On today’s episode of Thought Leader Thursday, Matt speaks to Mikey Taylor, a professional skateboarder and the president of Commune Capital, a company focused on value, multifamily mixed-use, and storage. He has been skating professionally since 2001, and in 2010, he began investing in real estate. He shares his journey from the skateboard to the board room, his experience with Saint Archer Brewery (which he co-founded and later sold to Miller), and how he started his podcast, Avni Intelligence.
What You Will Learn About Mikey Taylor – Skateboard to the Board Room:
- How Mikey went from the skateboard to the board room
- How to deal with your fears
- Why timing is an essential factor
- How Mikey saw the advantages of real estate and a passive income
- How Mikey’s self-esteem played an important role in his career
- Mikey’s story about losing his main skating sponsor
- How it led to the establishment of Commune Capital
- How Mikey helps his skating peers
- Mikey’s experience with Saint Archer Brewery
- His most significant victory as an entrepreneur
- The biggest business mistake Mikey ever made and what he learned from it
- Everything you should know about Mikey’s Avni Intelligence podcast
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Speaker 1: This is Theriault Media.
Mikey Taylor: My biggest fear was basically spending fifteen years of my life building something, it ending, and then kind of not knowing what to do or kind of finding myself in trouble.
Matt Theriault: Hello, I am Matt Theriault of the Epic Real Estate Investing Show, and this is Thought Leader Thursday. Alright, today I’m super excited, I’m joined by professional skateboarder, entrepreneur, and the president of Commune Capital. He’s been professionally skating since 2001 and still is to this day. In 2010, he began investing in real estate, specifically in storage units. And in 2012, he co-founded St. Archer Brewery, which he then sold to Miller-Coors in 2015. That’s every kid’s dream, I think, to sell a brewery to someone like Coors. That same year he co-founded SOVRN Skateboards and apparel and in 2016 invested in Villager Goods and acts as an ambassador for that brand. And then in 2017, he co-founded Avni Intelligence, a podcast and digital product for entrepreneurs. And then at the beginning of this year, he started a new company called Commune Capital, a real estate fund focused on value-add, multi-family, mixed-use, and storage. So please help me welcome to the show, Mr. Mikey Taylor! Mikey, welcome to the show.
Mikey: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Matt: You bet. So, Mikey, you’ve got so much going on, I want to talk about it and I wanna, hopefully we can get to the actual real estate stuff, but if we don’t, I think you’ve got an amazing history, an amazing amount of experience, that’s gonna spread and benefit all entrepreneurs in all walks of life. But before we do that, can you kind of share a little bit about your history in skateboarding and how it led you to this multitude of things that you’re doing today.
Mikey: Yeah, sure. So basically, when I started skateboarding, the industry was really small. I actually never really planned on being a pro-skateboarder; I just was obsessed with doing it, right. So I was kind of doing it as fun, I started getting sponsors when I was in high school, and I was getting to this point of graduating, and my parents wanted me to go to college. I actually always wanted to go to college, it just, I was kind of given this opportunity to travel the world. I started out in photos in magazines, and it kind of felt like I had an opportunity that most people don’t have, right?
So, I kind of, not like I needed my mom’s approval, but I wanted her approval. So I came up with a plan of, “Mom, what if I just skate for two years? I’ll take off two years of college, I’ll travel the world, I’ll see some things, I’ll enjoy it, and then I’ll go back to school,” was our original plan. So I go out and do it the first year, and I’m not really making anything, it was like $500 a month, and then that next year the skate industry basically exploded. I went from like, I’m nineteen, I’m making 500 bucks a month, I’m 20, and I’m making more than my parents. It was this crazy kind of scenario where it kinda just changed my perspective on what I could do here as far as a pro-skateboarder. We still didn’t have the longevity of maybe a conventional career, but I felt like I could do enough in this timeframe to where I could use that to kind of transition into something else. And that was kind of how my professional career started. It was kind of a fluke, almost.
