Welcome to The Accelerated Investor Podcast with Josh Cantwell, if you love entrepreneurship and investing in real estate then you are in the right place. Josh is the CEO of Freeland Ventures Real Estate Private Equity and has personally invested in well over 500 properties all across the country. He’s also made hundreds of private lender loans and owns over 1,000 units of apartments. Josh is an expert at raising private money for deals and he prides himself on never having had a boss in his entire adult life. Josh and his team also mentor investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. He doesn’t dream about doing deals, he actually does them and so do his listeners and students. Now sit back, listen, learn, and accelerate your business, your life, and your investing with The Accelerated Investor Podcast.
Josh: So, hey, welcome back to accelerated investor Josh Cantwell back here with you, and I am, man. I’m just blessed and excited and, you know, just really grateful for all of our members who are participating in this podcast and sharing this on social media and leaving us comments and ratings and reviews and questions. You know, we’re just getting tons of engagement. A lot of awareness about what we’re doing and what we’re teaching as far as raising capital, investing in apartments, investing in cash flow and as well as, you know, ticking people down their entrepreneurial journey. Today, I have an amazing guest. His name is Tennie Tolafari. He immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago from Nigeria. And so for those of you who are thinking like, hey, I don’t you know, I don’t know if the real estate’s going to work for me. There’s a lot of hurdles, a lot of challenges. I don’t know how to raise money. I don’t have a lot of connections. I don’t know. I don’t know how it all works. I don’t have the knowledge. I mean, imagine coming to the US, not really knowing a lot of people, not having a huge network. Not having really raised a lot of money before. Immigrating to the US. And building multi-family empire in just the last 10 years, having to learn lots of new things, learn, meet a lot of new people, and really not having a ton to fall back on other than grit and talent and drive and motivation. That is my guest today, Tenny. Thanks so much for hopping on Accelerated Investor with me today, man.
Tenny: Thank you very much. Josh, I can’t too much to those great compliments. I really do appreciate it. Thank you for having me. I’m excited. You hit the nail on the head. Being excited to have this opportunity on this platform to share my story with you. So I do appreciate you having me.
Josh: Yeah. You bet. You bet, Tenny. So what I’d love to talk about with my guests right off the rip is what they’re working on right now. Like today or yesterday or tomorrow. Like what are you doing in the middle of this virus business? But what do you what are you excited to work on? Do you have a new apartment that you’re working on? You’re raising money for a deal or are you doing analysis on some deals or are you networking? Tell us about some of the stuff you’re doing right now.
Tenny: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you very much. And again, I want to first of I appreciate you for everything that you do for this platform. I know a lot of people listen to you or your podcast and get a lot of value. So continue to shine a light. And thank you for that. Me and my partner. You know, again, the name of my real estate investment company is Xsite Capital. Me and my partner Leslie Awasam. We know opened up the company last year. Twenty nineteen, January of 2019. And since then, it has been an amazing journey. Since this whole pandemic started. We went back to the drawing board and started asking ourselves, what’s going on? What were we going to do right now? You know what’s going on with the market. I was going over to properties where real estate professionals staying sane about all the different types of asset classes available out there. And what will be our strategy?
Tenny: So presently what we’re doing, we just try to double down while everybody’s kind of just relaxing and watching TV and stuff. We are out there marketing. We’re trying to build a great marketing campaign right now about why real estate is a great asset class, specifically multi-family for people to get into. So we’re actually doing a serious marketing campaign right now. We’ve just brought in, we’ve just hired a marketing strategist recently to help us with our brand. So we’re working on all of that just to make sure that once we get off of this whole pandemic situation, we’re ready. I’m good to go. Because a lot of people wants to do business and they don’t focus on the marketing. They think that, you know, people would know them. One thing that I’ve come to the realization is, you can be in obscurity and a lot of people will know you. And people who knew you, you have to make people know that you are available and this is what you’re doing, So me and my partner Leslie, this is what we’re working on, to make sure that we’re not in obscurity anymore. Because that was one of the problems we faced when we first started.
Josh: Yeah. So you’re bringing on extra marketing strategists. So it sounds like maybe correct me if I’m wrong, but if that’s not your wheelhouse, right? If that’s not your expertise, maybe your expertise is raising money and deal structuring and your expertise is not necessarily marketing. I definitely applaud you for taking a look and kind of doing some self-reflection saying like, this is my book. My zone of genius is not necessarily in marketing myself or branding myself, which brings someone else on to do that. Is that is that kind of your thought process? Like you want to focus on finding deals and finding money and have someone else do the branding and marketing for you? Get your name out there, get more exposure.
Tenny: Absolutely, absolutely. There is this philosophy that me and my partner, we write on this. It’s called cut the fat. What that means is, well, you’re not good at you leverage. Because you cannot be good at everything. You know, by the time we go. And I share with you my background, you’regonna learn a little bit about me and my educational background and whole bunch of other stuff. But we came to the realization that in order for a business to succeed, you gotta put yourself out there. And if we don’t really know how to do it, we need to bring in the expert. So that’s what we’re doing right now.
Josh: Yeah, especially in the multi-family space. Right. Because so many deals, especially in the big multi-family space, a lot of those deals never hit the market. They’re all done off market. They’re all done as pocket listings or they’re done direct to seller. And those brokers and sellers have to know and have confidence that you can close. And a lot of that comes down to the networking, putting yourself out there. If they don’t know you, if they don’t have a feel for who you are or have a relationship with you, or you’ll have either maybe had a coffee or super broken bread with you or met face to face or online, they’re never really going to even bring you the opportunities. Right. So it’s almost a must do in the big multi-family space. You can get away and like, you know, residential and small multi-family, you can get away with not necessarily being out there or not really networking that much. You can still find a lot of deals. But the bigger and the better the deals, the more the broker is really protecting their reputation of protecting their commission and only want to bring the best deals to people that they already know. So just tell me about that experience for you.
