“I think we talk a lot about spending; we should talk an equal amount about earning.” – Milind Mehere
Milind Mehere is co-founder and CEO of Yieldstreet. Yieldstreet was founded in 2014, and over the last eight years has built one of the largest private investment platforms in the world. To date, they've brought on over 377,000 members to invest more than $1.5 billion, and they've paid out over $196 million in interest on income producing investments alone, not including principle. What started out as a far-fetched idea in 2014 to build one of the world's first private market investment platforms, initially focused around producing income investments like credit, hence the name Yieldstreet, has become one of the largest investment platforms in the world alongside companies like AngelList and Republic.
In this episode, we explore why alpha has evaporated from public markets with the rise of indexing, ETFs, and automated investment strategies over the last 20 years, why private equity, venture capital, real estate and private credit have exploded in that same timeframe, why the classic 60/40 portfolio is dead and how investors should rethink their approach to investing across public and private markets going forward. We also discuss how Yieldstreet built one of the world's largest investment platforms, bringing on investment managers and investors at the same time, and why Yieldstreet's focus has been on building what they call distribution infrastructure for investing. Finally, we cover why Yieldstreet built a horizontal business straddling many smaller verticals instead of focusing on just one aspect of private markets. This episode is our definitive guide to private markets and building a private market investment platform.
This episode is our definitive guide to private markets and building a private market investment platform. In it we cover:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction
- 00:02:22 – From tech entrepreneur to creating an investment platform
- 00:08:44 – The entrepreneurial spirit
- 00:12:07 – How public markets have shifted, and why you should invest in private markets
- 00:16:09 – Changes in consumer behavior that affect how we should invest
- 00:20:30 – Recommendations on how to allocate your investment portfolio
- 00:23:07 – Building a rolling portfolio of liquidity
- 00:27:06 – Retail investors and a generational wealth transfer
- 00:31:55 – The investment environment in Yieldstreet’s early stages
- 00:35:43 – How an ongoing bet between co-founders propelled Yieldstreet forward
- 00:37:41 – The extreme need for trust and credibility in money management
- 00:41:43 – Distribution infrastructure and a two-sided marketplace in Yieldstreet
- 00:51:36 – Founders: learn from feedback, find the right team, and be well-capitalized
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
Our Favorite Quotes
Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:
- “Our belief is that by 2025, consumers should have at least 25% in private market allocation. Whether it's 20, 25, 30%, that really depends on who you are as a consumer, but if you apply that, then you're 60/40 naturally has to change to 45/25/25 or something like that.”
- “It's like we all live in this world of instant gratification, and so in some ways, startups kind of give you that dopamine of – you can actually have an impact. The things that you think about, you could translate very quickly. And of course that's the good part. Obviously there are lots of dark days and stressful days, but that's what gets me coming back to it.”
- “I think we are sitting on a generational wealth transfer. So $60 trillion is going to be transferred from baby boomers to generation X, Y, Z. People who are older than 55 are going to transfer $60 trillion to people between 20 and 55. So all of us are going to be recipients of that.”
- “That's the beauty of two-sided marketplace. You've got to keep supply and demand in balance to ensure that you're bringing the right product to market.”
- “If you're in money management, wealth management, there is an extreme need for trust and credibility.”
- “I don't believe in MVPs, but I believe in something called MEPs: Most Effective Product. Most viable product means that, hey, I can cut corners, I just want to get something out. Effective – is it effective in the marketplace?”
- “You have to take the product to the market quickly so that you can actually get real user feedback.”
5 Ways to Dive Deeper
- Building a $6B Hedge Fund in Crypto with Joey Krug of Pantera Capital on Outlier Academy: Joey Krug is Co-CIO at Pantera Capital and Cofounder at Augur and Eco. In this episode, Joey and Daniel discuss investing in volatile markets, perspectives on risk, and the future of prediction markets. (53 Min)
- Public to Private Equity in the United States: A Long-Term Look: This white paper from Morgan Stanley covers the shift in U.S. equities from public to private markets. (2.5 Hr)
- McKinsey’s Private Markets Annual Review: This annual paper from McKinsey covers private equity, real estate, debt, infrastructure, and natural resources. (31 Min)
- Investing in Private Markets: This is a great guide to investing in private markets, including some perspectives on questions such as “How much should one invest in the private markets?”—to which their answer is at least 5-10% of your overall portfolio. (15 Min)
- Capital Allocators: How the world’s elite money managers lead and invest by Ted Seides: This book by the founder and host of the Capital Allocators podcast explains how “the world’s elite money managers lead and invest across public and private markets.” (4 Hr 46 in Min)
We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:
- Yodle | Crunchbase
- I2 Technologies | Crunchbase
- Square | Solutions For Your Small, Medium & Large Business
- Apollo | Investing in tomorrow, today
- Blackstone | Leading global investment business investing capital on behalf of pension funds, large institutions and individuals
- LendingClub | Online Personal Loans at Great Rates
- Betterment | Grow your money with easy automated investing and goal-based saving
- MIT $100K Competition | Pitch, Accelerate, Launch
- Wealthfront | Invest for the long term on your terms
- Robo-Advisors | Investopedia
- KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.) | American global investment company
- Carlyle | Global Investment Firm
- Apple | Think Different
- HP | Laptop Computers, Desktops, Printers, Ink & Toner
- IBM | Make work less work
- Cisco | Networking, Cloud, and Cybersecurity Solutions
- Oracle | Cloud Applications and Cloud Platform
- Microsoft | Cloud, Computers, Apps & Gaming
- Salesforce | We Bring Companies and Customers Together
- Facebook | Connect with friends and the world around you
- Google | Search the world's information, including webpages, images, videos and more
- Amazon | Spend less. Smile more.
- Airbnb | Vacation Homes & Condo Rentals
- Zoom | Video Conferencing, Cloud Phone, Webinars, Chat
- NetSuite | Business Management Software
- Uber | Get Moving
- StepStone Group | The Partner of Choice for Private Markets Solutions Globally
- Greenspring Associates | Crunchbase
- Bessemer Venture Partners | For the entrepreneurs who want to create revolutions of their own
- SoftBank Vision Fund | Shared Vision, Amplified Ambition
- Fetch Rewards | Fetch Rewards, Earn Free Gift Cards & Get Cash Back
- SpaceX | Designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft
- Charles Schwab | A modern approach to investing & retirement
- Vanguard | Mutual funds, IRAs, ETFs, 401(k) plans, and more
- E*TRADE | Investing, Trading & Retirement
- Robinhood | Commission-free Stock Trading & Investing App
- GameStop | Consoles, Collectibles, Video Games, and More
- Prosper | Online Loans Are Easy
- RealtyMogul | Real Estate Crowdfunding & Investing
- Michael Weisz | LinkedIn
- Pantera Capital | First U.S. institutional asset manager focused exclusively on blockchain technology
- Mark Roland | Results for Development
- Milken Institute | Global Conference
Daniel Scrivner (00:00:06):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of our Outlier Founder Series, where we deconstruct the world's most interesting startups and explore the ideas, frameworks and strategies used to build them. I'm Daniel Scrivner, and on the show today I'm joined by Milind Mehere, co-founder and CEO of Yieldstreet. Yieldstreet was founded in 2014, and over the last eight years has built one of the largest private investment platforms in the world. To date, they've brought on over 377,000 members to invest more than 1.5 billion, and they've paid out over 196 million in interest on income producing investments alone, not including principle. As you'll hear, what started out as a far-fetched idea in 2014 to build one of the world's first private market investment platforms, initially focused around producing income investments like credit, hence the name Yieldstreet, has become one of the largest investment platforms in the world alongside companies like AngelList and Republic.
