionate about the internet and it’s power to level the playing field for everything and everyone. And that is why in 2012, he co-founded GROUNDFLOOR, a real estate lending platform specifically for all investors, including non-accredited investors, and that’s the big key differentiator there.
And so we talk about that. We talk about why he decided to go that route, why real estate at all, and some of the things he’s learned as a founder, so without further ado, here is my chat with Brian Dally, the co-founder and CEO at GROUNDFLOOR.
Brian, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what GROUNDFLOOR does?
Brian Dally: 01:29 Yeah. GROUNDFLOOR is the first and only investment product that allows everyone, whether you’re an accredited investor or not, to participate directly in real estate debt deals that, up until now, were private offerings that required you to invest $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 per deal. We do this for a minimum investment of $10. You build your own portfolio of loans and our investors earn yields of 10% to 12% on terms that are typically about 10 to 12 months.
Spencer Israel: 02:07 And why don’t you explain to us how GROUNDFLOOR came to be? You are the co-founder and CEO, so how exactly did GROUNDFLOOR start from the ground up. That was a bad pun.
Brian Dally: 02:23 Well, when I met my co-founder six years ago, just over six years ago, he had just finished working on the 2012 Jobs Act and Nick, Nick is a visionary in the field of capital formation. He had a lot of ideas about how existing securities law could be used to radically reshape capital formation. And I was thinking about some ideas in finance, which is an industry that I think we can all agree has needed a shakeup. I’ve been interested in investing as an individual, not professionally, since my childhood, actually. Since age 15 when I bought my first mutual fund. And I was exploring ways that, and we started exploring together, how a public vehicle could be created to give everybody access to what the top 3%, 4% of income and wealth earners have access to. And we created that with GROUNDFLOOR.
Spencer Israel: 03:23 So let’s talk about your background and how you got interested in this phase. You just mentioned that you bought your first mutual fund at 15. Congratulations. You’re way ahead of me in that area, but you went to University of Virginia for undergrad, I believe, and then you went to Harvard Business School after that. What happened after you left Harvard? Walk us through your career steps.
Brian Dally: 03:47 It’s really about what happened while I was at Harvard. I was there in the late 90s. I was doing a joint degree in the law school and the business school, and the web was happening. If you watch that show The Valley of the Boom, you know it’s very real. It’s a real depiction of the craziness that was going on at the time. And being in grad school and not out at Silicon Valley, I was itchy like a lot of people were with an entrepreneurial bug. I started writing my own software for my first website in 1996.
I helped put together another venture my third year of school. I co-founded a venture my fourth year of school with some classmates. And I ultimately went up to Silicon Valley in order to earn an income and repay my student loans, but ever since then, I’ve just worked on earlier and earlier stage deals in the internet and wireless. The company I started before GROUNDFLOOR was Republic Wireless and having finished up with that company and leaving the parent company where we started it, I was looking at other industries and I just thought finance, given my interest in saving and investing since an early age, was just really ripe for some change.
I’m passionate about, not only web technology, internet technology, but about what the web can do for opening access to people and letting people play on the equal playing field. And what I’m most proud about with GROUNDFLOOR is in a world of people who say they’re democratizing finance and revolutionizing investing in these things, we truly are open to the non-accredited 96% in a way that no one else is. There are funds, there are direct investment vehicles and portals for credit investors, but there is no other place that a non-accredited investor can invest directly in real estate deals at the scale that we operate for a minimum investment of $10. We’re very, very proud of that achievement.
Spencer Israel: 05:48 What type of ventures were you starting in college? Was it basically just anything that caught your fancy?
Brian Dally: 05:56 For me, I was in law school, right? I was a first year law student, so the first thing I did when I was in law school and I was looking for a project to develop some software for the web, I noticed that law students at Harvard, the bookstore didn’t sell used case materials. The way that everybody got used case materials instead of buying new is they would tear off these phone numbers off of flyers all over campus and I recognized that as a problem that probably a website could solve, and in my spare time, nights and weekends, just built the website to do that. That was my first internet startup, if you will, in 1996.
Spencer Israel: 06:33 So, did you always have a natural inclination that you wanted to be a CEO and an entrepreneur, or is that something that you discovered later on?