Tenny: Again, it goes back to. Some people want to do stuff I want to do in isolation. You can. You can only be one person. You can only have one knowledge. You can only go out there and do as much as you can when you come to research online. But it’s different when you’re having conversations with people ahead of you, 10 times ahead of you, 100 times ahead of you. You’re networking with them and learning from them. One big piece of our marketing strategy is how do we make sure we continue to create ties with people who are already big in a market place. Such that you know, that we are playing. So some of the things that we do is we go to conferences, right. We tried to attend a lot of podcasts, just like I’m having with you right now. We’ll try to make sure we are having conversations with the industry experts. Make sure they know we are here as well and we are students of the game. And we’re learning. We’re not like the expert that you think now it is that expert in the industry. We’re just learning, learning, learning and applying the things that we learn in our journey. All right. So networking has played a huge part. If you wanted to go some more details about how we started up our journey. Ican share that with you.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. Let’s look. Let’s do that. Because, you know, a lot of a lot of people in real estate that maybe think like, I just want to buy properties and I want to create cash flow. They don’t they don’t think that networking is a big part of other tactics, of finding deals, finding money, finding partners, finding boots on the ground operators. A lot of that comes through networking. I mean, we own 2600 units of apartments and we’ve done that with guys that we have really good relationships with. They are not guys that we just found off the street or deals that we bought our own with nobody else. As you know, the multifamily space is very much a partnership-based business, especially the bigger deals. There are multiple people sitting on the general partnership and then potentially dozens of people sitting on the limited partnership side, depending on how much money you’re raising. And all of those relationships typically come through networking and relationships.
Josh: You know, we’ve done 506B and we’ve done 506C cap raises. And the 506C cap raises, they don’t feel the same because you have a lot of new relationships. A lot of people are just, you know, feeling you out. I particularly love the 506B relationships because we’re already really deep with those people. It all comes down to networking. So let’s. Yeah. So, Tenny, let’s back up because a lot people don’t understand that. But you had a number of particular challenges immigrating to the U.S. 10 years ago that a lot of other people they don’t have. Right. You came here 10 years ago not knowing a lot of people, not knowing a lot of the areas. Language. All this different stuff. And then you also wanted to jump into real estate at the same time. It’s not like you just relied on the W-2. So tell us, why did you come to the US? What brought you here? And then, you know, how did you get established? And then we’ll talk a little bit about your jumping into multi-family.
Tenny: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you, man. You just telling me about act and scene of me coming into the United States. You’re just pushing me all the way back.
Josh: Yeah, I see the big smile on your face, man. I could tell it gets a it’s probably a point of pride. It’s probably a point of like a lot of excitement. Emotion. Right. So I could see your body language is changing as I’m watching you for sure, man. It’s awesome. So tell us about it, man. What a big challenge to overcome.
Tenny: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I’m a second to the last child of seven. I’m a twin with a girl. I’m raised by a mom and a dad. My mom is a petty trader. If you understand, what a petty trader is. Petty trader is basically the guy that sells stuff. They sell stuff in the open market. So she sells something called gary, which is the food that we eat in Nigeria.
Josh: And what is gary, tell me about gary. What is it? What’s the closest thing you can compare it to in the US?
Tenny: Nothing. Honestly, it up and because it’s made out of cassava. Cassava is the plant that you use to make it. When I was little I went to the village with my grand mom and I saw the process of how to build this. It’s kind of an interesting process of plants in the harvest. Anyway, that was the trade my mom was doing. She’s a petty trader. You think about you know how they have dump trucks? The big dump trucks that I used to carry a whole bunch of concrete and stuff like that. Yeah, my mom used to be on top of that. They call it nine one one in Nigeria. She used to be on top of that to the goods. The goods are going to be on the bottom part of the truck and then it will stay on top of it and travel like 30 to 40 miles.
Tenny: OK. Into another, to buy and sell those goods. And sometimes they go through the night. I didn’t know the danger my mom was in until I became older. OK. Normally we were like, she went to the market. She’s going to be back. But later on I realized that they usually just hang on top of those trailers for a very long ride to be able to hide the product and bring you back to the market. So that’s how she raised us. That was my mom. But dad was a cop. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with cops in Nigeria, but they don’t make a lot of money as well. OK, now we have at seven kids. So I didn’t really grow up from the best of the best. That’s a lot of people. Sure.
Tenny: Actually, I usually just let people look know that, listen, when you think about a kid in Africa. I was in class and there was holes in their school pants. I was one of those kids because I was. Yeah. In my primary school, we were asked to sit on the floor. There was no seats like you can sit on a desk to learn. So you have to sit on the floor. You sit on the floor for so long. The concretes on the floor start eating into your pants.
Josh: Holy smokes. So and so. So all my friends, like all my friends who are thinking about getting their real estate or in real estate who are thinking like, I don’t know if I could do this. I don’t know if I’m smart enough or have the knowledge I have, then the connections. I mean, at least you have the ability to sit in a desk. Right. Learn the business. Sit at a desk. Learn in a chair, like big leather chair like this or whatever. You know, I have I have three offices in my home. Right. So my wife’s, we have one upstairs for my kids, which should be mine. But I gave it to them. And then now I’m in the basement home office. And then I have a real office where all of our employees go. And I have another beautiful space there. So I have four chairs. And you take that totally for granted to think that you grew up sitting on a concrete floor with the concrete eating into your pants.
Tenny: And that’s just the beginning of the story.
