OZ Pitch Day - July 20, 2023
Small Business Investing in Opportunity Zones, with Vijar Kohli
New business development and job creation in economically blighted communities were two of the main goals of the opportunity zone legislation passed by Congress last year. But so far, the vast majority of opportunity zone funds are focused solely on real estate development.
The problem with business is that it’s murky. Which ones will qualify as being opportunity zone eligible investments is still a gray area, mostly because businesses often times do expand beyond their physical geographies. And the IRS still has not issued final guidelines on what exactly constitutes an OZ business.
But this hasn’t stopped some from investing in small businesses.
My guest today is Vijar Kohli, co-founder and portfolio manager at Newark-based Golden Door Asset Management, a micro private equity firm that recently started an opportunity zone fund focused on recapitalizing small businesses in the northeast corridor between Baltimore and Boston.
Click the play button below to listen to my conversation with Vijar.
- Golden Door Asset Management’s business investing strategy and how they are working to ensure that their businesses don’t lose their OZ eligibility as they grow and expand beyond their OZ geographies.
- The mistake that Vijar believes was made when the legislation was initially drafted.
- Why Vijar is bullish on New Jersey for business investment.
- How Golden Door leverages their local experience and community-based network to source their deals.
- How Golden Door is raising capital, why they have limited their investment pool, and why family offices are a crucial piece of their capital base.
- The other tax credits that Golden Door is taking advantage of.
Featured on This Episode
- Follow Vijar: Website | LinkedIn | Quora | Twitter
- Golden Door Asset Management
- Opportunity Zones in New Jersey
- Other business-focused opportunity zone funds: Hypothesis Ventures and Revolution Ventures
- Vijar’s most memorable investments: Hacker Noon and Abuela’s Luck
Industry Spotlight: Golden Door Asset Management
Founded in 2013 by Vijar Kohli and Michael Ojo, Newark-based Golden Door Asset Management is a micro private equity firm focused on acquiring lower middle market businesses in opportunity zones. Managing capital for high net worth individuals and family offices. They target family owned businesses with no succession plan or exit strategy. Owner operator. Like to work with family owned businesses that are deeply rooted in the community. Giving back in the Newark community.
About the Opportunity Zones Podcast
Hosted by OpportunityDb.com founder Jimmy Atkinson, the Opportunity Zones Podcast features guest interviews from fund managers, advisors, policymakers, tax professionals, and other foremost experts in opportunity zones.
Jimmy: Welcome to the Opportunity Zones Podcast. I’m your host, Jimmy Atkinson. The Opportunity Zone Legislation was intended to spark new business development and create jobs in economically distressed communities all over the United States. But so far the vast majority of Opportunity Zone funds are focused primarily on real estate. Maybe this isn’t that surprising given that the Opportunity Zone incentive is a place-based policy.
Obviously, the geography matters a lot. And the tax code is very clear about the rules for real estate investing. It’s a lot simpler too. Real estate doesn’t move or expand out of its geography. It’s either in an Opportunity Zone or it isn’t. It’s pretty cut and dry, pretty black and white. But business investing is different.
It’s a lot murkier. Which businesses will qualify as being Opportunity Zone eligible investments is still quite a gray area mostly because businesses oftentimes do expand beyond their physical geographies and we’re still waiting on the IRS to clarify several key sticking points in regards to this very issue. But this hasn’t stopped some from investing in small businesses and it’s refreshing that I’m speaking today with someone who knows a lot about this topic.
He is Golden Door Asset Management’s Co-founder and Portfolio Manager, Vijar Kohli. Thanks for coming on the show.
Vijar: Thanks, Jimmy.
Jimmy: So, Vijar, Golden Door Asset Management was one of the first to use the OZ incentive for small business investing. Is that right?
Vijar: Yeah. It looks like we’re probably one of a few firms across the country focused on this asset class.
Jimmy: And, how are you guys able to do that? How can you be sure that when you invest in a business today it won’t eventually expand beyond its Opportunity Zone community in the future and potentially run into some eligibility issues?
