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February 15, 2024 37 mins

Ankur Jain believes that business can solve real-world problems. It occurred to the young entrepreneur that millions of renters spend the largest portion of their budget on rent - but can’t build lasting value off that money. His solution? Bilt Rewards, which lets tenants earn points on their rent that can be used for travel and other purchases – and helps them build a path to homeownership. Ankur comes from a family of business creators Bilt is his third company. He talks to Martha today about changing an industry and the challenges he met to make Bilt into a 3.1-billion-dollar company in less than two years. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Be willing to constantly accept the new realities and figure
out how to play and win.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
I think it's really important.

Speaker 3 (00:09):
Encore Jane grew up in an entrepreneurial family, so perhaps
it's not surprising that at age thirty three, he has
already founded three companies. His work focuses on solving real
life problems, from student debt to affordable housing. His latest venture,
Built Rewards. That's Bilt, a loyalty rewards program that lets

renters earn points for their rent payments. Built is also
helping renters build a path.

Speaker 4 (00:41):
To home ownership. Welcome to my podcast.

Speaker 2 (00:44):
Encore the Best to get on and see you.

Speaker 4 (00:46):
It is so nice to have you here.

Speaker 3 (00:48):
I met Encore through a mutual friend, Sean Walsh, who
at the time was working for the Daily Mail Believe
and now somehow you lured him away from it. This
is how entrepreneurial Encore is.

Speaker 2 (01:02):
I promised him a Kardashian, but you know.

Speaker 3 (01:05):
When he seems to be enjoying himself tremendously. Let's get
back to Built, which launched only three years ago, and
all of you listening, if you are paying rent, stay tuned.
If you haven't figured out how to use Built. You
should be really do that by the end of this podcast.

Speaker 1 (01:22):
The most exciting thing about this company is that for
so many Americans, paying rent every month is your single
biggest expense. Yes, and up until now you got nothing
back for it.

Speaker 2 (01:34):
But think about it.

Speaker 1 (01:34):
You spent I can buy around in drinks and I
get rewards, I get miles, I can build my credit.

Speaker 2 (01:40):
But you pay rent and you didn't get any of that.

Speaker 3 (01:43):
So when did this light bulb go off in your head?

Speaker 1 (01:46):
And so what's excite about Bilt is we give you
rewards on your home. Every month you pay rent, you
get points and miles, we build your credit, you get
closer to home ownership. And then we also reward you
in the neighborhood. So when you go to your favorite restaurant's,
your favorite grocery store, your favorite coffee shop, all of
these merchants can now use Built to build loyalty with

the local residents and you get rewarded when you shop local.
Think about how much you spend on that compared to
everything else. And if you think about it, that's a
free trip around the world every single year. Yes, that
you're just missing by not using Built, and so by
creating that ecosystem. We were able to make that win
win where the landlords win, the local merchants win, the

card companies win, and most importantly, the renter wins.

Speaker 3 (02:30):
How many people now are getting points for their rent.

Speaker 1 (02:33):
It's pretty quol We have over four million apartments that
are using Built exclusively now for how you pay your rent,
get rewards, et cetera.

Speaker 3 (02:42):
So, Encore, I know you've recently had some big news
at Built.

Speaker 4 (02:47):
Tell me about it.

Speaker 1 (02:48):
Well, so this is the exciting thing just announced. Built
is now a three point one billion dollar company. We
are so excited about this, not even because of the
capital valuation, but because we've just brought on some of
the best partners. So Ken Chenault, who was the CEO
of American Express for twenty years and amazing guy, Ken

is joining Built as our chairman to help us grow this.

Speaker 4 (03:11):
How great.

Speaker 1 (03:12):
Roger Goodell, who's the commissioner of the NFL, which by
the way, is the biggest company in the world for
hometown loyalty, is also joining Built. Oh great, and together
we also brought in two hundred million dollars. There's a
three point one billion dollar valuation on the business.

Speaker 2 (03:27):
But I think what's really exciting.

Speaker 1 (03:28):
Is it means like we have really established the core
and we did over twenty billion dollars of spend for
members in a year and a half. Just think about that,
twenty billions, and that just shows you how that means.
That means renters paying twenty billion dollars in rent and
now getting.

Speaker 2 (03:48):
Points for getting points on that.

Speaker 3 (03:50):
What a fantastic Really, in a very short period of
time you had built and your father must be so proud.

Speaker 1 (03:56):
Yeah, well, look I learned a lot from him. And
my dad came here as an immage from India. My
mom was an immigrant, grew up in Israel, and you
know when they came here, like they didn't have anything
right and there was this opportunity in this country, the
American dream where I mean my dad grew up in
a village outside of the city of India, studying with

textbooks on a dirt floor.

Speaker 3 (04:18):
And he built a company that was at one point
valued at forty billion dollars infospace excuse me, infospace, And
now you were following in his footsteps building something that
really does benefit a tremendous number of people.

