Meet AAPL member Ray Sturm. Ray is the co-founder and CEO of AlphaFlow who has been an AAPL member since 2016. He is a familiar face from the annual conferences, even leading a panel discussion about real estate crowdfunding and the opportunities it presents for not only investors but also for traditional lenders. When he’s not rocking the world or real estate crowdfunding, you’ll find him working on his wine label with a friend. If you’re in the Willamette Valley, Oregon area you should check out their pinot noir!
What AAPL benefit do you MOST value?
The best part of AAPL is of course the people, and so for me I love the conferences. You have an industry that’s interesting in how spread out it is and how unique individual businesses can be within the same industry. Getting everyone together every year in Las Vegas is an incredible chance to not only network, but also truly learn what the latest thinking is and how to improve my own business.
Why did you become a member?
If you’re going to try to build an impactful private lending business, it’s table-stakes to be an AAPL member. There’s no better way to keep up with what’s happening in the industry, which includes everything from new legal regulation to fintech impacting the industry to partnership opportunities. As a company interested in working with private lenders, AAPL is critical for building our brand in the community too, particularly when you get beyond the largest players and look to get to know small local lenders.
What is your favorite AAPL memory?
In 2016, there was something different about AAPL’s annual conference in Las Vegas. My world of fintech was far along enough to be taken seriously, but still early enough that most lenders didn’t understand our role. Brew Johnson of PeerStreet gave a great talk and I did a panel with his partner, Brett Crosby. Opening up our world to so many successful traditional lenders around the country was a great experience, and a chance for us all to learn from each other.
Why did you decide to enter the private lending profession?
In 2013, I co-founded RealtyShares, one of the first real estate crowdfunding platforms. My co-founder was a really smart young lawyer who’d done flips with his father, and I brought the finance and investing background to help build the business. I quickly found a home in both sides of the industry; it feels great to bring new investors into the space and help them add these types of loans to their portfolios, and it’s of course great to help developers fund their business opportunities. Coming from a fintech background, there’s a lot of opportunity to improve the business for both lenders and investors, and I’m excited to be working on it!
What are some accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
It’s been exciting to be on the cutting edge of the real estate investment world for a few years now. From opening new financing sources for borrowers in real estate crowdfunding, to bringing new sources of capital to lenders with AlphaFlow by being the first to give investors a chance to create diversified portfolios from multiple lenders on one platform, I think we’ve done a lot to drive the industry forward. What’s most exciting is still ahead, as we find ways to partner with lenders in a deeper way and help them truly grow their businesses, which means being a strategic partner and not just capital.
What is your favorite book, and why?
Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived by Peter Barton is a book I’ve read numerous times now. It’s Peter Barton’s true story, he was hugely successful in his professional life and had a wonderful family, but then one day he was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a tough read but also amazingly inspirational and energizing. In business, we’re so often focused simply on accomplishment, but the book to me is a reminder to also make sure I’m finding fulfillment in my work and personal life. I’ve given it to so many friends and recently, a friend gifted it to me unknowingly and I was honestly excited to read it again.
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