Vijar: Sure. So, the idea is that…you know, we started smaller. We bought a million-dollar business, we’re looking for companies that are relatively below the regular private equity threshold. Actually, the intent is actually for the business to grow and to expand beyond the zone, which may sound like it’s conflicting today, but it’s because the tax code didn’t account for the interest of acquiring small businesses so aggressively by investors.
So, we’re currently working on a working group, we’re planning to submit commentary and we know that the code and the zoning for 50% revenue required by assets is expected to drop. Because the reality is you can’t invest in a small business and put a ceiling and stunt its growth.
That’s simply is counterintuitive to what the act wants to propel it in these communities.
Jimmy: Right. So, if you expect that 50% criterion to drop, what does that say about the program? Is it possible we get to a point where very little money is actually put into these Opportunity Zone geographies? Do you see that as being the case potentially? Or correct me if I’m wrong there.
Vijar: Well, the coding will still require…the tax code will require businesses to be located. The beauty is that when a business is located or headquartered in an Opportunity Zone, it’s definitely adding to the environment. You know, it’s creating jobs. It’s paying taxes, payroll, income taxes. People who basically work, live, and shop in those areas.
And then naturally a business will grow and that’s just creating…the idea is that an Opportunity Zone in 10 years will no longer be an Opportunity Zone because it’s no longer a low-income census tract and the area has evolved. And that’s the intent. These are supposed to be changing over the next couple of decades and we’ll go into that later. But I think they made a mistake when they initially wrote that in the guidelines because they were so rushed to get this passed last year.
And a lot of the officials have been very honest about some of the changes, and they’ve done the same with the real estate several months ago. And they’ve made it more relaxed and have the bipartisan agreement. They’re very, very interested and very committed to having people invest in these communities. So, they’re definitely not going to restrict the growth in these areas.
Jimmy: Yeah, that’s a good point you bring up. The legislation was rushed and it was packed into a very thick piece of legislation. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I believe it was nearly 1000 pages that document and the Opportunity Zone was only a very small part of it. So, it’s understandable that they’ve got a little bit of work to do, to kind of iron out a lot of the details here.
The devil’s in the details after all. But, yeah, let’s back up for a minute here. I want you to tell me more about yourself, Vijar. How did you get to where you are today? And where did your passion for small business investing come from?
Vijar: Sure. So, I’ve been investing in the small-cap stocks space since I was 18. I’ve been working on Wall Street since I was 17. So, I’ve been really fascinated about the world of finance and capitalism. And I see how capitalism can make a change in these economies, especially the micro-economies we’re talking about. I majored in finance, accounting, and economics, studied in two universities in New Jersey.
And then I worked in hedge funds at J.P. Morgan for about two years before launching my own advisory firm. We ended up merging that advisory business into another practice in New York, and had been focusing on investing in particularly actually residential real estate in a lot of urban communities in New Jersey, Maryland, and Ohio since 2013. And we had built a track record of investing in these areas.
And that’s actually how we came across the Opportunity Act late last year before most people because we had such a deep root in these urban communities, like Newark and Baltimore.
Jimmy: Good. I know one of the senators who spearheaded the legislation is from New Jersey himself, which is where you guys were located. So, that may have also been a reason why you guys kind of hit the ground running with this early on. Right?
Vijar: Yeah, the stars aligned, Cory Booker is a fantastic guy. He was the Former Mayor of Newark. He co-sponsored this bill and he’s the senator of New Jersey. So, that definitely helps. But Newark is such a great city itself. So, it’s really great for us to be able to give back to the state of New Jersey because it’s done so much. My partner and I were born and raised in the state, so it’s amazing to do something.
Jimmy: Good. So, tell me a little bit more about Golden Door. How did it get started? And you mentioned a partner, who’s the team over there exactly?
Vijar: Absolutely. So, Golden Door Asset Management was founded in 2013. Michael Ojo is my partner and we’ve been working together for about 15 years. We grew up together in Central Jersey. We’re the two primary managing partners of the firm. We’ve had a few employees over the past few years and definitely look to wrap up going into 2019, now that we’re expanding our business.
