How to Raise Capital for Opportunity Zone Deals, an OZ Pros Webinar

Jeffrey Maganis

Are you ready to attract investors for your Opportunity Zone deals?

On April 29, OZ Pros and Crowdcreate hosted a webinar about how to form an Opportunity Zone fund and raise capital for OZ deals. Over 200 people attended the live webinar to learn about fund formation, legal structuring, compiling a pitchbook, and crafting the perfect pitch email.

Click the play button below to listen to the condensed audio recording of the webinar, with presentations by Jimmy Atkinson & Ashley Tison (OZ Pros) and Jeffrey Maganis (Crowdcreate).

Or, for the full video recording, click here.

Episode Highlights

  • How to legally structure an Opportunity Zone fund.
  • How to compile an Opportunity Zone deal pitch book.
  • How to make a website for your Opportunity Zone fund.
  • How to convey your story with video.
  • How to target the right investors for your Opportunity Zone fund.
  • How to craft the Perfect Pitch email.

Featured on This Episode

Video Recording and Slide Decks

Watch Now — Click Here to Register (and get access to the Slide Decks)

Industry Spotlight: Crowdcreate

Founded by Jeffrey Maganis in 2015, Crowdcreate has successfully raised over $130 million across 80+ projects and has been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Huffington Post. Crowdcreate helps companies get introduced to investors, influencers, thought leaders, and their ideal customers. They specialize in website formation, video production, digital marketing, and targeted investor outreach.

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Learn more about Crowdcreate

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.

Webinar Transcript

Introduction by Jimmy Atkinson

Jimmy: Welcome to everybody who’s joining this webinar today. This is a webinar that we are putting on in conjunction with Crowdcreate. I’m Jimmy Atkinson from OZ Pros. And my co-presenter here today will be Ashley Tison. And then we’ll bring on Jeffrey Maganis from Crowdcreate to share a lot of interesting strategies with all you folks out there today on how to start an opportunity zone fund for your deal and raise capital, find investors for that deal.

And we have a lot of people on the call today. We had several hundred people register from 45 states all across the country. I think we’ve even got a couple of people outside of the United States, and then we’ve got a couple of people joining us today from Puerto Rico as well. So really excited with the numbers that we have in the room today and really excited to get going. New to the group today is Jeffrey Maganis. He’s individual out of Southern California, co-founder of Crowdcreate. His firm has helped raised over $130 million for more than 80 different projects over the last few years. So really excited to get his thoughts on finding investors and helping to market your deals.

Our agenda today…and this is gonna be for the first half of the call primarily will feature Ashley and he’s gonna walk you through the legal ramifications of structuring your opportunity zone deals. And first of all, you should know that many of you do already know this. But for those who may be new to the game, every opportunity zone deal needs a fund, all of the equity needs to flow not straight to the deal, but through what is referred to as a qualified opportunity fund. It’s the fundraising wrapper that has to go around the fund in order to qualify for the tax benefits. So we’ll be talking a little bit about that, and how to structure it, and why it’s important to choose the right structuring.

Now, we’ll go through an overview of the opportunity zones benefit, basically just Opportunity Zones 101 for those who may be newer to the program. For a lot of you, this will be review, so we’ll try to keep brief. But mainly we’re also gonna emphasize why it’s crucial that you educate your investors about the opportunity zone deal in your pitch book and on all your other marketing material. We’ll go through a general fund and qualified opportunity zone business structure, documentation to start a QOF and QOZB, what’s required, how do we actually turn the thing on.

And then, towards the end of Ashley’s part of the presentation, he’ll speak a little bit about capital raising and securities laws requirements. And then we’ll turn it over to Jeff, who will speak in more detail about actually how to go about setting up your website and doing investor outreach and raising capital. So Ashley, take it away. And I’ll keep going on the slides here for you.

OZ Pros Presentation by Ashley Tison

Ashley: All right, so thanks, Jimmy. Thanks, everybody, for attending today, very excited to actually have the ability to be able to get this program out to as many people as possible. That’s part of our commitment to sophisticated simplification. As part of what Jimmy said, when you are out raising money, you are dealing basically with your investor’s croc brain, right? And they are looking for ways to shut it down and to say no to the deal. And so part of your strategy needs to be okay, how can I eliminate those objections? How can I get them as comfortable with this deal as possible? And that’s difficult to do with a normal deal but opportunity zones weigh-in this added extra layer of complexity to it, that most people’s brains just kind of shut off.