Daniel Scrivner (00:01:03):
In this episode, we explore why alpha has evaporated from public markets with the rise of indexing, ETFs, and automated investment strategies over the last 20 years, why private equity, venture capital, real estate and private credit have exploded in that same timeframe, why the classic 60/40 portfolio is dead and how investors should rethink their approach to investing across public and private markets going forward, how Yieldstreet built one of the world's largest investment platforms, bringing on investment managers and investors at the same time, and why Yieldstreet's focus has been on building what they call distribution infrastructure for investing, and why they built a horizontal business straddling a bunch of smaller verticals instead of focusing on just one aspect of private markets.
Daniel Scrivner (00:01:48):
This episode is our definitive guide to private markets and building a private market investment platform. You can find the show notes and transcript for this episode at outlieracademy.com/112. That's 112. And you can learn more about Yieldstreet and create an account today at yieldstreet.com or by downloading the Yieldstreet app from the app store. With that, here's my conversation with Yieldstreet's Milind Mehere. Milind, thank you so much for joining me on Outlier Academy. I'm thrilled to spend time with you today to dive into Yieldstreet and what you're building there.
Milind Mehere (00:02:21):
Thank you so much for having me.
Daniel Scrivner (00:02:22):
So I wanted to start with just a few basics, and one of those was if you can give people a quick sketch of your background and talk about how that led to you founding Yieldstreet? Just kind of give us the prologue and the backstory.
Milind Mehere (00:02:40):
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a tech entrepreneur, spent all my life in tech. I'm actually not a finance guy. And I built my career just basically following my passions and using data and technology to solve big problems. So prior to Yieldstreet, I co-founded a company called Yodle, which was a ad tech company leader in helping small businesses advertise online. And then prior to that, I spent my time in enterprise software working for a company called i2 Technologies that really revolutionized and actually coined the word supply chain in the mid '90s, if you believe it or not. And so it was a great kind of foundation for me to understand how to build amazing software. And so you would then think, how do I go from enterprise software ad tech to FinTech? And I think for me, Daniel, the journey was very personal. So I came to this country as an immigrant student, started working professionally, was getting successful in my career, and then global financial crisis hit. We all know where we were.
Milind Mehere (00:03:40):
You obviously spent time at a great company called Square. And 2009, my portfolio is down 50%, I asked my financial advisor, "Hey, what's happening?" He said, "I can't help it. The whole world is collapsing." And that's when I told him, "Obviously being in New York, you have exposure to venture capital, private equity, hedge funds," and I said, "Hey, can I invest with Apollo or Blackstone?" And he starts laughing. He said, "I know I'm your financial advisor/wealth manager, but you don't have wealth to invest in those companies." I'm just like, "What? I'm a pretty successful professional, why can I not invest?" And Daniel, the challenge was the minimums were way too high and lock-up periods are way too long. And so that started my quest of, hey, how do I open access to alternative investments, private markets broadly to the masses? Next several years, I just spent time doing it personally through my private account, mostly focused on real estate, till I founded Yieldstreet about seven years ago.
Milind Mehere (00:04:41):
So that's kind of the backstory as to what led me to founding Yieldstreet. Obviously the big challenge was regulatory environment was getting better, and mobile was really taking off. And so if you remember, it was LendingClub and some of the real estate platforms earlier on, and then companies like Betterment that kind of wanted to do robo advice for the public markets, and so investing was getting a lot more acceptance online, and so we thought it was a really great time to make this type of an asset class available to broadly more investors, and do it in a manner that's really customer-friendly and a little bit more easier for consumers to learn and invest in.
Daniel Scrivner (00:05:28):
Yeah, that's fascinating. And I love the background and the focus on democratizing access, because as we'll talk about I'm sure many times in this interview, it needs to be done. We need to open up these opportunities for everyone, or at least people who can and should reasonably be allocating to them to be able to invest. I love that. I would love to kind of talk for a second... I know a lot of people listening have heard of Yieldstreet, I know many people listening have invested on the platform, but there's also people listening that probably know about Yieldstreet. So can you also just at a super high level... Clearly it sounds like it's private market focused. What is the elevator pitch for Yieldstreet, and what are some of the investment opportunities people can find on the platform today?
Milind Mehere (00:06:09):
So simply put, Yieldstreet lets you invest in private markets. What does that mean? That means anything outside the public markets, outside stocks and bonds. So in alternative investments and all private market investments. How should someone think about what alternative investments really mean? So for us, think of five big food groups, private equity, credit, private credit, real assets that includes real estate, art, transportation, venture capital and crypto. So those are big five food groups. And generally why people come to Yieldstreet is, you either want to generate income, passive income, and that would come from private credit or debt-based offering, or you want to have capital appreciation. So when you invest in real estate, you have equity in the real estate. In five years when the real estate goes up, you would take benefit of that equity, which is exactly why we buy homes and hope that over a period of time, the homes go up.
Milind Mehere (00:07:09):
That's why people buy second houses, with the same expectation of generating income, as well as capital appreciation. So we help you do that at scale. And generally there are two ways to invest on Yieldstreet. You can go into a direct investment single offering, which is let's say a real estate apartment in Nashville, 300 unit department, and that's one investment you can go to, or you could invest in thematic funds, and the funds are private equity funds or venture capital funds or a crypto fund, and you could get diversified access to those funds. So that in a nutshell is what Yieldstreet helps you do. Now, the most important thing, going back to my motivations about starting a company, is you can do this at minimums that are much more palatable. So you could invest as low as 500 or $1,000 dollars, but go as high as half a million dollars, if you choose to do that.
Milind Mehere (00:08:08):
And I think that is very, very important. And then the other thing is, the biggest challenge... And I'm sure we're going to talk about this, is people are obsessed with liquidity. And so what Yieldstreet has done is, we have designed products that are as short as three months, but they're also as traditional as 10 years. And you want various ways in which you can build a rolling portfolio, because not 100% of your assets or money should be liquid. And so we help people think through, hey, what does the liquidity profile look like for you and what are your needs, and based on that, you have different products and access to different products.
Daniel Scrivner (00:08:44):
Yeah, that sounds incredibly useful. I want to ask one more question. I love interviewing people that are kind of repeat or serial entrepreneurs. And the question I wanted to ask you there is, one, I'm sure that's deeply personal, your reason to continue to do this again and again. Because building companies is exciting, it's also really difficult, as you know. What was your initial motivation, and what has kept you coming back to build business after business?