We’ve worked together on Wall Street for so many years. He’s ex-Goldman and private equity. So, it’s really exciting to bring our talents together and to give back in an area where we’ve grown up. And we went to university together too, so that’s pretty cool. We’ve been working together for quite some time. some time.
Jimmy: Very good. And so, what is it that Golden Door does in a nutshell? Can you give me the high-level overview of the services you provide?
Vijar: Absolutely. So, we are what we consider a micro-private equity firm, focused on acquiring lower-middle market businesses in Opportunity Zones. We look to acquire family-owned businesses that have no succession plan or exit strategy. And we find that this Tax Act is an effective way to recapitalize these businesses to incentivize for the long-term.
So, we’re owner and operator of businesses. Since we’ve built three businesses ourselves in the past five, six years, we really understand the perspective of the seller and we really like to work with these family-owned businesses that are really deeply rooted in these communities. Especially since we’ve grown up in these areas, we’re very familiar with the territory.
Jimmy: So, you’re not just making passive equity investments in these businesses. You’re really getting in there and becoming involved in the operations. Is that right?
Jimmy: Good, good. So, I’m looking at my Opportunity Zones map right now and I see there are quite a few Opportunity Zones in and around Newark, where you guys are headquartered. Where are you guys focused primarily? Which geographies do you like? And overall, why are you bullish on New Jersey for business?
Vijar: Yes. So, we’re based in the heart of Newark, right in downtown Newark. The zones nearby us are Kearny and Elizabeth as prominent zones that are based near the shipping port of Newark. You know New York gets a lot of the branding power in this tri-state area, but people forget that New Jersey supports the city in many ways.
So, New Jersey has had so much going for it. The city of Newark particularly, it has major corporations, such as Prudential and Panasonic, major health systems. It has the third-largest shipping port in the country, the Newark-Elizabeth Port that has major international airline. It has so many promising businesses that we feel that are supporting businesses in these communities, we’re really riding on the coattails of these really big corporations. And then New Jersey has so much to offer elsewhere throughout the state. We’ve actually mapped the zones that are attractive to invest between Baltimore and Boston, really in this northeast corridor that have so much upside potential, have strong fundamentals, and definitely have the upside for making a good investment.
Jimmy: Good. We spoke about this a little bit a minute ago, but I want you to give me the 30,000-foot view of your business investing strategy. What types of businesses specifically, are you guys investing in? And what are the investment criteria that you try to target? And then how do you find them? How do you find these businesses?
Vijar: Yeah, sure. So, as mentioned, we target family-owned businesses with no succession plan or exit strategy. We really look for companies that have been operating for 10-plus years. Have a track record of profitability. And these are really boring business models with less than $30 million in enterprise value. So, they’re relatively very small, particularly on the private equity threshold.
Jimmy: But they’re flying below the radar of a lot of institutional investors potentially or larger venture capital firms?
Vijar: Right. Right. So, these companies have…you know, they start from half million dollars in EBITDA, which is really like a bolt-on acquisition for a larger company. But for us, it’s our bread and butter, the reason we target these companies is they’re small. You need to know about them and you can get them at very cheap multiples.
So, the returns are still very, very high given the business model, which is inherently very boring in many cases. They’re not exciting tech startups.
Jimmy: So, which sectors are you guys in?
Vijar: So, we target the service industry, business services. So, we’re looking at staffing and outsourcing, logistics and distribution. We look at different verticals in that area that we figured out are more qualified assets. That’s our niche. Other investors that could probably come across in this space and the opportunity area had been targeting franchises, car washes, dollar stores, a lot of businesses that have done very well in these communities.
But we really like to focus on the blue and white collar services that have been around for many decades.
Jimmy: Very good. And, as I mentioned before, you guys aren’t just making passive investments in these companies. I know that you offer an employee management program and equity incentives for employees of the businesses that you invest in.