Speaker 1 (04:31):
Well, I gotta say you are such an adventurer. I
love if you remember when we first met was with
doctor Zahie.

Speaker 3 (04:36):
Actually, oh yes, And I was just talking about doctor
Zockey because I was talking about your wedding in Egypt,
and he's helped you arrange a phenomenal wedding near the
Sphinx and the Great Pyramids, So what about him?

Speaker 1 (04:49):
While I was just saying with Doutch said, when you
came by, I knew you were someone I was gonna
because you brought a folder of all of your adventures
and photos in Egypt. And I was like, I love Martha,
this is awesome. I actually you know, between us, I try.
I wanted to set you up with doctor Zahi I
had Oh you did. Oh he was quite interested. I
just don't think he got the love back.

Speaker 3 (05:10):
Well, I was only at a cocktail party. You had
to tell me these things. Oh so if I come
to your wedding, maybe maybe.

Speaker 1 (05:17):
He's initiating our wedding in front of the Sphinx. Okay,
maybe we'll then officiate your guys.

Speaker 3 (05:22):
Wow, And you know what, I love Egypt such a
special friend and I had the most what I was
showing him at that time. And now Anchor and his beautiful,
beautiful fiance are getting married in the desert, right in Cairo,
in front of two of the most iconic pieces of antiquity.
And I don't know how you wrangled that anchor, but

you wrangled it.

Speaker 4 (05:46):
And doctors here.

Speaker 3 (05:47):
Isn't he the head of all antiquities in Egypt?

Speaker 1 (05:50):
Yes, well he's now retired from that role, but he's
been the longtime minister. I always say he's the real
life Indiana Jumps.

Speaker 3 (05:57):
Yeah, and he is the Minister of Antiquities, and he
has arranged that this beautiful thing can happen.

Speaker 4 (06:04):
But I had the best trip to Egypt.

Speaker 3 (06:05):
And I took nine children to Egypt once, Wow, to
visit to visit the Pyramids. We traveled with doctor Weeks
from Yale. Yep, he was our tour guy.

Speaker 2 (06:15):
It's amazing.

Speaker 4 (06:16):
Yeah. So well now we digressed.

Speaker 3 (06:19):
So you brought it into to a three point one
billion dollar valuation in just three years.

Speaker 1 (06:26):
Actually we only launched it publicly in April twenty twenty two. Yeah,
so it's been less than two years years of hard work.
And this is you hear the Glamour story.

Speaker 4 (06:35):
You don't look so like Warren.

Speaker 2 (06:37):
I have gray hair.

Speaker 1 (06:39):
You saw the little gray hairy Erica calls out my
gray hairs every night. She's like, hey, oldie, Oh no,
but no it's look, you always hear the quick stories.

Speaker 2 (06:48):
It took years to make this thing possible.

Speaker 3 (06:51):
So you had to persuade all the building owners, the
real real estate moguls to accept this unusual program.

Speaker 1 (07:00):
Need to get the real estate owners involved. We also
had to get the government on I mean something so crazy.

Speaker 2 (07:05):
Think about this.

Speaker 1 (07:06):
You pay your rent every single month on time, and
then you want to buy a home and they say, oh, sorry,
you don't have enough credit history to get a mortgage.
We don't know if you can pay it reliably. And
you go, I have been paying for ten years monthly
rent more than my mortgage would be right, Yeah, why can't.

Speaker 2 (07:23):
Can't I get home?

Speaker 1 (07:24):
And so we had to go and get the government regulators,
the credit bureaus.

Speaker 4 (07:28):
Is this the fgi C or something.

Speaker 1 (07:30):
So the first we to get the credit bureaus on
board to accept rental payments to build your credit history.
And then we worked with Fanny Freddy, FHA, SO, FHFA
and FHA to say, hey, guys, why is it that
young people can't build a path to ownership by paying rent?
By the way, why can't you use points and miles
to pay your down payment?

Speaker 2 (07:49):
Right? And so we got that pass. It took us
eighteen months. We to get the.

Speaker 1 (07:53):
Secretary of Housing on board, Secretary of Treasury on board.

Speaker 4 (07:57):
Do you know who they are now?

Speaker 1 (07:58):
Well, now it's all changed then, But you know this
was a it was a it was a hell of battle.

Speaker 3 (08:04):
Well, getting renters back some of the value for their
money sounds like a phenomenal idea.

Speaker 4 (08:09):
And but how did you know.

Speaker 3 (08:11):
That you had such a strong and sound business plan.

Speaker 1 (08:15):
Well, look like any business, if you solve a real
problem for the customer, if you solve a problem that
people are spending money on, right, and you make it
better for them, you will figure out the business model.

Speaker 2 (08:27):
And for us it took a couple iterations.

Speaker 1 (08:29):
Right, But if you're spending three thousand dollars two thousand
dollars fifteen hundred dollars a month.

Speaker 3 (08:34):
Rench in New York has skyrocketed since the pandemic, it's.