Josh: I know, I know. But I’m just thinking, like, how the little things we take for granted and the people who concoct in their brain all their challenges that they have. I can’t do real estate because of this, this and this. At least you have clothes and pants and a desk and a chair like those things that you took for granted. He didn’t even have when he was a kid. His mom is literally taking a dump truck as like a Uber ride to the market. Yeah. I mean, that’s amazing. Just hearing that. So tell it. Tell us more. Like what? Tell us about what happens next.
Tenny:So I you know, I went to school with not smart at all. You see, people are smart. Some people now see me. I see this guy is smart, blah, blah, blah. Don’t say that. Right. So not having the best of education, when I was growing up, hit a lot of my ego. So my twin sister, that she was brighter than me when we were little. So we talk about kids knowing how to spell. Like I-T eats S-O, so. N-O, no. I couldn’t do all of that. I was like six or seven years old I couldn’t spell. And then I can remember one of my aunts saying, Dude, what the hell is going on with you, man? Look at your sister, she’s doing good. Why can’t you, you know, pick up stuff. I said, if I don’t learn. I don’t have the right environments to learn about these things. How do you expect me to know how to do it? Anyways, I went out of a primary school, went to high school. Now, because of I didn’t have self-esteem. I had to depend on other people to pass my classes. Like when you say, you know what? You know, in Africa, it’s taboo to…. You know what it is taboo, it’s basically a crime to copy off of some of somebody else’s work. I know what I’m going to hold onto this dude for the rest of my life because without him, I can’t pass my class. Yeah. So I held on to him.
Josh: I had a bunch of friends like you Tenny. I had a bunch of friends like you that that cheated off of me in high school or college.
Tenny: Yeah, I did.
Josh: But hey, you got to do whatever it takes, man, right?
Tenny: Yeah, because that’s the only way I could. So one night when I was about to finish high school, that’s when I hit, I got an epiphany and that was the friend I was depending on was going to go to college. He was going to go study mechanical engineering. And I wanted to do a lecture on electronics engineering. So I asked myself, what’s going to happen now? Yeah. So I went home. So I remember the evening I went home to my mom. I say, Mom so the problem is I just found out that the guy’s name is Clever. Clever is about to go study mechanical engineering and I want to do electronics engineering.
Tenny:So what we’re going to do? She said, Why are you depending on Clever? Why don’t you think you can do it, huh? That is interesting. I might be able to do it. Now, the problem I faced wasn’t that I cannot basically read and understand and apply myself. It was that I didn’t have the confidence. Yeah. If I write, if I have a question and I put in the answers, I’m not sure that that’s the right answer so I have to reach out to somebody else to validate what I was doing.
Tenny: So anyways, so my mom said, you can do it, son you can do it. Just try. So I went back to school, went to school. The exams normally take to get out of high school. And I started depending on myself. So when I got into college now and I saw somebody that was like me that is looking for somebody to hold on to, I’m like,huh. This guy wants to hold on to me. So I gotta be the best that I could. Right. Yeah. So in college now. I was now the person somebody was depending on because I know somebody was depending on me. I study all night because I already know my weakness. My weakness is if both of us are in the same class. If it takes you an hour to study and take an exam is gonna take me 10 hours. So I know my weakness. So I’m like, how can I compete and be at the same page as you? If you’re gonna think you are now? So why everybody’s partying? I was in my room studying.
Josh:So you know, we talk a lot about it in my different trainings and podcasts and things that the best way to learn is to teach. Right. Right. You don’t really realize how fast when you learn something, let’s say real estate, how fast, if you study it and learn it, that you already know way more than the average guy knows. So you have some level of knowledge beyond them and you can always be reaching up to a mentor or a coach who knows a lot more than you do. And at the same time, be kind of giving back or passing down or letting somebody reach up to you is a lot of power in being in the middle. And that’s part of the entrepreneurial challenge that we all have, regardless of what kind of real estate we’re in or what kind of business we’re in is to always be a student and a teacher at the same time.
Tenny: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what. And me just knowing that, I think is just something that I felt like, I’m obligated now. Because somebody was there for me. So it was his thing.
Josh: It was it was his commitment to learn from you that gave you faith in yourself. Is that what you’re saying?
Tenny: Hundred percent. OK. I couldn’t see him fail. Yeah.
Josh: We often work harder for others, then we’ll work for ourselves. So when I think of like what gives me motivation, it’s usually not because it’s something like a bunch of things that I want. It’s usually because I’m fighting for my wife, my children, my father, who has Parkinson’s. I’m a pancreatic cancer survivor. So giving back to people who had pancreatic cancer. People that are really struggling now, especially in this virus environment that we’re in to pay the bills. What can we do to give back to them, back to my church, my faith, things like that? That gives me more motivation than just saying like, what do I want to do for myself? I want to be rich. I want have all this money. I want to drive a Ferrari. I want to have a huge house. That’s not really motivating for me. It’s usually giving or providing for someone else. And it sounds like for you that you had like no confidence or very little until you felt obligated to help and provide for someone else. Is that right?
Tenny: Academically. Academically, yes. Then when I was in college. Again I was still having some of the struggles that I had, you know, self-esteem problem. But there was a huge part of me wanting to be more. And now at one point, like I said, my family was like, when you see it upper-class, there was a middle class, and then lower class. My family’s in the lower class. Right. And I asked myself if I want to be better. And I want to take my family from the lower class and bring them up to the upper class. What do I need to do was one thing I can do? All I need to do was to change my environments. Yeah. And that only environment that I thought about was what if I move myself to the United States. And come here and get my education. Now I can be in classes, I can be in the class with other people in the upper class of Nigeria. Now we can have a conversation. Yeah. So I went to my mom. And said, Hey, mom, this is the deal. I want to go to America when I’m done with my undergrad.