Milind Mehere (00:09:08):
Listen, my initial motivation is that I come from a family of entrepreneurs. And I was growing up, and I went to school in India and here also, but in '90s, India was amazing. It was opening up its economy. For a long time, it was a closed economy. And so that created a tremendous level of entrepreneurial spirit. And I think for me, that was always the case. So even when I took my first job out of college, which was in Boston, I had participated in MIT 50K competition. It is now 100K, but back in the day it was 50K, and I had reached semifinals I think it was in 2001 or 2002. And so it was always in the back of my mind of really trying to have an impact and create something of value that consumers would love.
Milind Mehere (00:09:55):
And so I think that was very, very important to me, and trying to solve big problems. And I think for me, it's like we all live in this world of instant gratification, and so in some ways, startups kind of give you that dopamine of you can actually have an impact, the things that you think about, you could translate very quickly. And of course that's the good part. Obviously there are lots of dark days and stressful days, but that's what gets me coming back to it. And I think as I was telling earlier, Yieldstreet was really personal to me where I think that there is this huge wealth gap that exists... We speak about this income gap. And why does that exist? Is because a lot of these investments are locked up for people who are already super wealthy.
Milind Mehere (00:10:43):
And so slowly, slowly, how can you open that access? Now, obviously unfortunately today not all products on Yieldstreet are available for everybody, but that's the vision. Next 10 years, that's the whole vision. Because we are entering a golden age of FinTech. And in the next 10 years, hopefully through technology, blockchain, other things that are happening in our ecosystem, consumer behavior is changing, hopefully we'll be able to get a lot more people on the table and get them access to these type of opportunities. And we feel that's going to reduce the income and opportunity gap in the next 10 years for people, as more and more people get access to such products. So that drives kind of the mission-oriented part of what we are trying to do here.
Daniel Scrivner (00:11:24):
Yeah. So well said. I mean, what you're doing at Yieldstreet is super important, because as somebody who grew up in a household that we had, my parents had no sophistication around investing. We invested in basically the vanilla, probably the default options in whatever their retirement account was. We're clearly moving to a world where people care more and more about their investments and are genuinely thinking about it as they should be. And so I love that you're building a platform that's democratizing that. One other thing I was just going to say is, you talked about those five major food groups. One of the best quotes I've heard about those is that those are access classes and not asset classes, which I think is really true, because it's all about, if you can't get access to them, you can't invest in them anyways.
Daniel Scrivner (00:12:07):
And so I love that that's what you're doing at Yieldstreet. I want to, before we dive into Yieldstreet... Because we're going to talk about the marketplace you've built there, what that looks like. But before we do that, I want to spend time talking about public versus private markets, and the shift we've gone through over the last few decades, and what maybe the next decade or two might look like. Where I wanted to start was, as you think about public markets, over the last 20 years, a lot of people would argue that the alpha's been sucked out by automation, by effectively low cost ETFs. It's just been arbitraged away a lot by technology and by things like Wealthfront and robo advisors. How do you think about what's happened in the public markets, and how does that shape why people should be investing in private markets more?
Milind Mehere (00:12:51):
So you actually hit the nail on the head. Last 20 years, we moved from active to passive through automation. So most of us are accessing low cost ETFs, index funds and mutual funds. That's part of our equation. But that leaves us with no alpha. We're generally generating beta in the market. But broadly speaking, what has happened outside the public markets? Think about private equity funds. So think about Apollo, Blackstone, KKR, Carlyle. They took the first 20 to 30 years of their existence to get to $40 billion of AUM individually. In the last 10, 12 years since the global financial crisis, they've gone from 40 to 400, 500, $700 billion. Why? Because they're generating returns for their investors. Who are their investors? Sophisticated LPs, pension funds, endowments, nonprofits, sovereign funds. Why are they investing in them? Because again, they're driving alpha.
Milind Mehere (00:13:54):
So that's a very, very big phenomenon because they've been successful. And so our thesis is, why should we not have access to that? And what we have been told is 60/40 is the way to go, but that was true 40 years ago, not today's environment. So that's one reason. The second reason, Daniel, is that when our parents invested in '80s, '90s, companies would go public really soon, and then they really had their growth after they were public. So think about Apple, HP, IBM, Cisco, Sun, Oracle, Microsoft, the names goes on and on. They went pub public so soon. And so in the '80s and '90s, they had a tremendous run in the stock market, and all of the retail investors like our parents benefited from it. But that's not happening in the last 20 years. More companies are staying public.
Milind Mehere (00:14:46):
So outside of Salesforce and Facebook and Google and Amazon, there are only a few companies that went public that really exploded. But a lot of the companies like Airbnb and Zoom and NetSuite, all these companies, they stayed private for so long... Uber, and just so many companies. And so I think those two phenomenons are really what's holding just generally a consumer's portfolio back, and we feel that alts is going to drive alpha find the next decade. And so I think that's important for us to make it more accessible, but also educate the consumer that, hey, this should be part of your thinking and part of your portfolio.
Daniel Scrivner (00:15:30):
Yeah. So just to recap, because you covered a lot of ground there. It sounds like, one, it's partly that companies are staying private longer, which means you need to be a private market investor to get that alpha. Otherwise if you invest it in the public market, it's probably doing fine, but probably not generating a ton of alpha. You also have the private markets have exploded in size, which I want to talk about a little bit more in a second, talking about just how big private equity and venture capital has become. And then you've seen obviously historically people have invested mostly in public markets, while sophisticated investors have always been investing in public and private markets. And so hopefully individuals can now move in that direction.
Daniel Scrivner (00:16:09):
I want to talk for a second, because you talked about private equity and how private equity going from 40 billion to say 700 billion recently, which is fascinating, and just order of magnitude growth is incredible. That same thing has happened on the venture capital side. How do you think about that part of the equation? I'm sure that's part of companies staying private longer. Because I want to kind of make the point for people that the private markets have gotten much, much, much bigger. And it's not just private equity, it's also venture capital, it's credit funds. How do you think about the size of those things and how they've grown similarly to private equity?
Milind Mehere (00:16:42):
Yeah. So I think they are filling a need in the market. Because what's happening is, over the last 10 years, 15 years, consumer behavior has also changed. So a lot of the consumers have become global. So an example is travel industry, or Airbnb. It's not just like, hey, I wanted to go for a weekend trip to upstate New York or to Lake Tahoe, we now go to Paris and can have an option of staying in Airbnb. So generally, the global markets have completely expanded. Number two is that the consumer behavior has changed. So the markets have become much larger. And so VC funds and PE funds are catering to that by doing this massive rounds, and technology and data is enabling these companies to reach the consumer like they've never done before.
Milind Mehere (00:17:31):
And so I think they're playing that in a very important role. And so again, our belief is that, how do you make those type of investments available? So I'll give you two examples on Yieldstreet. We offered StepStone, which is a publicly traded investment form. Greenspring Associates were acquired by StepStone, and we offered their funds. Greenspring has a 20 year track record. They're a fund of fund managers primarily. So what they do is, they invest in other venture capital funds. They also make direct investments, but they invest in other venture capital funds. And so they invest their LPs in Andreessen and NEA and Bessemer, clearly top tier VCs. Now, if you want to invest in them, the minimums would be very high on private wealth platforms, if they're available at all. So now you can invest on Yieldstreet at 25 or $40,000 minimums, which obviously is incredible.
