In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Brian Davis from Spark Rental.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is G. Brian Davis, I’m a landlord and co-founder of Spark Rental.
Our mission is to help everyday people reach financial independence and retire early with real estate. If that sounds specific, it actually covers a wide range of disciplines. We teach people how to invest in rental properties, of course. Our blog and free videos cover topics like how to buy property with minimal money down, financing options for rental properties, some of the best cities for rental investing based on a range of data, and so on.
Because rentals are long-term investments, they need to be managed. So we focus heavily on property management education, and we offer free landlord software to help mom-and-pop landlords manage their rentals.
But there’s also the personal finance side of the equation – to reach financial independence at a young age, you need a high savings rate. The more of your income that you save, the faster you build wealth and passive income. So we get into budgeting, tricks like house hacking, how to handle health insurance if you retire early, and dozens of other lessons. We even cover how stock investing and where stocks fit into your financial independence plan.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Our business solves two problems. First, we want our audience to understand that they have complete control over their finances and retirement horizon. You can design and live your perfect life, but it usually involves short-term sacrifices to create your perfect life long-term.
Want to retire in five years? You can do it, but it requires radical lifestyle changes and aggressive investing. Most people simply spend almost everything they earn, and then complain that they don’t earn enough to invest. Few people acknowledge that their current budget represents a choice, even if one made thoughtlessly.
Second, we help landlords and smaller property management companies automate their rental management. Our online landlord software lets you syndicate your rental listings to platforms like Zillow and Trulia, collect rental applications, run tenant screening reports with one click, create lease agreements, collect rent online, and track income and expenses.
What are you most excited about right now?
What I’m most excited about right now is a new co-investing program we’re preparing to launch. We’re going to help new investors earn while they learn, by partnering with us on rental property deals. They become true partners with an ownership share, and get access to see behind the scenes of finding deals, renovating properties, screening tenants, and so forth.
It’s a bit tricky, as we have to tread carefully to avoid the label of real estate syndication by the SEC. Even trickier is making the numbers work, as there’s a lot of labor involved on our part and little direct compensation for that labor. But education is a priority for us, and we’re determined to give everyone, not just accredited investors, access to directly partner on rental deals for as little as a few hundred dollars.
What’s next for you?
Deni and I have several large projects on our plate in the coming year. We’re planning a major overhaul of our software, to vastly improve usability and reduce pricing even further if we can do so profitably. We’re also constantly updating and expanding our FIRE from Real Estate course, designed to help middle-class earners reach financial independence and retire early (FIRE) with rentals.
Finally, we’re looking to scale and grow our team to keep expanding our business. My co-founder Deni Supplee and the rest of our team are stretched thin at the moment, so we’re gradually systematizing and scaling our business to grow without losing our vision. We’ve never been interested in the Silicon Valley model of gobbling up as much cash as possible. We want to maintain complete control of our business and serve our audience as best we can for many years to come.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
small family business.
Thanks to Brian for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).