Can you tell me more about that program and why you feel it’s an important part of your overall strategy?
Vijar: Absolutely. So, we feel that wealth inequality in this country is a significant problem. And this is really apparent in the middle-market business space, where these companies don’t have the programs to offer incentives to employees. And right now, we’re actually working with the Newark’s Community Economic Development Corporation, to help educate business owners on the advantages of having employee ownership, and ways to either implement ESOPs or other ways to effectively transfer wealth from the 1% to the 10%, and to really ensure the longevity of a business.
What really happens when you provide incentives to employees is, you have the ability to reduce turnover and increase productivity because employees now become owners, they become capital owners, and they’re not simply just working for the income. So, that’s a little bit of our proposition, when we are approaching these small businesses because it’s very attractive and very few people are experts in this space.
Jimmy: Yeah, it makes sense. I think it makes sense especially for your strategy of investing in very small businesses. The employees there have so much know-how about how the business works. So much of a small business’s value is tied up in the human capital and know-how of key employees. So it’s crucial to keep on those key employees with incentives that you offer.
Vijar, tell me a little bit about your deal sourcing. How do you find these businesses to invest in?
Vijar: So, to start off, you know, we built an advisory business, actually focused on the lower-middle market. And being former bankers, our network really consists of a lot of regional banks, accountants, lawyers, bankers, and financial advisors, which are really more of a community-based network.
And the fact that we’re based in New Jersey and New York, our pipeline of deal flow is quite robust and it gives us the advantage. And the fact that we’ve been investing in urban communities for about five years, we really know what’s happening in these communities. And since we went to school near Newark, we have a very good understanding of the economics. And on top of that, we do a lot of deal sourcing in-house, which is our own edge.
So, we know what we’re looking for and we have no problem reaching out to owners or anybody that’s possibly looking to sell their business.
Jimmy: Good. So, that takes care of deal sourcing. But how are you raising capital? Who are your investors?
Vijar: So, initially, we approached a lot of high-net worth accredited investors in the community that we’ve done business with or had wanted to invest in us for the past few years. Right now we have a family office that invests behind us. And we’re receiving a lot more interest from several family offices across the country, particularly because they want to defer capital gains, and there’s nobody else investing in private equity in these communities.
So, we’re planning to keep that type of investment capital base through these deals, because family offices generally have a longer-term perspective. And a lot of these guys have run some type of business. They understand what we’re trying to do in these communities.
Jimmy: Yeah, for sure. Family office capital is patient capital. They are not in a huge hurry to create a big return or they don’t have a need to exit like some other investors might. Yeah, you’re right. A lot of them have business experience, so they kind of know the game, I guess, for lack of a better phrase.
Shifting gears, I want to talk with you about how to exit an opportunity zone fund. I’ve spoken with a couple of my other guests in the past about this topic. The proposed IRS regulations that the IRS published back in October, require that a taxpayer has to dispose of his opportunities on investment prior to January 1, 2048 in order to be able to exclude all of his capital gains within the opportunities on investment.
I know that’s a long way out here. It’s still 30 years away, but how do you anticipate that’s going to work in practice? And do you think we’ll see a rush to the exits at some point in the mid-2040s? Is that going to create some sort of dilemma?
Vijar: Well, personally, it’s definitely difficult. I don’t have the foresight to tell you what’s going to happen in 20 years. But I think people are going to stagger investments over the next two decades. Even today, while it’s their regulations to make real estate investments, which are pretty clear, people are still holding back.
And I think we’ll see investments being made over the next 10-plus years. What people are forgetting is that after 10 years, these Opportunity Zones will probably be remapped and they’ll be changed based on a new census tract. So, we’ll start seeing a small dynamic shift across the country.
At least that’s the objective of why we created the program. So, the sale of those assets will also be staggered. I don’t think you’ll see a rush. Maybe in some communities that are really hotbeds, maybe some places in California, some places in like Maryland, and New York that are really attractive. You might see a significant selling at one point because people aren’t geared by timing, but I don’t think it will be enough.
