When Gisela and Daniel Wood raised more than £400,000 from family and friends, they did their homework before investing it.
As acknowledged novices when it came to property investing, they read books, took courses and finally got a mentor who promised to introduce them to qualified partners.
They now regret placing their trust in that advice. “We implicitly trusted his knowledge and took his introductions without doing any of our own due diligence, which was our first mistake,” Daniel tells BusinessCloud.
“The result was some rash mistakes in our first five deals: builders who took off with money, errors by poor architects that precipitated large rebuilds which cost a lot of money, currency loss because we didn’t know how to properly protect ourselves from currency fluctuations and even a ‘partner’ who stole money from the company.
“It was not the best start to our investing career – the total loss was over £400,000.”
The serial entrepreneur says letting their family and friends know they had lost their money was “one of the hardest things I have ever had to do”.
He adds: “In the end, we had a choice: we could bankrupt the company and start over; or we could somehow turn the business around.”
Their primary company invests in property in the UK and Spain as well as other assets such as companies, stocks and cryptocurrencies. Registered in Sweden, it has team members spread throughout the UK, Poland, Sweden, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Netherlands and India.
They also run event company Swedish Wealth Institute, taking speakers from all over the world to the Nordics to share their experience of personal development, investing and entrepreneurship.
Prompted by their early experience, the husband-and-wife team then started Momentum Property Education with Lukasz Brzyski in 2017 to help others seeking advice around property investment.
“One of Lukasz’s conditions was that we do a study of at least 100 international property investors and hear what they felt needed to be changed in the industry,” explains Daniel. “What did people need to know? What had gone well for them? What had gone wrong? And how would the perfect property education look?
“We now have an online education platform that allows people to learn from wherever they are and run their property company from anywhere in the world. We are also developing several PropTech solutions that will support our clients.
“One is an artificial intelligence due diligence tool that will allow you to get a full 360-degree analysis – with 50 datapoints – of any property deal in less than 10 minutes.
“It will greatly help our students in saving time, and more importantly, making the right deal in the right area with the right strategy.”
With 15 staff within Momentum alone, the company is in an exciting growth phase.
“Our students are doing very well: they purchased over £5 million worth of properties last year and are on the right pace for £15m in 2021,” says Daniel.
“We are looking to rapidly grow our services and our reach over the next five years. We are planning to do our first round of financing in 2022 and grow the team by 67% over the next 12 months.
“We recently expanded our education into Spain and plan to launch in the US in 2023.”
Asked about the rise in house prices during COVID-19, he says: “I absolutely did not foresee the price increase we have had – but we have always taught our students to not see investing as a ‘zero sum game’.
“You can have hypotheses on what the market is going to do, but being wrong can’t mean that you lose – sooner or later you will always be wrong.
“Our job is to structure our portfolios and our deals in a way that no matter what happens in the market, we win. We might win bigger when we are right, but we still need to win when the market is going down.”
He adds: “The question is – what will people do with their savings? Will they be spent on a new home, on a luxury vacation, on education, on investments or as a rainy day fund in case things get worse again?
“The answer to that question will drive the economy over the next decade, I believe.”