Tenny: She’s like most my mom is not she’s not literate, like she’s not educated. And she’s like, what are you talking about? We don’t know anybody in America. How are you going to do it? Yeah, mommy. Just tell me that you will support me and I’ll do what I have to do, you know? On one condition. If you graduate with a summa cum laude, that’s is the equivalent of what she wanted me to graduate in.
Josh: Wow. She set the bar high. Summa cum laude is no joke, man. Graduating with honors. She said you can do it as long as you graduate with honors.
Tenny: Yeah. That’s kind of the equivalent? I’m like, alright, how am I gonna do this? So again, I went back to school and started studying and blah blah blah. So yeah, I did a lot of studying to be honest then. Yeah. Because I had to, I had to come to America. Yeah. So one of the things that stuck to my head was in each class that I want. You know how they say prophesy what you want. And visualize it. So when the school was on strike I went to my school and in our apartment, of like maybe 50 unit. I was the only one in who with appointments because anybody was holding as it was. So in my room it was like this room. I mean, I have my classes. Each of the class what grade I wanted on the wall. Okay. I was taking nine classes then. So I put all of them on the wall. And when I finished studying each one, I write the grade that I want on it. So if is let’s say computer science, I’ll put a big A on it. One, big B. There was no C on the wall. So all of them I put A or B depending on how I feel about it. Guess what? The exam came.
Tenny: I wrote my GPA score. Anyways, I got my degree I took it to my mom and say, I got it. Now, my dad is in the picture, but he wasn’t in the picture of the drive. He wasn’t that guy. I just say hello. What do you need? You’ll go to the little amount of money that I have, blah, blah, blah. Well, he wasn’t in the picture of the struggle that I went through and the self-doubt. He wasn’t part of all this conversation. He will see me as a bad child because I was. Now we have two boys and five girls. My older brother is the first. And I’m like in the middle. Yeah. I seem like this bad child. I brought the degree to him. I say, Hey, Dad, I got my bachelor’s in electrical engineering, I graduated with a two one. He was like, what? Yes, I did it. So he called a family meeting. And then we celebrated.
Josh: And he was like, you were in school? He was busy providing for the family, right?
Tenny: He was traveling everywhere in Nigeria? But anyways, I went to my mom, told her, I should say, well, you did your part. I’ll do my part. We’ll get admission to school in America. I got admitted to school in Virginia called Virginia International University. I went to the visa one time. I went there. I think God just, I was just destined. It’s not me doing. It’s just that God just wanted me to be here. My first interview, I went there. I looked at the counselor in their face and say, hey, listen, I’m going to the United States, they say why. What I called it. I don’t want to be where I’m at. I want to go over there and study to be better. Give me a visa. Just like that. I flew to my where my dad was and told him that I had a visa. He said here we go. He was like so you and your Mom wasn’t planning all of these. I said, yes. So who you want to go to meet in America. So we’ll figure it out.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. You’re having so much fun with us. I’m having fun with it. But the things that you’re doing, a lot of people would say like, oh, my God, that’s such a big deal. You just seem to say like this is just what I want. I’m just gonna figure it out as I go. I don’t know everything, but I’m gonna have faith in myself. I have faith in God. I have faith in the process that this is just gonna work out. Actually, looked up. I just looked up on my screen the word faith and the definition of faith, according to the dictionary is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Right. So you’ve talked about faith. I’m not talking about like religion, like I’m Catholic. I have a lot of religion, a lot of faith in Jesus Christ, lot of faith in God. But I’m taught my faith in yourself. Right. Complete faith or confidence? It’s just going to work out. And it sounds like you just said, like, I’ve got to make this happen. I want to go from, really the drive seems like from, like you said, lower class to upper class. And if I just change my environment, I’m just going and socializing and networking, being around people that are at this higher level. This is like inevitable for me. Like you had faith that this was just going to happen only a matter of time.
Tenny: I just have unresolved faith with those. I wasn’t scared. You know, you think about moving from your country to another country. You just can’t. I was not scared at all.
Josh: Oh, I’ve never done that. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t comment. I lived in the same area within 20 to 30 miles of where I grew up my whole life. I have not taken that leap. But I understand why you say, like, I’ve been in mastermind groups, for example, when I was a little bit younger with people that I thought were like 10 times, 20 times, a hundred times further along than me. And I was scared like I was. I was literally afraid to walk in the room. But I went in, walked in the room anyway and spent time with those guys that I perceived to be so much further advanced than me, so much further along than I just said, I’m just going to again. Just like you. I’m just gonna upper-level my game through association, but just be hanging out with them and just to see what happens. I know it’s part of the process. Right. So it’s amazing that you said that. But, you know, like I’m going to move halfway across the country to do it.
Tenny: I didn’t know why. To be honest with you. I will say, like. I was not even thinking about the impact of what I was doing. I was just like, this is the life I wanted. I’ve chosen. I’m going. I just kept going. The lady that I met in the plane coming here after she heard my story. She didn’t want to give me her phone number. She ran. When we get on the plane, she ran. I had to chase on a hill. Listen, I don’t have any family. Can I at least get a number? I can call you sometime to ask questions. All right.
Tenny:And then she just try to nonchalantly give me her number. And then again, you know, I went through that, went to the school. The school didn’t have a lot of opportunities. So I transferred to Bowie State. Bowie State, it is in Maryland. And in there, I had an opportunity to work in a school. And then one of the memories that stuck to me very closely. My girlfriend at the time left me because I didn’t have money to send it to her back home. And I do understand why. But the problem is, how can I send money home when I cannot even buy shoes? I remember having a shoe. You know when you have water potholes. Yeah, yeah. My shoe I was when I was going to grad school. If I put my feet in the water potholes water goes into my shoe.
Josh: Socks are all wet and miserable for hours.