I’m not even really seeing that much of a premium just yet for these assets that are in these locations to justify not buying them. People are still really incentivized to do a deal. So, I think that marketplace will still exist at a relatively normal pace.
Jimmy: Good. I hope it turns out that way. How do you see the Opportunity Zone or how do you see Opportunity Zone investments being made over the coming years? I think 2019’s going to be a big year because it’s the last year you can invest and get full advantage of the step-up in basis at 2026.
Do you think we’ll see waves of investors over the next several years or what’s your take on that?
Vijar: The only movers like ourselves are definitely being aggressive. We’re already working our first deal to close in 2019. And they’ll be a lot more. These are already-made investments who are looking to do more. I think we’ll see a lot more people interested. I think the buzz might die off after 2019, but there’ll be a lot of people still investing in it.
They just won’t have that buzzword to it anymore. I think we’ll see a lot of people looking for ways to defer capital gains and this will be the way to do it. Otherwise, yeah, I definitely see the capital being invested. It’s not the $6 trillion everybody thinks it is, but it’s definitely in the tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars across the country, which is a really good way to start to give back and reinvest in America.
Jimmy: So the $6 trillion-plus number you cite, that’s the total number of unrealized capital gains that are sitting on private investors and corporate books at the moment. So, that’s the total amount of money that’s eligible to be invested in these funds. But yeah, like you said, the program’s probably going to amount to somewhere in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in capital flowing in.
I know the U.S. Treasury Department is expecting over $100 billion in the upcoming year. So, it’s still a very big program, but probably not… Probably we won’t get to the $6 trillion figure.
Vijar: Right. So, the 2019 is definitely… it has some pressure to it because of the seven-year window. But the reality is that that extra 5% in the cost basis that you may say are your taxable deferred gains it’s not significant enough. It’s not significant enough compared to the 10-year investment.
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely.
Vijar: The AMA cannot pay capital gains. So, people are more interested to see where they can deploy capital and hold it for 10-plus years. And not pay capital gains on a past investment. So, we’ll see a lot of money pouring in next year and it may not be as much in 2020 and going forward, but still be a significant amount because not paying taxes is something that interests everybody.
Jimmy: Yeah. It’s kind of an interesting little thing that’s going to be happening here in 2019. We don’t even have all the final regulations yet. And, still 2019 you’re going to have to get your investment if you want to take full advantage of the program. But you know, I completely agree with what you said.
You still get huge tax advantages if you want to make your investment after 2019, 2020, and beyond. Through the end of 2026, would be your last day to get your investment in. So, still, plenty of years for this program to bring in capital, absolutely. 2019’s going to be a big year, but I agree with you. I think the years beyond 2019 will also be…we’ll also see a lot of capital come in.
So, a hypothetical question right now. I’m an investor in Golden Doors Opportunity Zone fund, let’s say. But I have a life change and I need to get back some of my capital. What are my options for exiting the fund early? You know, how do I get out? Or when I write you that check, do I really need to commit to 10-plus years?
Vijar: Yeah. So, we’re definitely not passive gatherers. We’re really focused on delivering the highest rate of return. So, we’ve been very cautious about reducing or limiting our investment pool, to reduce that capital turnover because we see that probably being a problem in many other funds across the country.
In the case that, you know, someone has to do an exit or sale of partnership, they’ll obviously lose their 10-year deferral unless they’re reinvesting in another zone or similar qualified asset. Currently what we plan to do with our group is approach the other investors and ourselves to buy out anybody that’s looking for an exit or sale or bring in a new investor that wants to have the same type of tax advantages.
That’s the only way we found might be attractive to exit the fund early. We’re really looking for an investor that has a 10-year horizon. Some of them mentioned they don’t plan to sell at all and they’ll just take some type of dividend or some type of distribution over several years, which is ideal. It’s very attractive for our thesis because if you’re investing in these small businesses and you have that permanent capital base, you can invest forever, basically.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. Most of these Opportunity Zone funds like yours, they’re not meant to be liquid asset vehicles. Now, you really do need to be in it for the long haul. I think there may be some funds that could potentially be traded on an exchange and would offer some more liquidity, but just the way that most of these funds are going to be structured, have you set up your fund yet?
