The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success
  • Sell-Me Saturday is Now Live!

    Have something to sell? Like to post a video from your YouTube channel? Want to promote your design service? Recommend a company? SELL-ME SATURDAY is your opportunity to self-promote whatever you'd like within the realm of entrepreneurship on one central thread... and at no cost. Go There
    Note: Indiscriminate SEO backlinking to questionable material is not allowed.
  • Join 50,000+ entrepreneurs who are earning their freedom and living their dream.

    "Fastlane" is an entrepreneur discussion forum based on The C.E.N.T.S Framework outlined in the two best-selling books by MJ DeMarco (The Millionaire Fastlane and UNSCRIPTED®). From multimillionaires to digital nomads to side hustlers who are grinding a job, the Fastlane Forum features real entrepreneurs creating real businesses with one goal in mind: Freedom— both financial and temporal.

    Download (Unscripted) Download (Millionaire Fastlane) Register
    Registering for the forum removes this block.

FEATURED USER JScott: From Cushy Corp. Job to RE/Angel Investor, Author, and more...

  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #1

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
28,594
96,470
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
getUnscripted.com
Note from MJ:
Our next FEATURED USER is another forum legend who has been around since the forum's origins. Pay close attention to his story as it contains many nuggets of UNSCRIPTED wisdom; from freedom and autonomy, to value providing, to failure.

If you like or rep this post, all will be transferred to JScott from Myself.

HERE IS JASON'S STORY:



BACKSTORY

My wife and I both left the corporate world back in 2008, when we decided to get married. She was a marketing exec, traveling nearly four weeks a month for her job. I was traveling about three weeks a month for my job. It only took a five minute conversation for us to agree that we needed to quit our jobs so that we could focus on building a family. We knew too many others in our position who were working 14 hour days and letting nannies raise their kids. We weren’t going to be those people.

We gave up a lot of money in bonuses and stock by not waiting another year to leave our positions, but it was still an easy decision. A couple months after that first conversation, we had resigned from our jobs and were moving across the country to get closer to our families. In that time, we started talking about “What’s next?” We knew generally what we wanted – to be successful entrepreneurs with the freedom to put our family first – but we weren’t sure how we’d accomplish that.

REAL ESTATE INVESTING

I had always been intrigued with real estate investing, and my wife thought that might be interesting as well, so we started researching. It wasn’t long before I found this very site, which MJ had launched just a few months prior. Thanks to the contributions of some of the legendary contributors here, we decided that real estate investing was going to be our first entrepreneurial venture. Soon after, my wife and I decided that flipping houses was going to be our investing niche.

As a math guy, and as someone who likes to both learn and teach, I documented much of my early research here on The Fastlane Forums, posting dozens of threads detailing my business plan, investing analysis techniques, spreadsheets, etc. The feedback and advice I got was invaluable, and gave us the push we needed to keep moving forward. In August 2008, we purchased our first flip property. Knowing that we had a lot to learn, and wanting to share everything we were learning with others, I documented the project in detail in this thread:

The Corn House (A real-life experience in rehab and flip)

I took a bit of beating throughout that thread by some (much) more experienced investors who felt that scaling a flipping business would be tough – and who thought that it would be near impossible to make flipping houses “Fastlane.” In retrospect, had I known more, I probably would have agreed with them… But, my wife and I were (mostly) able to do it. We were never able to fully remove ourselves from the business, but we came pretty close. With a small team of employees and a large group of dedicated contractors, we’ve completed over 250 projects (with all but one being profitable) in the past eight years.

Fun fact: We almost did a reality TV show, but we couldn’t come to agreement with the production company or the network about the content – they wanted a typical real estate show where we looked like idiots for the first 20 minutes of the show, and then miraculously figured out a way to make $100K on each project. We wanted an approximation of real life, which obviously doesn’t appeal to reality TV producers. Here’s the “sizzle reel” that HGTV put together for the show concept:


THE BLOG & THE BOOKS
But, it was actually a related venture that taught me more about entrepreneurship than real estate ever did. The day my wife and I decided to pursue real estate, we launched a blog (www.123flip.com), where we documented our real estate “adventure” in gory detail. We documented every project down to the penny (up through our 50th project), all of our successes, all of failures, everything we learned, etc.

