Colin Wiel is Co-Founder Chairman, and CTO of Mynd, a full stack, tech-enabled, property management company focused on small residential (single family rentals plus small multi-family buildings).
AI and Java
Colin grew up in Washington D.C., went to high school in Reno, Nevada, and went to UC Berkeley where he got his BA in mechanical engineering. Straight out of college, he landed a dream job at Boeing, where he wrote algorithms for automatic control systems and developed groundbreaking new software.
He had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and soon struck out on his own as an independent software consultant working with giants like Hewlett Packard, Oracle, and Netscape, where he became one of the very first Java programmers in the world.
He began developing and teaching the Java curriculum for UC Berkeley and while continuing his consulting with a new focus on Java. Eventually, his consulting grew into a full-fledged firm and he brought on many students he had taught. One of their big projects was transitioning Charles Schwab’s website from C to Java, which at the time it was the largest e-commerce website in the world.
When he sold his business, a friend sparked his interest in the mobile home park marketplace, and he started investing in that corner of real estate.
“If that idea is counter to what most people think, all the better because that’s where the opportunity lies.”
As he continued investing in mobile home parks and researching the single-family home market, he realized he could make more profit there. He connected with Doug Brien who had a similar idea, and they started buying homes and renting them out, with a long-term selling strategy.
People thought they were going to cap out because of the sheer amount of management and upkeep, but their profits and vision said otherwise.
17:00 “We said, ‘With all due respect, we think we can build a cloud-computing, mobile computing, infrastructure. A single system of record that our people use, but also the residents use, our vendors, we’re all connected… and then we can build systems on top of that to automate a lot of the functionality or just systematize what happens so that it all runs smoothly so that we’re not dropping balls.’”
They raised a series of funds and continued to grow Waypoint (now Invitation Homes) as the pioneers in the space. Eventually, Colony Starwood and Blackstone entered the arena, and that’s when it really became a new industry. After 5 years, they went public as a REIT in a partnership with Starwood called Starwood Waypoint.
“So when the big conservative, institutional investors saw that single-family rental is generating the same NOI margins as multi-family, then it was sort of ordained to be a legitimate asset class.”
After going public as Starwood Waypoint, Colin knew he wanted to strike out on his own again and be in an innovative, start-up environment.
He saw how massive and fragmented it was, and how nobody was leveraging technology in the way that had revolutionized other industries. This reflection is what led him to start Mynd, and he quickly asked Doug to partner with him again.
“It tends to be a full stack company that’s providing a complete end to end service that’s competing with the incumbents that disrupts an industry.”
Property management is complex. From collecting rent, managing repairs and maintenance, to leasing vacant units, Colin saw that accounting and the flow of money were integral to the solution he wanted to create. With these priorities in mind, they began creating a software with an accounting platform from scratch, that gives a property owner a real-time transparent view of what’s going on at their property in a revolutionary way.
Their strategy is focused on expanding into new markets like San Diego and Seattle, by acquiring property management principals and then shifting them into their own software. This streamlines the property managers job and improves their service while giving Mynd a spokesperson in that community.
Looking forward, Colin is excited to use their data to offer new products and services, like owners insurance, vacancy insurance, and financing products to renters in a much more efficient way.
For Colin, giving renters a better experience isn’t just about good business, it’s about human dignity. He is confident that by helping renters have a better experience, Mynd is helping society transition from a renters society to an owners society.
When he’s not thinking of innovative new ideas, Colin has a philanthropic partnership with Wildlife Works Carbon to protect the Panama Rainforest.
Real estate is known for being a slow-moving industry. However, if you are young, nimble, and willing to take a chance, there is a huge opportunity to innovate the space.
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