Speaker 1 (08:39):
Five thousand dollars a month for the average apartments here
in New York.

Speaker 3 (08:44):
Now, if I rent a piece of property that I own,
how do I manage to let the rent renters get
a built card?

Speaker 1 (08:52):
Well, so, first of all, anybody can sign up for
built and pay rent at any apartment and you can
use any doubt. So we've he's just started rolling out
with condos, which is super exciting. And this year one
of my goals is to open this up for mortgage
owners too, so we can really reward people in their
We already do co ops. Oh really, yeah, you can

pay her common fees and HOA fees.

Speaker 3 (09:15):
I have a co op here in the city. So
we have a mutual friend who is the founder of
the He's the point sky, of course, and has he
helped you in any way?

Speaker 2 (09:23):
Brian was my first partner. He was in this thing.

Speaker 1 (09:26):
I mean I called Brian and said, hey, I've got
this crazy idea, what if we could earn points on rent?

Speaker 2 (09:30):
And he goes he starts laughing.

Speaker 1 (09:33):
I love your enthusiasm. I'm on board, but you know,
let's see if this goes anywhere. Really, so he was
a little little right, So listen, if I had known
just how hard this was going to be when we
started this in twenty eighteen, I'm not sure even I'm
crazy enough to have wanted to go pursue it. But again,
you take battle after battle and if you can get
one step forward without losing sight of the core mission,

which is to help create value for renters.

Speaker 3 (09:58):
So what was the gets challenged? Who did you have
to persuade? It was the biggest naysayer.

Speaker 1 (10:05):
Honestly, change everybody resists change, right. That has just been
the biggest barrier. I mean, we had to convince the
banks and the payment networks to open up to a
new category of spend and reward customers on that spend,
whay they hadn't before. That was really hard getting the government.
I'll tell you a funny story, it'd be funny, crazy story.

After eighteen months of working with the FHA to try
to get this regulation approved to say you can use
points for down payment. This should only be good for people, right,
But there's a lot of distrust, there's a lot of
resistance to change. And after eighteen months I got a
letter back saying, dear mister Jane, thank you for your request.

Speaker 2 (10:47):
It is declined.

Speaker 4 (10:49):
That's it.

Speaker 1 (10:49):
I mean, I have been working on this for two
years and it was declined. And I started calling everybody
to get I mean, I said I need to get
a meeting. There must be a misunderstanding and Finally I
got a phone call and I went down to DC
to meet with the team at HUT and I said, guys,
just want to explain to you what we're trying to deal.

Americans do not have a path to home ownership today.
But young people are earning miles, there's using credit cards,
using debit cards, they're getting points, and they're right now
using it for trips all over the world. What if
you empowered them to put that value towards the ownership right,
the only asset that most Americans can ever get at

that kind of leverage to build wealth over time. And
one of the people in the room said, you know,
her husband had just passed and was a huge points
person said, if this program had existed, her son could
have been a first generation homeowner. And that room came
back to me a week later and approved.

Speaker 4 (11:50):
Oh application.

Speaker 2 (11:52):

Speaker 3 (11:53):
In an interview last fall, you said that you would
learn to be careful about jumping into raising venture capital.

Speaker 4 (12:00):
And what's that about?

Speaker 1 (12:01):
And by way, that stands true even as we've brought
in this new capital right, I think it's so important
people get enamored in building companies with raising capital and
doing rounds, and you have to remember when you do that,
you're giving up ownership in your business. I think people
sometimes just think of it as capital raised, as if
it was revenue. It's not revenue, right, it's giving and

selling ownership. And you're getting married to these people and
so making sure you have aligned interests.

Speaker 2 (12:30):
Do you really trust these people? Are they the right partners?

Speaker 1 (12:33):
And so the best thing after my last two companies
learning this susson the hard way is almost all the
money we've raised to date has been from our biggest
partners in the business, the commercial partners, so that we
align interests.

Speaker 2 (12:45):
It's our real estate owners, it's people like.

Speaker 3 (12:48):
They can see the.

Speaker 1 (12:50):
Prospects and the success of our business is good for
all of our business and the investment not just the capital.

Speaker 3 (12:58):
Well before Built, you created Cairos, Yes, an incubator Kairos
so this is when he was in his twenties. He
is creating a company focused on.

Speaker 2 (13:11):
What how do you build companies that solve big problems?

Speaker 1 (13:14):
I mean Built is like everything in life, when you
look back, it all starts to make sense, but at
the time it's all seems chaotic. In two thousand and eight,
when the financial crisis hit, we said, hey, people don't
have jobs. I was at Penn at the time in
undergrad school, and everyone was graduating without any banking jobs,
without any consulting jobs. So we said, what if you
could take the smartest young people and create companies that

tackle these ten billion dollar problems and energy, housing, healthcare,
financial services that lack of access to it.

Speaker 2 (13:45):
And we ended up spinning out.