At the time, there were no other real estate bloggers offering that kind of “open book” view into their business. With our blog, readers came to realize that flipping houses is a tough business, and that it was all quick and easy money like it was portrayed on TV. I posted on the blog nearly every day, and we gained a big readership. In 2012, one of my readers suggested I take the material on the blog and turn it into a book. It took over a year – and the book ended up being so long that it required two books – but in March 2013, I released The Book on Flipping Houses and The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs.

And that’s when I learned the importance of offering value. While I hadn’t much thought about the value my blog was providing to my readers, they certainly appreciated it. When I sent that first message to my mailing list about the release of the books, I received literally hundreds of messages back from readers who couldn’t wait to buy their copies, if only because they wanted to give back for all the time and effort I had put into the blog over the years. I had readers who told me they decided not to pursue real estate investing for one reason or another, but still looked forward to reading my blog posts and newsletters. I had other readers who were never interested in real estate, but who liked to live vicariously through my deals my wife and I were doing.

You see, I didn’t write the books to make a lot of money; I simply wanted to offer a better experience to my readers who were interested in learning the flipping business step-by-step, as opposed to reading five years of blog posts and random articles. But, my audience was thrilled to give me money in return for what I had given them first.

In four years, we’ve sold over 100,000 copies of the books, and it’s been the most popular house flipping book on Amazon for most of that time. As of last month, my wife and I can officially say that we have made over seven figures in book royalties. Simply because we were willing to spend years giving value without asking for anything in return. Our readers appreciated it, and once we gave them an opportunity to reciprocate, they jumped at it.

MOST RECENT FAILURE

While you’ll never hear me complain about my life, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been setbacks and failures. Like I tell my kids, if you’re not failing every single day, you’re not trying hard enough. And as anyone who has followed my real estate adventures knows, I’m not ashamed to admit my mistakes…

Two years ago, a good friend and I launched a tech company aimed at designing and manufacturing products to teach engineering to kids. We validated our market, designed a great product and launched with a decent amount of exposure and good press. Unfortunately, we failed to realize how difficult it is to break into the education market without an experienced sales and marketing team, which we didn’t have. In retrospect, it should have been obvious (it was), but my friend and I both decided to put off that concern in hopes that we’d figure out a solution by the time we launched the product.

Long story short, despite having a great product and end-users who want the product, we have been unsuccessful at getting enough of the product through the decision makers and into our end-users’ hands.

We are currently evaluating our options for the business. Best case, we license our intellectual property or find a buyer for the business; worst case, we shut down and lose two years of effort and a decent amount of personal investment. Either way, we have learned a tremendous amount, and we can add all of our mistakes to the “stuff we’ll know better next time” list. While failing sucks, it’s a good reminder never to get complacent. And some big failures make the successes feel that much sweeter.

TODAY
These days, my wife and I focus on a number of different businesses. We still do real estate deals (mostly as partners, investors or lenders), I’m working on salvaging the tech business, I still do some writing (I just released my third book, The Book on Negotiating Real Estate), we do some angel investing (mostly in the tech space) and my wife and I are getting ready to launch a new business in the next couple months in an industry that we know nothing about (but we’re looking forward to the challenge).

Despite everything we have going on with the business side of things, my wife and I never lost sight of our original goal for venturing out on our own. We have two boys – ages six and seven – who spent every waking minute with us, participating in our businesses deals, going to real estate closings, going to meetings with us, coming with us to speaking engagements, etc. I’ve never missed a parent/teacher meeting, a violin recital, a little league baseball game or a birthday party. I was there to hear my kids’ first words, watch them take their first steps, help them learn to ride their bikes and teach them to swim.

Being entrepreneurs has always been about freedom for us. Not just financial freedom, but time freedom. The freedom to focus on the important things in life and not let the unimportant things get in the way. There are weeks where I work 60 hours and there are weeks that I work 6 hours – the important thing is that it’s always my decision, not someone elses.

