Building a business from the ground up can be an exhilarating and fulfilling time in the life of an entrepreneur. However, that road is filled with potholes and other dangers that can knock you out of the game before you get started. Having a mentor or someone who's done what you're trying to do can make all the difference in your journey as an entrepreneur. Host Donald Thomas and Fusion Systems CEO, Mike Alfant discuss a variety of topics ranging from Entrepreneurship, Investing, his business experiences in Japan, and other topics. Mr. Michael Alfant is the CEO of Fusion Systems (www.fusionsystems.co.jp). Mr. Alfant started Fusion Systems in 1992 and led it to a $60m acquisition by IMRglobal Corporation (NASDAQ: IMRS) in 1999. Fusion Systems was re-launched as a Fintech/IT specialist organization in 2005 and has offices throughout Asia. Michael has founded over 20 technology companies over the past 30 years in countries throughout Asia Pacific, including Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States with multiple successful exits during that time. Mr Alfant served two terms as President and one term as Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, 2011-2013, encompassing the period of the Tohoku earthquake and it's aftermath. Michael's leadership was instrumental in the ACCJ being awarded the "Peace Through Commerce" medal by the United States government. The Peace Through Commerce Medal, originally commissioned in 1790 by Thomas Jefferson during his tenure as the United States' first Secretary of State, has been awarded to fewer than 20 individuals and organizations in its 223-year history. It is the highest honor awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, recognizing those whose actions contribute to the promotion of peace and commerce through international trade and by strengthening relationships between countries (http://www.accj.or.jp/uploads/4/9/3/4...). Mr. Alfant has served on the Boards of publicly listed technology firms in both the United States and Japan and is currently an independent Director for Healios (JPX: 4593), one of the worlds leading regenerative medicine firms. Michael was elected as the President of the Tokyo American Club (www.tokyoamericanclub.org) in late 2016 and currently maintains that prestigious office. Mr. Alfant has served as an Advisory member to the Stanford University Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and is a regular lecturer at Keio Business School, Kyoto University, and Temple University. Michael participates as a member of the Japan Board for Hope International and is active in community service throughout Asia. He spends his spare time exercising, meditating, reading and exploring Tokyo on long, urban hikes. Hopefully, this conversation will help some entrepreneurs who are beginning their journey or are well on their way in building a substantial business.
Mark and Tamiel Kenney are seasoned real estate investors and the founders of Think Multifamily, a leading Multifamily Acquisition and Education Company that prides itself on a family-oriented approach to business. Mark and Tamiel are invested in over 4,000 units with a strategy focused on acquiring, owning and operating apartments, and providing clients with otherwise unobtainable real estate investments at reduced risk. Think Multifamily provides innovative technology simplifying the investment process, facilitates avenues for investment, increases returns through capital campaigns and perhaps most importantly, provides people with better places to live. Despite Mark and Tamiel’s family-oriented approach, things weren’t always so rosy. Indeed, the genesis of their philosophy came about when Tamiel nearly walked out on Mark after plunging himself into 80+ hour work weeks. With that rude awakening fresh in their minds, Mark and Tamiel redoubled their efforts and went into business with each other. Now, they are focused on giving back to their community, with a large portion of Think Multifamily’s proﬁts going to support various charities. Tamiel herself is a registered nurse, and has gone on a number of medical mission trips. As business partners, they are also passionate about apartment investing and offer a holistic approach to educating others on how to become successful in this business, as well as in other areas of their lives. In their very ﬁrst year of coaching others, they helped close on 2,500 units in excess of $180M.