Speaker 1 (13:47):
By the time we were twenty three, we'd spun out
companies like Casper and Periscope and Freenome and Fiscal Note
that was the exciting part is to this day, I'm
now thirty three. I still work with all of the
same guys. We're building company together, and you just have
this trust. It's really hard to recreate.

Speaker 3 (14:05):
And you couldn't have done it twenty years ago without
the ability of what computers can do for us. Right,
what AI can do with it, that's for us. You
couldn't have done this kind of rapid entrepreneurial initiatives that
could you.

Speaker 2 (14:20):
No, it's only be faster. Have you played around with
chat GPT recently?

Speaker 3 (14:23):
Oh boy, oh, and it's so much for My grandson
who is eleven, taught me how to use it and
it's fascinating it's amazing. Way is it so important for
you to have a social mission to your work, because

this really does does speak to a responsibility to our
population personally.

Speaker 1 (14:50):
Like I said, I saw my parents come here with
nothing and had this opportunity in this country to build
a future for them, myself, my brother, my sister. I'm
not sure that that's that easy anymore.

Speaker 2 (15:03):

Speaker 1 (15:04):
I look at some of my friends who are even
lucky enough to be born in America with great access,
and it's still so hard to get ahead these days
because cost of living has gone up, right, And if
we don't fix that, you're going to see massive problems.
And you either decide that you're going to wait and
hope that government regulation fixes it, which I don't think
is going to happen, or you go fix it yourself.

And so I think that is a personal motivation to
make these things work for our generation.

Speaker 2 (15:29):
And I think the.

Speaker 1 (15:30):
Big misunderstanding is people think that's at the expensive business, right,
But I actually think the best businesses are when you
solve the biggest problems, and you have entire generations coming
up that can't afford rent, that can't afford healthcare, that
can't access these financial services.

Speaker 2 (15:45):
I mean, that is a huge business opportunity, right.

Speaker 1 (15:48):
If you can fix it and make it work for
the customer, that's the product you're going to pick.

Speaker 3 (15:52):
Well, your enthusiasm is so infectious and your explanations are
so clear for a young person, your attention to all
of the.

Speaker 4 (16:00):
Problems that face us as a as a nation.

Speaker 3 (16:03):
It's admirable that you that you are taking this into
consideration in a business. Which other problems would you consider facing?

Speaker 1 (16:11):
So I used to run Tinder's product, which is a
funny other side story we'll talk about, but hinder the
dating app. I'll tell you this, but I'll tell you
there's only so much fulfillment you get from optimizing swipe
rights and swipe left right. And so when I came
out and I was looking at what to do next,
I'll never forget I sat in this meeting with a
venture capitalist who was trying to recruit me to come

run one of these new companies they were putting one
hundred million dollars into and he said, this is going
to be the next big thing.

Speaker 2 (16:39):
I was so livid. They ended up pitching me this.
Imagine if you had.

Speaker 1 (16:43):
Virtual product bags that existed in the cyber averse. I go,
this is the world changing idea that you're gonna put
one hundred million. And I walked outside the four Seasons
on Market Street and it was like a Time magazine
cover parody of Silicon Valley. Here's a VC pitching me
on this virtual Prada bag. And in the middle of
the street you had bird scooters that had just raised
two hundred million dollars. Also crazy with a naked homeless

person humping the scooter in the middle of the street.

Speaker 2 (17:09):
Stop and you sit to yourself.

Speaker 1 (17:11):
You have the worst housing crisis, some of the worst
mental health crises, you have some of the biggest issues
with access to financial literacy, and you're pitching me on
virtual Prada bags.

Speaker 2 (17:21):
I mean, is this a joke?

Speaker 4 (17:22):
That kind of stuff does happen?

Speaker 3 (17:24):
But I think less now, less now than it did
because money is scarcer and a good idea is hard
to find, and yet there are some, you know, fantastically
good ideas emerging and you're you have one of them.
I mean, if if Brian Chesky had come to you
with Airbnb, would you have pushed them away?

Speaker 2 (17:45):
It's hard to know the things.

Speaker 1 (17:47):
It's funny, right, because everything seems obvious in retrospect, and
yet when it's new, everybody poopoos it.

Speaker 3 (17:53):
You know, he was on the he was on the podcast,
and and it made such sense when he described why
he wanted to do that, just as what you're doing
makes such sense in retrospect and in the present.

Speaker 1 (18:05):
And it's funny, right because you hear the actual reasoning
and story. And I've listened to Brian's stuff before too,
and he's a brilliant entrepreneur. And what he talks about again,
same issue is how do you afford things like rent?
And if you can make some money on the side
that helps create value for your fellow consumer and helps
you pay rent, that's a big deal.

Speaker 3 (18:26):
Certainly is this Certainly is can private sectors companies really
provide the best solutions for these issues?