FASTLANE MEMBERS
As long as I have this little soapbox, I want to mention a couple people from this forum…

There are two people here that graciously took the time to sit down with me nearly 10 years ago to help me figure out this real estate stuff -- @SteveO and @phlgirl. I owe them both a tremendous debt of gratitude for helping my wife and I tackle this business and come out relatively unscathed. While I hadn’t seen phlgirl since she and her husband spent a full day with us in 2008, her husband came out last week to see my wife and I speak in New York City. It was an awesome reunion. Hopefully, she’ll come back and visit the forum sometime soon – they are absolutely killing it with their Phili-based real estate development business.

Also at the New York event last week to support us was @Yankees338. He was a high-school sophomore when we started messaging on this forum back in 2007. He ended up attended my alma mater for college, we’ve kept in touch over the years, and he recently quit his corporate job to become a full-time real estate investor.

Finally, @Russ H and I have stayed in touch since our first meeting on this forum long ago. I’ve gotten a ton of advice from him over the years, and while we probably communicate at least weekly, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we finally got a chance to meet face-to-face when he stopped through my town on one of his (many) around-the-world adventures with his family.

 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

SteveO

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 24, 2007
3,532
14,102
2,804
@JScott
I knew when we met up for dinner that you were going to do well. Your ideas and path sounded great. You exceeded all expectations when the market dynamics changed and you adjusted rapidly. At that point you were tearing the real estate world up!

Great job!

Great featured user MJ!
 

G-Man

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 13, 2014
1,764
9,500
2,186
Great story Rep+

Lol'ed at this:
JScott" said:
Fun fact: We almost did a reality TV show, but we couldn’t come to agreement with the production company or the network about the content – they wanted a typical real estate show where we looked like idiots for the first 20 minutes of the show, and then miraculously figured out a way to make $100K on each project. We wanted an approximation of real life, which obviously doesn’t appeal to reality TV producers. Here’s the “sizzle reel” that HGTV put together for the show concept:
Made me think:

 

Argue

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 1, 2016
646
2,328
555
27
NYC
One of my favorite members. Always has good things to say and very smart!
 

JWelch

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 12, 2016
161
387
185
Arizona
I'm absolutely dumb founded that this information is available for FREE!!! These featured user posts are absolute gold and I feel genuinely happy for these guys. JScott and SteveO are real heavy hitters and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to learn from them and go out and make it happen for my family as well.
Congrats on all your success as well as a beautiful family.
 

steelandchrome

Author of The Retail Leader Book.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Nov 6, 2016
321
459
241
Goodyear Az
I bought your book after getting involved with Biggerpockets.com and seeing the details there and it was definitely worth the read for other people new to real estate investing. Great story here and a great member who has provided value to me as well as many other members!
 

ZF Lee

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 27, 2016
1,934
3,396
771
20
Malaysia
I took a bit of beating throughout that thread by some (much) more experienced investors who felt that scaling a flipping business would be tough – and who thought that it would be near impossible to make flipping houses “Fastlane.” In retrospect, had I known more, I probably would have agreed with them… But, my wife and I were (mostly) able to do it. We were never able to fully remove ourselves from the business, but we came pretty close. With a small team of employees and a large group of dedicated contractors, we’ve completed over 250 projects (with all but one being profitable) in the past eight years.
Those people are wrong. In my town, there's a ton of historical buildings dating all the way from the British colonial days. When I say tons, I mean ROWS after ROWS of shophouses. Most of them are nearly crumbling due to decay, and yup, most people just call in the demolisher company and tear them down. But in the last few years, there were lots of smart guys who decided to repair the shophouses and turn them in cafes, gift shops, museums, bakeries.

The last time I went to those places, the whole vicinity was F*ckING PACKED with people. And each of those shops had become a sort of productocracy for tourists and visitors, although they were small, cramped and run by teens who struggle with speaking English.