And I think that that’s been one of the phenomenon that have happened as a result of the PR is that people are like, “Opportunity zones, you know, everybody is talking about them but nobody is doing them” and you know, that kind of a dodge. And so one of the goals that we’re trying to accomplish within this is to give you some ammunition so that you can have a base conversation with people and very easily explain to them where are the qualified opportunity zones, what they are, and what the benefits are. And that is definitely gonna be something that you need to do in your pitch materials that you’re sending out to your investors.

So where are they? They’re all across the United States and in the territories. What are they? They’re 8,700 census tracts that were designated by the governors up to 25% of their low-income census tracts, which were designated to receive money and provide a tax incentive to the investors for investing into that area. So as you can see from this map, right, there’s little dots and then there’s bigger splotches, as you kind of head out into the West into the more of the rural areas.

And the reason for that is that it’s based on a census tract. A census tract is a certain amount of people and obviously, in an urban area, that’s gonna be a lot more dense than it is in a rural area. So in rural areas, you’re gonna have maybe even sometimes entire counties that are all opportunity zone. That’s certainly the case in Hyde County out in eastern North Carolina.

Next slide, Jimmy. All right, so what is an opportunity zone? And this slide that we have right here is what we put into a lot of our pitch decks. And so whether you put in this one or whether you put in something similar to it, you’re gonna want something that communicates what it is and the basics of it and be able to talk about that, right. So I kind of gave you the highlight of what is an opportunity zone?

What is an opportunity fund? Well, part of the tax cut in Jobs Act was that you have to make an investment through a qualified opportunity fund, which then becomes the chassis for how you do your opportunity zone deal. And an opportunity fund can either be a partnership or a corporation that’s specifically organized for investing into opportunity zone deals. And it can be an existing entity. It’s a little bit trickier with an existing entity, but effectively, what it just needs to have is it needs to have bylaws or governing documents that say that that’s what it’s gonna do.

What type of investments can be made? This is important as well. So it’s gotta be equity, right. So you have to have equity that’s coming into your deal. You can have debt that sides along with it right, that comes along beside your equity, but ultimately, it’s gotta be equity into a QOF and ultimately, an opportunity zone business. Once again, it has to be a trader business. It can’t be a passive investment. And so that’ll be one of the things that you gotta get away from, too. Triple net leases, not so much inside of an opportunity zone deal. You wanna make sure that you are actually conducting a trader business inside of your QOZB QOF combination.

Next slide, Jimmy. All right, the three benefits and everybody should be able to spit these out off the top of their head. The first is a temporary deferral. So if you roll your money within 180 days of the gain or 180 days of the tax filing deadline for a partnership or an S corporation, you get to defer those gains until December 31st of 2026. So effectively, that means that you get an interest-free loan from the government to make an investment into an opportunity zone deal, that doesn’t come to be paid back until April of 2027. So that’s perhaps one of the bigger things that people aren’t concentrating on is the time value of money of playing with the government’s cash.

The second benefit is that if you get your money in before December 31st, of 2021, you get a step-up in basis of 10%. So effectively, what that means is that on your original investment, you’re gonna get a 10% tax reduction when you go to pay the taxes in 2027. It’s also gonna give you a 10% step-up in basis in your new qualified opportunity fund because you start with a zero basis because they’re holding your basis out at your original investment.

The third and the most important, right, so the big…effectively the brain of this Mickey Mouse is your permanent exclusion. So after a 10-year hold at the QOF level, you get to get a step-up in basis to fair market value on all of the assets held by the QOF. And as I was talking to Jimmy, you know, as we were kind of bantering back and forth before this thing got started, is that that is really significant because effectively what it allows you to do is to be able to sell anything after a 10-year hold and get that tax benefit. So this is really important for getting your QOF set up, going ahead and get it aged right now. And then it also plays into a strategy about how you wanna time your QOFs and to time the strategy of your investments going into your QOF. So, Jimmy, next slide.

All right, so this is something…And whether you’ve used a slide like this or your own slide or whatever, you least need to be able to talk about this, right? So on a million-dollar investment, and so this investment is assuming that you had a million-dollar capital gain. Let’s say you bought Amazon for $1 and it’s now worth a million and one and you sold it on May 1st of, 2020. You set up your QOF on May 2nd, and you get your money into that, right, you’re going to be able to invest a million dollars instead of 762,000. Because you would normally be paying $238,000 in 2021. But instead, you get to defer those taxes invest the government’s money and so you’re effectively earning interest in your opportunity zone investment via your million dollars as opposed to the 762.