Milind Mehere (00:18:22):
The other aspect is that what other flavors of VC investment can you offer. So secondaries is another big thing. So secondary sales. So for example, if the company, as we spoke about earlier, stays private long, early investors and employees and management might want some liquidity after five, six, seven years at the company. So that's when secondary sales come into picture. And so secondaries fund is another way to access some of these high growth companies where you're not taking early stage venture risk, which obviously exists quite a bit, because it's not a proven company yet, but later stage growth company risk where now the company's already proven, and so now it's on a path to go IPO, it has real revenues, profitability in some cases, and so how do you tap into that? And then the third strategy is kind of pre-IPO allocation, co-investment.
Milind Mehere (00:19:15):
And so you can take a specific company that is on a pre-IPO path and make that available where you could put small checks. So for example, we have Fetch Rewards that is on the platform, and that company was funded in their last round by SoftBank and really great investors all around. We are actually announcing another very exciting company in the next couple weeks. And so usually you will not get access to those type of rounds on your own if you want to put small checks. And so I think that really kind of gives people access to that venture ecosystem that they didn't have before.
Daniel Scrivner (00:19:51):
Yeah. No, that's a great overview. I mean, one example of secondaries... You were just talking about this. I think SpaceX right now is doing something like a 200 million plus secondary offering in part to give companies liquidity. And this one is an example of a company that's already generated a massive amount of alpha for their investors, still in the private markets, likely to be in the private markets potentially for a decade from now, but using secondaries as a way for investors to be able to get access to it. It's just a timely example. I want to talk for a second about that 60/40 portfolio, because not to belabor the point, but I think you've touched on this a little bit, that that is dead, and I think that's widely talked about that it's dead.
Daniel Scrivner (00:20:30):
And people talk about that from both sides, that one, on the public market side, yes, you should have public market exposure, but you should generally expect lower future returns. On the bond site, there's the sense that maybe the next decade is going to be a bond bear market and it's going to do really poorly. What are your thoughts on why these 60/40 no longer works and is basically broken, and then how would you maybe think about that and translate that to a public/private split? Do you have any recommendations or thoughts there in terms of how to allocate a portfolio between those two sides of the market?
Milind Mehere (00:21:01):
Yeah. So I will start with the second question first, which is location. So our belief is that by 2025, consumers should have at least 25% in private market allocation. So whether it's 20, 25, 30%, that really depends on who you are as a consumer, but if you apply that, then you're 60/40 naturally has to change to 45/25/25 or something like that, or 45/30/25. So I think that is something which is very important. Now, why is that? Again, I think institutional investors have up to 60% allocation. So why do you think Blackstone went from 50 billion to 750 billion? Because a lot of the institutional investors invested heavily with them over the last 20 odd years. And so when institutional investors are 50, 60% of allocation to alts, some portion of that retail also should have. And then family offices historically, mainly because of real estate and those type of holdings, have pretty large allocation, close to 40, 50% to alts as well, including real estate.
Milind Mehere (00:22:08):
So I think that is very important. The other thing is that when 60/40 was conceived, the only option really was stocks and some bonds. And so when Charles Schwab was formed in the '70s, or Vanguard and all that, that was the only choice. And so people wanted to have some diversification within those buckets, so they started with 60/40. Now that's no longer the case. We have all these asset classes, venture, private equity, credit funds, various different types of obviously crypto and DeFi, though it's taking a bath in the last four or five, six weeks, but of course those are real asset classes with over $1 trillion, $2 trillion allocated to them. And so those are all in the mix now, and changes to regulation is allowing or making it slightly better... It still has a long way to go, but slightly better for people to get access to it. And so that's why it should be part of the conversation.
Daniel Scrivner (00:23:07):
Yeah. I want to close by asking two questions around this, and then we'll move on to talk a little bit more about Yieldstreet. One, I want to go back to the point you made earlier talking about liquidity, because obviously... I'll just maybe give myself as an example. I've been very heavily allocated to private markets. I believe that's the right thing to do. So I'm totally with you on that. My allocation generally is much higher than 25%, but that's just a personal choice. And one of the things you learn over time is, yes, there are incredible returns, there's also illiquidity. And I think it's this weird thing of, you have a lot of potentially paper wealth, especially if you're invested in something that's around appreciation as opposed to income, but that may not be liquid, and you may not get access to that cash or those returns for years, even up to a decade. And so you talked about this idea of building a rolling portfolio of liquidity, just talk about that a little bit more? Because I think it's a really important concept, and I want to make sure people understand what that means.
Milind Mehere (00:24:08):
Yeah. Appreciate the question very much. I think in my view, there are two ways to generate liquidity. So just to recap, one is rolling portfolio. What do I mean by that? So on a platform like Yieldstreet, you have investments that have a term of as low as three months, all the way to 10, 12 years. And so I think as a consumer, we are offering education, as well as shortly this summer we'll offer automated tools to create customized portfolio, depending upon your liquidity needs. So maybe you put some portion into investments that have very short term, so zero to two years, others in medium term, two to four or five years, and then others in long term, which is five years plus. And so I think that's one way to think about liquidity.
Milind Mehere (00:24:48):
The other way is to have too liquidity. So at Yieldstreet, we launched a secondary market for some of our funds last year. And so some funds have quarterly liquidity. So every quarter you'll get an email saying, hey, if you want to redeem, let us know, and we are offering that and expanding that. We, as a company, are very focused on it, and I'm sure the industry's focused on it where my vision is that ultimately you should have the same experience as E-Trade or Robinhood where you could be able to go into a position and say, sell. So I know, Daniel, you do a ton of venture investing. Obviously you have a very large venture portfolio, but imagine a SpaceX example. If you could take your portfolio, and it would be on a platform and you could say, hey, I want to sell maybe 20% of my portfolio, I need some liquidity, I'm building a house, sending my kid to college, I want to buy a second apartment, whatever maybe the case, want to get married, and you hit click, and you have a automated market, that would be great.
Milind Mehere (00:25:48):
And so I think for us, Yieldstreet from a vision perspective, that's really where we are going. And we're taking slow steps. So I'll give you another example. This summer, we want to launch a secondaries fund. What does that mean? We'll reach out to our investor community on certain deals and say, hey, you have an opportunity to sell, here is how much is the value currently of that investment, and you let us know. What we will do, aggregate all of that. So maybe I'll take, Daniel, your 25,000 from deal one, and Joe's 25,000 from deal 75, aggregate thousands of investors into a fund and offer liquidity.
Milind Mehere (00:26:20):
And then what we could do is, take that fund and offer that back on the platform for our investors. Because then you suddenly get access to 15 different investments that have already been originated and are being offered on the platform. So that's a way to do it. And then ultimately, again, as I was saying, I want to see a world where you could do it the same way we do it for stocks. Of course there's lots of complexity and regulatory hurdles to cross there, but blockchain and DeFi potentially can be a solution, along with regulatory changes to kind of get us there. I don't see it happen in the next 12 to 24 months, but definitely in the next three to four years, five years, it's a really good ambition for all of us to have who are in the industry.
