Whitney Sewell, seasoned investor, podcast host, philanthropist and founder of Life Bridge Capital, joins us to discuss starting his real estate investment career in 2017 and has since acquired over 900 doors of multifamily real estate. We discuss how his company got the point of consistently raising over $10 million in a few hours, hosting over 1,000 episodes of his podcast, giving, and much more.

Connect with Whitney at https://lifebridgecapital.com/

To join the DJE Investor list and see upcoming projects, go to https://djetexas.com/access

For multifamily investment coaching & mentoring, visit ApartmentEducators.com

 

 

Transcript

Devin Elder:
Whitney, welcome. Good to see you again.

Whitney Sewell:
My pleasure, Devin. An honor to be here.

Devin Elder:
Yeah. Great to have you on, man. It’s been a little while since we spoke last. You and I have kept up over the years. It’s been really inspiring to see the growth of your company. I see you guys’ deals coming out, closing big multifamily deals. This is not a business you’ve been doing for 25 years, right? I mean this is something where you got into it, got coached, built the business, and have really built it at a good clip, which is awesome. That’s why I want to catch up with you on it.

Devin Elder:
But to just kind of take it back for folks that have not already heard one of your 1000 podcast episodes, Whitney hosted daily podcasts, and seven days a week daily. As a podcast host myself, a much less committed podcast host with a weekly show, I just … Hats off to you, man, on publishing a daily podcast consistently for over 1000 episodes now. But let’s back it up. Who are you? Where are you from? How did you get to real estate?

Whitney Sewell:
I have not been in commercial real estate for 25 years, to say the least, but the Lord has blessed our business in ways. I mean it’s just been amazing. I feel like I’ve put in 25 years of work almost in the last three or four years. It’s been quite intense, to say the least. I’ll share a little about that so you can have a better understanding and ask questions about it, of course. But I go back, Devin, to March of 2001. I say March of that year because you know six months later is when we were attacked as a country.

Whitney Sewell:
In March of that year is when I decided to join the military. I was 17. I mean we didn’t have any idea we were going to war, right?

Devin Elder:
Right.

Whitney Sewell:
But I just felt like it was the right thing to do. I just thought, “You know what? I want to serve, and I want to join the military.” I signed up for the Guard. I ended up having two years of active duty even in the Guard. But what I found was myself spending a year in Iraq just a few years later and toting around a machine gun, praying every day I get to go home. Unfortunately, not everyone in my squad made it home. So just lots of hard life missions there and just helped shape me, really, in a good way, I think. But I’m so thankful-

Devin Elder:
You’re a kid at the time, right? You’re 18 years old?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. So I think I was 21 when I … yeah, 21, when I finally went overseas for a year, something like that. And then, yeah, man, it just put so many things in perspective. I say the military taught me to have that never give up mentality. I mean in combat, in that situation it’s just not an option to give up. It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling that day. Other people are depending on you. I mean you have to perform. It’s just not an option in some of the hardest environments you can imagine.

Whitney Sewell:
So I came home from there though, Devin, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do as a career. I got this military time now. I thought, “You know what? I don’t have any college. Law enforcement seems like a great transition. I love the uniform, the structure, the discipline.” It was. There’s 1200 applicants for five positions, and I was blessed to have one of those five with Kentucky State Police. I loved working the road as a police officer. I loved the service.

Whitney Sewell:
I was doing it before I was married too, so I mean I would be out every Friday and Saturday night just getting into all kinds of stuff, but having a great time. I would have done it for free. However, I got married and quickly discovered, hey, this is difficult. I mean we just passed each other. My wife and I, Chelsea, just passed each other in the hallway the first whole year of marriage. Finally, I was like, “Okay, this is just not what’s best.” But I felt crippled. I didn’t have any college.

Whitney Sewell:
That’s the way I was raised, thinking I mean it’s almost hard to get a good job without that education, that degree of some kind. So I just felt crippled. I thought, “Well, policing is all I know to do. What can I do?” This is 2009 now, 2008-ish. I was introduced to Rich Dad, Poor Dad, amongst many other things, and my eyes were opened to, wait a minute. All these people have built wealth in real estate. Surely, I can at least supplement my income as a police officer. That was my thought then.

Whitney Sewell:
Like I said, this is 2008-ish, ’09-ish. I had no idea about the crash. I mean that didn’t affect me making 25, 30,000 dollars a year as a police officer. You know what I mean? That just didn’t affect me like it did a lot of people at that time. So I started learning more about it and quickly bought two triplexes. I look back and I think, “Why the bank gave us the loan for that, I have no idea.” But they did. We learned so much.

Devin Elder:
You got to start somewhere. I love it.

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah, yeah. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. My wife and I, we’d been married about a year. We bought a small house and a little farm. We were remodeling this house while living in it while I was also self-managing these two triplexes in not the best part of town while also being a police officer, like I said, newly married. My poor bride was washing dishes in the bathtub for way too long. I mean you can imagine the stress on that new marriage and just passing each other in the hallway still.