Rehab's a very lucrative field, if you do it right for the need. In the case of my town, it was for historical and tourism means. But then again, I'm not in the field, but I have seen it happen. But that was a sign that the real estate scene, in my town at least, is still gonna be fresh even for the next coming years. That's a reason why I chose to stay on, to carry on observing for future Fastlane endeavours.

Thanks @MJ DeMarco and @JScott. Remarkable story, although I don't do real estate. And MJ, don't tell me you have an arsenal of long-offline Forum veterans hidden in your backyard to display. It's kind of eery-Fastlane style...:eek::rofl::rofl::rofl:

I do like some featured stories on more Forum-ers who have a more diverse experience, maybe like retail and authoring. Spice it up a bit. I like progress stories!
 

FelipeVilas

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Feb 2, 2016
8
14
19
32
Spain
@JScott thanks for sharing your story with us!

I am new to the blog and it is amazing to see the quality of people hanging around here, always willing to help. I am thinking of investing in real estate as a way to get my financial freedom and will definitely check out your blog and books.
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

#nowhere

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 29, 2016
187
274
176
Germany
Nice story! Keep up the good work!

Does anyone have experience if the books work in regards to Europe?
 
Last edited:

GlobalWealth

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Sep 6, 2009
2,417
5,006
1,314
Latvia
www.globalwealthprotection.com
What a great story and a great journey @JScott.

I am always amazed at people who have the cushy, high-paying jobs and toss it aside for the entrepreneurship life. I am sure it is not an easy decision when you have a family, bills, mortgage, etc. and you take that plunge.

It takes great courage to do that, well done.

I think my favorite part of the story is how after you figured out your flipping process, you blogged about it then wrote a book to provide value.

And thus the value repaid you handsomely.
 

jpanarra

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 9, 2014
849
2,486
571
30
Indianapolis, Indiana
www.thedailyearner.com
Awesome read, definitely inspirational!

Loving this Featured User to get some insight on some of the best and brightest on here. It gives rookies on this forum like myself a good insight on who people are and where they came from!
 

Bellini

Gold Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 26, 2015
465
1,357
424
Dallas, TX
Great job @JScott . Thanks for sharing.

One of the things I like about this forum is that most members seem very willing to help others.

I suppose there is a shared understanding that the road to freedom can be very difficult.

I compare the Scripted life to a prison, and I am always glad to see someone 'bust out'. Hopefully they come back to help those who are still bound in chains by lending a helping hand, or sharing different pathways to get out.

This is what I see here on the forum, and what I see in the books by @MJ DeMarco . I see someone who is trying to set the captives free.

Something I hope to be able to do one day....: )
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
3,942
6,843
1,511
www.123flip.com
Nice story! Keep up the good work!

Does anyone have experience if the books work in regards to Europe?
The negotiating book would certainly apply to doing deals pretty much anywhere in the world. The flipping book will somewhat apply to European investing. The estimating costs book likely wouldn't apply very much.
 

#nowhere

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 29, 2016
187
274
176
Germany
The negotiating book would certainly apply to doing deals pretty much anywhere in the world. The flipping book will somewhat apply to European investing. The estimating costs book likely wouldn't apply very much.
Thank you very much!

Rep+
 

AdamMaxum

a worthy successor indeed
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Apr 30, 2011
386
438
230
NY
Great story. You and your were wife would have been good on TV. It was already like watching one of the HGTV shows just from your demo video. Thanks for the inspiration and goodluck with your current/future endeavors! Good stuff.
 
OP
OP
MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
28,594
96,470
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
getUnscripted.com
Bump and rep transferred to @JScott from myself for the featurette.
 
OP
OP
MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
28,594
96,470
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
getUnscripted.com
Bump for our all our featured users...
 

Become a Fastlane INSIDER to view the forum ad free.