Speaker 1 (18:35):
So I think, and this is something you have done
so well, is to really make an impact, you have
to think about how do you use private sector innovation,
But you also have to work closely with government to
shape regulation in a way that's helpful. And you need
to understand pop culture because if you don't understand pop culture,
you can't move the hearts and minds. If you don't

understand the innovation, you're not going to solve the issue.
And if you don't work with government, they're going to
stop you, right, And I think that again something you've
done extremely well. But bringing those three things together, I
think is really important. Not just the private sector.

Speaker 3 (19:12):
Inc Magazine once called you the most influential twenty one
year old in the world. What we're doing old now,
but what was happening at twenty one.

Speaker 1 (19:22):
At twenty one, I was building Cairos And again, this
was the time coming out of the two thousand and
eight recession, when we said, wait, there is a better
way to do this. You don't need to just go
into banking and consulting and you know, get stuck on
that rat race. And so at the time it was
again the first iteration, if you will, of my built experience,

which was find great talent, solve problems, get governments involved,
get culture involved. And we were doing that. We were
creating and incubating companies. You working with the US government,
working with President Obama's Startup America at the time, working
with the Chilean government, working with the Chinese government at
the time.

Speaker 2 (20:00):
There's a different China back then.

Speaker 4 (20:02):
Is there any points program in China.

Speaker 1 (20:04):
Yeah, there there are their own versions of rewards programs,
but look, I'd love to get involved there right. One
of our largest investors is a company called Naspars, which
was the biggest owner of Tencent right in China. And
so I think there's such an opportunity to find ways
to bring value and by the way you create that share.

Speaker 2 (20:22):
We tried this with Tinder and we got Push.

Speaker 1 (20:24):
We had a copycat in China, and then Block, which
is not the most fun, but you can create connections
with people through a shared experience.

Speaker 2 (20:32):
It's pretty powerful.

Speaker 3 (20:33):
I know that you've you're interested as we As we
mentioned in AI, how are you guys using AI at built?

Speaker 2 (20:40):
I love this?

Speaker 1 (20:40):
This is like so I am like the power CHATCHYBT user.
I have not been this excited about a product in
a while. First of all, I use it.

Speaker 4 (20:50):
Which AI? Do you like the best?

Speaker 2 (20:51):

Speaker 1 (20:52):
I'm a chat cept guy. Okay, it's simple in our face,
it works well. I still think Google has my work
to do. It's yes, it's my soften than open AI.
What I love about it is you take the chaotic
thoughts that like you have or I have, and we
just dump it. And the way it helps condense that
into really simple frameworks. Is incredible and that's the way

I use it the most. Look, every new technology has
dangers to it and changes to it. Some jobs will
go away. But I think AI will make us all
so much more productive and better at what we do.

Speaker 4 (21:32):
And you're not afraid of it.

Speaker 2 (21:33):
No, I think it's the best. I think it's it is.

Speaker 4 (21:35):
So many people are so afraid of are afraid of change.

Speaker 1 (21:39):
I think that's the thing. People talk about AI, but
they were afraid of every new technology that has come out.
And I get it, Like the unknown is is scary.

Speaker 4 (21:48):
Would you call your company a very complicated company?

Speaker 1 (21:51):
It's an extraordinarily complex ecosystem and a very simple product.
You earn points on rent, your importance in your neighborhood.

Speaker 2 (21:59):
That's it. That's it.

Speaker 4 (22:01):
But you get there.

Speaker 1 (22:01):
To make that happen has required multiple different payment networks,
tens of banks that have to work with us, involved
real estate owners.

Speaker 2 (22:12):
And the gray hairs.

Speaker 4 (22:14):
That's just genetics, you know that.

Speaker 2 (22:16):
I'm convinced.

Speaker 4 (22:17):
So this is how has gray hair?

Speaker 2 (22:20):
This is so embarrassing.

Speaker 1 (22:21):
I am so determined to figure out how to solve
some of these health issues that in my side time,
and Erica hates this. I filled our fridge with new
genetic editing kits that I'm trying to learn how to
code in ATCGS.

Speaker 2 (22:36):
And it's uh, look the same way.

Speaker 1 (22:37):
When I was eleven years old, I was starting to
learn how to code on computers, right, like, we are
going to be able to code our bodies are in
biology and that's pretty exciting.

Speaker 3 (22:48):
Well, I've been a proponent of that kind of stuff
too for a long time, right, I mean that lab
in Iceland.

Speaker 2 (22:53):
That the seed lab.

Speaker 4 (22:55):
Yeah, yeah, oh boy, very interesting.

Speaker 2 (22:57):
Tell me about that trip by the way.

Speaker 3 (22:59):
Oh, that was a trip that we took to Iceland
and Greenland, and Greenland is an interesting place. I mean
I learned a lot on that trip, and I think
everybody did.

Speaker 4 (23:09):

Speaker 3 (23:09):
How did your father, a very successful entrepreneur and your
mother too, How did he help you follow in his footsteps?
How did he encourage you? Well?

Speaker 2 (23:21):
Oh did he partly? Partly necessity partly.