Whitney Sewell:
We were like, “Something’s got to change.” The apartments were not paying us anything. I’m trying to manage them and get new tenants. Anyway, it was a mess, to say the least. We learned a lot. It was our own university. I soon became a federal agent, and that moved us to Virginia, in Roanoke where we live now. I did that for nine years or so, roughly, before going full-time real estate. But during that time, I got up to a 15-unit apartment building. I mean I really thought that we were doing something.

Whitney Sewell:
It seemed like that was already stretching my mind so much. I was really thinking years ago though that it’d be single-family duplexes, those things. But when I started figuring out how many doors that was going to take and how much … I just thought, “There’s no way I can manage all those. There’s no way that I can keep doing this federal agent thing.” I was actually training horses professionally at this time as well. That seems so far out in left field, right?

Devin Elder:
All of this, again, federal agent, doing houses, horses, I love it, man.

Whitney Sewell:
I’ve got to have something off up here, working this many hours. But it was just a passion I had since I was a little boy. I shared that to say a lot of listeners probably have a passion, something that, hey, they just like. It may be fishing. It may be something. You’re trying to do that at a big scale right now, but it’s like if you could just hold off on that and get this thing going over here, you’ll have more time to fish or ride horses or whatever you ever imagined, if you could just focus in a big way on this other thing.

Devin Elder:
Love it.

Whitney Sewell:
So that’s ultimately what happened with my wife and I. We were at the beach one fall. I was training horses professionally. I was traveling, doing clinics. I was building a brand around that, kind of like I’ve done in the real estate business, but not near to this scale. I mean I was teaching at big arenas in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. I was doing lots of things, making a lot of money training horses. However, guess what? It was never going to be passive. It was always going to require me to work 80 hours a week, even if I left my federal agent position.

Whitney Sewell:
Everybody wanted me to work with their horse, not people working for me. So, finally, we were at the beach one fall, Devin, and my wife and I were really just reflecting on our life right then and what we wanted it to be a year, three years from then, five years from then. Is this what it’s going to be? We call it thinking time. It’s so good. I try to have daily thinking time now. But it was just time for us to reflect. We were like, “Okay. Something has to change. What’s it going to be?”

Whitney Sewell:
So we had the farm that we had always dreamed about. I mean we were in a great place. I had the best job, J-O-B, that probably most anybody in my family had ever had. So you can imagine looking in when I’m thinking about doing something completely different, I mean it just seemed so crazy. However, even this, my wife and I are at the beach. This is in the fall, maybe September, beginning of September. We said, “You know what? We got to sell the farm. We just got to sell everything related to that horse training business.”

Whitney Sewell:
I mean this is a passion of mine. I mean I had reached levels in that that I never thought that I could. I just thought, “But it’s what we have to do right now.” And we did. We listed the house the next month. It was sold by Christmas. We moved. It was crazy, craziness. But we moved between Christmas and New Year’s. We rented a house for six months.

Devin Elder:
Oh my goodness.

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. It was just madness.

Devin Elder:
What a week to move.

Whitney Sewell:
We bought a small house in town. I put up two walls in the basement to make an office in not the best part of town. But that is where we lived for two years, and I did nothing but focus on commercial real estate, the podcast, deals, while being a federal agent. We were pursuing our third adoption process. I mean it was mass chaos. I mean it’s not for everyone because it was quite stressful, to say the least. I could not have done it without my just amazing bride.

Whitney Sewell:
Chelsea did everything in the home for more than two years while … I mean I was traveling to conferences sometimes twice a month, flying, while doing 12 to 15 interviews on the podcast every other Monday. My team, I built a team of virtual assistants. They knew that I had two Mondays off a month from my federal agent position. They knew they had to have 12 to 15 shows scheduled those days. We called it a marathon day. It would just be back to back to back to back interviews. I would also be on other people’s podcasts And taking … It was craziness, to say the least.

Whitney Sewell:
But my mentality though at that … It still is. It’s like, “Okay, let’s not focus on how much work it is. Let’s focus on getting started. Hey, if that’s what it takes, let’s do it. Let’s get it started. Don’t tell me how difficult it’s going to be. I’m going to build the team. I’m going to find the people to help me get it done.” That’s ultimately what we did for the podcast and then, ultimately, then growing our team to start buying deals and, ultimately, now I mean we’re growing faster than I could have ever imagined. Yeah. It’s just amazing. But I’ll be quiet for a minute.

Devin Elder:
I love it. There’s so much in there, man. First of all, that’s just inspiring. It reminds me of this concept that to have extraordinary things you’ve got to do what other people are not willing to do. That last mile is not very crowded. There’s just not many people that are willing to commit to … Now, I say a daily podcast. I keep bringing that up because that’s one thing I know about you and I know about your company. But that indicates to people other things, right?

Whitney Sewell:
Right.