And how is it structured actually? Is it an LLC or a C Corp?
Vijar: It’s an LLC, where we’re set up like a partnership.
Jimmy: Gotcha. Yeah, so there’s just not going to be a lot of liquidity there, which is fine. I think that’s just the nature of the beast for the vast majority of these funds. Are you guys taking advantage of other tax credits such as the New Markets Tax Credit or the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit? What other tax credits have you have you used in the past or are you familiar with?
Vijar: Absolutely. So, we’re very focused on training and developing new hires. We have a strong intent on hiring local employees. So, tax credits there we’re looking at in the state of New Jersey are the Employee Partnership Grant, the Skills Partnership Grant, Work Opportunity Tax Credits, ways to work with municipality in helping us onboard different types of employees, maybe incarcerated or veterans or anybody that’s at a disadvantage, we will love them to be hired in these communities where they don’t have that opportunity.
And take advantage of the tax credits, which will only make our investment more attractive.
Jimmy: And those are some state tax credits you mentioned in there too. Is that right?
Jimmy: Let me ask you about state tax actually. I know New Jersey has one of the highest income tax rates in the country, state income tax rates in the country. Is New Jersey mirroring what the federal government is offering in terms of tax credits? I know that kind of varies state by state. I wanted to get your thoughts on that.
Vijar: Yeah. I think last time I checked the states conformity and I don’t think they have just yet. I don’t know if they’re still on the border. But we know New Jersey’s pretty high when it comes to taxes. That’s a disadvantage to us.
People have definitely been leaving the state in the past few years because of lower taxes in other states. But that’s something we have to work with. That’s in our environment, but that’s something that we’ve kind of priced in already.
Jimmy: Yes. So, is New Jersey going to honor, I guess for lack of a better word, the exclusion of capital gains or have they not decided yet?
Vijar: To my knowledge, they haven’t decided yet. I would have to see if there are any updates or changes yet.
Jimmy: Yeah. If I may speak frankly, I think it would be in New Jersey’s best interest to pass along this tax credit for their state income taxes. Otherwise, you know, a lot of capital will be flowing into other states that are able to offer those state income tax credits. Just my thoughts there.
Otherwise, yeah, you guys are at a little bit of a disadvantage there. And the state of New Jersey as a whole is at a little bit of a disadvantage as well. I’m from California originally, so I know all about high state income taxes. How many other Opportunity Zone funds like yours are there out there? And I mean, you know, funds that are focused on business investing as opposed to real estate?
Vijar: So, I’ve come across two that have been public. I’ve come across a couple that are more private, more families, or companies that are looking to do it themselves. Not really looking for outside capital, but the two that have been very vocal about it. One has been Hypothesis Ventures, which I haven’t spoken to anybody there, but I think they’re are more focused on more early-stage startup PC space.
The other one is Revolution Capital, founded by Steve Case, who’s the Co-founder of AOL. I met with Steve a couple of weeks ago and spoke with Starling, who heads their real estate division. They have a strong vision of investing in Middle America. A lot of these cities that simply don’t get the venture funding that you see in like the Bay Area and in New York.
And especially since 75% of venture funding goes to Boston, New York, San Francisco. So, they have a strong campaign. They traveled across 38 cities are looking to invest and build these communities. It just so happens that Opportunity Zones overlap with their thesis. So, they have a very strong thesis of investing in both real estate, and early stage companies, and startups.
They’re probably the most prevalent in the space and they have a very deep understanding of the economic problems in the Middle America.
Jimmy: Very cool. Yeah. There aren’t a lot of other funds like yours out there. I mean, maybe there’s just a handful and the vast majority though are focused on real estate. As I mentioned at the top of the show , there’s a lot of advantages to focusing on real estate to take advantage of these Opportunity Zones as opposed to business ventures. But yeah, I’ll have to try to see if I can get someone from Hypothesis or Revolution Capital on the podcast at some point down the road, maybe in 2019.