Tenny: My room. My room I was staying in has a twin bed in there with no window blinds. I got a window blind. I changed my bed when I met my wife. Okay. So when I had girls coming to my house now because I broke up with my ex and then I met my wife. I had to go buy a carton of my window and then she was coming over and then I had my twin bed. After a little while I as able to change my bed. Yeah. That’s how you know. And I just knew the only thing that I had that could set me apart was this education. In my class they thought I was a genius. Okay. I was. I was. I graduated with a 3.9 GPA. Because I had a B in one class.
Josh: Because your mom told you that you had to.
Tenny: I didn’t have anything else apart from school.
Josh: Yeah. Well, what do you what’s the takeaway from that? Right. For you, for me, for our listeners, is that for that period of your life, whether it was your two years or four years to get your graduate degree, you were laser focused on one thing, one thing. And you just did that one thing. And that’s really sort of the blessing and the curse of our society today. So there’s so much social media, so much information, so many advertisements coming at us that we have a hard time focusing on one thing for an extended period of time. Henry Ford once said the greatest trait a man can have is the ability to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. And you came to a new country, learned a new language, didn’t know anybody, didn’t even have blinds on your windows, wet socks and shoes. But you focus on one thing and you graduated with honors in a totally new language and a totally new society.
Tenny: Culture and everything.
Josh: Yeah. So you graduate and had a lot of success in your regular job, right? W-2 job. Tell me about that. Like, what did you do for work before you got into real estate?
Tenny:So before I graduated, I got a job in D.C. I graduated I think on 18th of December 2012 from grad school. I got an offer before that time. So by December graduation I already got a job. So from there I transitioned to Boeing. I worked there as a cybersecurity expert with them. And then from there I transition to Deloitte, became a consultant with Deloitte as well. Got it. So that’s my professional background.
Tenny: But in 2016, while I was working at Boeing, I was looking for because I already have in my mind, I was thinking about this 9-5, W2 is not just going to be the path. There has to be something better. So one thing I thought about was this. Since I’m in cyber space. I’m working with the defense company, which is Boeing. Why don’t I open up a contracting company like one of the companies all offers employees to the government? So why don’t I open up a company? So I open up a company called the Toulouse Network. Probably to provide consulting services to the government. But in that process, as I was doing that, I got sick. I hurt my feet disk where I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t sneeze, I couldn’t do anything.
Tenny: Now, this is an interesting part of the story. So, you know, now I have a nice job. You know, things are good. Now I have to take care of my mom. Right. So I flew my mom here, brought my baby sister here. My baby sister has to go to grad school. I’m going to be paying for her to go to grad school. I brought my mom here to take care of my mom. She can’t take care of her health. So everything was good. This was in 2016. My mom came in January of 2016. In March, before my birthday, that’s when I hurt my back. Now I brought my mom here. To take care of her. She now has to take care of me. Because I cannot move, you know. So that was a big change in my mind. I’m like, oh, my God. Look at me trying to help my family do everything. What’s going to happen to me? So everything I was doing was off. I just do everything the way the W2. The company that I opened up, I just threw everything away. So I just started thinking about myself. What’s next? What’s next?
Tenny:So when I went to physical therapy, I don’t want to go to surgery. They said I should go to surgery. I said, I don’t want to do that. So I went to physical therapy. So when I was coming out of physical therapy, I’m like let me start asking myself, what can I do? What kind of services can I provide to other people? So I found a company that offers a solution that can help people that are professionals like myself do get sick. You don’t lose your home and all this kind of stuff. I’m like, that sounds good because you. Yeah. I have all these depending on me? What if I wasn’t able to provide for them? I would have been screwed. So I got into the financial services industry. I said I provided financial solutions to people. And that’s how I met Leslie, who is my partner in real estate. So I’ve always been a student of Robert Kiyosaki. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, and cash flow quadrant. In the cash flow quadrant, he talked about the E, the S, the B, and the I.
Tenny:I’ve only started thinking about how can I be in the B and I quadrant? And the B is being in business, I is investing in real estate. I’ve already started building a business in the financial space, but the I part was missing, which is real estate investment. So when I met Leslie and I met Leslie through his wife, I went to do a presentation for financial services and I met about ten to twelve ladies and they were all in the medical field. Just did the presentation. And they’re like, Oh, yeah. I want to learn more. So Leslie’s wife was the only woman to give me audience Say, listen, come to the house and come out, talk to my husband, OK? So I went to Leslie’s very skeptical, very analytical, very focused. He has a whole bunch of questions that he say he wanted to ask me.
Tenny: And I just went in and just share with him what I was doing. Shared him my philosophy, shared with him my books I’m reading and a whole bunch of things he was like Man, this is a good guy. I got to know you more. Nice. So from there both of us started going to Burri close to us. Started playing the Robert Kiyosaki board game. It’s called cash flow board game, something like that. So we started playing in that game. And then from there we started talking about entrepreneurship. I said, you know, I’ll be entrepreneurship. I’m very good people with people. Like I said, I’m not scared. If the president is right, I have his phone number. You say give him a call. I’ll call him right now. Yeah, that’s the kind of person I am.
Tenny: Yeah, right. So I told him. I’m not scared of networking. You know, if there’s a roomful of people with 10000 people in the room right now, I can go to everybody and say, hey, my name’s Tenny. Yeah, right. So he kind of liked that. You know, he say, okay, how can we work together? So he’s already started investing in real estate. And me the only real estate I had was my property I live in. And he said, listen, we can do something. So we started researching about real estate and we looked into assisted living and looked into single family. We looked into fix and flip and a whole bunch of different strategies are available out there. And then when it came to the conclusion that multi family is the best asset class to help us achieve our goals. Yeah. So in twenty nineteen we created exact capital. And then when you start a business like that for me that is not too familiar with it. What do I need? I need to educate myself. So we enrolled in mentorship programs, took a bunch of classes, went to a lot of networking events to immerse ourselves big time. And in that process, we were able to network with the right folks, had an opportunity to be a part of one hundred ninety-twounits property in Marietta, Georgia last year. And this year we’re looking to acquire 500 units as well before this whole pandemic started. So that is, that’s my story.
