LAST WEEK, I had a chance to get to know Rob Grant, one of the biggest real estate domain owners in the world, some of his names include NewYorkrealestate.com, BeverlyHillsrealestate.com, and many more. His recent sale, ParkCityrealestate.com (Utah), was sold for a cool $60,000. What’s interesting to me is he started in “offline” real estate before he stumbled in investing in web domains in 1995.
His background is as interesting as the man himself; tired with the East Coast culture, he walked away from a promising advertising career in New York city and moved to the Adirondacks Mountain, “We rented a house up there but didn’t have a clue what we were going to do! It was a very scary time,” Grant said.
Seeing an opportunity to market the charming, but unknown Adirondacks furniture nationally, he set up a furniture company. He began to make strides in the design trade and gained strong acceptance in the high-end market. The big problem was he couldn’t find enough qualified reliable craftsman to produce enough pieces to meet the demand. “If it was deer season most of my workers simply disappeared!”
Seeing an opportunity with local undervalued properties in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid he began to invest in real estate, buying an old commercial 3-story building for $20,000, refurbishing it then later flipping:
“We happened to get lucky because we hit that market just as the Adirondacks were starting to be rediscovered,” Grant said. I found I was able to sell the residential properties for two and three times what I paid for them. That kind of ushered in my real estate era.”
By 1991, armed with a string of successful real estate investments, he started a real estate brokerage firm. But the timing couldn’t have been worst, right smack in the middle of one of the worst recessions since 1950, (dwarfed only by the current Great Recession). But he managed to hold on. Saving enough money to diversify to geo-targeted real estate domains.
And the rest as they say, is history.
I share Rob’s story because frankly, I’m tired of the face of the Donald Trump types on T.V, the rock star like status (and lifestyle) of investor “brands” on cable. It’s as if we need to party at the Palms every year to really be considered a success. But the opposite is true, most of the wealthiest investors are quiet rebels, independent thinkers who are the millionaire next door.
They reward themselves with the good things in life, but only after 10-20 years of saving, investing and working hard — Delayed gratification.
I also learned from Rob’s story that a varied background can actually help, not ruin one’s chances for success. The more varied your background: teacher, dishwasher, venture capitalist, farmer, plumber, radio personality, etc., in so many ways, the better, because it gives you a deeper insight on human nature. And that, my friend is one of the great marks of successful investors.