Episode 2 – Who is Your Host, Pancham?
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Welcome everyone to the show #2 of The Gold Collar Investor. In this show, I would like to introduce myself to the world. I want to share my background and my experience with the audience.
So, who am I?
I am a first generation Indian immigrant. I came to the US in 2003 to get my masters degree. I grew up in India in a middle class, small business family. As a kid, I was fortunate to have access to food, clean water, and good education. My parents made sure that I went to a good school and had access to good education. I was a very shy kid growing up. If someone would have told me back then that I would be doing a podcast many years later, I would have laughed at the person.
In India, while I was growing up, we had very few options on what kind of careers we could choose from. It’s very unlike the US, where kids get to pursue their passion. As a kid, growing up in Northern part of India, we were brainwashed into choosing between being either an engineer or a doctor and if you had managerial aspirations, you could choose to go for an MBA. It did not matter what you as a kid really wanted, if you are not choosing one of these professions, you would be considered kind of a failure. The amount of peer pressure was huge among the kids when I grew up. Even the adults were part of this peer pressure. In general, people made their decisions based on what their peers wanted or what looked good. It was not based on what they really wanted to do or what would be prudent for their situation. I am sure if people from Northern part of India are listening, they can relate to this somewhat. I am not really trying to demean this culture or looking down upon it but just mentioning the facts. It’s just the way it was back then.
I was very good with math and science as a kid, so naturally, I chose to become an engineer. As a kid, computers really fascinated me. So, I decided to become a computer science engineer. Fast forward 4 years, after graduating from my bachelors in computer engineering, I came to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to pursue my masters.
At the time, my thoughts were that I will get some work experience here in the US after graduation and then move back to India to start something of my own. I really wanted to be an entrepreneur while growing up. I had those entrepreneurial genes of my dad. Right after graduating from CMU, I started working for a big FinTech company in NYC as a computer programmer. Quickly, I started making six figure salary and every year that salary became higher than the previous year. If you have followed the growth curve of good programmers in the last 10 years, it is staggering. Computer programmers are the new bankers of the 90s and rightfully so. I truly believe that technology is going to change the world. Look around you. The amount of impact technology has had in just last 15 years. Can you imagine your life without google, apple or amazon? Many millenials cannot live without their phones and netflix. Alexa and google home is going to change the world even further. It’s kind of scary. Google knows pretty much everything about you especially if you are using an android phone. They know where you are, which flights you will be taking, how fast are you driving etc. Imagine if they share this information with the insurance companies or DMV or even the cops if you are overspeeding. You will just get the tickets at home. Even more scary is the fact that all the new cars have this in built before we have driveless cars. Anyways, I digress. I get super excited talking about technology.
The gist of the story is that I truly became a gold collar worker. An employee who was making six-figure salary and had money to invest but had no knowledge other than some wall street paper products to invest his money.
At that point, I was still undecided if I was going to stay in the US or go back. Back in 2009, we almost sold all of our stuff to move back but we found out that we were expecting a baby. Now, that delayed the plans for another year. Leaving US became harder and harder.
Years went by with the desire of starting something on my own still burning inside of me. I really wanted to do something on my own. I started two startups with partners where I took a back seat but my partners took the lead. I could not quit my job as I was still on H1B work visa (which, for the people who do not know, is a different show for a different podcast). Anyhow, one of the startups was for the US market and the other one was for the Indian market. One failed as we couldn’t get the VC funding and the other failed because my partner and I couldn’t spend enough time. I lost quite a bit of money in these two startups but I learnt a lot.
Fast forward 2012/2013, plans of moving back to India were getting delayed and I decided to invest in the US real estate. Subconsciously, I knew that I would not be moving back. I was always interested in real estate as I grew up seeing my dad investing in it. I started educating myself about the market around me. I started going to open houses every weekend for single family homes. I was still renting a home at the time. Going to open houses turned into an addiction quite soon. I was spending all my time just going to open houses and talking to brokers with my wife. It became part of our lives, so much so that my three years old son at the time would know a bunch of terms about houses. As soon as we would walk into an open house, he would say the things that we would have said to the agent. And the agents would look at us in an AWE and say, you guys are training him well, how old is this little guy? It was funny.