Anil Raj is a serial International entrepreneur. With just over a decade into entrepreneurship, today his businesses range from Indian chain of restaurants, International kindergarten school, Travel and leisure, Imports and Exports, and more. An ex-techie with 17 years of experience working in International investment banks like Credit Suisse, Dresdner, Japanese Shinsei Bank and Citi Bank. He holds an M.S. in Information Technology from Australia. After his MS in 1997, he moved to Indonesia to work for an Indonesian bank as an IT specialist. In 1998, he shifted to Japan for Credit Suisse, and has worked for other well known Banks after that. A n d i n 2 0 0 5 , A n i l t o o k a p l u n g e i n t o entrepreneurship, and has cracked its code multiple times since. His company, RAJGROUP, founded in 2005, is based in Tokyo, Japan. He recalls that he always wanted to be an Entrepreneur, right from his college days. It seems like the drive to better things, and questioning the status quo, had always been in his DNA. Anil attributes his business success to two simple Mantras - Create a Need or Address one. In one such instance, Anil Raj found that Indian restaurants in Japan never served authentic Sourth Indian food. Hence was born NIRVANAM, a south Indian speciality Restaurant. Today, NIRVANAM, is the most awarded Indian chain of Restaurants in Japan. Anil Raj is well known amongst the business and political circles in Japan. Anil is consulted for, when Indian Head of States and dignitaries travel to Japan on business visits. He says there are many things to learn from Japan and vice versa, and it is time both countries collaborate deeply to improve the quality of living in both these countries. Rajgroup is the first company to bring in construction workers from India to Japan. Anil Raj was also selected as a special invitee for the Loka Kerala Sabha 2020. Anil is well rooted back home as well. He has addressed various forums in the country to encourage Indian students and entrepreneurs. He believes India’s growth story can be realised this century, with the upcoming talent in country. RAJGROUP businesses today: • Award winning restaurant brand ‘NIRVANAM’, which has 6 branches, 4 of it in central Tokyo, 1 in Yokohama, 1 in Saitama. Awarded “THE BEST RESTAURANT IN JAPAN” consecutively for 6 years now. • NEHAN TECH is a IT Consulting and services company headquartered in Tokyo. • Co- Founded ‘ STARKIDS INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN SCHOOL’ in Central Tokyo. • Import & Distribute Indian products in Japan. • Connect and bridge people and businesses between India and Japan, to enable business tie-ups, selling products or even cultural exchange. • MAXROOT - Exporting Japanese Patented Cosmetic product and distribute in India. • BIZCOOT.COM - A Talent Network Company, based out of Bangalore. • VIFL - Director, Vivekananda Institute of Foreign Languages (VIFL.IN) • VERYCOM - Branding. Design. Digital marketing.
Terrie Lloyd is a 62-year dual-national of Australia and New Zealand, who has lived in Japan for 37 years. He formed his first company on a working holiday visa at the age of 25, in Japan, and has established more than 17 companies in Japan (others internationally) since then. He has had 8 successful earn-outs: LINC Computer and HK-based TechMan sold to EDS in 1995, LINC Media Web division sold to Chinadotcom of HK in 2000, Layer-8 Technologies spun out to ThetaMusic in Japan in 2003, DaiJob Software KK sold to a Nikko Principal in 2004, DaiJob Inc. sold to Human Holdings of Japan in 2005, Esphion NZ sold to Allot Corporation of Israel in 2008, and BiOS KK, an IT company, sold to co-investors then on to TMJ KK of Japan in 2013. Of the above companies, DaiJob.com was particularly notable, as it was Japan’s first mid-career recruiting portal, and within 24 months of starting had 160,000 registered users interacting in both English and Japanese. Currently Lloyd is Founder and CEO of the following companies: 1. Japan Travel KK– Japan’s largest (by content volume) and second largest (by traffic) inbound travel site. Lloyd invented a unique “structured” crowdsourcing software platform to create massive amounts of user generated content at low cost for Japantravel.com. As a result, the website now has 18,600 writers, photographers, and videographers, is producing 30-50 articles and videos a day, and is available in 13 languages. Other teams in the company include a luxury/business Type 2 licenced travel agency, and a systems integration operation that pulls in data from large Japanese firms, for re-organization and resale to foreign tourists (rental bikes, bag handling, etc.). www.japantravel.com. 2. MetroWorks KK – an innovative software development company, which built the www.japantravel.com community engine. www.metroworks.co.jp. 3. Japan Inc. Holdings – a consulting, investment, and Japanese-language marketing company. www.japaninc.com. Other positions Lloyd holds include: 1. Director of Keating Media Pty. Ltd., a news organization based in Canberra, Australia, and which has a press licence to operate inside the Australian Parliament House. Keating Media includes among its clients China’s Xinghua News Agency. 2. Director of Instinct Entertainment, a start-up mobile games and cloud software company, based in Wellington, New Zealand. Lloyd is married to a Japanese national, Kumiko, and has 4 daughters and 1 son, ranging from 34 years to 17. His hobbies are starting businesses, cycling and swimming, and hanging out with the kids.
