How I Bring In $30M/Year Investing In Mobile Home Parks

Brandon Turner
$1.5M
revenue/mo
1
Founders
23
Employees
Open Door Capital
from Kihei, HI
started January 2019
$1,500,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
23
Employees
838K
alexa rank
479
subs
market size
$2.69T
avg revenue (monthly)
$381K
starting costs
$11.7K
gross margin
90%
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Word of mouth
business model
Consulting
best tools
Canva, Instagram, YouTube
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
11 Tips
Discover what tools Brandon reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Brandon reccommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’ve been called many things in life - “window kid” (don’t ask…), Sasquatch (for obvious reasons), “the world’s most handsome man” (thanks Mom!), but “entrepreneur” was never on the list.

So how did I end up here, bringing in $30,000,000 per year in revenue while working just a few hours a week?

Well, my name is Brandon Turner and today I run a freaking awesome real estate investment company called Open Door Capital.

Now… I know what you’re thinking. “*Brandon, did you just put “freaking awesome” and “real estate investment company” together? That’s absurd! Real estate is boring!”

True, real estate might be a little boring. However, as I hope to convince you in the paragraphs that follow, this little investment firm is not what you might think, and more importantly, it’s something YOU can do as well.

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Myself and (a small part) of the ODC Team

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

It was a dark and stormy night when I invented the world’s best idea: what if someone were to purchase a property and then rent it out!? Genius, I tell you!

Ok, maybe this idea wasn’t mine, however, I can tell you the inspiration, in three quick stories.

The first: I was 18 years old and decided to pack my bags, ditch the tundra of Minnesota, and head west to seek my fortune (aka…get closer to my girlfriend.) So I moved to Olympia, Washington where I rented a large four-bedroom apartment. An 18-year-old kid making $7/per hour can barely afford soup, let alone an apartment for $1500 a month. So I rented the other three bedrooms to guys from the local community college and soon discovered that I could rent out that fourth bedroom as well and live for free on the couch - and so I did. This was my first venture into financial freedom.

Assuming another downturn was inevitable due to that cyclical nature (but not knowing when that downturn would occur), we asked ourselves, “what type of real estate will do well if the United States economy were to decline?”

Two years later, now making $10 per hour, I was able to buy a small starter home (it was 2007, and all the lenders were drunk) and rent out the bedrooms in that house. A year later, I sold that one and made a sweet $20,000 profit. Not only could I live for free by owning rental units, but those properties would also likely increase in value over time and the loans I took out (which were paid by the tenants each month) would be slowly paid off. And like that, I was hooked. I scraped my plans for law school (sorry Dad) and dove head-first into real estate.

Fast forward seven years. I had “collected” around 30 rental units and had plateaued them. I was making a few thousand dollars a month in somewhat passive income by managing those properties, and I was on the verge of a million-dollar net worth thanks to the properties going up in value. But I was anxious to do more. That’s when I decided to channel all my energies into creating the greatest business of all time.

I would sell kites on the internet.

Yes, that’s true. The “let’s go fly a kite” kind. But alas, that business lasted about nine days before I realized that eCommerce was a b---- and I’d better stick to what I knew best: real estate.

So I went back to my roots and committed fully to building something greater than myself: I was about to go big into commercial real estate. I put on my inner-Iron Man persona and assembled a team of superheroes around me to take down Thanos. Only, in this case, my team of superheroes was a group of interns and Thanos was a $3,000,000 mobile home park. These interns were brought on to help build systems for acquisitions and underwriting. And they delivered. The $3,000,000 park in Ohio was founded by an intern through a real estate broker and became the first park in Open Door Capital’s first fund which we creatively called “Fund 1”.

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One of the first mobile home parks acquired by ODC

And that was the beginning of Open Door Capital. Today we’ve got over 5,000 rental units, covering both mobile home parks and apartment complexes across the United States. We’ve partnered with over 1,000 “limited partners” who bring the money needed to buy and renovate the properties. We’ve hired nearly 60 team members across the country to buy and manage this massive portfolio, and after all this, I still only need to put several hours of work each week into the business. After all, is said and done, the company makes a modest profit ($1M or so) each year that we typically reinvest into hiring more great people, but the real wealth is created when we sell these properties, as our company typically splits the profits with our limited partners on a 70/30. If all goes according to plan (and it always does, right!?), the company should make somewhere in the “Billion Dollar” amount of profit after selling the properties we are acquiring in the next few years. Our investors should make significantly more than that. It’s crazy to even write that.

Take us through the early days of Open Door Capital and your first investments.

Well, real estate is a bit different than your normal e-commerce/product-based business, but I’ll walk through how Open Door Capital decided on the type of real estate we would base our empire on, which was primarily mobile home parks. (Yes, trailer parks as some would call them, but I prefer more friendly terms like “manufactured housing communities” or “mobile home parks.”) As most would recognize, economies and various industries within those economies tend to run in cycles, where good times lead to bad times and bad times lead to good times.

When I started Open Door Capital three years ago, the economy was booming, and it had been a full decade since the last real estate-led recession of 2008-2012. Assuming another downturn was inevitable due to that cyclical nature (but not knowing when that downturn would occur), we asked ourselves, “what type of real estate will do well if the United States economy were to decline?” In that kind of situation, I believed (and still believe) that the rents would begin to drop from the “top, down.” In other words, the people paying $3,000 a month for their luxury apartment will begin to tighten their belts and decide that they’ll drop down to a $2,500 apartment. The people paying $2,500 might drop to $2,000, the $2,000 people might drop to $1600, and so on. At the bottom of that compression lies “homelessness” and “living on a friend’s couch.” But one rung up that ladder from the bottom is mobile home living. Therefore, in my estimation, should the economy crash, holding onto mobile home parks and other low-income properties seemed to be a good idea.