Devin Elder:
Like this guy’s that committed and is willing to do a whole lot of things that really almost nobody else is willing to do. What other areas is he committed in or willing to do that, get out of your comfort zone, do things that nobody else is willing to do? Those are the people that succeed big. Time and time again, we study successful people. That’s the attribute. So I absolutely love that. I know you crammed a lot into a couple of minutes there, but do you think you’re naturally inclined to be an entrepreneur with all these plates spinning? Because I certainly recognize that in myself.

Devin Elder:
I always got to have something going on and some big project. It’s kind of a requisite for me to be happy. Is that a part of your mental operating system?

Whitney Sewell:
It sure seems that way. I mean I don’t know that I’ve always been that way. Maybe I have, but I didn’t know how to express it. I wasn’t raised around entrepreneurs or real estate investors. I didn’t even know that this was a thing, growing up. Raised in a one-stop plot town. I wasn’t exposed to much as a kid, I mean to think this way. So I think maybe it was something when I was a child, but now I am that way. I’m like, “Hey, let’s build that thing. Let’s go do that. I can make it happen.”

Whitney Sewell:
Even this morning I was talking to my wife and I was saying, “Hey, how do you feel about these things? Because I want your input now because I’m going to go put them in place. I’m going to go make this happen. I’m going to start this thing and, if you have input, I want to know right now. I want to put it behind us, get the ball rolling.” I reached out. We have the team now. Hey, I can call two people or we get on a Zoom meeting and say, “Hey, here’s my ideas. Let’s put a timeline on this, and let’s talk about it again two days from now or next week, and let’s put some feet on it.”

Whitney Sewell:
So I would agree. I feel that way. When I’m managing a lot of things and I’m like, “Hey, you do this. You do this. You do this.” That’s when I’m on a high almost, putting things in place.

Devin Elder:
100%. Yeah, I certainly resonate with that. Let’s walk through the deal chronology. You got a couple of triplexes that was the first entry into real estate and then to a 15-unit which you were self-managing. What was that transition like for you?

Whitney Sewell:
So I had a partner on that. This partner knew that I wanted to do multifamily. That was kind of always my thing. But I was always thinking triplexes, smaller multifamily. I had never imagined being able to do a 100-unit complex. If you had asked me that at this time, I would have said, “Devin, you’re crazy. Maybe 20 years from now. I don’t know who those guys are that are able to do that.” That would have been my thought process. However, at that same time, we were selling the farm.

Whitney Sewell:
I went to my first multifamily conference. My eyes were opened again. In 2008 or so, it was about real estate. I didn’t realize, hey, millions of people build wealth in real estate. If they can do that, I can do it too. But then, at this point, it was like, “Wait a minute. There’s all these guys and gals who they’ve only been in the business a year or two and they’re buying 100-unit buildings.” So I’m like, “Okay. Once again, hey, if they can do it, I can do it too. Let’s get started. Where do I start? How do I figure this out?”

Whitney Sewell:
That sent me on another path. That 15-unit, this guy that I partnered with, he had 100 single-family homes, but he was nervous about doing bigger deals, but I mean for some reason. But I wanted to do larger multifamily and he said, “Hey, let’s go do this together.” We found this deal. We bought it together. It wasn’t a bad deal. I learned a lot. He learned a lot. Eventually, I sold my portion to him so I could just be completely focused on larger commercial family and the Life Bridge Capital brand.

Whitney Sewell:
He wasn’t part of that. It was a totally separate thing. So that was pretty much it. I learned a lot. And then I started the Life Bridge Capital stuff, and it was like, “Okay. That is a distraction right now. It’s not the best use of my time. I just have to eliminate that. I don’t even care if we could make a lot more money a year from now. It’s just time to let that go so I can focus on this other thing that I believe is going to be a lot bigger.”

Devin Elder:
I love it. I love it. There’s really nothing more powerful than face-to-face interaction with people that are doing what you want to do. There’s just something happens by osmosis. Really, a lot of the change is within ourselves is, “Hey, that guy is just kind of a regular guy. I maybe relate to him in some way.” It just unlocks this thing in your brain that says, “You have permission to go do that.” This regular guy did it, seems like a nice guy.

Whitney Sewell:
That’s right.

Devin Elder:
But he’s not a super genius, not to disparage anybody. But there’s this thing that happens in your brain that just gives you permission to pursue it. I tell people that, especially getting started, there’s nothing more valuable than getting in a peer group or connecting with people that are already achieving what you want. It’s the key to accelerating all this stuff. It sounds like that happened there. So the 15 units, in your chronology of deals here, what was the next project after that one?

Whitney Sewell:
After that one, I partnered on a 398-unit and a 400-and-some-unit project with a mentor. It was very different types of deals. I mean the 15-unit wasn’t syndicated. I didn’t have a clue what syndication was at that point, never even thought about it. But then the next deal was with a mentor. I found a mentor shortly after that and I mean just pushed forward as hard as I could possibly go, still working full-time, doing all those things. And then the next one was partnering with him on a couple very large projects.