Speaker 1 (23:24):
You know, I'm really bad at following rules.

Speaker 2 (23:28):
I'm probably not a great employee.

Speaker 4 (23:30):
Were you a good student?

Speaker 1 (23:31):
I was a good grade student, maybe not the best student.
I didn't really show up to a lot of classes,
but I think what I what I realized growing up
was for my dad from my mom. There wasn't this
idea of work and then separation. It was all just
a lifestyle and it's just everybody is in it together.

I mean every day after school we would they my
mom or dad would pick us up and they'd bring
us straight back to the office because they were building
the company together. And we would sit there and I'd
have my homework, my video games, and I'd sometimes sit
in on meetings. I remember, I think I was like
seven years old when I first sat in next to
my dad, watching them having to let people go, Like

you learn a lot sitting in that. When I was
eight years old, I remember I went on his IPO
road show and I had no idea what a roadshow was.
And I just remember sitting in this ballroom with a
room full of suits and ties, wanting just my orange
juice and chocolate milk. And my dad went up on
stage and he goes, you know what, sometimes the best
way to understand what a company does is have a

child explain it to you. And he made me go
on stage for that, and I was I had no idea.
This is now looking back, this was all the bankers
and JP and Goldman and all these investment funds, and
I was so annoyed. I just wanted my chocolate milk.
I just wanted to buy a rigit it. And I
went up and I talked about the company. And now
looking back, I mean, that experience was priceless, right, very much.

And you just can't And I always say, like, it
doesn't matter what you do if you can expose your
kids to that type of experience early on, no matter
what it is, whether it's working at a news stand
like this or whether it's working at anyone's just that
experience that you get.

Speaker 2 (25:12):
It's hard to price.

Speaker 3 (25:14):
Oh no, there's no nothing you can't pay for that.
You have to be born into it.

Speaker 2 (25:18):
How many siblings I've had, a younger sister and younger brother.
They are the smart ones in the family. What do
you do?

Speaker 1 (25:25):
My little sister, who you will love, is like a
true dynamo. She is running a company called Evy, and
she is committed to tackling women's healthcare. It's a heavy
bio is the first at home vaginal microbiome test so
they can look at what's going on. It's causing recurring
UTIs yeast infections and actually help you get real answers

and solutions so that women aren't dealing with it.

Speaker 2 (25:51):
I mean, you know what's crazy.

Speaker 1 (25:52):
She told me that until nineteen ninety women weren't included
in most clinical trials for drug development.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
Can you believe that? Yep? She is.

Speaker 1 (26:00):
I mean, she is a rock star. And my little brother,
he's the youngest of the three. He's already the head
of strategy at this company that's redefining mortgage servicing. It's
actually really fun that we've ended up in kind of
similar worlds, and so it's been fun to watch. He's
just turned twenty seven and he's, you know, building an
entire new insurance vertical now for the mortgage space.

Speaker 2 (26:19):
And I'm super proud of them.

Speaker 4 (26:21):
It's awesome that it's so great.

Speaker 1 (26:23):
I mean, we live four blocks each from each other
in the West Village. It's both fun and annoying when
sometimes they just walk over and show up, and that's
the best and the most annoying thing.

Speaker 4 (26:33):
Right, So, now you've created three companies.

Speaker 3 (26:36):
When you think about the future, you're focusing on Built, right,
and Built can really grow into something much much, much bigger.

Speaker 1 (26:44):
And now even just This is why what I'm so
thankful when people come in. The only reason evaluation matters
is because it's a signal to what people believe it
can be down the road. Because they're investing in a
three billion other evaluation that mean they're expecting to be
at least a thirty right, right, and to get there
it means you have an ecosystem that can scale, and

that is really exciting.

Speaker 4 (27:08):
So at what at what valuation do you go public?

Speaker 1 (27:12):
I don't think you should go. Look, I watched this
the hard way. I mean, you remember the dot com days.
I watched that and I saw it again, right, and
if you can the dream is like today builds a
profitable company already we have been so disciplined and careful
about how do we build this profitably? I mean you
have to have the most I mean to move twenty
billion dollars of capital flowing back and forth. You have

to be every T cross, every I dotted on that
type of thing.

Speaker 2 (27:37):

Speaker 4 (27:38):
How many people work for the company now.

Speaker 2 (27:40):
Smaller one hundred and twenty five people, oh.

Speaker 4 (27:42):
And all that.

Speaker 3 (27:43):
So so you have really really good programmers, don't you.

Speaker 1 (27:46):
And that's just a part of the team, right, You
have a loyalty team, you've got a marketing.

Speaker 2 (27:50):
Team, you got a whole banking team.

Speaker 1 (27:52):
And I just think it's about you get the best
talent by saying, come in and own this part of
our business. And by the way, you'll succeed massively through
it if you take on that responsibility.

Speaker 4 (28:04):
Like I like where you're going. It sounds very exciting.