Now, the economy has not crashed (yet) but the mobile home parks have proven to be a valuable investment, producing awesome cash flow and even better appreciation (the values of the properties increasing) since we jumped in. Now, we also invest in solid middle-class apartment complexes as well, for the same logical reasons, which have also proven to be a great idea.

When most people launch a business, they begin with doing everything themselves. Eventually, they might hire part-time help and then transition that to a full-time person or two. Eventually, usually after many years, they’ll have hired enough people to run a “team” of individuals who run the business.

Me…. I simply started at the end.

I hired half-a-dozen rock stars in the first few months, each perfectly suited for their role. Instead of me learning every aspect of the business and finding people to replace me, I just found people better than me from the beginning. Yes, there is some financial risk to this process, but the meteoric rise of our company’s size, revenue, and the unit count has proven my strategy worked.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Our “customers” are threefold:

  • First, we need to find owners or real estate brokers willing to sell their properties to us. This is a relational business and the best deals are typically found off-market or through brokers before the property hits the market for the general public.
  • Second, we need to find investors willing to pool their money to fund the deals. Our strong track record and returns speak for themselves but we pride ourselves on transparency with investors, open communication, and the ability to call up our Investor Relations team to answer questions.
  • And third, we have our tenants who rent from us. We seek to improve the lives and living conditions of every tenant in all our parks. From organizing a GoFundMe for struggling families to providing free books and educational materials to our tenants, we truly seek to live out our Core Value of “Good People Doing Good”.

We view each of these three groups as our “customers” and have a similar approach to all: go above and beyond by doing the things no one else does. We take care of our “customers” to a level that some would find ridiculous.

For example, we send funny or unique gifts to real estate brokers regularly to strengthen our relationships ( like last year, we mailed coconuts. Yes, real coconuts). We host dinners and meetups for our investors. We do a good job of managing our tenants with civility and professionalism. And guess what? It works! Brokers and owners love working with us. Tenants love renting from us. Our investors keep investing, time and time again with each new deal. Because we simply go above and beyond.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today? I’m two coffees in and it’s only 9:00 am, so I’m a bit jittery. Oh… unless you meant that in a more esoteric way, in which case I’d say, we are doing phenomenally well in terms of culture, income, and execution of our systems. The struggle we have is handling the pace at which we’ve grown, which leads to long hours for many on the team and a real focused intention on hiring these past few months.

So what does the future look like? We should cross $1,000,000,000 in real estate by the end of the year, and by the end of the decade we will cross $10,000,000,000, made up of mobile home parks and apartments. To do this, we’ll need to raise over $3,000,000,000 from investors over the next decade and buy roughly 50,000 units. Whoa. Throughout this time, we will begin to sell off parts of our portfolio, splitting the profits with all those limited partners and making everyone a little wealthier in the process.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I mentioned it earlier, but I'll say it again: I learned that it’s entirely possible to start a business by starting at the end rather than being a DIY entrepreneur and risk burning oneself out. You can start at the end, and lead your team to victory but you have to shift your thinking from “how will I do this” to “how do I build a team who can lead us there?!”

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use Asana to keep track of all the little and big projects, goals, and timelines in our business. We also communicate internally with Slack and the Google suite of products. We underwrite deals using the proprietary analysis tools we’ve developed over the past several years and hundreds of iterations. We hire using WizeHire, we utilize nearly every social media platform to grow our reach, and…I still love using a pen and paper to take notes.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

So many. I love reading and try to read around 50 books a year, most of which are business or personal development. A few that come to mind as impactful on my journey would be:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • The ABCs of Real Estate Investing by Ken McElroy
  • 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshal
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
  • Traction by Gino Wickman
  • The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Who Not How by Dan Sulivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy
  • Lifeonaire by Steve Cook and Shaun McCloskey
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I probably beat this horse to death now, but I’ll say it again in a different way: you get to choose what mindset you approach entrepreneurship from, and that mindset will determine your level of success. Now, when I say “mindset” I am referring to the approach your brain takes to thinking about and solving problems. To break this down further, I like to see four entrepreneurial mindsets:

  1. A “DIY Mindset” solves problems by saying “how will I solve this?”
  2. A “Project Manager Mindset” says, “How do I hire some help to do the stuff I don’t like doing to solve this problem?”
  3. A “COO Mindset” says, “How do I build a team and culture that will solve this problem?”
  4. A semi-mysterious fourth mindset, which I refer to as an “Architect Mindset” says, “How do I get someone else entirely to build a business to solve this problem.”

Now, there are no “wrong” mindset levels, but there is a limit to each. You cannot hope to become incredibly wealthy and work minimal hours doing it all yourself. But if you’re happy being a DIYer, then be a DIYer. It’s your choice, but recognize that these levels DO exist, and the choice you make (whether consciously or unconsciously) matters.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Always! Specifically, I’m looking to build out a marketing team to get the Open Door Capital name out there to more people. But we’re also growing our property management division to incredible new heights and I need a pool guy.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can connect with me on any of the major social media platforms, with Instagram being my bread-and-butter. My handle is @BeardyBrandon on all those. I also put out a text-message newsletter (my “Textletter”) each week that shares some of the lessons I’m learning, books I’m reading, events I’m attending, etc. That can be signed up for, for free, at www.BeardyBrandon.com.

As for Open Door Capital, www.ODCFund.com is the place to go to learn more about investing with us!

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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One of Open Door Capital’s latest apartment acquisitions

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Another Mobile Home Park owned and managed by Open Door Capital

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Brandon Turner, Founder of Open Door Capital
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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