Devin Elder:
So that’s interesting. This is something that I kind of counsel people on when they’re looking to get in this business. You took a small piece of a huge deal. I think that is such a great entry point into large multifamily. I don’t ever advocate somebody go buy 100 units their first time out or whatever. But if you can be on the team of a big, huge deal, 400 units, whatever, you get a little piece, but you get a little piece of responsibility too. But I think about it as a train track.

Devin Elder:
If you’re flipping houses or you’re doing triplexes or whatever, you’re kind of on one track, and you’re learning and growing on that track. Well, getting to a 400-unit deal, a 200-unit deal, that’s a different track entirely. It’s still real estate.

Whitney Sewell:
It is.

Devin Elder:
It’s just a different animal. But then, you got on that track even as a small participant, but you’ve grown that. I mean what happened after you got onto that track of large multifamily? What happened to your progression after that?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah, great question. Let me back up a little bit. I started traveling like mad, as hard as I can go, networking, really flying somewhere twice a month, and that’s not cheap, going to these conferences. But I was just like, “You know what? This is what it takes. We’re going to make it happen.” I mean we sold our farm. We were pursuing our third adoption. We also knew that that adoption was going to cost 50 to 60 grand. So even signing up for a mentoring program, even though it was 12 and a half thousand dollars, at the time, my wife and I were like, “I don’t know if we can do this. Where is this money going to come from? I don’t know.” Looking back now, it’s just crazy to even think that way. But at the time-

Devin Elder:
At the time.

Whitney Sewell:
… that was so much money for us. So we just had faith for that. We did. I started going to conferences though and just networking as hard as I could go, Devin, and meeting people. The first raise, I think I raised $250,000, and it was just from people that I had met at conferences. Nobody in my family’s accredited. That just wasn’t an option, the family and friends thing. I didn’t have wealthy family or friends to say-

Devin Elder:
I love to say hear that, because people need to understand that. If you have a tremendous network, that’s a great asset, right?

Whitney Sewell:
It’s such a good asset.

Devin Elder:
You can build it. You can build that. You don’t have to have generational wealth or be born in a wealthy family. That is such a liberating concept. Now, it takes a boatload of work and dedication. But that’s I won’t say anybody could do that-

Whitney Sewell:
Don’t be crippled by it.

Devin Elder:
If you’re an able-bodied person in America, you can do that. You can work your freaking tail off for a couple of years and build something that maybe other people would take generations to have that kind of a network. So I just think that’s so incredibly inspiring, and I love that you said that about your family and your background. You’ve really made this from scratch. Man, I just got a big old soft spot in my heart for people that have done that, man. I’m the same way.

Devin Elder:
I came from no kind of background and built this thing up from nothing. To me, there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing that. Now, granted, it took a lot of elbow grease, right?

Whitney Sewell:
Yes, yes. Yeah. I raised 250,000, but it did so much more than that, Devin. It allowed my whole network to see me in a different light, right?

Devin Elder:
Yes. Yes.

Whitney Sewell:
“Whitney, he’s doing this large commercial deal.” They didn’t invest maybe that first or even the second deal, but it allowed them to see me in that space, and then another deal. They’re like, “Wow. He’s doing another project like that.” And then, finally, the third one or … It allowed me to expose my network that I’ve been working so hard to build. It’s kind of disappointing. I thought, “Man, I hoped I can raise more than that.” But, honestly, I was pretty darn excited with 250,000 at that time.

Devin Elder:
Sure. That’s a great first project. Yeah.

Whitney Sewell:
I mean with just no network. So what happened though, the next deal, I doubled that. The next deal, it more than doubled it. The next deal, it way more than doubled it. I mean it’s doubled almost every time for a good while. To the point, 250,000 on the first project to now 10 million or more in a few hours. So I mean it’s just an amazing … It’s killed us to get here. It killed me anyway. But it’s been-

Devin Elder:
Let me stop you there. You said 10 million-dollar raise on a recent deal, right, kind of instantly? I mean that’s-

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. Within a few hours, it’d be over-subscribed, have a wait list.

Devin Elder:
Yeah. I just want to call that out for folks that are listening, thinking, “How do I get into this business?” The caveat is always you got to freaking work your tail off for years for nothing, right?

Whitney Sewell:
You do. You do.

Devin Elder:
We’re not kidding anybody about that.

Whitney Sewell:
It costs you a lot.

Devin Elder:
For sure. I mean this does not come without a cost in terms of everything. But from a 250K raise after doing a lot of work on a first one to $10 million capital raise in the space of a couple years, listen, man, that’s what’s possible here, right?

Whitney Sewell:
That’s right.

Devin Elder:
So I just want to underscore that, and I didn’t want to glaze over that. So sorry about that. But please continue.

Whitney Sewell:
No, no. That’s exactly right. I mean I can’t believe it. The Lord had just really blessed our business and the desire from investors who want to partner with us. A big part of that, I think, is our mission, our why. I talk about that often, just our component of our giveback.