Brian Dally: 06:41 It took me a long time to figure it out. I was just following my passion for building software for the web and my interest in software development and what the internet represented, honestly, socially as well as technically. I had that interest very early on. I didn’t know what a founder was, really. Steve Blank and Eric Reese hadn’t taught us how to build a lean startup yet. And so I think entrepreneurship has become more accessible today than it was back then. I’d like to think if I had those resources at my disposal, I would have started earlier, but it took me a long time working my way through earlier and earlier stage ventures as part of a management team and a series A venture. Before that, a series C venture, you know, funded by VCs before I realized I really needed to be a founder. And to have the confidence and skillset to do that.
I think I founded my first company when I was 25 or 26, but I didn’t found another one until I was almost 40, so it took me a while to get back to it.
Spencer Israel: 07:52 What was the biggest thing you learned in your discovery process of discovering that you wanted to be a founder at some point, but you maybe weren’t prepared for it early on? What did you learn that made you realize, oh, I can do this?
Brian Dally: 08:08 I realized that … I was a product manager. That was my first job after grad school. I went to Excite, one of the early internet portals and I was a product manager for Excite Mail. And I loved being general manager of that business. But I think what I need to know is that I had the general management skillset, that it was broad enough, that I had a wide enough frame of reference. So I think early on, I probably didn’t know enough about the world to have an idea that was worth scaling, and building, and attracting people to, and I probably didn’t have the general management chops to do it. Or at least I didn’t think I did. Maybe I did and I just didn’t have the confidence.
But what happened for me, I’ve talked to other entrepreneurs, I think this happens for a lot of us, at some point, you have to recognize that this is what you’re meant to do. And it just took me a long time. I’m glad I figured it out when I did, but I think all of that time that I spent figuring it out serves me really, really well today. It’s self-knowledge more than anything else.
Spencer Israel: 09:15 So then let’s get to GROUNDFLOOR. Your last company before this was Republic Wireless. And then in 2012, what happened in 2012?
Brian Dally: 09:23 I met my co-founder in 2012 and we started it six years ago this week, actually, in February of 2013.
Spencer Israel: 09:32 So walk us through that early process as to how from conversation, maybe from back of the napkin, to …
Brian Dally: 09:43 I noticed something at Republic Wireless that I thought would apply to other industries and here’s what I noticed, as a student of the internet and a proponent of its value and the technology. I noticed that whether we think the crowd, the consumer, the individual investor, whoever it is that you’re looking at, the sort of Adams out there in our economy, whether we think they’re smart enough to make their own decisions and to act in a self-determined way or not, they behave as though they are. And it’s their behavior in that way that makes it true. People are smarter than we think they are. People are more resourceful than maybe law, or the finance industry gives them credit for. And when you put these technologies in people’s hands, you find that out.
We found it out in politics, we found it out in philanthropy, we’re finding it out in finance now, I found it out in the wireless business. We told people, hey, here’s a phone. It has a wireless network in it that is just like every other cellular wireless carrier, but it also has wifi technology in it so that when you don’t need to use the cellular network, you don’t have to, and for that, we’re gonna make this thing one fifth the cost of an unlimited plan, and it’s actually unlimited with no overages.
And people went crazy because they realized they could build their own damn wireless network with any wifi router. And that was just an example for me, and I imagined that it was true in other industries. And so when I met Nick, finance was one of those industries. I observed that 7.6 trillion dollars worth of Americans’ wealth is sitting on their balance sheet locked up in their home equity. And I imagine what if we used a financial security that we created from scratch to set that free?
And GROUNDFLOOR ultimately didn’t end up pursuing that idea, but it was that core insight about people being able to act in a self-determined way in finance that led us down the path that ultimately created GROUNDFLOOR. We didn’t know that it was gonna be in real estate in the beginning because we weren’t real estate guys, but we did know that people are smart enough to make their own decisions and that they should be able to do that when it comes to their money.
Brian Dally: 12:00 And that’s what has made us different since the very beginning. That’s why we’re not a fund. It’s why we’re not limited to credit investors. It’s why we don’t have a big institutional paper sale business. It’s why we’ve built a financial product from the start, that’s since day one been available to non-accreditor investors and accreditor investors alike.
Spencer Israel: 12:17 So then how did it end up being all about real estate for you?