Tracy is a real estate investor and syndicator, professional Forex trader, and serial entrepreneur- having owned and operated 6 companies across various industries.
He has 20 years of experience in the financial sector as a professional commodities and Forex trader and investment fund manager, previously holding Series 3 and 43 licenses. Because of Tracy’s extensive experience in the global interest rate and currency markets, he brings a unique advantage in his understanding of how global interest rates can affect cap rates and financing rates, giving him the edge to position his investors for the coming years.
Tracy’s real estate experience began in the 1980’s where he owned and operated over half a million square feet of industrial warehousing distribution facilities.He recognized the opportunity of income-producing real estate and utilized sale/lease-back strategies to purchase the real estate and operating companies. In recent years as Tracy has watched the financial markets evolve, he determined he needed to diversify himself and his investors by transitioning to opportunities in multi-family properties across the U.S.
Tracy is a former United States Marine, 6th generation Texan, proud father of 4 children and 2 grandsons. He has been married to his high school sweetheart since 1977. In his spare time, you’ll find him looking at Texas ranches for his favorite hobby- cattle and vineyards.
Keeley comes from a diverse background and has gained a unique perspective on both the financial and real estate markets. At 14 years old she began watching her father trade the commodities and foreign currency markets using nothing but paper charts and a call-in broker before the days of electronic trading. Keeley’s passion for the financial markets continued throughout her college years when worked for a large bond trader in Dallas.
Following her TCU graduation, she spent 7 years in the financial education industry as an Executive for an international company where she drove unprecedented growth. Throughout her career, her primary focus has always been to help people achieve their financial life goals.
Keeley’s passion for people and skilled communication provides investors peace of mind as she apprises them on the scope of the project- from acquisition to operations, and ultimately on to the next multi-family opportunity. She is also responsible for creating and maintaining commercial broker relationships to provide the best opportunities for Hubbard Capital Group investors. Keeley is a proud 7th generation Texan who enjoys TCU football, hot yoga, vacationing in Hawaii, and spending time with her big, crazy-fun family.
Tune in as this amazing Father-Daughter duo share their experiences, wisdaom, and outlook on life, skills, and multi-family real estate investing, from a macro/micro perspective.
He’s the Chief Medical Office of Green Room Technologies. He and his colleagues help early stage companies and others to turn good ideas into good business. They specialize in business viability working with health tech firms who have software and medical device products or services.
Their entire focus is either startup to Series A or more mature companies who want to enter the healthcare market. They focus on market and technology readiness and bring value with interoperability solutions, market growth acceleration and enhanced investment potential.
When Robert graduated from college, entrepreneurial business was about the furthest thing from his mind. He did not come from that background as a kid, and he was going to medical school. When you get on the medicine train, you go where the train goes until you are ready to get off. It is a highly structured path, like a train track.
Robert landed in Houston, TX at Baylor College of Medicine in the ever-impressive Texas Medical Center for post-graduate training in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine in which he is Board certified. He stayed in academic medicine for the next ten years practicing academic pulmonary and critical care and doing academic things.
But it was in this time that he first began to understand the technology of the day and to see where it was headed. It was about the time that the personal computer was making its first splash in the market. He merely followed the electrons.