Matt: Well, timing is everything, right? [00:03:25] you know, a Bill Gates, or the Steve Jobs. Like, if they weren’t born, at that specific time, in the region of the world that they were, we might not even know their name. Right, and so timing is everything. So, congrats on winning that lottery. But[00:03:42] a lot of hard work, so I mean it’s not just boom and it happens, but with all the options you had available, I kind of ran down a lot of great accomplishments of yours, and congratulations that’s pretty inspiring.
Mikey: Thank you.
Matt: What is it about real estate that has inspired your recent activity to start Commune Capital?
Mikey: So basically, I think an intro, it might have been a typo, so I started investing in real estate right when I turned pro,[00:04:08] it was [2001 instead of 10], so basically what happened is when I was going through this path of having to figure out what I could do with the short run of a career, right, and started making a lot of money. And in my eyes at kind of 20 years old, I was like, you know what? If I can start investing my money that I’m making from skateboarding into something that can basically build passive income, and I could do that for the entirety of my career, when I lose my sponsor or if I have an injury that essentially takes me out, I’d be okay. Right? Because my biggest fear was basically spending 15 years of my life building something, it ends, and then kind of not knowing what to do or finding myself in trouble. And that’s when I started investing in real estate, I was actually brought an opportunity to be a part of this reuse project where they bought like a big box building and converted it into storage.
Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Mikey: And, dude, I was a kid. I didn’t really know. I didn’t know real estate at this point, I had no experience in it, but it seemed really simple to me and I loved the idea that, I basically give you my money, and then we had a year build out, and then after that, I sell money every year. And I didn’t have to do anything for it, it was completely passive, right? And so I thought it was such a smart model for my career, and then having been a part of a project every other year for the last 15 years, that was the thing in my eyes that really helped me get through that true transition in my career ending. Even when we sold Saint Archer, it’s like, that was a big acquisition for me. I took the majority of that and put it all back into real estate. I’m such a believer in what it can do, and that’s what led towards this path of me wanting to create my own opportunity for others.
Matt: I want us to go back to something that you just said just a few minutes ago was that you knew you had this opportunity in skateboarding. Your biggest fear was that you’d be at the end and then you’re kind of worried about that future. Was that a business instinct or fear, where did that come from? Did you have a mentor, or is that just something that came up in your head?
Mikey: You know what? I think about that a lot actually. It was, I didn’t have a mentor. I don’t know why I thought that way. It could have been a combination of my parents and how they were. But, I don’t know why I just knew that I didn’t want to get blindsided by just losing sponsors and the skill that I had built couldn’t really translate into something I would sell that could make you money in a sense. And I always had a vision of what I wanted my life or lifestyle to look like, so, I think maybe it was fear involved. I don’t know what it was, but I recognize it. I’m thankful I did. But I don’t know why.
Matt: I think was drawn to that comment because I was in the music business for 15 years before I got into real estate. And I was kind of making this branch, and my family thought I was crazy and a little bit like, “You should get a real job.” And so, I was like, no I’m going to go for it. But I had this fear, I don’t know if it was a fear for you, but it was a fear for me that, wow, if this doesn’t work out I could end up homeless. So I did the logical thing. I just joined the marine corps so that I knew I always had a roof over my head. You chose a different path. I wish I would have done that one, but I just made weird decisions at that age based on that as well. That same type of foresight.
Matt: So Commune Capital, let’s talk about it, where’s the focus, what does that business and its operations look like today?
Mikey: So, basically, I’ll just give you a little story leading up to it. I lost my main sponsor a year and a half ago. And it was all my income from skateboarding. And I had a two year deal with them, and they found a clause out of my deal and it basically ended overnight. And in the 15 years that I prepared for that actual situation that I found myself in 14 months ago, going through it, I got a call from a close friend of mine, another skateboarder. And he was like, “Yeah, how are you? What’s it like on the other side?” And I kind of told him, look, it’s tough. I was telling him this story. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional side of it. With everything I had done, I did not prepare for how much it was going to hurt. And he was like, “Oh that’s cool,” like almost just skipped through it. He was like, “That’s cool, are you okay financially? Are you good?” And I have a wife and two kids. He’s like, “Is the family good?” And I was like, “Yeah, thankfully, yeah. I’m okay.” And he said something to me along the lines of, dude, I hope I can be like that when I finish skating. You’ve figured it out.