Devin Elder:
Let’s talk about Life Bridge, Life Bridge Capital, your company. Let’s talk about the genesis of that, the inspiration for that. What is it? What are you guys doing today that’s maybe different than XYZ Capital that’s buying an apartment building?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. In 2011 when my wife and I moved to Roanoke for the federal agent position, again, we’d only been married maybe two years or so. We were listening to this pastor. He was talking about how they had adopted and how there were 160 million orphans in the world and how it can cost 40 to 60 grand to bring a child home through adoption, and just the need. Growing up where we grew up, I was never exposed to adoption. Chelsea and I had never, we’d never talked about adopting before.

Whitney Sewell:
We didn’t know anybody that had been adopted, never been exposed to that. However, after hearing him talk about it, the biggest thing we could ask ourselves was, “Why would we not adopt? Why would we not?” I mean it just seems to make so much sense. There’s such a need. Why would we not? I mean it just seemed that simple. So within a week, we turned in our application to adopt from Ethiopia. Two years later to the month, our son, Samuel, came home from Ethiopia.

Whitney Sewell:
It was two last-minute trips to Ethiopia. It was just a crazy process, but we’re so thankful, obviously-

Devin Elder:
Oh my gosh, I bet.

Whitney Sewell:
… that we did it. Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s closed now. You can’t even adopt from there. He’s one of the last few that got out, but anyway, before that happened. But a year later, our second son, Elijah, came home through adoption. It’s another amazing story of just how the Lord provided. I mean that adoption, the Lord provided over $38,000 through fundraising. I mean we couldn’t afford it at that time, but just fundraising, fundraising, fundraising. And then even our third adoption, Eden Joy, we have a daughter now that’s two years old.

Whitney Sewell:
When we started that adoption process though and we expected the big expense, that’s also the same time we were hiring a mentor. We’re like, “Oh my goodness. Lord, where is all this money going to come from?” I mean it was such a disaster financially because we were in the process. I won’t get into all the details right now. But we got in the process, ultimately, had a failed placement, lost 25 to 30,000 dollars in all that time span. I mean it’s devastating.

Whitney Sewell:
I mean you’re expecting to bring this child home, and then it doesn’t happen. Well, it did happen six weeks later. It’s an amazing story of just the Lord’s hand in all that, all kinds of things that happened. However, the big part of that too is a friend of ours in the space was doing a big conference and did a big fundraise for our adoption and raised $25,000. This is Dan Handford. I don’t mind mentioning him because an amazing friend. I mean he just called me and said, “Hey, I heard this happened. I’m doing this event. Why don’t we just do a fundraise?”

Devin Elder:
Love it.

Whitney Sewell:
It was just amazing, Devin, that I had been putting myself out there for a year or so in this space at that time, I think. The people in our industry, it was incredible to see them come behind us and donate in big ways and partner with us on this adoption. I mean it was just incredible.

Devin Elder:
That’s fantastic. Yes. Shoutout to Dan Handford, great operator, passiveinvesting.com, a friend of mine. The world gets very small in multifamily investment. We’re all in different states. We all know each other. We invest in each other’s deals, all that stuff. So he put together 25K at a conference, huh, for this adoption?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah.

Devin Elder:
That’s awesome.

Whitney Sewell:
He called me. He said, “Hey, why don’t we do this?” I was like, “Well, that would be amazing.” You know what I mean? It was completely unexpected. I mean he didn’t even hesitate. He just put it out there. I mean people started donating. But you talk about being a small world. It’s incredible. I’ve met so many of you. We see each other at conferences and hang out at a conference or get together or whatever. It is such a small world because then I can … All these people just started giving that I had starting meeting at all these conferences and people like yourself.

Whitney Sewell:
I mean it was incredible to see that start to happen and just help us in a big way because we’d lost all that money and still have to come up with 30 more grand or more for this, to adopt our daughter, very fast. So that was just incredible. But all of that, we had adopted our sons and because of financial struggles there we said, “You know what? We want to help people through our real estate business. We want to be able to help people fund their adoption process.” So it was our plan from the very beginning.

Whitney Sewell:
We said, “You know what, Lord? This is all yours, and we’re going to commit half of our personal profits to a foundation that will help families with a financial burden.” So now we received our approval for our nonprofit earlier this year, but we started it last year-

Devin Elder:
Excellent. Congratulations.

Whitney Sewell:
Took a while to get it approved. Yeah, thank you. It’s called the Life Bridge Foundation. Let’s see, it’s probably been three months ago now we were able to help our first three families in a very big way, and we have probably four more families that’ll be coming up here very soon. So it is just incredible to see what the Lord has done in allowing us to be a part of this nonprofit and help these families in a big way to commit to say, “You know what? I can bring my child home now because the financial hurdle is not as big as it once was believed to be.”

Whitney Sewell:
So that was our mission from the very beginning. It’s neat to see that actually happen now. That’s something our investors get to play a role. It doesn’t affect their returns at all, right?

Devin Elder:
Yes, it’s not off their return. Yeah.