If you get it in by December 31st of, 2021, you’ll be eligible for a five-year hold. So if you’ve held your investment for five years, by the time that December 31st, 2026 deadline rolls around, you will get a 10% reduction in the capital gains taxes. So that’s a savings of $23,800 right there. When you go to pay the taxes effectively in April of 2017, you’re gonna pay $214,000 instead of $238,000. And then, after a 10-year hold at the QOF level assuming that you sold this, right, assuming that you sold your exit and you exited at the 10-year mark, you’re gonna net $1.7 million, right, $1.785 million. As opposed to if you had just invested this into a normal non-opportunity zone deal, which after you pay taxes would be a $1.1 million payout.

So the net benefit on that, the ultimate benefit is 53.8% difference, right. And that’s just going to increase if your deal is making more than a 2x return. So this deal that we’ve modeled right here assumes a 2x return. So if you have a higher than 2x return, hopefully you do, you’re gonna even be juicing your investors more than that 53.8% differential. Go ahead, Jimmy.

All right, so part of what you need to be able to communicate to your investors, we talked about this right. Making it succinct and kind of visually stimulating as possible. You’re gonna need a dialed-in proforma as part of your pitch deck. So you’re gonna need these numbers to be factoring in the opportunity zone investment and be able to show what your investors are ultimately gonna get. And it’s kind of tough to actually model that on the backend benefit because you’re basically trying to prove a negative because they’re not paying taxes. And so you don’t really wanna model it where you show them paying taxes because then they’re gonna get confused. But you can effectively talk them through that when you’re having a conversation to say this benefit to you, in this case, it’s a 5.5 profit multiplier with almost a 20% return that, you know, you’re gonna be taking that and put in your pocket tax-free. Next slide, Jimmy.

Let’s go back. So another kind of crucial piece to get to your investors’ croc brain, right, to get away from the no and into the yes, is you wanna put the information that they need to see into an executive summary that walks and talks. So it doesn’t have to be exactly like this. Quite frankly, you probably have a little bit too much information over in that highlight, probably should even be taken down a little bit of that. Because you wanna show them how much you’re raising, what they’re gonna get, and what they’re gonna get in return. So how much money they’re gonna make on the backside of the deal. And you wanna show them what kind of deal they’re doing right what your strategy is. And then you wanna show them the partners that you’re partnering with in order to make this deal legit and to get them comfortable.

Go ahead, Jimmy. So this is a typical fun structure org chart. So this is kind of the anatomy of an OZ deal, right. You got an eligible taxpayer, that taxpayer has to drop their money into a QOF. And then at the QOF level, you can do a deal at the QOF level but if you do, you’re a little bit more hamstrung. So you’ve got a 90% asset test twice a year. So 90% of your assets have to be qualified opportunity zone property, and you cannot have more than 5% non-qualified financial property. So what that means is, is if you’re doing a deal at the QOF level, you need to make sure that you can spend the money that you got into the bank account every six months, right. So that that way you don’t have too much cash sitting in there, that’s gonna affect that 90% test.

So in order to ameliorate that and to mitigate that and give you a lot more flexibility, what we recommend is doing a two-tiered structure where you have a QOF that drops its cash directly into a QOZB. And that can be either one QOZB or numerous QOZBs. And we typically would say, set up an individual QOZB for each individual deal or property that you’re gonna do so that way you bifurcate liability across those. It also makes it easier from a books and records standpoint to say, “Okay, this is what this deal did, this is what this deal did. And this is how the numbers ended up shaking out on that.”

So at the QOZB level, you’ve got a 70% asset test, right, and if you have a 31-month plan, your cash that you’ve taken in does not count towards that calculation, it’s not going to count against you. It’s also not going to count against you as non-qualified financial property. And so that’s one of the reasons why we recommend that you have this two-tiered program so that you can avail yourself of that 31 or 62, it’s a little bit complicated about what you have to do in order to get 62 months. But effectively, if your project is gonna take longer than 31 months, we’ll set it up so that you have two tranches of equity that come in, and they’ll get you that 62-month window to be able to deploy your capital.

You still have the 5% non-qualified financial property rule. So what you don’t wanna do is have a drop-down entity underneath the QOZB that is like a partnership, right where you own a portion of that entity, because if so that’s going to be considered non-qualified financial property. And so instead, what you would wanna do is have that be owned by a wholly-owned, you know, single-purpose and single-member LLC it’s directly owned by the QOZB. And if that’s the case, then you can have a drop-down entity underneath it. Let’s go to the next slide.

All right, so what has to happen in order to set up your QOF and your QOZB? So your articles and operating agreements gotta have the TCGA language, right? So you gotta have the restrictions in there that are going to say that you’re investing in opportunity zones. Same thing with your QOZB, right. You’re offering documentation you need to have something that shows your flow of funds both from the individual taxpayer into the QOF, and then down into your QOZB. You need to have…and especially if you have a two-tiered structure, a 31-month or 62-month business plan for deploying capital, right, that’s gonna give you your working capital safe harbor.