Josh: Wow. Tenny, I love it. So, OK, so let’s pivot then now into well, I have a couple of comments. First, before we talk about real estate and your favorite type of multifamily deal, but a couple comments are. I just keep thinking about how. First of all, how blessed we are in the United States that, you know, to be a student at a university, that many people in other parts of the world already considered that to be upper class. Right. If you are in high school and you getting an education, you have clothes on your back. You have a place to go to. You’re safe. You have an environment of home. You have parents. You know, even if you’re from a single family, parent, brother, sister, everybody’s safe. You have transportation. You can go to a high school or college university that to compare that to most parts of the world. You’re already middle class or upper middle class relative to the rest of the world. So let’s just keep that in mind. That we’re so fortunate in the United States that we cannot rest on our comfort zone and say, well, I’ve got a pretty good life.
Josh: I mean, how many people in nine states that are, you know, middle class or, you know, lower middle class or upper middle class that could be achieving so much more. But they don’t know struggle like you did. They don’t know poverty. They don’t know not having an education. So they take all that for granted. And they monkey around the rest of their life, farting around with the goal, not achieving, not pursuing, because they’re like, you know, this this is good enough. Right? And comfort is the enemy of progress. Comfort is the enemy of growth. So many people in the U.S. are comfortable that they’re not reaching. And that’s why you see so many immigrants. You know, the Asian community, community, your community, Nigerian community, people that don’t have a lot. All of a sudden that like I’ve got to get there. And then when I’m very like, well, we’ll just keep going. Right. Might as well just keep building. And so I just want to recognize that man and just tell you how first how proud I am of you, how awesome it is to hear your story and to tell my listeners like, you’ve got no excuse. They have no excuse. After hearing what we just heard, Tenny, from you, that they can’t achieve more and do more because they most likely grew up with the same or more. Slightly more maybe than what you did, because you really came from almost nothing.
Tenny: And the other day, I was having dinner with my family. I was like, man. I’m having dinner with an American wife. I know growing up, that was not something that you can think was even possible. I could no fathom it. That I would be in America and I’d have an American wife. Wow. Well, there’s no way I could conceive that. But at one point I had to believe that.
Tenny: Yeah. So tell me, help me understand. Like the comparison between where you are now. Relative to what? I don’t want to sound offensive, but what class would you be in in Nigeria? Comparing where you are now in the U.S. Would you be like upper class? Upper middle class like way upper class in Nigeria? You know, comparing to what you have now in the US. I just don’t understand the difference in classes. Societal you know differences between Nigeria and the US.
Tenny: With my income, I’ll be upper class. Yeah, with the income I make and the standard of living that I’m living. You know, I definitely will be an upper class. You know, I might not be in the elites, but definitely upper class for sure. Yeah. Right. You know, even in North America right now, I think I’m getting close to upper class in America right now. Yeah. As well so. So in Nigeria, definitely upper class.
Josh: I like the one thing that stands out to me, out of all the things you’ve said, is just that you change your environment. Yes, like just that. Changed my environment. Those three words and you could change my environment. And if I change my environment and who I’m associating with, I can completely change the course of my life, which is what you’ve done to the point where, like, you’re like laughing about like every American wife. I’m so excited about it. It’s so it’s just cool, man.
Tenny:So one thing I don’t do often, I don’t do it a lot. I need to do more of it. Is gratitude. Sure. Because in order for you to have gratitude, you have to look out where you’ve been and where you are right now, and then you’ll be able to appreciate that. And that was that dinner. And that’s what happened. Yeah, I was looking at my wife and my daughter. This how far I’ve come. Sometimes when I share my story of how my wife met me. Like I said, I had a twin bed in my room. She was…. She had a little car. Anyway. I don’t want to get to that. It is OK. Let’s keep going in the interview. Yeah, sure.
Josh: I mean, I have actually sitting right above my computer on my wall right here that says a great day always begins in the gym and ends with a book. And the reason why for me, a great day begins in the gym and ends with a book is typically when I’m in the gym or reading or listening to an audiobook, really that allows me to to reflect and think about what I’m grateful for. And so gratitude is the underlying theme behind the physical activity of being in the gym. The physical activity of listening to a book or reading a book is it allows me to completely clear my mind. And then I have the opportunity to think about, wow, look how grateful I am. Look at all the things have gone right and even the things that have gone wrong. And we have a lot of things that have gone wrong over the last 20 years to think like, what are the lessons I’ve learned from the things that have not gone right. Right. The times I’ve gotten screwed, the times that things didn’t work out because that stuff happens, too. So. So tell me, look, let’s talk for a few minutes about multifamily real estate. So you said you did all this research fix and flip rental, single family, self-storage, assisted living. You landed on multi-family, real estate and apartment buildings and you had this hundred and ninety-two unit already. And so tell me about your strategy today. What are you looking for to acquire more of these five hundred doors? What specific asset classes? What specific types of areas? Is it value add? And how are you looking at the syndication side of things?
Tenny: I actually pretty much what we’re doing right now is just viewed more of an investor base. Why we chose multi-family is because one, we will not be able to take the asset class on our own. If you observe, we have a meetup that we have running right now and a whole bunch of the people that we meet that is about people who are already do fix and flip and wholesaling. And one of the problems that they had was all they have like single family homes, that they rent, is the property of management. You know, the day to day running of the property and headache from tenant and all that stuff that comes with it. And when we discovered that that is something that we can transfer and if you can remember, I talked about leverage earlier. If we can’t transfer that responsibility to an expert, that can take care of that while we get the benefit of having a property.
