It all began with my first job. I wanted to stay in Kalamazoo after graduating from Western and I needed a job. So I got a job at a small start up and went on to buy some buildings.
Get job, buy buildings. That’s the two second version. If only it was that easy…
When I got that first job, my mission was to be able to pay my bills and stay in the area. Quick side note: I consider myself one of the lucky ones. A lot of my classmates had to move away for a job. Just imagine a Kalamazoo where we’re able to keep all of those awesome, smart people here!
That first job opened my eyes to, “start up life”. A small company of about fifteen people was building software and gaining customers like crazy. I was fortunate to start at the ground level and work my way up.
This is when everyone talks about their ah-ha! moment. I never had that. I wasn’t in school thinking about how to build the next Facebook or Instagram. I didn’t start working at a start up and say to myself, “this is the way to do things!” If anything, I learned how to not do things. With some time, my perspective grew, morphed, and evolved. I thought if these guys can do it, I can do it too. So, six months out of school, I start reaching out to friends and we started bouncing ideas off each other. Eventually, I owned some share in six different companies. And they all failed.
In the midst of my moonlighting, my day job was looking to move the office into downtown Kalamazoo. I was tasked with helping manage the moving project which gave me exposure to commercial real estate. That high level experience was just enough of a taste for me to realize there was a lot of opportunity both in the community and for me personally. Coincidentally, I was also considering buying a house in the suburbs at the time.
This is when everything collided. Rather than buying a house in the suburbs, I mused, why don’t I try to turn an abandoned building into my home? I could leverage my startup experience from my day job and my personal experience to create a startup development company.
And that’s where I am, trying to do awesome things and have a positive impact in Kalamazoo. Check out what I’m doing now.