Brian Dally: 12:21 Well, we just went through a process of customer development and customer discovery trying to understand. You know, if you want to create a social movement or a product that relies on people acting in a self-determined way, you need to find something where they’re going to believe it, where they’re going to understand it. You know, 2/3 of Americans, it’s currently 50%, but typically it’s 2/3 of Americans, are investors in single family housing, that asset class, by virtue of the fact that they own a house. Everyone can watch a flipping show and kind of understand the economics of a house. You know, they’ve bought one, they’ve sold one, they at least understand it. So we learned that people wanted something tangible. We looked at Lending Club and Prosper and investors we talked to, mass market individual investors, couldn’t understand how financing, people’s credit card debts or consumer debt that was unsecured, how that could actually work over the long term, and I think that’s why Lending Club and Prosper really became dominated by institutional paper sales and securitizations. We wanted our private people understood underneath it. And so we looked at lots of categories, but real estate really stood out. The other thing you need if you’re starting an unknown product in an unknown category from an unknown company is you need it to have extraordinary performance characteristics, right. It needs to not just be a little bit better than what’s available. It needs to be radically, almost unbelievably better. And that was true with Republic Wireless. That’s why Republic Wireless became so successful and is today.
This with GROUNDFLOOR, when we went into real estate and doing fixed and flip loans as our first sort of use case, our first product, these loans, you know … Our investors are earning 10-12% annual returns, but they’re getting their money back about every eight to ten months on average. The terms are written usually six, nine, or 12 months, but they’re getting their capital back which means they can take it off the table, you know, or they can reinvest it, or they can kind of hold onto it for a while, or invest it in something else. People have a lot of control that you just don’t get with a fund. And so that’s how we got into real estate. That’s why we got into single family housing. That’s why we got into real estate investor loans, these kind of hard money fix and flip loans which was our first product. That’s how we got there.
Spencer Israel: 14:47 Explain exactly, you know, I decide I want to invest in real estate. I go to GROUNDFLOOR. Explain how the process works.
Brian Dally: 14:57 So the first think you have to do is fund your account, right. It’s like a brokerage. You have to put money in the account to go invest. Once you have the money in your account, and you know, we’ve learned how to make that seamless enough, you have money in your account, now you can go look at a variety of loans that are funding at any given time. They’re graded A-G. You know, an A grade loan is lower risk. It’s lower risk because it has a more experienced borrower who has put a larger down payment into the product and has more equity at risk. It’s a lower leverage loan is another way of saying that. And it usually will yield six, seven, eight percent, something along those lines.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, more commonly there are C and D grade loans that will yield 10, 11, 12, 13%. So people can kind of look and say, “I have $1,000 that I want to invest here and I’m going to pick these 10 loans, and I’m going to invest $10 in this loan, $10 in that loan.” Or, what more commonly happens is people invest about an average of about $200 to $300 per loan. And on average, people are investing in about 20 loans a month. So those are about the averages.
But we have everything. We have people that are just getting started with saving and investing and only invest $10 a loan and have a portfolio of $1,000 or $2,000. And we have a $10 minimum, if that’s all you can afford to invest, that’s a fine place to get started as far as we’re concerned. And we have people who have built portfolios of hundreds of thousands of dollars within their IRA or with other capital, you know, where they’re investing thousands of dollars per loan, and everything in between. And we think that’s how it should be.
Spencer Israel: 16:33 Which of those types of investor is the most common on your platform?
Brian Dally: 16:39 The most common, honestly, it looks like America. You know, if you look at our platform, it’s sort of four, five, six percent of people tell us that they are accreditor investors and you know, the other 95% are not accreditor investors. There’s obviously a skew to big dollar investors who show up and plunk down big sums of money and have big portfolios. So I’d say that the average investor, you know, the median investor if you will, probably has 10, 15 thousand dollars at work on the platform at most, you know, and is kind of investing like I said, two or three hundred per loan typically, which, you know, if you do the math on that, they have, you know, somewhere between 60, 80, 100 loans in their portfolio.
Spencer Israel: 17:27 You know, we talk a lot about a fintech on this podcast, obviously, but I wanted to take a quick second to tell you about our fintech product, Benzinga Pro. It’s Benzinga’s realtime news platform great for anybody who trades using news in the markets. With Benzinga Pro, you get access to breaking news headlines, press releases, SEC filings and Audio Squawk, chat rooms, and a whole lot more. Now normally, I would say go to Pro.Benzinga.com to get a free two-week trial. But, because you listened to this podcast, I got the hookup. If you go to that site, Pro.Benzinga.com, enter the promo code “Focus,” as in Fintech Focus, you’ll get 25% off a monthly or annual subscription to our essential package. That is our most popular package on Benzinga Pro. So again, that’s Pro.Benzinga.com, promo code “Focus” to get 25% off. And now, back to the show.
