It finally felt like the right time for Jenny Gou to take one giant leap away from her corporate life. She had spent 13 years as a sales director for Procter & Gamble working with some of the company’s most beloved brands, such as Dawn, Cascade, and Swiffer. But in February 2020, Jenny decided that it was time to move on to a new experience where she could blend her passions for helping others and real estate to create the next chapter of her professional career.
Jenny’s interest in real estate started in 2017 when she and her husband jumped into the industry with several single-family rentals in Cincinnati. Following a real-estate-focused meetup in the area, Jenny’s husband asked the meetup presenter, Steve Louie, to coffee, where the two continued to connect after the event. Jenny’s husband introduced her to Steve, and they quickly clicked and started working together.
“We spent the last 18 months working together doing underwriting,” Jenny said. “Steve let me help him manage some of his properties because he knew I had just left my corporate job. That was kind of like interning for him — I’ll call it an interview— really getting hands-on experience in the marketplace.”
Within 12 months, Jenny had narrowed her focus to acquiring properties and building her network while continuing to absorb all the knowledge she possibly could. During that time, Jenny acquired 950 units and started a real estate investing company, Vertical Street Ventures, with Stevie as her business partner.
Having opened their doors to investors in January 2021, Jenny is excited about their accomplishments thus far and what their team can continue to achieve in the future. But, for her, the real reward in managing a syn-dication portfolio comes in two forms: the ability to help others secure financial freedom and to continue their mission of educating others about real estate.
“I find a lot of passion and energy when I hear great things from our investors. A lot of folks we know are, at least in my network, maybe newer to real estate, and the biggest compliment that gets me going is, ‘Wow, thank you for spending the time to educate me on real estate,’” Jenny said.
The scalability and growth of the vertical Street Ventures group is another area of excitement, as the team is on track to exceed its goal of having $25 million in assets under management. The team is expanding as well, with three current employees and a steady roadmap to grow sustainably.
“Beyond Steve and I as the founders, we have an underwriter. He’s a former rocket scientist who is super, super intelligent. Sowe feels very good with his help on underwriting when we have a good property on our hands,” Jenny shared. “Then we will continue to expand. We will have someone coming to do marketing and more investor relations, and then more administrative help coming as well.”
Along with helping her find financial freedom through multifamily syndications, Jenny also found that Vertical Street Ventures and passive investing were the ideal scenarios to allow her to achieve the lifestyle goals that a corporate job wasn’t able to deliver.
“As much as I loved my corporate job, I just didn’t love the lifestyle that I had anymore, and that’s why I left and started this company. This new industry and this role allow me a lot more flexibility to leave my office at [3:00] to go pick the kids up and go to the park,” Jenny said. “It was just so much easier and less stressful because I had more flexibility, and that is what I want for our investors.
“And everyone can get there. It just starts with one thing. Start with your goals and priorities, and that’s your vision. Then consider the strategies and the tactics to get there. Passive investing is the strategy to get to whatever your vision is for how you want to spend your time.”
Combining vision and action creates what Jenny believes is the foundation for setting yourself, a business, or an investment up for success.
“I always tell people just to take action because you can learn, you can read, you can go to meetups all day long, listen to podcasts — but nothing happens until you actually do something,” Jenny reflected. “Just go take one small step somewhere, and then it’ll blow up into something bigger.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.