Daniel Scrivner (00:27:06):
Yeah. Well, it's also amazing just to reflect on you've been building Yieldstreet for seven years. You've obviously accomplished an incredible amount, and yet just hearing you talk about some of the things that are coming up, these are massive, massive changes that, one, deliver against the mission you had when you founded the company, but two, move the ball forward considerably for investors just in terms of making this... Again, going back to that comment earlier, there's the let me get access to it part, but then there was the help me manage it, help me get liquidity, help me think through it, just help add alpha to my own decisions. Last question is around retail investors. And when you think about retail investors today, just that term, you might think last year on Robinhood options trading, maybe GameStop.
Daniel Scrivner (00:27:53):
There's also this sense of retail investors spending a lot of time in crypto. How do you think about retail investors, the kind of... Because it feels like we've gone through a tectonic shift. And I guess from my perspective, I'm mid 30s. I know for my generation, but I know especially for people that are five, 10 years younger than me, they're one, much more interested in investing than I think anyone has been historically, two, they're taking the reigns themselves and making their decisions for better or for worse. And I think we'll figure out how to help these people make better decisions over time. But it seems like a tectonic shift. So how do you think about the impact of retail and where that's going and why it's important?
Milind Mehere (00:28:32):
Yeah. I think, Daniel, you hit the nail on the head. I think we are sitting on a generational wealth transfer. So 60 trillion is going to be transferred from baby boomers to generation X, Y, Z. So people who are older than 55 are going to transfer $60 trillion to people between 20 and 55. So all of us are going to be recipients of that. We are not golfing with our advisor at a private bank or sitting and having donuts with them. We want to be educated. We are all smart. We know how to use technology. We know how to consume data. We are doing it every single day of our lives. And we are making real decisions. And so financial services have to move. We were very excited for the last 20 years that the bank went from analog to digital, and we could scan our checks and not having to go to the bank, but it is a lot more than that.
Milind Mehere (00:29:22):
Of course digital payments has been a huge part of it. And obviously Block has led the way in terms of how... Square, as it was called earlier, had led the way of how payments should really work. So I think those changes are happening, and that's going to propel what changes users need to see. But I think going back to your point, what happened in the last four or five years is, technology and consumer behavior dramatically changed. We see it in our own ecosystem, Daniel. Our first... I still remember this. We launched our mobile app. We were the first alts platform to launch a mobile app four or five years ago, 2017. Our first investment was from the middle of Lake Minnesota. How amazing is that? It's probably a dad fishing with his son, or a family.
Milind Mehere (00:30:10):
And our investments launched at a specific time, and they came in and invested probably from their iPad. And so that was really a great game-changing experience or insight that we had. So I think that whole consumer behavior has shifted. People want a seat at the table. Now, the question is, how do you responsibly ensure that the consumers are educated, know what they're getting into, what is the liquidity, and all of that is on us to ensure that that happens, and then right type of consumers get access to right type of products. And so obviously we have to work with regulators, bring them up to speed with what's changing in the world and really have that dialogue.
Milind Mehere (00:30:48):
And by the way, in the past, we have engaged with the SEC to actually show them product screenshots. And our lawyers used to say, "Hey. No, the SEC doesn't engage like this." And we used to say, what's the point of just commenting on the filing? Let's show them the user experience, because then they will be able to attest us like, hey, is this right or wrong for the users? What should we disclose? What should we not disclose? How should we advertise? And we engage with the regulators that way. And so I think that's going to drive, Daniel, a really dramatic shift in the coming years, why people can get access to interesting products.
Daniel Scrivner (00:31:20):
Yeah. I mean, that's such a great example, because I imagine historically the SEC's probably looking at offering memorandums, which I'm sorry, but almost no one reads. So you can provide all the feedback you want there about disclosures and warnings, but it's not going to be super helpful. It's amazing you guys kind of think in terms of UI. And I didn't know you had a mobile app five years ago, but it's amazing. AngelList, I don't think Republic has a mobile app, so you guys are very early on some of these things. I want to kind of switch now and talk a little bit about, one, the origins of Yieldstreet, and then how you guys have evolved.
Daniel Scrivner (00:31:55):
And on the origin side of Yieldstreet, the reason I want to explore it is, when I think that the company was founded seven years ago, the environment was very, very, very different. And so I want to stop for a second and I think talk about, just have you maybe share with us what was it like, what was the environment like, what other players in private markets were there, what was the private market appetite like. Just give us a little bit of a sense of what it was like seven years ago when you were founding the company, and then we'll talk about how much has changed over that period of time.
Milind Mehere (00:32:26):
Yeah, absolutely. Environment was very different. I think there was LendingClub and Prosper, which was very much around consumer lending, so as to speak. And then there was Betterment, Wealthfront on the robo advice side. In alts, there were primarily platforms on real estate. So there used to be RealtyMogul and RealtyShares and a bunch of early stage platforms where they're on the real estate side. So my thesis was, I'm building this for myself. I'm not going to go to 10 platforms that are aligned by asset classes. It doesn't make sense to me. I want a horizontal exposure to alts. And that was really the thesis behind it. I met my co-founder, Michael Weisz, almost eight years ago. And as I told you and your audience earlier, I don't come historically from financial service. I was mostly from that consumer side. Like hey, I needed this to form my portfolio, what is the best user experience I can develop and the best product I can put out there that can really make this easy for the consumers to, A, understand, B, learn, and then C, invest?
Milind Mehere (00:33:29):
And so obviously I needed an investment expert, and Michael was trying to solve this problem from the same side. He was getting successful as an entrepreneur, as a fund manager, as a portfolio manager, but his business was built on meeting with individuals personally, and that was not a scalable model as he became successful. And being a millennial himself, he said, hey, how can I tap into technology, build an online brand so that what I'm doing, and I'm generating these really strong returns, how can I get more people to automatically interact with me and invest alongside me? So that's really how the idea kind of came together. And a lot of the VCs early stage told us that, hey, invest only in one or two asset classes, or bring them to market only in one or two asset classes.
Milind Mehere (00:34:13):
And we said, no. Longer term, we don't want to be an asset class specific platform. We're a distribution infrastructure. What we want to do is what's best in class, and bring them all together, and we can throttle up and throttle down. So as an example, let's say venture capital market was very high, and let's say in the next one or two years, the demand dries down for venture capital or is not attractive, we could dial that down. You don't need to invest in venture capital. Maybe real estate debt is going to come back, because last year real estate debt was very, very... Very few deals were available.
Milind Mehere (00:34:47):
All the banks were doing those deals. But now maybe banks won't do it, and then we can dial up real estate debt. So for us, we all depend on, okay, what's happening in the market, what's right at that time, and then you hold your portfolio for a long period of time. So Daniel, that's really where the dynamism of a distribution platform comes into picture, where we're not tied to a strategy per se, but we're trying a holistic approach of exposing you to private markets, and you could dial up, dial down just based on what's happening broad in the ecosystem.