There are like 100 different real estate crowdfunding platforms. It’s, I would say, probably one of the more crowded, no pun intended, crowded areas of fintech. So what do you say, you know, that separates your company, separates GROUNDFLOOR from everyone else, and what is your overall sense of where the real estate crowdfunding industry is as a whole right now?
Brian Dally: 18:55 It’s very easy to differentiate us because we’re the only one that allows the non-accredited investor to invest directly in loans that they choose, and we’re the only one that has a minimum investment of $10. There are a couple of new portals out there where you can invest in [inaudible 00:19:10] CF real estate deals. The problem there is there’s not a lot of deal flows. So really, there isn’t any competition for what we do. When we compete for accredited investor capital, you know, we point to our public offering. You know, we file audited financials every year. We have a 178 page offering circular disclosing everything about the company. No other crowdfunding portal submits to, or crowdfunding platform or issuer submits to that level of regulatory oversight and disclosure. We think that’s a very important differentiator. You know, we’re aware that there’s others out there who are great platforms and offer great investment opportunities for accredited investors, but we think we do very well by the accredited investor by being a regulated issuer in a way that no other issuer really is.
The only thing that’s available out there to non-accredited investors that looks a little competitive, but then when you click under the covers, it isn’t, are the [inaudible 00:20:11]. Now an [inaudible 00:20:13] takes your thousand dollars and they allocate it into investments for you. That just isn’t the same thing. And we think that investors want self-determinism. You know, we think they want to make their own decision. And if you can make that make sense for them, if you can make information economics make sense and you can make the friction low enough, they’ll do it. And they’re doing it on our platform, thousands of investors a month. You know, I think in December we did about eight or nine million dollars in retail investment volume. So the numbers are starting to become significant, and I think that’s well. We’ve done a good job of lowering the friction.
So those are the big differences. The minimum investment, it’s the public offering, that regulatory structure, I think that’s what people look at. And you know, the breadth of what we have to offer on a platform.
Spencer Israel: 21:01 The industry as a whole is maturing more and more every year. But there are roadblocks and hurdles along the way. You know, we just saw Realty Shares is shutting down. So what is your overall sense in terms of the real estate crowdfunding industry? Will there be consolidation among the major players or is there a specific areas within the industry that you think are going to become dominant themes, or what?
Brian Dally: 21:30 Look, we don’t think of ourselves as a real estate crowdfunding portal. We don’t think of ourselves as, you know, offering real estate crowdfunding. I’ve never thought that that business, the way that it was financed by the VC’s who funded those companies, you know, made sense as a venture capital class investment, to be honest. It never made sense to me how realty shares raised as much venture capital as they did. All of those businesses struggled, and they still do. I talked to other founders who have businesses that are setup this way, and there are many of them. They struggle to retain their accredited investors because they compete very heavily for accredited investors. They struggle to manage the tension between that accredited investor base and the institutional paper business. In the institutional paper business, it’s very hard to carve out a high margin, high growth business. It’s very, very hard. And so yes, I think there will be consolidation. There already has been. It’s already starting. There will be failures.
I’ve heard a lot of these companies … You know, they’ve got to fall back on some kind of special sauce related to their deal flow or their commercial real estate expertise. I’ve heard of that. I’ve heard of some talk about, you know, building a white label platform so that they can sell that to some other real estate operating company that will use crowdfunding to crowdfund what they do. We could see some of that. I’m kind of a skeptic of it. You know, that’s the reason that we put our strategic investment over the years into, you know, building a financial product. You know, GROUNDFLOOR unlimited recourse obligations are more like ETFs, you know, then they are like a crowdfunded investment on Kickstarter. And that is purposeful. We recently published our diversification analysis that shows about 4,700 portfolios that have had at least one loan return capital, you know, at what return each portfolio held, the dot on that scatter plot, you know, what returns they made, and how many loans are in that portfolio. You know, that’s the quick essence of what we’re building. It’s not about crowdfunding or real estate investment, which I’m not so sure is a great business. It is about building a financial product that gives people access to these private market offerings and does so in a way that’s accessible to everyone. We’re the only person that’s doing that. It’s not a fund. It’s actually you get to decide.
Spencer Israel: 23:57 So as an investor on the platform, is it
Spencer Israel: 24:00 Ultimately up to me to be self-directive and decide for myself where to put my money. Are there any robo aspects to it?