Whitney Sewell:
I say that’s our big secret. I was speaking at a conference, a big conference, a couple weeks ago and they wanted me to share about this. I said, “You know what? People talk about the triangle thing, the know, like, and trust. The know, like, and trust.” All of us know that you got to have an investor. You got to have those things. Figure out how to get in front of them so they can know you. And then you got to build that trust, all those things. But I say there’s something else if you want to raise a lot of capital.

Whitney Sewell:
There’s one thing that’s missing. What I say that is is loyalty. When you can create loyalty, it’s a totally different mindset from your investor. They want to partner with you over other people even if it’s slightly less returns. They want to see you succeed. It’s a very different mentality. It’s kind of like the loyalty brand to Apple. I use that as an example. People see that apple on something and it doesn’t matter what device it is, it could be a computer, phone, monitor, DVD player. But it’s just assumed that it’s the best. I mean I’m not a big Apple fan, but that’s the mentality behind it.

Devin Elder:
[crosstalk 00:28:37], yeah.

Whitney Sewell:
That’s what you want to create, and you do that by sharing your mission first.

Devin Elder:
I love it.

Whitney Sewell:
So you go to the conference, and I started seeing that happen, Devin. I didn’t plan it that way. The Lord had a different plan, but I started going to these conferences and people would say, “Hey, nice to meet you. What do you do?” That’s the question you get. I would say, “Well, we are starting a nonprofit. We’re helping families adopt children. We do that through our commercial real estate business, investors.” Of course, I say it slower than this. But our investors get to participate in that, but it doesn’t affect their returns at all.

Whitney Sewell:
It helps us to help these families save children. So that is such a surprise to that investor. When they’ve spoken to maybe it’s a 200-person conference, 500-person conference, even if it’s a 25-person event, and they’ve spoke to 25 people, the chances of them remembering you are slim to … I mean they probably will not remember you if everybody’s talking about real estate. But when you come in there and have something very different about you like that, they remember you. It’s also something that many people will be passionate about.

Whitney Sewell:
It’s a connection that’s very different. They see a personalized personal component about you outside of business. You can talk about real estate and try to impress them with your deals. But if that connection is so important to be had, and I tell people, “If you only have five minutes with someone, what are they going to remember about you?”

Devin Elder:
Right. I love it. Thank you for sharing the story on that. It’s really inspiring and I think it’s really kind of our responsibility at some level as business owners to do that, to be able to give back. The irony is that that generally results in a better … I won’t say generally, it does. You give it away and it comes back to you in buckets. We started a foundation in 2020 for all the same reasons you’re talking about.

Whitney Sewell:
Good for you.

Devin Elder:
This is what I want my life to be about. Obviously, the business has to work. Numbers have to work, all that stuff. But this is not just for me. In fact, I tell my kids, “Y’all aren’t getting anything. Dad’s going to build this big thing, and it’s all going to go to the foundation when I pass. So y’all better ask me questions and learn stuff while I’m here because this isn’t all for me.”

Whitney Sewell:
Set the right expectation, right?

Devin Elder:
Yeah, yeah. This isn’t all for you guys. I’ll tell you, man, nothing makes me happier than supporting some of the causes that we do, children’s surgeries and other stuff. It’s all around disadvantaged kids. But it’s another kind of level of the game to unlock. Not everybody does it but, the people that do, it’s like that’s the guy you want to be in business with, man. You guys have seen that. I love that. I had no idea that was 50%. I mean that’s amazing.

Devin Elder:
There’s that saying that blessed people bless people. I mean I truly believe that in my heart. You guys have been blessed and you continue being a blessing to other people. I think that’s super inspiring. That makes the whole thing, you just want to do more of it, right?

Whitney Sewell:
That’s right, for sure.

Devin Elder:
You’re like, “Man, if we could do this deal, what does that mean to these families?” It just puts a whole other spin. Obviously, we all need to manage our P&Ls and the teams. There’s all the business stuff has to work, has to be profitable. But you talk about giving life and energy to your company and to your team. I don’t know that there’s another thing that does it like that does.

Whitney Sewell:
Yes, yes. I didn’t even mention that component, but it is. It’s different for your employees as well when they know … Your investors and your employees want to be part of something bigger than just money. They may not even know it. They may not even know it, but they want to be part of something bigger. That just helps them in a big way, like when I was able to share with the team, “Hey, we just partnered with our first three families I mean in a big way.” They’re a part of that too. It’s very inspiring to them. Yeah. I love that component also.

Devin Elder:
Yeah. That’s fantastic. So let’s talk about the team today. I mean you’ve gone from salaried to getting into investments, partnerships, then getting on the track with a mentor and the big deals which, by the way, seems to be a very common kind of trajectory. It’s like find a mentor to do the big stuff, start getting into the big deals, and then you’re doing the big deals. We’re talking mid-2021 right now. We all had kind of a fun ride last year with COVID, but multifamily did really well, I mean across the board.