And then you’re gonna want a compliance resolution at both the QOF and the QOZB level, it says that you’re going to comply with all of the TCGA rules. And that’s gonna be the basis for how you build out your audit trail. And what our compliance resolution does is it references a checklist and a spreadsheet it calculates that out. And the interesting thing about this is if you’re starting a QOZB, you don’t actually have to do anything until you take money. Similarly, with a QOF, you don’t actually have to do anything or make any filings until you’ve actually taken in that first dollar of capital gains. Next slide, Jimmy.

So it’s kind of a similar process for somebody that wants to convert to a QOZB, right, that’s an existing entity. So this could be somebody that’s got a business that’s outside of a zone that wants to move into a zone. This could be a business that’s located in a zone and you wanna make yourself eligible for QOF funds. And so the conversion process is fairly simple, right, is that you need to have your assets, you need to have property in a zone and that could just be a lease, right. If you are just to lease like if you’re in a co-working facility, you’re gonna wanna make sure that you have an asset in that co-working facility, and then you’re gonna need to modify your governing docs to make them QOZB friendly.

So amend your operating agreement, your bylaws, you’re gonna wanna do that compliance resolution, and then you’re gonna need to do the twice-annual asset testing. But once again, only once you’ve received the qualified opportunity fund capital gains money. And then you need to…when you do get that money in, you’re gonna want a 31-month plan for how you’re gonna deploy that capital. Next slide, Jimmy.

All right, so let’s talk compliance requirements, what you actually have to do at the QOZB level. Because you’re not actually getting permission from the IRS on this, it’s all about the audit trail, right? You’re going to have to prove this stuff down the road, potentially. And so you wanna make sure you’ve got that audit trail tight, and that you’ve got good documentation that shows where you’ve spent the money and shows how that money has been tied to a census tract that is an opportunity zone. And you’re gonna want to create that compliance plan in conjunction with your business plan, right, that shows how you’re gonna deploy that cash, right.

So you’re gonna need to do a twice-annual test and report back up to your QOF on your good assets, right, once again, with backup documentation, showing how you came to that, right. You’re gonna need to book your appropriate expenditures. So you’re gonna wanna chart of accounts that dials in with this. And you’re also gonna wanna show economic impact, right. So you’re gonna need to have some basis of being able to kind of demonstrate ultimately how many jobs you’ve created. Or if you’re doing a real estate deal, how many downstream jobs that’s created because of the contractors and independent contractors and all that kind of stuff that you put to work. You know, this basis value of the property, right, to conform to the 100% improvement. So you’re gonna need to show how you came up with the value the building on the front end, and then how much money and how you put that money into the building in order to get your substantial improvement test. And then we talked about the biannual calculations, right, the 70% or the 90%, based upon where you are.

All right, let’s talk about capital raising. I saw one of the chats like saying, “Who’s got money?” So that’s, I think, probably one of the…that’s one of the main reasons why folks are on this call. And so when you are raising money for a QOF, you are offering a security. It doesn’t matter if it’s $1 or $100 million. When you offer a security, you have to comply with the securities laws, otherwise, you could go to jail. Our goal is to keep you out of jail that’s all of our goals, right not to do that.

So the best way to do that is by Regulation D, which is a blanket exemption from the 1933 Securities Act if you comply with all of the rules of Reg D. So the rules that most people fall under when they’re doing an opportunity fund offering is either 506B or 506C. Now, 506B’s got some different variations that allow you to take more than 100 investors and unaccredited investors, but you can’t advertise that offering. That’s the crucial difference between 506B and 506C.

So what 506C allows you to do, you’re capped at 100 investors but it allows you to target investors to be able to do that. And we can talk through some strategies about if your minimum is more than what…or is less than what it’s gonna do to have 100 investors, we can talk through strategies on that. Regardless of the rule that you file under, you have to comply with the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act. And the most efficient way to do that is through a private placement memorandum. So…and Jimmy, you can pop to the next slide on this.

So one of the things that we identified as part of right, the…as out of the strategy calls and out of the ongoing assistance that we’ve been doing with the folks that we’re helping is that folks need a solution for how they can get to capital. And how they can streamline that process as much as possible so that that way, they’ve got a guide, effectively navigating that or a general contractor, if you will, that’s helping them build that house. And so that’s the whole point of this presentation today is to walk you through how we’re trying to help you to do that.

So as part of that, right, so as part of that process of performing an offering, you need to start with a performing a pitch deck. And I kind of alluded to some of the essentials that need to be in that at the start of the presentation, right. Executive summary, what their returns are gonna be. And you need like a base disclosure in that document, it says that, “This is not the offer.” And it’s gonna be followed up by a private placement memorandum.

