Ryan Williams on Fortune’s Leadership Next Podcast: “Why This CEO Wants to ‘Democratize’ Real Estate”

Cadre CEO Ryan Williams recently spoke with Fortune CEO Alan Murray and Senior Editor Ellen McGirt on the latest episode of Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast.

Published on Apr 21, 2021
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Cadre CEO Ryan Williams recently spoke with Fortune CEO Alan Murray and Senior Editor Ellen McGirt on the latest episode of Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast. They discussed Cadre’s ultimate vision to democratize access to alternative investments, what led Ryan to build Cadre, a platform that leverages technology to help level the real estate investing playing field. Ryan also spoke about his unique personal journey to become a founder and CEO in the real estate and tech industries.

Ryan tells the hosts, “Cadre was born out of the realization that most people, institutions, and individuals did not have efficient access to institutional quality real estate…my thinking was that through technology, we could reduce those barriers, create access, liquidity, and allow more people to benefit from ownership and own their futures. That was the thesis.”

His early years as a real estate investor began at the age of 20 while attending Harvard College when he began investing in single family homes following the 2008-2009 financial crisis and continued while working at Blackstone in their real estate private equity group. His experiences culminated in the eventual founding of Cadre, which uses technology and in-house expertise to expand access to commercial real estate investing, while also creating more opportunities for economic inclusion that benefit all types of investors and communities. “To me, it’s not just about maximizing the financial return, it’s also about maximizing the impact. That conversation is one of the common threads of what we’re doing at Cadre as well,” Ryan explained.

Ryan also spoke about the importance of investing in minority-owned and led depository institutions (MDIs), recalling his own story. “I’m a perfect case study. In 2011-2012, I was trying to get a loan to buy a large commercial real estate portfolio in Atlanta. I was turned down by about 10 different banks. The only bank that ended up extending us a loan was Citizens Trust Bank, which was a Black-owned bank based out of Atlanta. The bank chairman reached out and told my partners that they were giving us a shot because they believed in me and our team. We got the loan and sold for a meaningful profit a few years later, which set me on the track to Cadre.”

Stemming from these experiences, Cadre is committed to investing in underserved communities while backing a more diverse group of partners across its transactions. “We’ve committed to back Black and Brown operating partners and developers across our recently launched real estate product, the Cadre Direct Asset Fund. We plan on investing equity in this vehicle alongside underrepresented minority operators who oftentimes, are building properties in underrepresented communities.” Cadre also plans to finance transactions with MDIs as lenders given the impact these banks have on driving greater capital and investment in minority communities.

Shawn Tully, Fortune’s Senior Editor-at-large, commented with his view that, “[Cadre has] really democratized the market. Previously you had to be in a large REIT, with no control over individual properties. Ryan got out of the gateway cities 3-4 years ago and got into lower-priced areas. These types of cities are a great bargain. All of a sudden during the pandemic, people have been moving from expensive places to inexpensive places and can work from anywhere. Those trends have benefitted them.” Shawn added that Cadre gives smaller investors opportunities to diversify their assets.

Listen to Leadership Next for Ryan’s story and his vision for Cadre on Apple or Spotify.

Read Fortune’s profile of Ryan and the podcast interview here.


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