If you haven’t familiarized yourself with him yet, there’s no better time to do so than now. As a global leader of economic excellence, business tycoon, Kingsley Kobayashi’s recipe for success has been sprinkled with only the best ingredients, that leaves anyone who knows him in awe of his passion and fortitude. As a jet-setting leader who speaks seven languages, Kobayashi is the co-founder of the Fintech Global Consultant Group, (FGC Group), which helps clients navigate through the world of Blockchain and Fintech. His result-driven blueprint for success, is something that those who are serious about growing their wealth on a global scale, should pay close attention to. Respected for his professionalism and innovation, , he has also single-handedly answered the call for delivering upscale entertainment establishments in Tokyo.
Golden Ball Cafe and Tokyo Sports Bar are Tokyo’s most popular sports bars, with a long and respected history. Adding to the list of booming businesses, Kobayashi also has TK Lounge, which is an intimate karaoke spot that’s perfect for private parties and dates. Most recently Kobayashi opened Las Tokyo Bar, which is a chic establishment with an 80s’music vibe. It is perfectly located in close proximity to the bustling and busy Midtown area of Tokyo.
With all that Kobayashi is involved with, he is very grounded and is no stranger to knowing the benefits of taking care of the mind and body. HBK Naturalist is a company focused on natural medicine and methods that are designed to relieve various ailments. The star product is the Kobayashi Bitters, which focuses on aiding the digestive track among other systems in the body. Kobayashi Bitters launched in the spring of 2019 and quickly gained popularity in Africa, Japan and Europe. With mental clarity and health being important to Kobayashi, his Stone Water Healing Studio meets the needs of individuals seeking guidance with their spirituality, by helping them to connect with their higher selves.
Greg is a serial entrepreneur, real estate developer, coach and mentor. He has bought, developed and sold over $250 million in real estate, built and renovated hundreds of custom homes and commercial buildings, developed residential and mixed use subdivisions and started 12 different companies from the ground up.
Greg currently coaches and mentors some of the top entrepreneurs and real estate investors around the world helping them start, grow and scale their business, raise more capital and do bigger deals. Greg's current clients have over $2 billion in AUM and deals in process.
Greg is an expert on the topics of entrepreneurship, leadership and real estate and is regularly interviewed on some of the top real estate investing and business podcasts today.
Greg served in the United States Navy right out of high school and has always been a leader in the community as well as supporting, advising and serving on the boards of several churches, ministries and non-profit organizations.
People are Dan Smith’s business—specifically, entertainment people. As creator and producer of Fox Backstage Pass, his goal isn’t just to get the biggest celebrities onto his weekly entertainment program: it’s to get those stars to look at what he can offer and definitively say, “Yeah, let’s do that.”
It was Smith who leveraged his experience as a former U.S. Air Force public relations superintendent to get Will Smith (no relation) on a Blackhawk helicopter ride from Nishi Azabu to Yokota Air Base and back to promote I Am Legend in 2007. At the time Smith was producing entertainment segments for Japanese networks with his independent Access Television LLC, and the stunt caught the attention of Fox.
Smith subsequently got the principal cast of 2012’s Battleship onto an actual U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, and when Tom Cruise came to promote Edge of Tomorrow, the Japanese distributor naturally approached him to find out what he could do to help promote the film.
The feather in his cap was when the promoter for Michael Jackson himself sought Smith out to cover what would have been the King of Pop’s final Japanese tour. “That’s when I started thinking, oh, maybe I’m kind of successful at this,” Smith says. It’s that variety that keeps Smith going. “I get up every day excited that I am never going to have the same day—never,” he says. “It’s never going to repeat itself. That in itself just gets me charged up to go out there and kick some ass. I love that aspect about my job, and I love that aspect about my programs.” Tune in to hear Dan's prospective on business and what keeps him motivated on his day to day.
As a serial entrepreneur, Jim has founded and has angel invested in a number of startups in Japan. The start-ups Jim focuses on are in digital transformation in Japan. On a personal level, Jim has been running Internet and cloud and SaaS related businesses in Japan since 1996. He started his first company in 2000, second in 2003 and third in 2006, PBXL. In 2020, Jim founded SignTime K.K. a Japanese company focused on electronic contracts, e-hankoes and digital transformation in a global environment.