And it just hit me that a lot of my friends and peers aren’t planning for the end, maybe as much as I did. It was a pay point for me, it’s already a pay point that you could be in a space and have such a big impact to so many people, and then you’re just kind of disregarded. And most of these guys go through a lot more pain than I went through, so I wanted to create something for them that basically I thought could help them through that transition. And it was the one thing that truly helped me, and it’s why I formed Commune when we did.
So, Commune is made up, the guys who I had invested into brought me that opportunity 15 years ago and then continued to the last however long, we all came together to do this new fund. The focus for me being, I want surfers and skaters and athletes and, not specific to them, but people who either have a career that’s gonna end or are working a career and want it to end early. I wanna create this opportunity for them because it helped me so much. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re focusing on, we’re heavily in multi-family. We actually closed on a deal on the 26th, so 12 days or so, a 34 unit. We’re really heaving the value-add. We’re still doing storage. I love mixed use, still love mixed use, and then some reuse property as well.
Matt: Sweet. So that was just the start of the beginning of this year, right? 2018?
Mikey: Yep, so for this [00:10:20], this is the third fund for my partners. For me, this is the first fund that I’ve done. So this project will actually be the first project in the new fund.
Matt: Have you been able to share this with your community, the skaters, and the surfers?
Mikey: So yeah, so when we got that first building under contract, that’s when the capital race began to start raising money for it. And that’s the community I went after because I want to do it. And now we have a good amount of our investors are those people that I’m trying to help.
Matt: How has it been received? Is it broadly a consensus like, wow this is cool, or…
Mikey: To tell you the truth man, it went really, it was received really well I think because when we did Saint Archer, it was… So me and two of my friends started it, and one of the co-founders is Paul Rodriguez, who’s another pro skateboarder. And then Josh Landon at the time was a surf filmer. So it was two skaters and a surf filmer going, “We’re going to start a craft brewery. We need your money.” And that was such a hard sell. So then going into this seven years later, I think real estate is just a different type of risk for people, and I think people are just more comfortable with it as opposed to a start-up craft brewery.
Mikey: So it was a lot easier than the last time I raised money.
Matt: Well, also if you keep on winning, it’s gonna get easier and easier as well.
Mikey: Yeah, and I was thankful to have partners who I had such a long track record with and that had been doing it for so long that it was, I think it was really comforting for a lot of these people that I have a team that just has a lot more knowledge than maybe per se I did at that time.
Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s great. So, with all of these wins, what would you say is your greatest victory to date as an entrepreneur? Which one are you most proud of?
Mikey: Oh man, what I’m the most proud of up until this point… I would say for me it would be Saint Archer up until this point because we raised money from our friends who are surfers and skaters and snowboarders, and most of those guys had never invested in anything before, so for us to be able to pay them back such a great return, I think that was probably the best thing I’ve done to this point. But, I will say with everything that I’ve done, what I’m doing right now with Commune is the most passionate I’ve ever been because I feel like I’m trying to fix this problem that we face. So I’m gonna make this one of my biggest accomplishment.
Matt: I can feel it right now.
Matt: Looking back, what would you say as an entrepreneur, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Mikey: Man, you know it’s funny, I’ve been asked the same question for the last two months now. I’ve done two speaking events where they asked me this question. And both times, I struggled finding the answer, right?
Matt: Of course.