With that proforma and pitch deck and with that disclosure, you can utilize that to start targeting, like friends and family and people that you know. And this allows you to kind of get a head start and get feedback on your offering to make sure that it’s actually gonna fly right. And make sure that your terms and your promote and that kind of thing are structured in a way that’s gonna be conducive to people wanting to play some money with you.

So once you kind of have that and kind of contemporaneously as you’re going through that right. And you are then gonna be drafting your private placement memorandum and the subscription agreement that basically provides the mechanism by how your investors subscribe to your offering. So as you’re doing that, and parallel with drafting that private placement memorandum, you’re gonna want to be actively putting together all your marketing materials and going to market with your deal, right? You’re gonna be wanting to get this out in front of prospects, potential investors, and that kind of thing so that you can get interest so that ultimately if they have interest, you can bounce them the PPM in the subscription agreement in order to coordinate their closing.

Now, that’s a whole another conversation and not one that we have time for today but there is an art to coordinating that closing. Because it’s a 506C offering, there’s a fair amount of certification that your investors are gonna have to do that you’re gonna wanna assist them with in order to make it as painless as possible. Once again, it goes back into that kind of croc? brain thing of where…crocodile brain to say, “Hey, we’re going to help you with this. So don’t be scared of, you know this big burly PPM in the subscription agreement, we’re gonna help you process through that.” And that’s part of what we’re going to assist you in doing that’s coming up with how you actually do that.

So, as Jeffrey is gonna talk to you about your marketing materials, website and video are crucial to this process. It’s crucial to getting the right information with a common theme and with a common approach out in the hands of your prospective investors. And I’m gonna let Jeffrey walk through that when he gets that done because that process and all of that communication is part of your brand, right? It’s part of what you’re communicating to your investors and that’s gonna provide that kind of seamless closing process to getting your investors in and their money into the fund.

So you know, we also recommend that you look at possibly using either a custodian or a fund administrator to provide a portal to your investors. Not only will you be able to utilize that to communicate with them, but it also allows them to collect the money and the documentation as part of your closing process. It gives your investors kind of that extra level of security, that extra level of comfort to say, “Okay, these guys are legit they’re using somebody that I’ve heard of I know these people, I can, prove them out, right.” And it’s another way for you to be able to prove out your infrastructure because you’ve partnered with somebody who knows what they do.

So as part of our commitment to sophisticated simplification, once again, I’m gonna say that three times fast and Jimmy’s going to laugh. We’re continuing to hone our process and we’ve partnered up with the folks at Crowdcreate and I’m gonna let Jeffrey walk through here and tell you all the great things that they’re doing, which we will run in a parallel path as we do this process and as we kind of go forward on this.

Jimmy: Yeah. Thanks, Ashley that was great. Jeffrey, if you can speak on your process for about 20 to 25 minutes that’ll leave some time at the end here that’d be great.

Crowdcreate Presentation by Jeffrey Maganis

Jeffrey: Sounds good. Thanks, Jimmy. Thanks, Ashley. So I am Jeffrey. I’m one of the co-founders here at Crowdcreate. We are a marketing agency that specializes in helping companies raise funds. And so how did we do it? Marketing is always changing. What we first started out doing, and even what you’re gonna be doing the first month is going to be different than next month. As you know, currently, we’re in the lockdown situation and even your marketing message and the way you reach out to people today differs from when, you know, a year ago. And so really the goal of this webinar is to give you our blueprint and our framework that we’ve learned so that you can have an unfair advantage when you’re, you know, marketing against some of your competitors or the people in your niche, and really how to leverage digital marketing.

So this is our track record, right? And why this is important is because we’ve operated in multiple categories and industries, not just real estate, but blockchain startups, you know, digital cameras, hemp, gaming, various technology sites. And you know, the potential one opportunity zone businesses, is that right you can start a business that isn’t just in real estate, but also these different categories. And also why this is important is that we understand that there’s certain macro trends in psychology for people that they need to get past before they invest in a new deal. And while success, you know, looks like a straight line, really, this is what it looks like for us and for any fund. And we’re gonna give you, you know, a lot of the strategies that you can save time, save a lot of money, do it quickly and affordably.

So again, we focus in, you know, different categories. We’ve worked with Shark Tank funded companies. We’ve worked with technology back startups, mobile home park funds, you know, family offices. And different just tech products that you’d find in your everyday household, right. Whether a bootstrap company or a billion-dollar brand, really, you know, you can apply a lot of these marketing strategies. If you’d like to see some of our past projects they are available on our website. Again, we work with Amazon’s largest electronic seller, they’re called Anchor, did their battery packs, digital cameras. Health, and wellness companies at the end of the day, you know, our vision and mission here at the company is helping people launch successful companies and funds to raise the capital that they need to grow and sustain.