Tenny: Why don’t you do that? So right now, we’re looking to bring in a bunch of people like us now looking to have real estate properties, but don’t want to be worried about a whole deal, management of the property, running of the property, dealing with tenants and older stuff. We want to look for to those are the kind of people we’re looking to do. So this year, our goal is to acquire 500 unit. But we just hope everything going on right now. We’re still having that thought. As our goal, working on building our brand and doing our marketing is continuing to talk to investors on a daily basis and do what we’re supposed to be doing, right. And of course, we’re always open to learning and getting feedback on people that we meet.
Tenny: What our goal is right now is to look for one of these emerging markets and one of those markets we identified is North Carolina, the Charlotte area, Charlotte Durham, Chapel Hill area, because the growth in terms of demographic there is really good. My partner, my partner Leslie actually went to school down in Greensboro. So he’s familiar with the area. And I went there with my family not too long ago. Visited the market. It’s a great market and we want to be in that market as well. So that’s one area. We have a team already. We have a property management company, brokers and you know, the team that can help us run the business down there. So once this whole pandemic die down a little bit, we’re going to make a trip down there, meeting with our brokers and start looking at asset class that we can take down so that we can start moving towards achieving our goals.
Josh: Yeah. So tell me tell me a little bit more about the way you’re building your team. Right. Because a lot of people understand, you know, large assets like large apartments requires a team, you know, property management company, boots on the ground, operator, general partner, somebody who can sponsor the loan, somebody can raise money, all these different kinds of things. So tell me a little bit more about that for you. Like, how were you building your team? How are you networking? Who do you want to put on your team that you have or who do you need to put on your team that you don’t quite have yet? Yes.
Tenny:So when it comes to the team. When you come back, property management company. When we got involved with a property in Marietta, Georgia, I went definitely due diligence process. So I went I was there for two days and we walked to the properties and had an opportunity to interview the property management company that was going to be part of the property and had a concrete conversation with him. And the sponsors of that property had been in that market in in Atlanta for a while. And these property management companies, one of the company that he bought for. So I had an interview with the lead, the regional director, and I said, hey, listen, we’re looking to acquire property in North Carolina. Do you guys cover these areas and he said absolutely. So he did an introduction to some of his folks in North Carolina. So we have that property management team. They’re very big. Theyre on our website. We want them to manage our property. And then when it comes to sponsor, it’s just networking. So we were part of a group, a mentorship group, where we were able to network with some high net worth folks. But people that have about 2400, three thousand units under their belts that we’re going to be working with when it comes to sponsorship and stuff like that.
Tenny: Of course, we have our attorneys and accountants, a whole bunch of all the people that’s part of the team. And then for boots on the ground to again assume networking with mental grit people, that lives down day and night in North Carolina area and have meetings with them. We’re trying to make sure that our philosophy align because again, you want to do business with people that have the same philosophy. We choose something that we go into business. You guys can continue to do business, not are go into business and in the end of the day doesn’t work out and you have to sell the property and all this kind of headache. So we went our go into a business with the solid people. A group of people that we feel that we can grow together. Then we won’t just rush into anything. If it takes us 10 years to find the right group, yeah, that means ten years’ worth. So we’re not in a rush. And that’s a conversation we’re having with our investors. If you’re in a rush right now, we can show you some other operators in the marketplace you can go with them. But when I know in any form of a rush, when I’m desperate. Move right now. Yes. Got a time in building our stuff.
Josh:Tenny, you said and again, as we kind of round to use a baseball analogy round third and head for home to kind of wrap up our interview today. You had said you did a lot of research on Fix and Flip and single family and these other asset classes and landed on multi-family. Tell me why. What did you find in multi-family that stuck out, that that led you down that path?
Tenny: I think it’s just excitement, man. I think me and my partner Leslie were mad enough that we did this. We just excited about the industry and we just started researching. One of the main thing for multifamily, again, our mission is having that expert manage the property for you because they are going to run it on a day-To-Day basis. So we actually put, after we formed our company, put in an offer for a couple of single family homes. We had to pull back those offers because we realized that we have to go, manage this property. You run around, do all these things. And it was that a story about the number of units you have to have, you know, not for you to be able to afford a property management company. When I talked about vacancy. How does vacancy impact create your income and cash flow? You know, when it comes to taxes, when it comes to leverage, you know, when it comes to people who need to have a place to live, you know.
Tenny:So all of these things made a lot of sense to us. So we like you know what I think apartments, of course, as we grow in the future, we might decide to see if there are other ways we can serve, which is provide real estate for a second group of people. But for now, we think multi-family and our philosophy is, how do we make use of multifamily to provide affordable housing to people? Really excited to leave it. Our philosophy is, how do we create an environment by design? How do we make sure that somebody wants it even in place? They can use that. They can conceptualize it and then actually leave it in there. Again, that’s for the future. But again, that’s some of the exciting reasons why we use some of the exact reasons why we chose it.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, all the things you talked about, leverage being able to bring in a partner, you know, some people think, like how am I gonna buy a 20-million-dollar apartment deal? Well, there’s people that like to just step in and sponsor loans that to that’s their role. There are other people that are good at raising money. There are other good boots on the ground. And your job is to kind of orchestrate pulling all those people together. I guess I did a a podcast yesterday and this was one of my coaching calls. And we talked about the movie about Steve Jobs, where he’s up on stage. And Wozniack is out in the crowd. His partner is all original partner from Apple and was pissed off. And he’s kind of berating Steve Jobs in front of a bunch of people. And he says, like, what do you do? You don’t sit on a workbench. You don’t, you know, create software. You don’t create hardware. You don’t do marketing. Like what? Who? Like, what do you do? And he says, Waz, I’m the orchestra conductor. Yeah, right.
