When we started this business in 2016, it was a solo mission. Real estate has always been a team sport, and we found ways to create and build partnerships where they made sense. But we didn’t have (nor did we need) a team at Wildhorn. The focus was on acquisitions—finding deals we believed in. As we found and executed on the first several deals, we also focused on the Asset Management and reporting to our investors. And kept looking for deals—which we were able to keep finding.
More deals led to more asset management. More reporting. Less and less time for anything else. Anyone that has worked in a startup likely knows this story and feeling. We reached a point that 18-hour days weren’t sustainable anymore and recognized we needed to start hiring people.
Our philosophy on hiring has always been to remain very conservative—for a couple of reasons. First, we want to operate as lean as we can. In my nightmares, we’ve grown to the point that we’re just a fee-driven shop chasing and doing deals to collect a fee so that we can make payroll. The deals are less important as the fees become king. Not interested in that. At all.
Second, we take the responsibility of employees seriously. When someone comes to work with us, I want them to feel comfortable and secure knowing we’re financially stable. That we’re going to be able to pay their salary regardless of whether or not we win that next deal and their family can count on us the same way we count on them. This factor drives me more than the first.
As we started hiring we took a systematic approach to it. Knowing we always wanted to stay lean, every employee needs to carry their weight. We have opted to bring in seasoned professionals with at least a decade of experience in their craft. We invest more in these folks via higher salaries but know they are capable of coming in Day 1 and not just executing what we’re doing—but improving it. We have asked them to come in, assess how we are doing things and then break it all and build it in their image. Because they are seasoned, they’ve brought ideas from their previous stops and shops and made us better.
Our first hire was for Investor Relations, as we felt it was (and remains) paramount to provide all Investors with a great experience. If you had questions, or needed to update anything, we wanted to provide a white glove experience from a dedicated Wildhorn employee. Our current Investors know and love Liz, and she’s been great at executing this vision we had.
Next, we focused on Acquisitions, recognizing that our asset management and operational responsibilities were keeping us from seeing and underwriting every deal. Hayden came in and has allowed us to really build our Acquisitions engine into a strength. Not only do we see and underwrite every deal in Austin and San Antonio, but our model is 10x better than it was and our library of historical data keeps getting bigger and better as he grows it. It has allowed all of us to spend more time touring assets as well—grabbing photos and more market data—to the point we’re seeing deals that we are already familiar with due to touring it as a comp previously or just on a day we’ve dedicated to touring a specific submarket.
With Acquisitions humming, we naturally were able to buy a few more deals. Which officially tapped our capacity to effectively Asset Manage everything. So we brought in Sean to oversee Asset Management. Once again, we saw him create tools to streamline the way we were doing things, change some others and implement and introduce systems we didn’t even know existed. It has allowed us to stay extremely dialed in to our asset performance and tracking against our budget—and taken our reporting to a whole different level.
The only seat that’s been left unfilled—which we strategically left to the end—has been our internal operations. We’ve always had the attitude that we’d work on ourselves last, after ensuring our assets, investors and investors’ capital were well taken care of. To be honest, we’ve been operating in this arena a bit like a duck—looks pretty smooth from the outside, but look below the water and we’re paddling like hell to keep up.
Today, we are excited to announce Alix Mire’s addition to the Wildhorn Family. Her official title is Director of Finance and Operations. She continues our streak of hiring folks smarter (and more well qualified) than Cooper and I are—which is admittedly a low bar. Alix is going to be focused on helping run the “back of house” business at Wildhorn—treasury management, accounting, accounts payable, etc. She’ll oversee and execute Investor Distributions, build out the back end of our construction management accounting and work with our Tax firm to ensure K1’s go out in time and without error.
We are really excited to have Alix join us. While you may not see the direct benefits of her work come through via our investment opportunities and asset management reports each month, I can promise you her impact will be felt in all of those arenas and our company is already better with her in it.