Mikey: And I fail all the time. I’ve had more fails than wins. But what I’ve learned actually through skateboarding is to not get stuck on the failures, to just kind of hit it, accept it, then move on. And it became such this process, that I forget things all the time. Things that happened to me yesterday, it’s like out of sight out of mind. I think probably one of them, man if I had to really circle back, I would say with one of the companies that we started, it was the first time we ever did the capital race and we were giving equity to people for work, for sweat equity, and we gave equity to somebody to help us do something that we didn’t think we were gonna be able to do. He kind of convinced us that to help raise money. [00:14:09] instead of setting benchmarks where he got equity based on dollars that came in, and he didn’t bring anybody in and we gave him equity to do it, and then we ended up selling the company and that was an expensive [00:14:21].
I’ve had a lot of them. I’ve started three companies that failed. I invested in companies that failed. It’s definitely not all wins, it’s just people hear about the wins, right?
Matt: Right. Is there something that going on right now, that you’ve got so many years experience in real estate, is there something now that you wish you would have known when you guys started real estate specific?
Mikey: Man, I would say it’s just more timing. I wish I knew what I knew right now in 2008.
Mikey: Or if I was doing it right, I just think for what we’re doing now I would love to be in a down market, right?
Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mikey: And kind of me now being so heavily invested into it at a high cycle, I just wish it was a different timing, but you know how it goes. There’s going to be a correction again, and just play the game. [00:15:13].
I would say, of course, yeah, we buy everything with a strategy to hold. So for us, it’s like, I feel like you can just withstand a correction or a [cap rate] that’s rising, you know what I’m saying? I wish I was on that strategy. I don’t think I would have bought my house. I don’t like residential. I would have changed that. Really focused more on maybe multi-family.
Matt: Got it, got it. So, you just launched a new podcast, Avni Intelligence, did I pronounce that correctly?
Mikey: It’s called Avni (Ahv-ni).
Matt: Avni. Avni Intelligence. So what inspired this and who should be listening?
Mikey: So, I have a really close friend who was the first pro skateboarder I met when I was a kid, and he was the guy who really introduced me to a lot of people, and we’ve been close the last 20 years. And his story was he was a pro skateboarder, stepped away from skateboarding, worked in corporate America, hated it, tried to start companies, failed. And kind of learned on his own. He was 27, moved back into his mom’s house on the dark couch, totally broke and kind of learned through the online learning system and was able to create his own company, work it for himself and he wanted to share that story. And I’ve always wanted to do something with him, so this was kind of one of those things where I and one of my best friends were able to get together and I was trying to help basically create his dream in a sense or help him do it. So this is for him, this is his passion and dream. For me, I just want to help as many kids learn from maybe other people as opposed to going to school and going into debt and starting a company and it wasn’t all worth it.
Matt: Right. I love it. So who should be listening then? Is it entrepreneur based or just a general life based [00:17:13]?
Mikey: It’s based more on entrepreneurship, brand-building, people that want to step away from what they’re doing and create something themselves. If you have a job, you just want to get a job, I think they’ll be inspired by it. I don’t think it has to be for this [00:17:30] entrepreneur, but that is our focus.
Matt: Sweet, sweet. Well, this has been a pleasure. I know this conversation has inspired tens of thousands of people. We’ve got, we’ve only been doing this, I don’t know, 9 or 10 years, so I’m really happy to share you with my audience. And, you seem like a really good guy, and it’s just been a pleasure. If someone was inspired by something that they heard on this show today and they wanted to get in touch with you, what would be the best way for them to do that?
Mikey: Probably through social media the best way to get a hold of me is Instagram.
Mikey: I’m pretty good at checking all my DMs or even comments. If you wanna reach out to me for anything I’m doing real estate best to use [email protected].
Mikey: Yeah, Instagram’s just Mikey Taylor.
Matt: That keeps it simple. Very good.
Matt: Alright. Let’s stay in touch. Let’s do this again. Sound good?
Mikey: Yeah, why don’t you just send me a text? I want to come out and see you guys.
Matt: Yeah, please do cause we’re darn near neighbors so let’s do it.[00:18:29]
So thanks for tuning in to Epic Real Estate Investing. God bless to your success. I’m Matt Theriault, and I’ll see you next week on another episode of Thought Leader Thursday. Take care.