I ended up buying my first rental house in 2012 with a partner while i was still living in a rental apartment. 3 months after that, I bought another one. And these properties were in the suburbs of NYC. So, they were not cheap. However, the mechanics of passive stream of income while building wealth were getting vetted out in my head. I did not realise it back then but it was the opening of the new world of investing for me. Fast forward, a few more years, I ended up buying small properties in 6 different states. Yup, 6 different states. I dabbled with Airbnb as well for a year and that was also out of state. I managed to do a flip as well with a partner. I realized that I enjoy real estate so much that I would want to make this as my full time thing and I wanted to scale up. Buying single family houses did not seem like the way to go. Don’t get me wrong, what I was doing worked well, i mean you made money and passive stream of income but would take years before I could replace my income. I did not see myself working in a cubicle all my life for someone and on top of that I liked the real estate so much more.
So, I started educating myself with books, podcasts, blogs, etc. Instead of open houses, books and podcasts became my friends. I put my commute to use to educate myself. My commute was 3 hours total. So, I had a lot of time on my hands. I would spend time at my kids soccer game, birthday parties to educate myself by listening to podcasts. There was a period of time where I did not watch TV for a very long time as we got the cable disconnected. However, the soccer world cup ruined that streak. But I have re-started that streak.
Anyway, after getting educated, I ended up deciding that I want to scale up by buying apartment buildings. One thing that I had learnt after all these years of learning the investing game was that whatever I was trying to do, someone else has done it before. It was not like I am inventing an iPhone. I am just trying to follow a path that has been followed by many others before me. I could learn from their mistakes. I thought of hiring a mentor. However, being an A grade student all my life, and being an engineer on top of that, I had too much confidence that I could figure this out myself. I would have done many mistakes along the way but I would learn from them. So, I tried to do it myself. I failed. I tried again. I failed again and this repeated a few more times. Then one day, I had an epiphany that it’s all about compressing the time frames. I mean you can learn all these things by yourself but it would take you years to learn it. If you want to learn something quickly, learn from someone who has done it before and has walked that path. It’s not about how smart you are, it’s about how quickly you can acknowledge what you do not know and find the right help to bridge that knowledge gap. So, with that realization, I decided to seek for help. I hired a coach/mentor to help me w/ my journey of buying these apartment buildings using syndications. Me and my partner ended up buying $8M dollars worth of apartment buildings in 8 months.
Along the way, in all these past 6 years, I also educated myself about other asset classes outside of the apartment buildings and started investing in those passively. I reached a point in my life where I could see how there are so many opportunities out there that you can learn about and tap into. I mean really so many opportunities for people who have the money invest while working at the high paying jobs. They can really use that to build passive streams of income so that they DO NOT have to rely on the 401k i.e. wall-street for retirement. In the process, I also realized that this information is not easily available and it takes a lot of time and motivation to learn it. There is a name that SEC gives people who make money above certain limits. Its called “Accredited Investors”. Accredited investors are people who make more than 200K as a single person or 300K filing as jointly or if your net-worth not including your personal residence is more than one million dollars.
So, I decided that I would quit my job, and start educating people about investing outside of the wall-street. I will also help in putting together investment opportunities that will help people create income streams and achieve diversification. The decision of quitting my job was not easy as I liked my job in general. Even my wife and my parents were not ok with my decision of quitting. However, I have made my mission to help the high paid professional learn about these opportunities and become financially educated. I could not do it while I was working full time as I wanted to put time and energy into this. Podcasting seemed like a best medium for me to start this journey. I hope I can bring enough value to my listeners and have an impact on their lives.
So, that is my story guys.
I would end this by saying this, if a first generation indian immigrant with no financial background or knowledge, with 3 hours of commute everyday, a demanding FinTech Job in NYC, with family and two kids can learn to invest and build passive streams of income, you can too.
Thanks for listening. If you have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s p as in paul @ thegoldcollarinvestor.com. This is Pancham… Signing off… until next time.. Take care!