Making Hotel Ownership Attainable: An Interview with Epiq Collective
The following conversation was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.
Epiq Collective is a partnership created by Davonne Reaves and Jessica Myers. They are both located in Atlanta but invest where the opportunity lies. Epiq Collective offers commercial real estate investing opportunities for passive investors. And recently, Epiq Collective helped me purchase my first hotel, a Hilton Home 2 Suites in El Reno, Oklahoma!
Acquania Escarne of Wealth Noir: Before you started buying hotels, multi-family homes, and other commercial real estate, what did you do?
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: I wanted nothing more than to help others through media and entertainment, and that sparked my 10-year media career as a marketing and sales professional. It was at the Nick Cannon morning show at CBS in New York that I realized I’d climbed the corporate ladder so fast. That’s also when I learned the impact of real estate and the economic freedom it allowed me to have. Getting connected to myself helped me to identify passion and definiteness of purpose.
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: Hotel ownership is always something I pursued from my time at the front desk at the Hyatt. There wasn’t a blueprint laid out for me, or at least in my family, so I had to create my own. My father instilled in me a good work ethic. No matter what it is you do, be the best. And what is better than ownership? I was fortunate enough to get offered an internship at Horwath HTL, which led me to managing billion dollar assets at CHM Warnick in Boston. This laid the foundation of analyzing deals and helped to make my dream of ownership feel attainable.
WN: You two have very extensive careers and individual experience in real estate investing. What made you decide to team up and create Epiq Collective?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: It all started over lunch. I would ask my friends to come out for lunch, but they all had to work, and as a budding entrepreneur, Jessica was the only one available for lunch. Through our time together, we’d discuss our dreams and our goals, not knowing we were building the foundational blocks of Epiq Collective.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: I’ve always had a passion for helping others, and Davonne is amazing at taking an idea and bringing it to life. Knowing her passion for hospitality and desire to own a hotel, I knew my skill set of raising capital would flow perfectly with her tenacity.
WN: What was your first investment as a team?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: Our first project together that closed was the Home 2 Suites by Hilton, in El Reno, Oklahoma. It’s funny you asked, speaking of lessons learned, we’ve had several opportunities that didn’t make it to the closing table, but you’ll have to read our book for more information on those.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: After seeing the many times an investment didn’t pan out, the numbers didn’t work, the potential partners didn’t respond, the deal fell through, we were so nervous this one wouldn’t. So for a long time, we didn’t say anything, we just kept our heads down and kept working. Kept investigating and kept focused to keep the deal alive.
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: It wasn’t until we connected with the right investors, who saw the vision, believed in the project, and the numbers made sense, that we were finally able to close on the deal.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: But beyond the numbers, it was our opportunity to connect with the current hotel staff that we really realized what we were up to.
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: I know, right? We spoke to the general manager, who hadn’t taken a vacation in over a year. Some of the staff had been impacted and afraid of all of the COVID-19 news because they didn’t have benefits. Knowing that we are able to come in, and not only provide 401k options, but benefits to the staff, is really what we’re most excited about.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: It made me proud to know our legacy goes beyond acquiring more assets but making an impact within the community we serve.
WN: I didn’t realize El Reno was your first project together. Wow-what an amazing deal. I share the same sense of joy and fulfillment. I was shocked to learn our ownership is what changed these people’s lives. It’s important to have health benefits and the ability to build wealth with retirement accounts is priceless.
What was the greatest lesson you learned while investing?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: One thing would be to create your ownership thesis. This should include all the details of what you hope to get out of investing. What are you looking to invest in, what type of return on investment would be a win for you? Think about it in increments of one, three and five years. There will be some short-term, midterm and long-term opportunities that will help you reach your desired goal. The more specific you are about what you’re looking for, the easier it will be to find a project that helps you to achieve your goal.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: One thing I will say is patience. Rome wasn’t built overnight, but I think some people expect success to come like that. We went through three or four deals before settling on our Home 2 Suites by Hilton. When you know and understand that, commitment to making it happen is the only thing that will get you results. Too many times, you can give up on a deal just before all the elements come together and you can work it out.