So other case studies in-depth, you can access them via the website. If I, you know, run through this really quickly. Some of these concepts will be, you know, repeat for others, and I’m gonna share some more advanced strategies. So this is our growth marketing formula, okay, this works across all of these different categories, however, you must formulate it to your target market and we’re gonna show you exactly how we do that.

Number one is strategy, planning and strategy is everything before you start creating any content and going out there. And so really what we do is, you know, we’re gonna sit down with Jimmy, Ashley and really craft, you know, what your goals are, what you should be doing to achieve them. And then from there, we’re gonna start creating content, your website, your pitch deck, your videos, your blogs, thought leadership, going to conferences, and whatnot. And all that in mind is to educate and have you as a thought leader in your industry and your niche is because investors need to trust you, right. And how do they trust you? It’s by really showing up, it’s by answering frequently asked questions.

You know, one of the fastest ways to grow that we’ve seen is through influencers is actually leveraging their existing followings and really piggybacking off of the trust that they built up with their audience, and really, you know, collaborate together to work with them. Once you have all this set up in terms of a base framework, then you wanna start reaching out to investors. And we’ve seen it before too often that people start pitching investors right off the bat without a proper pitch deck, without a proper website or marketing material. Where truly your conversions and, you know, access to capital isn’t gonna be as successful if you just built this in the initial framework from the beginning. And lastly, you know, search engine optimization make it very easy for potential investors to find you.

So in terms of building a marketing strategy, pay very close attention to your competitors. They’re spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on marketing. I really want to use this, you know, opportunity zone fund, and it’s very well done. His name is Tai Lopez, very famous internet marketer, you know, probably, you know, he spends $100 million-plus on YouTube ads, you can find a link to his opportunity zone fund that he created here. And in terms of what we do as a company, we create you the roadmap on what you should be doing first, almost timeframes and deliverables on when to do that and also to execute it and hold yourself accountable to grow and scale your business, right. Follow, visit all their websites, look at their pitch deck, watch all of their videos, subscribe to their email newsletters, see what PR and influencers are working with, and also look at their SEO strategy.

So with all this said, it’s really to create what they call a marketing funnel. You know, at the top of the funnel is getting awareness, whether it’s your friends, your families, or you being a speaker at a conference, and then they start, you know, getting interested in what you’re doing. They’re gonna look at your marketing materials, your pitch decks, they’re gonna evaluate it, they’re probably gonna have a next call with you. And then they’re gonna really you know, ask for the docs, the PPM and start signing over their investments. And ultimately, you wanna turn these investors at the end of it also into referral source, get testimonials from them, share those testimonials. And really, that’s how you create the momentum for marketing your brand.

So as we said, we’re a data-driven company we’ve created hundreds of websites looked at the analytics of thousands of websites, and this is what they call a heat map. And so basically…Did you know that 75% of people really don’t scroll further down than what you see on the initial above the fold? And so in terms of you having your opportunity zone fund what you wanna have in this top section is what you do, your biggest differentiator, and, also a two to three minutes short video explainer. Show some of your accolades and social proof, maybe if you were featured in a Forbes publication, or maybe you’ve worked with…or maybe you have a portfolio, you know, of $100 million in assets or more. Explain why this is important to them.

Ashley did a great job opportunity zone funds are a great way to reduce and eliminate capital gains, and a brief introduction to that. You know, highlight your portfolio, some testimonials from other investors. And lastly, have a call to action which is, you know, get on a call or request some of the fund documents.

So we really call this the key elements and, you know, the anatomy of a perfectly built opportunity zone fund websites, right. We follow a lot of digital marketing thought leaders. Neil Patel, this is from his blog is a great resource. You know, great looking headline, secondary headline, call to action, testimonial. Some of the best opportunity websites are gonna be below. Again, follow what the leaders are doing, know what works. If you are looking at do it quickly and affordably at least get out your version one as soon as possible and follow these frameworks and templates.

So Jimmy runs the OpportunityDb, he has a listing of you know, almost majority of opportunity zone fund websites that are out there. We at Crowdcreate went through almost 200 plus websites, and these are the four best that we’ve seen. And you can see that they follow really that same format, right origin investment is over here on the left, you know, very short, concise marketing message at the top. You know, lifestyle pictures showing the team, showing what makes them different, their track record. You know, in the middle here we have CIN, you know, what they do differently, their track record, how much they’ve raised, their social impact.