Previously, Jim founded PBXL , a SaaS based company focused on cloud calling, which was acquired by BroadSoft in November, 2015,. Through the time Cisco acquired BroadSoft, he led both the SaaS sales and factory operations for the team in Japan until August, 2018, when he moved into a dedicated sales role.
Jim has substantial SaaS experience in Unified Communications and Collaboration, hosted PBX services, integrated VOIP offerings, team collaboration and instant messaging/Chat. Outside of collaboration, he also has experience with Call Center/Contact Center as Services (CCaaS) as well, in both indirect and direct sales roles. In his previous role at Cisco, he built teams to work with the big 3 large telecommunications service providers (KDDI, NTT and Softbank) and the major Japanese SI companies like Fujitsu, Hitachi, CTC and Mitsubishi.
Ray Klein is an entrepreneur, mentor, crisis manager, and project leader. Ray Klein co-founded American Life Inc., a Seattle, WA real estate investment company, in 1996. During his tenure, from 1996 to 2012, he grew total funds under management to approximately USD 1 billion, primarily from Asian investors.
During 2012–2014, he led Rainbow Clean Energy GK, a developer of mega-solar power generation projects in Japan. In 2015–2016, he restructured and then sold a USD 1.5 million retail and gift store business that was previously acquired as part of the Okabe purchase. In 2009, he led a local private investor group in the acquisition of the Okabe Hotel Group, a 500-room resort chain in Japan, and served as its president until the company was sold in late 2010.
In 1996, Ray also founded Tekinvest KK, a strategic consulting firm that focused on localizing numerous U.S. technology companies to the Japanese market. Most notable was NetRatings Japan, Inc. (a joint venture with Nielsen Media Research and Transcosmos Inc.). Ray has previously served on the board of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan, which extends help to Asia's neglected poor.
He holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. Ray is bilingual in English and Japanese, and has lived in Tokyo since 1990.
Rob Claar first came to Japan after graduating from college in 1987. After working in a Japanese think tank in healthcare policy and health economics, Rob started his entrepreneurial path in 1992. He has created nearly 20 businesses in Japan that focus on the goal of addressing the unmet needs of patients, doctors, innovators and government agencies.
Rob has deep healthcare regulatory knowledge, strong Key Opinion Leader doctor relationships and maintains a worldwide trust network with leading innovators in drug discovery and medical technology through optimism, tenacious follow-through and a spirit of collaboration.
Rob is a school board volunteer and serves on the board of Hope International Development Agency, a non-profit focused on enabling self-reliance for the neglected poor in Cambodia, the Philippines and Ethiopia.
In his free time, Rob enjoys traveling in the countryside of Japan, visiting Shinto Shrines and hot springs with his family.
In this episode, we explored:
What being diagnosed with leukemia and the subsequent treatment did to his business. His marriage.
How he moved past his illness and recovery.
How Real Estate hit his radar and what type works best for him.
When looking at a purchase, what factors help him determine to pull the trigger or not.
How the anomalies of 2020 affected his holdings. Future plans.
Some of the most vital lessons learned investing in Real Estate.
Why he uses podcasts as a platform? What about this tool gets his attention.
Yonah is a powerhouse - with property owners' tax savings. As Business Director at a national cost segregation leader, Madison SPECS, he has assisted clients in saving tens of millions of dollars on taxes through cost segregation.
Over the past 15 years Madison SPECS has done over 16,000 cost segregation studies covering all 50 states, resulting in over $3 BILLION in tax savings.
In this episode we covered:
How does one know if their property is a good candidate for a cost segregation study?
What does one look for in a cost segregation firm? Should one always get an upfront estimate first?
Is one able to capture some of the benefits of cost segregation retroactively, if they've already held a property for a long time?
Looking at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, does the change in the Act allow property owners to take their depreciation deductions much faster. Is this temporary, or a permanent change in the law?
How does any of this impact an investor’s personal income taxes? Tune in for a very engaging conversation!SHOW LESS