Josh: And the orchestra conductor is no more important than the people in the orchestra, because some people have to play the cello and still have to play the violin. And so people have to play these different instruments. But somebody has to be the conductor on the right. And that’s really what you’re what you’re saying. It’s a very similar analogy as you’re that kind of be the conductor. You are pulling the different pieces of the puzzle together. And that’s as any CEO in any leadership team. That’s their job, is to pull people together as the conductor. You don’t really have to. People say, well, you don’t do anything, you’re the CEO. The truth is, is I know how to do everything. But my main job is teambuilding, networking, recruiting capital, bringing in the right operators and then doing the due diligence to find the right deals. That’s ultimately your job. You don’t have to have a huge balance sheet and sponsor every loan. You don’t have to have every connection and raise every dollar. You don’t have to manage every unit. Your job is to be the conductor. Absolutely. If you saw this and it is, surround yourself with the right team.
Tenny: We really, really use your leverage, man, because again, it’s because you know me. I got to a point. I became like, I know my stuff, you know, don’t mess around with me. You know, I think I’m good. But as I continued to do personal development. And I came to the realization that a lot of people that successful to surround themselves with the best.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. No doubt that. I mean, I heard a great interview with the CEO of 1 800 Got Junk. And I passed this story along to many people like, oh, you know, we’ll wrap up our interview here with this. But he said in the interview, he said, you know, I never had a great idea. He’s like, my idea of R&D was rip off and duplicate. He said, you know, I just surrounded myself with amazing people. I took their best ideas and I pulled their best ideas into my business. It was the ultimate version of Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, realizing early. And he kind of used the R&D instead of research and development of rip off and duplicate. I’ve been saying that for years now because I loved it so much. But, you know, that’s the whole idea. Like there’s really not a whole lot of like new ideas in the world, like, oh, Facebook comes out. That’s a new idea, right? Uber comes out. That’s a new idea, OK? It totally disrupts an industry. But generally, ninety-nine-point eight percent or ninety-eight-point nine percent of what we do. Somebody else has already done it. They’ve already had the idea. It’s just how can you pull their information, their strategies into your life and. Meantime, in a passionate way to do what accomplish what you want to accomplish, not accomplish.
Tenny: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Josh: That’s fantastic. Tenny, well, listen, we’ve got to wrap, but this has been amazing. I’ve had a such a blast getting to know you and your story. And like I said, we’re getting ready for this. One of my daughter’s closest friends is Nigerian. Her parents were immigrants. I coach her involleyball. Her name is Ima Odiowa. And Ima’s a total doll, actually. Today’s her birthday. She’s just amazing, kid. We’re gonna drive by and honk the horns and wave and social distance for her birthday.
Tenny: Yep. Tell her happy birthday for me that you spoke to one Nigerian. Yeah.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah. Her older brother Remy reminds me a little bit of you, but man, just an awesome story. Thank you so much. So for any of our audience that would want to connect with you, invest in your deals, network with you, whatever, what’s the best place for them to reach out to you?
Tenny:So you can go to XSITE Capital.com. Xsite is spelled X-S-I-T-E Capital dot com.
Josh: Perfect. Yeah, we’ll put that in the show notes. Perfect.
Tenny: Absolutely. And my number my 2 0 2 5 6 9 5 0 7 2. That is 2 0 2 5 6 9 5 0 7 2.
Josh:Tenny, listen, this has been an absolute blast getting to know you and your story a little bit better. Look forward to seeing all your success and continue to level up.
Tenny: I would love to come back on with my partner.. Yes, the journey. And there’s a whole bunch of things I’d love to say, you know, when you start sharing your story, you don’t want to stop talking about it. Yeah, because some people are out there to inspire. And, you know, that’s what I hope is if somebody, even if it’s one person that we inspire to do more and be out there, help more people. That’s worth it.
Josh: Absolutely. Tenny, listen, thank you so much for joining us today on Accelerated Investor.
Tenny: Appreciate it. Appreciate it. I look forward to meeting you and talking to you again.
Josh: All right. You got it. All right. Take care. Bye bye.
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People concoct all kinds of crazy reasons for not being able to do real estate. They’re too busy. They don’t know the right people. They don’t have any capital for large deals. Tenny Tolofari had all of those excuses and more. As a recent Nigerian immigrant to the U.S., Tenny’s story should make you sit up and take notice.
Tenny’s company Xsite Capital focuses on multi-family units. He recognized early on where his strengths were, and he capitalized on them. He knew that marketing wasn’t in his wheelhouse, so he hired a marketing strategist to get his name out. That let him focus on finding deals and raising money.
As an inspirational story, you couldn’t ask for a better one. Tenny tells about his humble beginnings as one of seven children in Nigeria. He recounts his schooling, and his determination to make something better of himself. He came to America to study electrical engineering, and after graduation he realized that a W2 job wouldn’t give him the kind of life he’d always pictured.
Within real estate, relationships are key to building your network in the business. In the multi-family space, a lot of the big deals never even get listed, so your network becomes even more important. Tenny started over in a new country, a new culture, a new language, a new everything. But he knew quickly that getting in front of the right people would help his business grow.
There’s a lot of power in the middle of the learning process. Even though he’s new in the real estate space, Tenny’s childhood lessons about learning have helped him realize that you should always be both a student and teacher at the same time.
If you’re interested in doing deals in the multi-family space with Tenny, you can contact him at (202) 569-5072. He and his partner are exploring new markets to invest in within the next few months.
- Networking with experts has been a huge part of Tenny’s learning journey.
- Tenny’s journey from Nigeria to America.
- My advice is that the best way to learn is to teach.
- Tenny’s confidence came from his motivation to help other students.
- Comfort is the enemy of progress. Comfort is the enemy of growth.