Speaker 3 (28:08):
What qualities do you think are most important as an entrepreneur?

Speaker 1 (28:14):
Honestly, I think there's two things. It's how comfortable are
you in the unknown? Right? It is a constantly unknown
situation of what's going to happen, what could happen, what
risk And you've got to be so comfortable and being
willing to figure it out on the fly, right. And
it's this this is great quote strong convictions, weakly held right,

And and I love that change is the norm, not
the antithesis. And so if you're willing to say you
have a north star, but how you get there will
keep changing, right and being okay with that. That's the
key to innovate because you never know. People don't know COVID.

Speaker 2 (28:54):
Is going to happen.

Speaker 1 (28:55):
People didn't know AI was going to come at this pace, right,
And so being willing to constantly accept the new realities
and figure out how to play and win.

Speaker 2 (29:04):
I think it's really important.

Speaker 3 (29:05):
It's so exciting too, it's so exciting beyond your family.
Which business leaders or companies have inspired you.

Speaker 2 (29:12):
I mean, I love the stuff you've been doing.

Speaker 1 (29:14):
I think the way you've brought into pop culture is
so fun and it gets people excited.

Speaker 3 (29:19):
And it's great to build a brand because that's what
people are looking totally.

Speaker 1 (29:24):
People want to fill their life with things that represent
who they are and what they believe is why, for better,
for worse. That's why politics is always taking over the news,
because it gives you something to identify with. Right, great brands.
The reason all these people are standing outside here waiting
for you because you have a brand.

Speaker 4 (29:41):
How nice that a lady from Nova Scotia waited.

Speaker 3 (29:45):
She came back because she heard and in this weather,
I'm just looking around you ten entrepreneurs who are of
great interest to you.

Speaker 2 (30:04):
Current so Brian Chesky, I think is fascinating. Okay.

Speaker 1 (30:08):
I think Sam Altman right now has been fascinating and
I and by the way, watching the team culture he
built that even when there was an attempt to oust.

Speaker 3 (30:21):
That major did not would not leave him.

Speaker 2 (30:25):
That's right.

Speaker 4 (30:25):
That mean so much.

Speaker 2 (30:27):
It's incredible. Look, that's what you want.

Speaker 1 (30:29):
You want alignment of incentives with all the people that
you can trust them right to the core. So I
really I found that quite fascinating. Obviously, what Elon is
doing is incredible. I don't know why people love to hate.

Speaker 2 (30:42):
I love him.

Speaker 1 (30:43):
It's like, I'll tell you what, like, before you hate,
you go build a rocket and send it to the moon.
You go build a rocket and send it to Mars.
You create the largest electric vehicle company.

Speaker 2 (30:54):
In the world.

Speaker 4 (30:54):
How about all the satellites.

Speaker 1 (30:57):
And give the whole world access to cell phone connective
and then you can come hate, right, So I think
what he's done is unbelievable truly as an inspiration. And look,
I'll tell you entrepreneuri isn't just CEOs and founders that
I find interesting, right, I think.

Speaker 3 (31:14):
It's adventures, it's right, It's chemists, it's physicists.

Speaker 2 (31:17):
That's exactly right. Yeah, and probably it's geneticists, that's right.

Speaker 1 (31:20):
And that type of stuff actually is where my passionate
heart lives. Some of these incredible breakthroughs and science. It
is a fundamental change in what the world is, right,
I mean, I always ask ourselves. From my grandparents to them,
there was an element of technology, and texting doesn't feel human.
It's not the same. You're not together. And I agree

with a lot of what they say, but it's natural
to me. Texting is, and it's modern.

Speaker 2 (31:46):
It's modern.

Speaker 1 (31:47):
But what is it that my grandkids one day will
do that will feel innately odd or unnatural?

Speaker 2 (31:55):

Speaker 1 (31:56):
And maybe it's something like, hey, you just pop a
pill that changes your genet of your eye color and
it changes the pigmentation it produces. And by the way,
that's the most natural thing in the world. You're editing genetics.
It's truly biology. But it will be scary to a lot.

Speaker 3 (32:10):
Of people, and it will be so sure if it
takes such a short period of time instead of a
couple of million years. Right.

Speaker 1 (32:16):
Well, the fact also that you get out of a
surgery and you just sit in bed for six months,
people are gonna look back and say, I don't get it.

Speaker 2 (32:22):
What do you mean you just sat in bed? Because
they're going to be able to recover so quickly.

Speaker 3 (32:27):
Quickly, and any artificial joints or limbs will just be natural.

Speaker 4 (32:31):
That's right.

Speaker 1 (32:32):
It doesn't make sense, but metal in your body, regrow
the limb, regrow the joint, probably make it better.

Speaker 4 (32:38):
I agree.

Speaker 3 (32:39):
What advice do you wish somebody would have given you
ten years ago? I think when would you have listened?