You know, opportunity zone funds are really, you know, intended to do good in the world. And we love that about what CIN is doing and then other operators. And you wanna proudly show that that, you know, it’s not just making money, but it’s really you know, making a positive difference in these communities, leadership, right. Here’s Cresset and also, Sortis. Sortis runs multiple real estate funds and opportunity zone funds is just one of them. So whether opportunity zone funds, you know, aren’t your main business or if it’s just an ancillary part, you wanna showcase that and not take away from the overall marketing message. Again, portfolio is very important.

What we’ve noticed is that the second most traffic page on your website is actually your team page. So before people even want to take a meeting with you, they are going to Google you, they’re gonna look up your team. And you wanna be on the other side of that search bar to have good marketing material and collateral so that they can start trusting you, they can know that you are gonna be a good steward of their capital. And so, you know, we’ve gone through a lot of the Google Analytics behind that.

In terms of creative branding, right you wanna establish that from the beginning exactly what your messaging is, what your vision is, show pictures of the team, right, create a video, show your track record, what makes you different. Make it very easy for them to get this information. You know, if you send them over a 4 or 10-page PDF, you typically on that initial impression, keep it short and concise as possible.

Now Ashley, you know, does a great job in terms of creating that pitch deck. This is a brand guidelines deck that we’ve created. And really your goal is to get this out as quickly as possible to start raising capital. And when you are working with influencers, right you wanna make sure that your vision is clearly stated the look and feel so that when they amplify your marketing message, you know things are you know exactly how you wanted it from the start and things don’t kind of get lost in translation. So keep your branding consistent and a brand guidelines deck and pitch deck will do that.

When you become a thought leader, right, you know, that’s our goal, take an education first approach that draws investors in rather than pitching them. So what does that mean? You know, it’s creating a list of, you know, article pieces and thought leadership, answer questions be of value to other people. And what you do in person, you’ll also scale it digitally. You know, we’re at a time now where conferences are being, you know, canceled. But really one of our favorite ways to get exposure is actually to speak at conferences and you can see some of the panelists here.

And why do you wanna speak at conferences? Is because you wanna be at the front of the room and you want to be known as a thought leader. Actually saw Josh Childress in this chat here, phenomenal guy. He’s actually a former NBA player and great resource. He does a really good job of talking to other people. You have Lance Bass here, NSYNC, right, another thought leader, former NFL star here. And you can see just the goal is to attend these conferences, speak as much as possible, provide as much value. And you’ll notice that people are gonna wanna talk to you after and really, you know, love the content that you’re creating for them.

So again, we’ve attended, you know, hundreds of conferences around the world and we always take a picture with really who the thought leaders are. This is the co-founder of Wikipedia. This is the head of JP Morgan’s blockchain initiative. Tim Draper, very famous blockchain investor and enthusiast. And again, these are just other influencers and social proof is everything and a picture is worth 1,000 words. These are a list of different conferences that you can attend in your industry, whether you’re doing real estate, or startups technology, blockchain, cannabis, and everything in between.

Really attend these conferences because they are where the thought leaders, investors, and experts go. And they did a lot of the heavy lifting and the work in terms of getting those people in the room now it’s your job to connect and network with them. So again, these are the movers and the shakers. Get connected with these influential people because they can also open up their social circle in terms of influence with people that you wanna get connected to, and who are your ideal investors.

So this is exactly how we do it, we create what’s called an Outreach Master List. So first name, last name, email address, you know, their website, the name of their podcasts, you know. Even before this, we mentioned that. And that Jimmy was actually on this list because he’s a thought leader, he creates a lot of good content, and just people are naturally drawn to what he does. And then from here, you know, we get to know them. And then we have video calls with each of these thought leaders and these influencers.

You know, this is my co-founder, Ivan here who’s actually doing an interview in Chinese because there’s a lot of different demographics and bases that you wanna tap into for capital and don’t just limit it, you know, just to your specific states or a certain region. And so how we do that, the first email is an introduction, second email is you know, offer to create content together, know your metrics and conversion rates before you start doing paid sponsorships. And we use a tool called Listen Notes to find the top thought leaders and podcasters that are out there. So when you become a thought leader, this is one of our clients, Plorists [SP] actually wanna play just a couple seconds of the video and show you exactly how we created this.

So it’s a two and a half minute sizzle reel video. And so you can see that we actually attended different conferences with…his name is Rob Plorists. So this two and a half minute video is going to save you hours of just constantly repeating yourself in terms of what you do, what makes you different, right. Answer these questions this is actually a 25 point framework that we do. We sit down with you to create content, right. We tell you, you know what it is that you should be wearing that fits your lifestyle, and really vision we have these short questions that you should answer. We have these long questions that you should answer, some topics that you should answer in terms of search engine optimization.

