Ryan Williams embarked on an ambitious journey to revolutionize the real estate industry in 2014. Instead of the current status quo, he founded the fintech startup Cadre, a digitized real estate investment platform with the mission of making the industry inclusive and accessible to all.
Since its inception, the startup has attracted top investors such as Mark Cuban, George Soros, Peter Thiel, and Jared Kushner. Williams founded Cadre after working at Goldman Sachs (GS) and Blackstone (BX), and the company is now worth nearly $1 billion.
Williams, a Harvard University graduate, founded his first real estate company while still in college. The startup employs machine learning and statistics to create a technology program that provides real estate investors with analytics.
William was born to a paralegal father and a social worker mother. His parents divorced when he was only six years old. He lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a city that has long struggled with segregation, crime, and persistent poverty.
His big break came when his mother relocated the family to New York before he started high school. According to Forbes, he immersed himself in school activities and his entrepreneurial ventures before applying to Harvard, despite the advice of a guidance counselor who told him not to bother applying to the prestigious university. He later joined a New York program that mentors gifted children from low-income families.
Williams met Josh Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, while at Harvard. Summer internships would be shared by the two. When Kushner’s father attempted to purchase the Philadelphia 76ers, he enlisted the assistance of Williams.
Around the same time, Williams ventured into real estate. Williams teamed up with a friend in 2019 to purchase a distressed property in Atlanta that was listed for $240,000 but sold at auction for as little as $60,000.
After graduating from Harvard, he joined Goldman as an analyst in its technology investment banking group. He later worked for Blackstone, the world’s largest real estate investment firm, on hotel and apartment deals.
Williams saw an opportunity in the convergence of real estate and FinTech when the US Congress passed the Jobs Act in 2012, allowing online portals to crowdfund real estate. “I made a list of eight or nine people I wanted to speak with, and the Kushners were at the top of the list,” he told Forbes.
Williams’ goal was to build a digital syndication system that could be used by a variety of real estate operators. Cadre was born as a result of this. According to CNN, those looking to invest at least $50,000 can browse vetted real estate projects on Cadre’s online marketplace.
Cadre, according to the platform, typically pursues deals requiring a minimum equity investment of $50 million and “structures the transactions as limited partnerships.” Every year, the firm evaluates over 500 real estate opportunities but only approves about 2% of those investments.
According to CNN, when Williams first introduced technology into the real estate industry, it was met with skepticism. “There will be pushback, and people will not believe in this idea or concept,” Williams told CNN. “That’s where all great innovation starts.”