If I’m a potential investor considering your Opportunity Zone fund, what type of due diligence or other documentation do I get from you guys?
Vijar: So, we provide the Standard Investment Agreements along with a pitch deck investment memo and company financials, since we really do more of a single-asset based right now investment. We’re very transparent with all of our brand’s formation or whatever investors want to feel comfortable. We really want them to feel like they’re investing in Mike and myself.
So, whatever they may require, we go really in-depth with the due diligence they need, given that we’ve worked at Goldman and J.P. Morgan. So, we definitely understand the need to be comfortable when you’re investing in these areas, specifically an illiquid investment in these communities. And one of the reasons why we look for local investors, are people that understand our mission, is so they are very aligned with our thesis.
Jimmy: Very good. You guys are doing it the right way. That’s the type of documentation that every investor should look for, is the type of documentation you’re providing. Don’t just write a check to somebody you don’t know. Make sure you go through their documents and do your research before you write your check to one of these Opportunity Zone funds. So, Vijar, we’re getting toward the end of our time here today.
But before we wrap up, I wanted to ask you of all of the investments that you’ve made at Golden Door, have you had any that have really stood out? What’s your most memorable investment so far?
Vijar: Yes. So, recently…you know, we have made all types of investments over the past several years. We’re really just getting into the private equity small business space, but we’ve been making alternative investments for several years. Two actually that we have that are very memorable and have received a lot of media attention in the last actually six months, actually have been in the media space.
We’re one of the first investors and I helped co-found a company called hackernoon.com, which is a leading independent tech publication. It’s with a fellow alumni, Jay Zalowitz and a friend, Dao Smooke. The company’s been operating for three years. We just crowdfunded $700,000 and had a $7.5 million valuation. And, it’s doing fantastically well.
It’s growing at an amazing pace. It’s very cool to see a startup go from zero to its current valuation at such a high growth without raising any outside dollars until now. The second one is a short film. Actually, it’s called Abuela’s Luck. It was filmed at Brooklyn, but it’s based on a story in Union City, New Jersey by a fellow alumni as well, Ricardo Rosario from New Jersey.
A very good friend of ours and a partner. And, it’s a short film. It was actually just released in the summer. It’s been at 10 film festivals and including Art Basel in Miami last week. And it’s a local story. We helped fund it last year and it’s amazing to see it go from inception to its current state and getting a lot of publicity for being a New Jersey/Latino film.
It’s amazing to watch this. We are conventional investments, but it’s a really…it proves that we love to give back to the community. And, and by doing that we do that by investing in the right people.
Jimmy: Yeah. That’s a lot of fun. Those are a couple of alternative investments for sure. Not typical businesses that you might think of investing in. Well, Vijar, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you for chatting with me. Listeners, check out Golden Door Asset Management online at goldendoorasset.com.
And you can read more about Vijar and Michael, and learn more about their investment strategy. Vijar, is there anywhere else that my listeners can go to learn more about you or check out any of your other work?
Vijar: Absolutely. So, you can always find me on most social platforms, @vijar.kohli. I’m very active on LinkedIn. I’m very easy to get a hold of, so you can just email me anytime. If you’re looking to get involved in your community, I think investing in Opportunity Zones is a really good way. You can do it as an individual. There’s a self-certification process or invest in a fund like ourselves and other people across the country.
And it’s very exciting to see that this is a way to give back, and to invest in these communities, and to make money. So, I really recommend people look at ways to give back into the community and this is a good way to start.
Jimmy: Good stuff, Vijar. Well, for our listeners out there, I’ll have links to all of the resources that we discussed and you can learn more about Vijar, and Michael, and Golden Door Asset Management on our show notes page. You can find our show notes at opportunitydb.com/podcast. Vijar, thanks again for joining me today, and I hope to chat with you again soon.
Vijar: Thanks Jimmy.