WN: Epiq Collective brings investors together to invest collectively. What other types of deals have you facilitated and how hard is it to raise money or bring together investors? What’s the secret to your success?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: The secret to our success is persistence. We never lose sight of closing the deal. No matter who we need to bring in to do it. Sometimes, potential investors can get discouraged when things may not come out right. And they leave or get scared, just before the solution pans out. We stick it through. When an investor says no, we look to get feedback and go again.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: I would say consistency is everything. Even when no one else saw the vision or believed in the dream, we knew we were onto something. When they doubted us, we went harder to achieve our goal.
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: We look to connect with investors who are looking to grow their assets and cash flow strategies. We’re in it for the long haul to create generational wealth. When we connect with these types of people, it makes our job easy. We’re connecting you with the opportunity to accomplish your goals and live the life you dream.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: We’ve mastered the concept of collective economics. If a deal takes $1,000,000, that’s 10 individuals with $100,000. If any one of them waited to do it on their own, it would take them a really long time. Through collective economics, we’ve been able fast track your way to success. And that’s the secret from master wealth builders.
WN: You two are personally increasing the number of Black hotel owners. Before we met, I never imagined you could own a hotel. If someone wanted to pursue hotel ownership what should they do first?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: The first thing is to start educating yourself on what you desire to do. Hotels require a lot of capital to acquire or develop. Create your ownership thesis and determine your investment goals. Aligning yourself with an association, such as the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD) or Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), it’s a great way to learn a route that works for you. Also, if you need a mentor, I offer online courses that lay out a step-by-step path to hotel ownership. (Use the code POM25 to save 25%.)
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: Understand what the end is before getting started. Develop your criteria. What risks are you willing to take? It’s important to know the criteria you have set, so that you can easily identify a deal when you come across it. It will make your decisions a lot more focused. Then you want to be sure you have a team. There is such a thing as an active and passive investor. If you are not going to be actively involved in the project, you need to ensure someone is acting on your behalf. That’s why we created Epiq, to be the active investor so that you can passively invest.
WN: Is everyone eligible to invest in commercial real estate? Do you have to have a particular net worth, income or experience?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: Since Commercial Real Estate assets are typically more capital intensive, we do recommend that investors have extra capital at their disposal, and should have already had some minor experience. Some projects require you to be an accredited investor. Meaning you have to have an annual income of $200,000 or a net worth of $1 million excluding your primary residence.
Some projects have a minimum investment requirement range of $5,000 to $1 million. It depends on the project. However, Epiq Collective provides an opportunity for those who would ordinarily not have access to investment opportunities.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: We work with investors at various levels. As she mentioned, it depends upon the opportunity we’re currently pursuing. Generally, it’s a $5,000 minimum for non-accredited opportunities. The goal is to pool together money from multiple investors to increase our individual buying power. Anyone that has disposable income should be placing their funds in some sort of engine that is going to outperform inflation. It’s best if your excess capital is in an asset gaining appreciation.
WN: How do you find deals? Do you use a broker or are you tapped into investing groups or communities?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: All of our deals have stemmed from relationships. Through my hotel asset management experience, I’ve gained relationships with other hotel owners and brokers. Through these relationships, they share deals before they make it to market. So we receive access to a lot of off-market deals.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: When they say your network is your net worth, that is so true. Always connect yourself with like-minded individuals through networking groups and associations. You’ll have a lot of naysayers, and people who don’t believe in what you’ll be working on, but the more people in the field you desire to align yourself with, the easier you’ll find it to get all the resources you need to succeed. Look for associations in your local community through Facebook, Linkedin and meet-up groups. Associations are a great resource to connect you with a pool of investors.
WN: If you could flip a switch and get everyone to do one thing related to their personal finances, what would it be?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: FIX YOUR CREDIT!!! Minimize as much debt as possible. Your credit profile is your adult report. It shows how responsible you are to lenders.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: Take the first step. A lot of times people spend months and months mulling over an opportunity. And wondering if the conditions are right to pull the trigger. You only know if you try. My most successful projects have come from me rising up to the occasion and taking action. At that moment, the universe provided and I had everything I needed to complete the deal. If I’d stopped and analyzed, I’d have missed out on a lot more opportunities.
WN: Are there any exciting products or offerings you have coming up? Anything you are currently working on now?
Davonne Reaves of Epiq Collective: We’re constantly looking at deals. We encourage people to join our mailing list to stay connected and follow us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We have our book release in early 2021.
Jessica Myers of Epiq Collective: In addition to the Epiq Collective projects we’re planning for 2021, I also have a new Podcast, Concrete Coins. You can download it on Spotify and other platforms.