Devin Elder:
What’s the team look like today? What are you guys doing? What kind of deals are you buying? What’s ahead for the next year for you guys?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. It’s exciting, I mean as far as the team growth and deal flow and things like that. I mean we did over 100 million in 2020. I never imagined accomplishing that. It was four capital raises that were very large, well, three that were 10 to 12 million and all filled up in 12 hours or less. And then we’ve done numerous raises this year that were similar, that were like three hours. So I mean it’s been incredible to see that growth. But I would say we’re all in Colorado and Idaho.

Whitney Sewell:
I mean we did all value-add. Everybody’s heard that, the value-add. I find that project that had mismanaged or needs remodeling. We’ve done a bunch of those. And then we’re also doing some development now also.

Devin Elder:
Excellent.

Whitney Sewell:
But it’s by increasing our team. I’ll tell our investors, “I am not the expert developer and I don’t claim to be.” But, hey, I can find people that are experts that we align with that we have complementary skillsets and we go out and make it happen. My business partner and I met at a conference. Well, it’s been a few years ago now. But just amazing story there as well, but it’s been … We had complementary skillsets. And then he had been charging as hard as he could go over here.

Whitney Sewell:
He had great deal flow, but no network, ultimately. So when we were able to partner, it was like, “Man, we could just turn on the rockets and move in a big way.” But since then, we both have just amazing full-time assistants which, I would say, are priceless, by the way. Expect to pay really good if you want a really good assistant. It will just change your life.

Devin Elder:
Indeed.

Whitney Sewell:
And then investor relations person that’s full-time, I have four full-time virtual assistants in the Philippines as well. We just hired an asset manager, and we’re fixing to hire an acquisitions director and probably a marketing person full-time also. We’re growing fast. We’re trying to stay ahead of that with the team and the expertise, but it’s finding that class A talent. That’s something I tried to get really good at a couple years ago and over the last year, even finding my assistant, big process for making sure that’s the right person, right?

Devin Elder:
100%.

Whitney Sewell:
But I did. I tried to put the time in to make that happen. But that’s why now we can say, “Hey, we can even think about a $50 million project.” That just blows my mind to think about two, three years ago, I just wouldn’t have even imagined. The Lord’s just really blessed our business and made great connections and even people like yourself, Devin, I mean that we just never imagined doing deals with or just being friends with, really.

Devin Elder:
Yeah, 100%. I think about this a lot and I tell people, “Network is number one.” If you look at assets in your life and your business, network by a mile is number one. Then it’s your skillsets, and then it’s your money is kind of the last one. But that network is just change your life, right? Change your life.

Whitney Sewell:
For sure. For sure.

Devin Elder:
You become the people you hang around with. You can intentionally choose that. That’s just the bottom line. It’s oversimplification, but it’s the truth. I love it. Well, thanks for the overview of the team, and congratulations on that growth and getting in some different areas, getting into the development and whatnot. What do you say to somebody that is you a handful of years ago, W-2 job, maybe heard about real estate investing, wanting to create some wealth and a different life, but they got nothing and they’re just starting out? What do you tell that person?

Whitney Sewell:
Mentor. You need a mentor. I mean you hear that on every podcast.

Devin Elder:
Sure, sure. It’s true.

Whitney Sewell:
So many people say the same thing. But that should tell you something. I mean Devin is so experienced. He’s talked to so many people in this business as well. It’s so common. You need a mentor. You need somebody who will answer that question for you, that’s been there and done that. It gives you such another level of confidence that you never had before. Having that person on your team, it’s just a very different thing. They don’t have to be paid. But I often say, “All mentors are not created equal, by the way.”

Devin Elder:
Of course.

Whitney Sewell:
But when you can find that good one, I mean it’s life-changing, to say the least. I even say I was talking to a few people I try to mentor at a time and one specifically yesterday was talking about, “Man, daily show? I just don’t think that …” He’s going to try to do three a week now. He’s really struggling to think through that, “Can I really get that done?” I’m like, “It’s a mindset. It is a mindset.”

Devin Elder:
It is.

Whitney Sewell:
I tell people, “If I told you in three months you had to run a marathon, you’d be stressing about it. But you’re going to start working, working, working.” Then the week before, I said, “Well, you know what? It’s just going to be a half-marathon.” You’d be like, “Okay, I got this.” But even in the beginning, if I’d have said a half-marathon, you’d have been stressing just the same, right?

Devin Elder:
That’s right.

Whitney Sewell:
I told him, “I used to do 15 shows in a day. If you have to do it, you will.” If you have to do it, you’ll get it done.

Devin Elder:
You will.

Whitney Sewell:
How fast do you want to get there? You talked about the network. How fast do you want to make it happen? It’s just a mindset thing. I don’t want to do 15 shows in a day now. I wouldn’t do it. It’s not for everybody.

Devin Elder:
Sure.

Whitney Sewell:
It’s quite insane. But how bad to you want it?

Devin Elder:
How bad do you want it? A buddy of mine, real estate investor, is fond of saying, “Somebody out there right now is doing a lot more than you with a lot less.”

Whitney Sewell:
That is so true.