Daniel Scrivner (00:35:15):
Yeah. Random side note, but just because you brought up Michael. I remember when I first found Yieldstreet, I want to say it was 2015 or 2016, and Michael literally got on the phone with me for 30 minutes to talk through one of the deals on the platform, and it made an impression on me and it was just... Anyway, so it's fascinating. It seems like a completely different world five, six, seven years ago. But anyways, it was a really cool moment and connection.
Milind Mehere (00:35:43):
Daniel, can I share a funny story for your audience? So when we started the company, Michael said, "Hey man, I know you understand marketing and technology and stuff like that, there is no way you can aggregate consumers to come on the site, acquire them online, and get them to invest in legal finance and real estate bridge loans and put 10, 20, $30,000." And I said, "Michael, if you do your job and get me great investments, I can get as many consumers as you want." So the funny thing was, we said, okay, let's set a bet who's right. So for the first two years, I was losing pretty badly, because investments used to be open for months. Nobody had heard of Yieldstreet. We didn't have trust, credibility in the market. We were just launching a new platform. It was, again, very [inaudible 00:36:27].
Milind Mehere (00:36:27):
So the way Michael got on the call with you, I used to call my friends, and my friends would be like, "Dude, what do you know about investing? Why are you calling me with a 10% deal? Is this real?" And so you have to build your way into it. Money management is so personal. This is people's hard-earned money, and you want to establish that trust and credibility. And then after first two or three years, as we started paying interest back and as our deals started maturing, we had this word of mouth and referral. And I still remember 5 years ago, February, 2017, we launched an investment, and our website crashed because there were so many people on the site wanting to invest in that investment.
Milind Mehere (00:37:04):
And listen man, it was probably 1,000, 2000 people, not tens of thousands of people, but we were running on three AWS boxes at that time. And that's when the pendulum kind of swung a little bit. And since then, we have been having a strong demand for our platform. We have investments that used to be subscribed in minutes and seconds. And that's when I told Michael, now the pendulum has swung on the investor side. And so we kind of keep going back and forth. That's the beauty of two-sided marketplace. You got to keep supply and demand in balance to ensure that you're bringing the right product to market.
Daniel Scrivner (00:37:41):
Yeah. I love that story. Thank you for sharing it. I'm sure after years of building it and just facing headwinds, it probably felt amazing to have your site go down in some ways, even though I'm sure it probably wasn't the best day. Related to that... I'm glad you shared that story, because one of the things I wanted to talk about was what the perception was like in those early years. Because I think this is something that isn't talked about enough, of just the uphill slog you face as you talked about building credibility, letting people know who you are. So one of the questions I wanted to ask. You talked a little bit about advice you got from venture capitalists to maybe focus on one or two things and try those first. What was the reaction like when you first launched? How skeptical were investors? Did you get any pushback from funds about why would I use a platform to help me raise capital? Because it just wasn't the way things were done. What was the initial reception like, and talk a little bit about how that changed over the first few years?
Milind Mehere (00:38:36):
Yeah. All of the above, Daniel. I think, as I mentioned earlier, if you're in money management, wealth management, there is an extreme need for trust and credibility. And so I think we were a new site. I think one of the big lessons that I always tell entrepreneurs is, you have to get the product to the market immediately, very, very fast. So I have this concept, I don't believe in MVPs, but I believe in something called MEPs, most effective product. Most viable product means that, hey, I can cut corners, I just want to get something out. Effective, is it effective in the marketplace. So we launched our platform from the time we started coding in 90 days. And the whole idea was, how do you create that trust with the user by showing them the right type of detail and creating a seamless experience?
Milind Mehere (00:39:27):
So when people used to come, the whole workflow to invest was automated day one, but on the backend, we are not hooked up to all the banks and stuff like that. So we used to literally manually say, hey, this is how we have to move money, manually in terms of bank accounts and transfer funds and all that. But for the consumer, it was a very seamless experience. So you also have to understand your audience. In our case, we were similar to Airbnb, for example. A, it's a discretionary purchase. So Daniel, you want to invest in Yieldstreet, you could invest today, or three months from now. If you're a savvy investor, you understand what is the value of cash, because if you keep it in cash, you're going to lose money to inflation. So obviously you want to invest at the right time, but it's completely discretionary. The other thing is that you don't interact with the platform very frequently, because you could come to the platform three, four, seven times a year to invest.
Milind Mehere (00:40:17):
So how do you create those moments [inaudible 00:40:20] which is similar to Airbnb? Airbnb was like, hey, is this for hippies and just couch surfers, or is it a viable option for me to take my family on a vacation? And then how do you become central. Because now over the last 10 years, when we are booking a vacation, now Airbnb is part of the equation. Five years ago, seven years ago, it was not, because they were still trying to build that trust and credibility. And so for me, those were the two things that we had to focus on, is how do you give them trust, credibility, content, education so they feel confident, and then how do you create those moments of joy? So one of the first things I did... And by the way, I was building the platform for myself.
Milind Mehere (00:41:00):
So for me think, about our experience. We have our primary bank account. We have salary coming in, and a whole bunch of bills go out. And so what we said is, hey, we want to provide Yieldstreet deposit directly back into the bank account. So that's really where you started with that moments of joy journey. So you invested in Yieldstreet, after a month, you got $400, $2,000, and you are now like, oh wow, Yieldstreet is sending me money back. And so you kind of build that trust and credibility with the consumer, and I think that was really very powerful. So we were very excited about that. And it takes a time. Especially in finance and investment business, some of those things just take time.
Daniel Scrivner (00:41:43):
Yeah. Well, I love your concept of most effective product. We're absolutely going to make that a clip from this episode and talk about that in the show notes and blow that out, because I think that's a really interesting and different framing than how I've heard that framed before. I want to talk now a little bit about the evolution and some of the mechanics of the business, and I want to go back to something that you said a little bit ago, that you were building a distribution infrastructure. I love that concept. Break down for people listening what that is, and why that's important, and how that's shaped how you built the business and how you built the platform?
Milind Mehere (00:42:19):
So when we think about Yieldstreet, we have two primary constituents. One is obviously our investor base, and these are the consumers that come to the platform wanting to really modernize their portfolio, get access to private markets. On the other side, we have sponsors and asset managers and issuers who want to distribute their product through Yieldstreet. And so our role we see is kind of that glue in the middle that is making it easier for both of them to interact with each other. And so what we have done on Yieldstreet is build that distribution infrastructure so you as a fund manager, asset manager, sponsor literally don't have to do anything once we agree on that investment. We get that investment memorandum from you, and then our team translates that into a digestible offering page on the website and makes it completely seamless.
Milind Mehere (00:43:14):
So for you, as an issuer, we are the only party. So you don't have to worry about the 500,000, 2,000 investors that may be in an investment. You are just one counterparty to Yieldstreet. And then for the consumer, you come in, it's all mobile, very easy to understand, you can engage with the platform. With four clicks, you can invest in an offering. You are linked with your bank account. We also have a bank account on Yieldstreet. So everything flows flawlessly. So when you're getting paid back, we get one check from our issuer, with a click off a button, it goes to 1,000 people across 200 banks real-time.