Elijah

Contributor
Jul 6, 2017
56
23
30
25
Austria
Wow great story! However it is interesting to see that most of the people who are starting with real estate, end up somewhere else.
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
3,942
6,843
1,511
www.123flip.com
Wow great story! However it is interesting to see that most of the people who are starting with real estate, end up somewhere else.
I can't speak for others, but I really don't enjoy real estate. It can be lucrative, it's nice having hard assets that generally don't fluctuate in value or depreciate quickly and it's not particular difficult, but the industry itself can take a toll. There's a very low barrier to entry for most parts of real estate (agents, contractors, other investors, brokers, etc), so it attracts a lot of people who aren't particular skilled or motivated. Coming from the tech industry, I'm used to people who are in the industry because they love it (they spent years studying to become part of it), but in real estate, there are a lot of people who are looking for a quick buck and don't want to earn it.

So, while I'll continue to be involved in real estate probably my entire life, it's more out of opportunity than out of desire. And I've found that I'm moving quickly towards ONLY accepting completely passive real estate opportunities, even though they aren't as lucrative. Again, I can't speak for others, but that's my situation...
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
2,160
8,770
1,953
World citizen
www.provenchinasourcing.com
I can't speak for others, but I really don't enjoy real estate. It can be lucrative, it's nice having hard assets that generally don't fluctuate in value or depreciate quickly and it's not particular difficult, but the industry itself can take a toll. There's a very low barrier to entry for most parts of real estate (agents, contractors, other investors, brokers, etc), so it attracts a lot of people who aren't particular skilled or motivated. Coming from the tech industry, I'm used to people who are in the industry because they love it (they spent years studying to become part of it), but in real estate, there are a lot of people who are looking for a quick buck and don't want to earn it.

So, while I'll continue to be involved in real estate probably my entire life, it's more out of opportunity than out of desire. And I've found that I'm moving quickly towards ONLY accepting completely passive real estate opportunities, even though they aren't as lucrative. Again, I can't speak for others, but that's my situation...
May I rant a little? I agree regarding the apparent motivation behind most entrants into real estate. I have some experience as a landlord, mostly while living in other countries, so I was unable to be on the spot to keep track of things.

The result of that experience, and of talking to people I know who have been renters, the great majority of property managers (as they are known in Australia) are not worth feeding. They certainly don't earn the commissions they get from rents they collect.

Listings of properties for rent should be as conscientiously done as listing of properties for sale, but property managers seem to think they have a captive market. As a result they show a small number of poor quality photos taken on their cell phones, and they provide the barest minimum of information about the property. They should realize that they are actually agents for the landlord and by treating the rental of the property as a sale they would give greater benefit to the landlord.

I won't go into the vexed question of their neglect in dealing with property damage and theft!

Walter
 

Sean Kaye

Hopium Dealer
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jun 14, 2017
157
548
249
44
Sydney, Australia
The result of that experience, and of talking to people I know who have been renters, the great majority of property managers (as they are known in Australia) are not worth feeding. They certainly don't earn the commissions they get from rents they collect.
Mate, you nailed it in one.

As someone who was a landlord and tenant at the same time here in Sydney, Property Managers are full blown oxygen thieves.

One time our tenant didn't pay rent because they wanted to buy their own place so they needed our rent to make up part of their bank deposit. When I asked the property manager what she was going to do, she said, "There's not much we can do." I paid the tenant a visit that weekend and got paid on the Monday.

As a tenant, we had one property manager who would outright lie to us when the truth would have sufficed. It got to the point where I just would call the owner and sort things out with him directly.

The happiest day of my adult existence aside from all the usual rhetoric we spew about kids being born and getting married was when we sold our investment property, cashed out the mortgage and got out of that merry-go-round of stupid.
 

SYK

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Mar 24, 2014
326
741
298
Mate, you nailed it in one.

As someone who was a landlord and tenant at the same time here in Sydney, Property Managers are full blown oxygen thieves.
Can confirm they're thieving oxygen in Melbourne too.

Signed with one. Originally said $470 a week would be expected. Then it became $450 (closer to $400 once they take their cut). Then didn't hear anything from him for weeks.

Decided to go it alone. Had to see out the naff 60-day exclusivity period. Then rented out direct and got $520. No fees.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom