A Moment of Truth

By Matt Shields
Founder Invest In Sqft

This Was All Part Of The Plan... Sort Of

I had it all figured out since I was really young. Today there probably would be some child labor laws that were broken with the way that I grew up and if I were growing up today I wouldn't think twice about doing it the exact same way.

I can remember being very young and my dad had a metal green box that he kept his socket set in. That thing was so heavy at the time but I would grab it and run off in the corner and put all of the sockets back in the correct locations in the plastic holder.

I started putting roofs on houses when I was about 10 years old or so. My family was a very hands on DIY bunch of people so when someone needed something done we all came together and got it done. This particular project was for a cousin of mine and her boyfriend at the time. They were young and just starting out and needed a new roof so we made it happen together.

By Time I Was 16 I Knew How To Fix Almost Anything At Home

For years my weekends were spent working with my Dad on the family house. We put on additions, drywalled, ran plumbing and electrical, we put on siding and even fixed tools or motors as they needed fixing.

We had this idea to start buying houses and then fixing them up and selling them together for many years. We had some money coming to us from a lawsuit that the family was involved in and as soon as that money came though we already had some places picked out to buy and then start fixing.

My Dad was my best friend growing up, I was a shy and reserved kid who always worried about what other people thought of me. I didn't go over to many other kids houses like normal people and I was fine with that because I had projects and work to do.

Everything Changed In A Second

My Dad & step mom decided we needed a family vacation so they booked a trip to Cape Hatteras North Carolina. The only problem was the trip was in late August which would have meant we would have missed the ever important first days of school. The days where you pick your lunch table and get to settle into a routine for the year. The four kids decided we would stay behind and our parents would have the honeymoon they never had.

I can still remember the last time I ever saw my Dad was when I grabbed the car keys from him to head off to my 'real job' at Wendy's

Unfortunately we learned about the full moon's effect on tides and currents too late. He and my step mom were wading in the water up to their waists when a wave came and washed them out to sea.

My step mom was picked up by a surfer and my dad was caught in an undertow and by the time they got to him it was too late

“Time is free but it’s priceless, you can’t own it but you can use it, you can’t keep it but you can spend it, and once it’s lost you can never get it back”

Life was different but the same after he passed away I was 16 at the time and the project that we were working on at the time was replacing the roof on our own home this time. I finished the project alone by myself.

I realized that without my Dad I needed a new plan for life and it needed to start with my own self happiness. I started to come out of my shell and let other in, I started to become popular in school and even got to the point where I was told "You are able to strike up deep conversations with anyone"

Unlike the other seniors in High School I wasn't going to the guidance counselor trying to figure out what I was going to do. I didn't go on any college visits at all. Although I did apply to NYU for motion picture technology, obviously I didn't get in so I moved forward still holding onto the idea of investing in real estate.

After graduation I realized the one area that I was weak in was Electrical so I joined an electrical apprenticeship at a local electrical contractor. It was great we would work all day in the field and then once a week for 5 years we would have class. I could feel that I was on the right path with everything.

I Bought My First Flip When I Was 19 Years Old

Because I had a great job I was able to find a house that a friend of mine who's dad was an attorney was handling the probate for. It was a small house on the West Side of Cleveland Ohio. It needed a total gut job and the family didn't want it at all so I was able to pick it up really inexpensively. I worked on that house with all of my free time. After working all day I would head there any work till 11 or 12 at night then head home and sleep 5 hours then get up and do it all over.

That flip was the start of it all

By the time that I was 23 I had enough hours in the electrical industry to take my state contractor certification and I was able to start my own electrical contracting company.

This was of course before the days of having a camera glued to us every waking hour and I've been trying to find pictures of some of our old projects or even the contracting companies logo but I haven't been able to track any down yet. The picture to the right here is similar to the type of projects we would do. The schedules actually worked pretty well and because I had some amazingly talented employees if the electrical contracting business was slow they guys would go over to one of the houses that we were working on. It was a perfect way to fill in project gaps. We kept a few rentals but mainly flipped the houses as we finished them

I started to realize the more assets I could collect and the more cashflow I could generate the less we had to work.

As I continued to invest in real estate, something remarkable happened. I began shifting from merely working for money to strategically investing in capital assets that generated consistent cash flow and contributed to the preservation and growth of my wealth.

This became my game-changing "Backup Plan."

Crafting a Back Up turned out to be the crucial key to unlocking my financial freedom. It offered the reassurance that I could rely on it whenever I needed it.

Always Looking For A 'New Thing' The Electrical Contracting Company Started in Energy Management

This was way before anything was connected and today doesn't seem like a big deal. We started controlling building lighting and HVAC systems remotely. This was when one of the first big pushes started being made to save and conserve energy. We would go in and retrofit old metal halide lights that would be on in a warehouse 24 hours a day with at the time new T12 fixtures and then add motion or remote monitoring systems to add even more savings for our clients.

In 2008, during the market downturn, we experienced the unfortunate closure of several companies that owed a significant amount of money to our electrical contracting business, ultimately leading to the downfall of the contracting company itself.

Our Electrical to Tech Pivot

In 2008 Apple launched the App store and because of our programming background from the energy management work it inspired me to give a go with the technology company. We launched an app in the store that was one of the first apps available. It was called the Juju List and it was meant to be a lead generation source for contractors. The app didn't catch on however that experience allowed us to transform into a digital transformation company.

Today Our Systems & Apps Have Sold More Then $100,000,000.00 In Products & Services

The tech company works with construction and manufacturing partners and unlike other platforms we do not make our clients fit into the technology we customize the technology to work with the client. It creates custom apps and software aimed at solving and streamlining problems or issues that established companies are facing.

Here Is What I Have Learned...

When it comes to securing a solid financial future, networks and connections take center stage as the most crucial factor, yet it's surprising how often they are overlooked and undervalued as capital assets.

You see, knowing the right people holds incredible significance. For those venturing into real estate investment, building meaningful relationships poses a formidable challenge, and sadly, it's a major reason why many inexperienced investors stumble.

Instead of seeking help, they try to go it alone. But let me tell you, establishing those critical connections takes time and effort, and it's true importance is often underestimated! So, don't underestimate the power of building strong relationships on your path to financial success.

Our Real Estate Portfolio Has Grown Significantly Over The Years

To $60,000,000.00

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