Milind Mehere (00:43:50):
We manage the cap table, all the interest that you get, where the investment is, what is the status of the investment, how much returns did you get in the last quarter, you have your K-1s, 1099, and everything is baked into the platform. And so I think that's really what makes distribution infrastructure so critical, that you have information on the fingertips both in terms of your experience prior to investing, during the investment, and after the investment is fully matured, because you have all that data with you.
Daniel Scrivner (00:44:21):
Yeah. Well, it also makes me realize, which is not surprising, that you guys hide an enormous amount of complexity from the users on the platform. Because effectively for them, like you said, it's four clicks, but there's a lot happening behind the scenes to, one, make it four clicks, to have it be a digestible investment memorandum, to have cash flow in the right places in the right ways. I want to talk for a second about the investment manager side of the platform, because clearly we've spent most of the time talking about the investor side. I'm a general partner at a couple of funds. I've spent a lot of time talking with investors, mostly individually. It is very different when you can raise from a platform, because one, the amount you can raise and the effort that you have to expend to raise...
Daniel Scrivner (00:45:03):
So as an example, say you might close one individual investor and say get 250,000 into a fund, or you can go to Yieldstreet, work with Yieldstreet and potentially fill 5 million or 2.5 million on the platform. I guess what I'd be curious to know is, when investment managers that have always done individual pitching use Yieldstreet, what do they say and how blown away are they by basically being able to use the platform, and can you share any personal success stories or individual success stories there?
Milind Mehere (00:45:33):
Yeah. So let's start with a recent success story. So we decided to launch just crypto exposure. Our investors were asking for it for a long period of time. I want to start by saying obviously we have investors, not traders. So we are very careful of which funds we offer on the platform and how we offer them. So obviously if you want to trade, Yieldstreet is not the right platform for you. So we offered Pantera Capital, that has been in the business since 2006, really have a good, solid track record, and our first fund was early stage token ICO fund. And so obviously it's a high risk, high reward type of fund, and we had 2X the subscription. So we started with $20 million, and we actually had to double it because there was so much demand from the platform. That's really exciting for managers.
Milind Mehere (00:46:23):
And to take that concept out, if you hear any of the big executives from the large private equity funds... So Marc Rowan spoke at the Milken Conference, said that, hey, retail is a very important part of the story. Blackstone is doing BREIT, which is their real estate platform reaching out to retail investors directly by themselves, because they know that the earlier thing I said, consumer behavior is changing. The next decade, all the investments are going to come from retail. The other reason, by the way, for that, Daniel, is that if today alts are already 50, 60% of LPs portfolio, CalPERS cannot go from 50, 60 to 80. So they're kind of tapping out on the institutional LP side. So obviously retail is going to be the next big frontier for them. And so all of these guys are not saying that, hey, retail is going to today solve my problem, and Yieldstreet, oh, it's so exciting that we're raising 10, 20, $30 million for them today, but they know that as our platform scales, tomorrow it's going to be 100, five years from now, it'll be 500.
Milind Mehere (00:47:27):
And so they want to partner with us. So we always tell our asset managers and issuers, it's not today's relationship, but how the relationship will evolve in one, three, five years from now. And they believe in that, because they're those broad trends as well. And for them, it's very easy, because we manage everything from accreditation, investor verification for KYC, AML, money, taxes, communication, all of it. And so it's very easy for them in terms of how to interact with Yieldstreet, how to use Yieldstreet as a platform, and we feel that there is going to be a strong alignment and partnership with them as we expand and continue to develop that network.
Daniel Scrivner (00:48:09):
Yeah. That's so well said. I want to ask one closing question, and then we'll switch to a little bit of a retrospective and talking about lessons learned. And the closing question that I wanted to ask was, as you think about this platform that you've built... And it is a marketplace. You have two sides of the marketplace. That is a really unique type of business to run. Because as a founder, as a team that's managing and growing that business, you have to bootstrap both sides of that marketplace, and then you have to balance it over time. So I was curious to ask, one, was this your first marketplace business, and what aha's or lessons did you learn there? And then two, how have you guys approached balancing this two-sided marketplace and building up both sides symmetrically?
Milind Mehere (00:48:55):
Yeah. So from a true marketplace perspective, yes. But if you think about my previous business, Yodle, what we were trying to do is connect consumers to small businesses. And so we were the software layer in between. So there is some element of two-sided connection that happened, but obviously it was not a marketplace where people could go and connect with each other. So in that aspect, this is the first time that I'm doing a marketplace business. I think the challenge for us is always to make sure that we have the right supply/demand mix. So what do I mean by that? Obviously investors are spooked especially in the last two months, but in the last one year, think about what the market has done.
Milind Mehere (00:49:48):
You have Facebook that's trading at 10 times PE, and you have Coca-Cola that's trading at 26 times PE. So there's been tremendous level of sell off, because Meta is still a very high growing company, but people are spooked because of that. And a lot of people have lost... If you look at your public portfolio, are down 20, 30, 40%. And so they're a little bit afraid. But then the other aspect is, we're sitting on 6, $7 trillion of cash that's losing 8% to inflation right now, or 7%, whatever you may call it. So then how do you reconcile that? So that translates into a behavior on Yieldstreet where people might be looking for more short duration, high yield income generating products versus wanting to invest in a 10 year private equity fund.
Milind Mehere (00:50:38):
And so as a platform, we have to adapt that supply/demand and have to be nimble enough to be able to do that, which is where, again, distribution infrastructure comes into picture. So that's the dynamism of a marketplace that we have to do, which is no different than potentially Amazon or Airbnb. If you have demand for a certain area, Airbnb are to ensure that there is more supply available in those areas because consumers are going there. And then the same goes, we've been talking about supply chain as a [inaudible 00:51:09] for a long time, and now you're seeing that, a lot of retailers had a lot of inventory on certain items, and now consumer behavior is shifting, so they have to maybe have sales and stuff like that. So you have to really adjust according to that. And so those are some of the challenges of two-sided marketplace. And if you can solve that, then you become the next Airbnb or Shopify or any other big names, Uber, as an example.
Daniel Scrivner (00:51:36):
Yeah. Well, I love for you guys this concept of turning dials, and being able to do that with duration, and being able to do that by asset classes. I think it speaks to that initial thesis that, yeah, we don't want to focus on one asset class where we have all the volatility of that asset class, we want to focus on a horizontal business that offers all of them. It's really powerful. I want to switch and talk about some lessons learned. As you look back over the last seven years, the question I wanted to start with is what do you think you got right about your thesis, and is there anything that you got wrong, or is there anything that surprised you over the last seven years about just how successful you guys have been at building Yieldstreet?
Milind Mehere (00:52:14):
So listen, I think what we got right about the thesis is that alts are going mainstream, and we wanted to be the catalyst to take alts mainstream. When we started the company, a lot of VCs told us that, listen, you guys are early and market still has to develop, and it took time for market to develop. So I think we got that thesis right. Now everybody knows that alts are going mainstream. The next 10 years... Not everybody. I mean everybody in the industry. Consumers still have to bring them up to speed and bring them on the journey. But I think there are lots of tailwinds on what alts are going to mean in the coming decade, alternatives, as well as private market access is going to mean in the coming decade. So I think that we got right. What we didn't anticipate was the tremendous restrictions regulatory constraints bring on the business.