Brian Dally: 24:10 Well, obviously, people want to reduce the friction of investing, right? If it’s a headache to invest, people just won’t do it, no matter how meaningful it is to them in concept. And we’re well aware of that. You know, Lending Club dealt with this, eventually by offering a fund that people could invest in. They also built a really sophisticated automatic investing robot to do that.
Now that in any given time, we have somewhere between 10 and 20 loans, funding on a platform. By the end of the year, that will be 50, 60 loans at a time, depending on how fast they fund, and the balance of supply and demand. We will start to offer those solutions as well, at possibly a GROUNDFLOOR index fund makes sense, automatic investing rules, which we’ve tinkered with. We just think what people want for automatic investing rules, really nobody has it yet. And, I think we’re going to work on it at some point this year and continue to iterate towards something that reduces the friction of investing.
But also, I think we’ve done a decent enough job of that, as measured by the thousands of people that invest with us. The growth rate of investors and the amount that they’re investing, and the retention of those investments is extremely high. And that’s just because of the value that we’re offering. One of the values of having control by the way, I don’t know if people have, if you’ve listened to us, and have invested in any of the eREITs out there, but I would advise you to read your disclosures very carefully. I won’t name names, but one eREIT that’s out there recently, announced that they have stopped redeeming shares. Meaning, they won’t let you trade in your shares and get your capital back. You can’t sell them. All of their independent directors resigned. Now they’re having to reconstitute how the firm is governed and operated.
Another very popular eREIT out there, recently in the letter to shareholders, full on admitted that if there’s an economic slowdown, or some kind of dislocation, the first thing they will do is to pause redemptions. That will never happen if you’re investing your own capital directly in GROUNDFLOOR LROs, because you control it. It’s a loan. If each one repays, $10 or $100, or $200 or $1000 at a time, where in the loan is due. And we have that and have a team that makes sure that that happens more or less on time. So I think, buyer beware, investor beware.
Spencer Israel: 26:35 What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about your investors in the past few years?
Brian Dally: 26:42 They’re smarter than you think. That’s a good question. They’re very observant. We think of people being financially illiterate. You know why people are financially illiterate? They’re financially illiterate because they think that the financial game is rigged. And when you show them that the game isn’t rigged, and that they have a role to play, and that it’s accessible to them, people become very interested. They direct their attention to it, and they’re smarter than you think.
I’ve been very gratified by that because people have laughed at what we’re doing and saying it’s dumb money because we’re not accredited investors. Or it’s never going to get big enough because people can’t understand it. The data begs to differ. People are smart enough. And I was happy to see that. I figured it was true, but now I know it.
Spencer Israel: 27:27 And so then, how does GROUNDFLOOR make money?
Brian Dally: 27:30 We make money from origination fees on the loans we mix. So we don’t charge any investor fees. We’ve announced and disclosed that at some point, we will probably start to charge investor fees, but we haven’t introduced them yet. We make our money by originating loans and charging points on the loan when we make it. And then, we also make some money around the edges on servicing fees and the like. But it’s all, our business model today, is funded by borrowers.
Spencer Israel: 28:00 Do you almost feel like, and obviously GROUNDFLOOR, the hallmark of it is it’s easy to use and open for everyone. Do you almost feel a certain responsibility, you know, I’ll rob Robin Hood with equities. It’s almost too easy in a sense, you know what I mean? And people who maybe shouldn’t be buying stocks, can wake up in the morning, be awake for five seconds and buy a stock on their phone and go back to sleep. It’s that easy. Not to say that’s what people do at GROUNDFLOOR, but do you almost feel like a sense of, in some cases, it can be too easy? There is such a thing as being too easy?
Brian Dally: 28:42 Yes, there is such a thing as being too easy. And that’s why when we built an easy product that was acceptable to all, and thank you for describing it that way, because it is what we intended. When we started, we built a product that we felt was appropriate, and is appropriate for almost every investor. What we offer isn’t an equity investment in some stock, penny stock, over-the-counter stock, or blue chip stock, that can go to zero or get cut in half. What we’re offering, is a first-lien debt position on a loan, via loan, on a real estate investment property. That is a very tangible investment that has value, and it’s a pretty conservative investment honestly, as investments go.