And we sit down with you and it doesn’t…in terms of creating content, we know that everybody is busy but you can create all this content in a single day in terms of that sit-down. Here’s some behind the scenes, we still aren’t creating content from N95 masks, you know, practice safe social distancing. You can see here in the Google Drive, where we attended the Ben Zynga conference with him, we visited all the property tours with him. We took pictures with the CNBC host, Tim Seymour here. And that’s exactly how we do it in terms of creating video content.

So when you take all this video content, take an education first approach Origin Investments does this really well they talk about topics that investors want to know. What is annualized IRR? What’s cash on cash return? You know, talking about asset management fee, talking about REIT versus S&P 500. Showing us a tour of the properties that you currently manage and you can see that and I know everyone is busy, but you could get this all done in a single day in terms of in-office segments.

And we sit down with you for, say, six hours and asking all those questions, and you have a lot of content for your audience. Again, this goes back to that sales and marketing funnel where you wanna get discovered, you wanna have people…when they are in this evaluation stage they’re gonna look at what you’ve done, they wanna make sure that they can trust you, and kind of go from there. So lastly, really now is the time to reach out to investors, create a list of your ideal investors, research their LinkedIn, attend conferences, join groups, you know, we recommend the best places in person.

And despite right now, a lot of these conferences aren’t going on, you can do things virtually, still. And it is a numbers game you’re gonna be talking to hundreds of people and just to get, you know, a couple to close. We have a lot of good resources on our website on how to pitch investors and ultimately, you know, get in front of them.

So some of the tips we have for reaching out to investors obviously, number one is stay legally compliant. And that’s why you work with people like Ashley. And in terms of our clients, they always have legal teams on board just to make sure that the marketing message you create, right, it’s not outright solicitation. And what we always, you know, focus on is to stay value-driven and to offer them something that they are interested. You know, don’t try and close a deal in this first initial email, you know, focus more on getting the next meeting, you know, focus on the pain points and proven the techniques, what makes you unique, keep it short and concise.

This is what we call our perfect investor pitch email. The first one if you’re just reaching out to you know, people in your close circle. It’s just to land a first meeting, you know, usually, the first line is always a unique acknowledgment. So you’re not just blasting people out there without understanding what they’re interested in investing. And the second one is a little more drawn out really a lot of the deal flow investors you know, brokers know a lot of them and they like to have things short and concise, what’s your IRR, you know, what region you’re targeting, and whatnots.

And lastly, it’s SEO, making it very easy to be found. What we use is these very advanced SEO tools. This one’s called Ahrefs, you can spy on your competition, you can see what they’re already ranking for, you can see where they’re getting their traffic. I pulled a report here so all of you can see some of the top keywords that people are searching when it comes to opportunity zone investments, you know, opportunity zones in Illinois, California, learning about depreciation, learning about, you know, what’s eligible, learning about what are the best funds that are out there. And this is a way to make it easy.

And we actually know some capital raisers and they said the vast majority of their investors come in through organic Google search. They, you know, are deploying millions of dollars by just typing in best opportunity zones investments, they find your company and we really want you to be on the other side of that search bar so you can leverage that. So this is what we do it as a marketing agency. We have the experience, we have the track record that’s really what makes us different is that we specialize in helping companies raise money. We have the network already of influencers, different PR writers, right, in terms of our own, you know, unique SEO ranking formula. There’s a lot that I didn’t share that we’d love to, you know, discuss with you on a call after this.

And we also have a database of other investors, we know what they want and what they’re looking for. And in terms of specifics, right, we have a short five-day onboarding so you can get, you know, raising capital as quickly as possible. Weekly reporting and one-hour meetings. This is our leadership team, this is my co-founder, and also my other colleague here, Will Walker who does our business development. And alongside Jimmy and Ashley, we’d love to chat with you after. There’s a link to all the campaigns that we’ve done and this is our website. Thanks for having me on.

Jimmy: That’s great there. Thanks, Jeffrey. That was a lot of really great feedback that you gave there. I wanted to just take a minute to acknowledge everybody and thank everybody for attending the webinar.

Jimmy Atkinson

Jimmy Atkinson

Hi, I'm Jimmy Atkinson... I founded OpportunityDb in August 2018. I'm a veteran Internet entrepreneur with a background in economics and Web marketing. I previously founded ETFdb.com. These days, I am passionate about impact investing and tax-advantaged investment opportunities. At the crossroads of these two ideals is the opportunity zones program, a place-based tax policy intended to economically transform some of the poorest areas of the United States with new real estate and business development.

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