Speaker 1 (32:45):
Look, I'll tell you it's it's that is a real
it's a real problem. Sometimes you just don't have to
fall and scrape your knees and bump your head a
couple of times to figure it out, like like as
a kid. Nobody actually tells you how much of being
a leader is not about like the problem you're solving.
It's about taking care of the people that work for you.

I joke half my job as being their therapist and partner,
and I think that's a really important skill set that
isn't really taught in business.

Speaker 3 (33:14):
Here's another little fact about our guest today.

Speaker 4 (33:17):
He has a real pension and passion for history.

Speaker 3 (33:20):
Yes, so are you? Are you a real student of history.

Speaker 2 (33:24):
Especially ancient history? I mean I think it is first.

Speaker 4 (33:27):
So that's where the Egypt comes from dred percent Oh okay.

Speaker 1 (33:30):
I mean you think about how these civilizations were able
to build and create and grow, and not just like
the fact that how in the world. Do you build
the pyramids and have it lasting five thousand years later,
which I have to show you by the way.

Speaker 2 (33:44):
I went down a couple of weeks ago.

Speaker 1 (33:46):
This is a few months ago now, and doctor Waziri,
who's the new Minister of Antiquities, called me and he goes, hey,
do you want to come see this new tomb we
just discovered in Sakara. I said yes, So we go
there and I'm standing in this hole in the ground
looking down. It's pitch black fifty meters deep. I get

into a basket tied to a rope and six people
start rotating this wooden log, lowering me with a flashlight.
Not even mechognized no, no, no, these I was like,
please don't break the rope, please till we get down.
And at the bottom of this room pitch black was
one of the largest discoveries of unopened sarcopha guy.

Speaker 2 (34:27):
And mummies just sitting there.

Speaker 1 (34:29):
I mean it was And you think to yourself, this society,
it was so advanced.

Speaker 2 (34:35):
How do they do it right?

Speaker 3 (34:37):
How did they move those rocks and stones?

Speaker 1 (34:41):
You have the physical side and then the societal side
of it too, like how do you manage and organize
such a large empire.

Speaker 3 (34:48):
Size right with no communications, no communications none, I mean.

Speaker 1 (34:52):
Somebody you, you and I talk and it's like I'm
going to just stand at this coordinate of the stars
in the middle of the desert and assume it's around
the time you told me to me to pick up
the stone off the bar.

Speaker 2 (35:04):
I mean, it just is incredible.

Speaker 4 (35:06):
It is that is incredible. So do you read a lot?

Speaker 1 (35:08):
I used to read a lot more. I've been bad,
you know what. Nowadays this is my guilty pleasure. I
watched probably thirty minutes of TikTok at least today bed
That is like my mind.

Speaker 2 (35:18):
I learned so much.

Speaker 4 (35:19):
Oh I do too.

Speaker 3 (35:21):
I learned. I learned more cooking techniques and more kind
of interesting little factory totally that that I would never
ever ever have expected by watching like in like a
half an hour. I sometimes wake up and turn on
Instagram justally to look gardening. Oh my gosh, I've learned
so many gardening because I'm a huge garner and I

have taught so many people out of garden. But I
can still learn, And don't you like to continue your
learn to hold?

Speaker 1 (35:47):
That is what's so much fun. After the journey of
building a company. The coolest part about starting a company
is not actually the company, it's the experiences that you
get to have in building the company where you just
learn learn.

Speaker 4 (35:59):
That is very nice.

Speaker 3 (36:00):
And you have some exciting things happening in your personal life.
We've mentioned that you have a fiance, yes and uh,
and that you are getting married, and what.

Speaker 2 (36:09):
If she sticks with me from now to a gal self.

Speaker 4 (36:13):
She's not going anywhere.

Speaker 3 (36:15):
That girl is so beautiful and she really seems to
care deeply for you and what you're doing.

Speaker 1 (36:21):
And she's the best, and she puts up with me
and she supports and you know the best thing about
it is all of my friends like her more than
they like me. Well that's so even if I piss
them off, they'll still hang out with me just to
hang out with her.

Speaker 3 (36:33):
That's very nice to know. And you definitely want family. Yes, yes,
that's so nice.

Speaker 4 (36:38):
You're thirty three, you're getting old.

Speaker 2 (36:40):
Gosh, but I still I'm not ready for that just yet.
I got to like.

Speaker 3 (36:42):
You that get that company really in perfect shave and
start your next Yeah, that's right, Encore. I'm really happy
to have spent this time with you.

Speaker 4 (36:51):
We're out of time. But this is what I like
about entrepreneurs.

Speaker 3 (36:55):
You're so enthusiastic, and you are so energetic, and you
are so interesting and I cannot wait to see the
next steps in your fantastic I.

Speaker 2 (37:05):
Just want to have as much fun as you do
at every step of my life.

Speaker 3 (37:08):
That is the way to live, you know, it's It
is very exciting to be a productive entrepreneur and you
are living the life.

Speaker 4 (37:15):
Thank you so much for being Thanks for having us
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