Now, every investment carries risk. And certainly, we’ve had a handful of loans that haven’t returned full principal. But our diversification analysis, published on our blog recently, we update every six months, shows that if you diversify enough, and at a $10 minimum, you can diversify away the risk of loss. And people have done it. So, I actually think it can be too easy if it’s the wrong product in the wrong person’s hands. There are exotic financial instruments that, where people don’t realize what they’re getting into because they don’t have time to realize what they’re getting into. And that’s the problem.
You have to make it simple enough so that people can understand it. It’s got to be a product that’s actually good for them, and it’s got to have enough value to make it worth their while to learn about it. And that’s what I am proud to have done with GROUNDFLOOR here. Our team has done a fantastic job of that.
Spencer Israel: 30:25 Do you put a lot of emphasis on education, investor education?
Brian Dally: 30:38 We do. I mean, yes. I mean, we have to. There are different forms of investor education, right? If you go review our blog and our FAQs and the individual conversations that we have with investors, we are never going to offer investment advice, but we are always going to seek to educate people.
Now, the problem is, investing, and I say this to somebody who’s been interested in it since age 14 or 15, investing is boring. Most people don’t want to spend their weekend pouring over prospectuses, or doing due diligence on an investment. Most people don’t want to do that. So you have to find a way to educate people enough so they know what they’re doing, and they know the implications of the decisions they’re making, and then you have to make it easy for them to make those decisions, and effectuate them. So yeah, we definitely, but we’re not asking people to go spend 20 hours of time learning about real estate investing because I think the truth is, most people don’t want to spend time doing that. And they shouldn’t really have to.
Spencer Israel: 31:38 Something I ask everyone who comes on this podcast Brian, and I’ll ask you is, what keeps you up at night?
Brian Dally: 31:47 The problems of growing a complex high-growth startup. Making sure that we have the right talent on our team, in the right spots, at the right time. Are we managing our burn rate to achieve the growth that we want to achieve, but not spending too much to grow the company at any given time. These are the problems of … They’re great problems to have honestly. I’m really privileged to have this job. It’s been my job for six years now, and I’ve loved every part of it. But what keeps me up night is, how to be a good growth-stage startup CEO, and that’s a demanding task. Anybody who isn’t kept up late at night, that has that job, I’d like to meet them. Because we should all be humbled by how hard that job is.
Spencer Israel: 32:40 My last question Brian is, what did you think being a founder would be like, and how was the reality different from that, if at all?
Brian Dally: 32:51 Well, when I was first a founder, I didn’t know what a founder was. So, I didn’t know what it would be like, because I didn’t know what a founder was. And founders weren’t a thing in the mid to late 90s or not a lot of people were aware of what a founder was. So I didn’t know back then.
I will say that as I grew in my career and moved closer and closer to becoming a founder, and was founder of a seed-stage startup that didn’t manage to get series A investment. What I didn’t realize about being a founder is just how long of a view you really have to take. I realized when I started GROUNDFLOOR, I’m like look, I’ve got to have a minimum time horizon of five to seven years that I’m willing to dedicate to this. I actually think that the time horizon is a lot longer. I think the time horizon is 10 to 20 years in order to get the company to the stage where it doesn’t need its founders, at least this company.
So I think if you’re building something that is, the kinds of companies that I like to build, that is driven by a specific purpose. In order to keep it on mission and if it’s a big mission, that’s worth dedicating your life to, I think just how long the time horizon has to be, and how intense it is for how long, I don’t think I was aware of that. And I think a lot of founders will probably say that, if they’re being honest, they didn’t really know exactly what they were getting into. But, I’m glad I didn’t know, because I love it. And I might have been scared off, had I known.
Spencer Israel: 34:26 I was going to say, if you didn’t know, maybe … If you knew, maybe you wouldn’t have done it.
Brian Dally: 34:32 It’s like what people say about having kids, you know.
Spencer Israel: 34:33 Right, yeah. That hits a little too close to home. Brian Dally, thank you so much for joining the Fintech Focus podcast.
Brian Dally: 34:43 You bet, thanks for having me.
Spencer Israel: 34:44 That was Brian Dally, the Co-founder and CEO at GROUNDFLOOR. If you enjoyed this interview, please leave us a review on any of the platforms, wherever you’re listening to this podcast, whether it be iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify, TuneIn, Google Podcast, Audioboom, Player FM, wherever, leave us a review, tell us what you thought.
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Thank you again to our guest this week, Brian Dally. Thanks all of you for listening. And I’ll see you next week, on the Fintech Focus podcast.