Milind Mehere (00:53:04):
So we are a highly regulated business regulated by the SEC, and so there is just a lot of infrastructure that you have to put in place to ensure that you're doing everything by the books. And even the accreditation process, you got to do 100% accreditation. There is no shortcuts there. And that adds complexity to your business. And there are lots of archaic rules that we obviously have a dialogue with the regulators and we will talk to them about. So there are certain SPVs... And you actually know this because you invest in them. So if it's a VC fund, a VC investment, you could have 250 investors, but if it's a real estate SPV, you can only have 100. This doesn't make sense. And then there are certain investment vehicles where you could have 2000 investors.
Milind Mehere (00:53:51):
So there are all of these rules that make it very, very complex. So I think you have to get that right. The other thing that we kind of knew is going back to the bet that me and Michael had, it takes time to build customers trust, credibility, and to really deliver on that credibility. And we learn about that even today. But in a business where you're touching people's hard-earned money, that's extremely hard. And for a product that is a few thousand dollars, you have to take that responsibility very, very well, and take it extremely obviously seriously, because people are not coming and buying t-shirts or some household good from us, they're putting their life savings. And so I think it's very important for us to establish that trust and credibility with the consumer.
Milind Mehere (00:54:34):
But Daniel, one of the proudest moments for me is that since inception, we have returned over $200 million in interest and returned over $1.5 billion in principal and interest back to our investors. So think about what 200 million can do. That could probably send 20, 30, 40,000 kids to four year college. That's real impact on the lives of our community and our user base. So I think we're very proud of that. And we're a platform that has done over 350 investments in this period, and across multiple asset classes. It's very complex. But I think the important factor is we are over 150 investments that are fully matured and paid off. And so I think that aspect is something that was hard to anticipate back in the day, but now we're excited about it, looking back at it.
Daniel Scrivner (00:55:24):
Yeah. I mean, the scale you've reached, just those numbers of 1.8 billion, 1.5 billion returned and 200 million in interest, that is staggering compared to I'm sure in the initial six months how you felt like things were going, maybe how large you thought the business could get. I want to ask one more question, which is... So there's a lot of investors that are listening to this interview. There's also a lot of founders. And so one of the questions I wanted to ask is... We can talk just about Yieldstreet, but you clearly have a very broad purview of entrepreneurial experiences that you can pull from. So the question I would love to ask is just, what generalizable lessons have you learned as a founder and an entrepreneur that you find are really helpful and that you think are worth sharing with others,? And is there any of those lessons you can share with the founders that are listening to this interview?
Milind Mehere (00:56:13):
Yeah, absolutely. So listen, I think generalizable lessons are always, you have to take the product to the market quickly so that you can actually get real user feedback. And we try to do that even today. A lot of us in the company are super users of the platform, but also outside our network, we kind of take that user feedback absolutely critically. Cliche, but very important is ultimately the team. So who's coming on board, do we have the right people, what's your true north, and like, can you communicate that vision back to the users? I think that is very, very important for us to do. And then the last thing is, you also always have to be well-capitalized. Because if you are embarking on a journey where you're developing the market, when you want to bring the ecosystem along with you, you need to have the resources to ensure that you can invest in the right areas. So want to make sure that you're well-capitalized and can deliver on that vision. So I think those are two or three anecdotes that are I think very important for people and founders to think about.
Daniel Scrivner (00:57:24):
Yeah. Well, and I think it's fascinating, when I ask this question to repeat founders, almost all of them talk about the well-capitalized, which makes me think that I think if you're a first time founder, maybe you're not putting enough emphasis on just making sure that you've got enough capital and a lot of capital. As I had one founder once say to me, just a really simple reason, which is the vast majority of venture-backed businesses or private businesses go bankrupt because they run out of money. So one of your first needs is just to make sure you always have that covered. I want to just ask now if you have any closing thoughts? We've talked a lot in this episode. It's been a fascinating conversation around public versus private markets, what's happened in public markets over the last 20 years, the growth and explosion, to be super frank, in private markets, alts in private markets going mainstream. So we've covered an enormous amount of ground. Are there any closing thoughts or words of wisdom you would leave with people about why private markets are important and why they should be allocating to them?
Milind Mehere (00:58:21):
Daniel, all I will say is summarize what we've been speaking about. My belief is that we are entering the golden age of FinTech. This coming decade is going to be amazing for FinTech, WealthTech because of the amount of wealth transfer that's going to take place. And so the question for the consumer is, you should not be afraid of it, you should embrace it. I think we talk a lot about spending, we should talk equal amount about earning. [inaudible 00:58:48] your behavior in the last 30 days, my behavior in the last 30 days, we go to dinner meetings or dinners with our friends or family and we say, hey, what's the next hottest restaurant or vacation spot. We should talk about what's the next hottest investment whereby we could make money so we could go to this restaurant. And so that whole orientation around education is important.
Milind Mehere (00:59:06):
We have to also recognize that alpha in the coming decade will be driven by private markets, and we want to make sure that investors are in the loop with how to take advantage of that. So my advice always is to get educated on the space, not be afraid of it, and then you have to dip your toe before you can actually swim. And so take baby steps to get familiarized with it, but I think once you do, you kind of lose that fear and then you can truly embrace what it could do for your portfolio. Talk to your financial advisor, talk to other people that might be giving you advice on investing, and then I think that's where you'll get diversification on your portfolio and do right when it comes to your future, when it comes to your retirement.
Daniel Scrivner (00:59:55):
Yeah. Well, that is the perfect note to end on. Everyone listening, if you aren't familiar with Yieldstreet, you can learn more at yieldstreet.com. As Milind talked about, they also have a great app. You can go and download that in the app store and get the Yieldstreet app today. Thank you so much for coming on, Milind. This has been one of my favorite conversations in a long time. Appreciate it.
Milind Mehere (01:00:13):
Thank you, Daniel.
Daniel Scrivner (01:00:15):
Thank you so much for listening. You can become a member of Yieldstreet today at yieldstreet.com or by downloading the Yieldstreet app from the app store. You can find the show notes and transcript for this episode at outlieracademy.com/112. That's 112. At outlieracademy.com, you can find all of our other founder interviews profiling incredible companies like Eight Sleep, Commonstock, Levels, Varda Space Industries, Superhuman, Primal Kitchen and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? among many, many others. In every episode, we deconstruct the ideas, frameworks, and strategies they use to build these incredible companies. You can now also find all of our interviews on YouTube at youtube.com/outlieracademy. On our channel, you'll find all of our full length interviews, as well as our favorite short clips from every episode, including this one. So make sure to subscribe. We post new videos and clips every single week. And if you haven't already, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn under the handle Outlier Academy. Again, thank you so much for listening. We'll see you right here with a brand new episode next Wednesday.
On Outlier Academy, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today.
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