Devin Elder:
Always true. So a lot of it is just adjusting our expectations. A lot of it, I think, is this entrepreneur versus W-2 mentality. W-2, eight and skate, punch a clock, check the box, that’s kind of one mentality. An entrepreneur is like, “Hey, man, I recognize this nearly unlimited potential. I recognize this gift of life I’ve been given, and I’m going to …” Your capability is generally much, much, much, much greater than you probably give yourself credit for. You got to work your freaking tail off for it.

Whitney Sewell:
That is right. That is right. You have to be willing to do what the 99% will not do-

Devin Elder:
100%. 100%.

Whitney Sewell:
… like you mentioned earlier.

Devin Elder:
Yeah. Can you talk about your latest acquisition, just kind of give people an idea of the market, type of deal size, that kind of stuff just for some context here?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. I mean the last two projects that we’ve gotten a contract on have been development projects, and that’s not been our typical … Our pride and joy have been the value-add, B-, C+ type projects. I’d say most of those have been … I mean they’ve been our smallest have been 114 units, 15 million. I mean our first deal that my business partner and I did together was 19 million, and the next one, I think, it was 28 or 9 million. And then we’ve done a few 30 million-dollar projects or 35 million since then.

Whitney Sewell:
And then you said about the last one, I mean development project, 160-some units. But this one was a developer. So we brought a project from this developer. He was self-managing this deal, multifamily project. We’re not typically looking for class A projects, and this wasn’t class A when you consider amenities, things like that, but it was brand-new. It was a nice project built in two phases, 17 and 19. Created a relationship with him. He’s been developing in this market for like 20 years. I mean he’s doing all kinds of developments.

Whitney Sewell:
But guess what? He can’t raise capital like we can. He doesn’t have that network. So now, to help him and to help us, we put a deal under contract that won’t be done for a year and went ahead and put it under contract. So that allows him not to have to go get funding like he would normally have to go get. But it’s our project, but now we’re hiring him ultimately to finish developing it. So we expect to have six to eight million dollars of equity in that project the day we close.

Whitney Sewell:
If the market keeps going like it’s going, it’d be a lot more than that. But, either way, it’s finding those key people that are really good at what they’re doing. It’s not me trying to be an amazing developer because that would take me years, right, many years-

Devin Elder:
That’s right.

Whitney Sewell:
… and not where I’m the most valuable. So anyway, that’s the last couple types of projects, another very similar to that. We put another project under contract in Colorado probably three weeks ago. It’ll be the first deal in a fund we’re fixing to launch, 506(c), by the way. It’s a value-add type. It’s actually a portfolio. There’s three different properties, but it’s smaller altogether. It’s like 140 or 50 units, but over three properties. So there are a couple properties that will be more value-add.

Whitney Sewell:
One is pretty nice already, honestly. But it’s been self-managed by the same person for many years. So there’s lots of just inefficiencies there that we can go in with better management and fix. We’ve probably created more value over many projects now just through better management than anything else. It’s crazy to see that. It’s like, “Have you all not thought of these things or read a book?” But anyway, but that’s been the typical types of deals, and that’s the recent ones as well.

Devin Elder:
I love it. Well, thanks for some of the detail on that. Listen, congratulations. I remember being on your podcast many moons ago right when you were starting out. To talk to you now and hear you talk about the kind of deals you guys are working on, it just fires me up. So congratulations on your success. Congratulations on the 501(c)(3), giving back, the whole thing. Now that the flywheel is moving, I can’t wait to have you on the podcast another two years, man, and just hear what Whitney Sewell’s up to and what new things you guys are doing, man.

Devin Elder:
Because, like anything, getting it up and running is massively difficult. But once the flywheel’s running, it’s almost like you can’t stop it now. I mean deal flow’s coming in. Investors are probably coming in every day to talk to you guys. It’s this snowball just running downhill. Once you have that momentum, man, that is super exciting. Listen, how many more families are you guys going to help in the next 10 years through all this stuff? Nothing gets me more fired up than all that.

Devin Elder:
So congratulations. If people want to connect with you and learn about Life Bridge, learn about you, what’s a good avenue for that, Whitney?

Whitney Sewell:
Yeah. I would say thank you. I would say it’s just because of the Lord, His hand in our business and life. Just give Him the credit completely. But to connect with me, lifebridgecapital.com. You can email me, [email protected] You can call or text me, 540-585-4338. Would love to connect with anyone or help any way we can.

Devin Elder:
Awesome. We’ll link to that in the show notes. Whitney, thank you. Listen, congratulations on all the success on the team. Let’s connect in another little while because I want to check in with you on a maybe annual basis or something.

Whitney Sewell:
We could do the same. It’s been so long. We should have you back on my show now.

Devin Elder:
Yeah. Yeah, I would love to. I’d love to, anytime.

Whitney Sewell:
Let’s do it.

Devin Elder:
Awesome. Well, listen, it was great catching up, my friend. Congratulations. Wish you continued success for you and the team and the foundation. We’ll catch up soon.

Whitney Sewell:
Thank you.

Devin Elder:
All right. We’ll see you.