The FORT Podcast: Clayton Collins

On this episode of The FORT, Clayton and Chris discuss Clayton’s journey from the banking world to discovering entrepreneurship via search funds. They discuss his acquisition of and housing/construction trends over the last 90 days.

As president and CEO, Clayton Collins leads HousingWire’s corporate strategy, product and editorial roadmap, while building a world-class team of business media professionals. He is also the founder and managing partner of Riomar Capital, an entrepreneurial investment firm that acquired HousingWire in 2016. His drive to increase HousingWire’s impact earned him a spot on the 2018 Folio: 100, a prestigious list of thought leaders in the magazine and media industry.

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02:27 — Clayton’s Story Leading Up to
03:18 — Why did you leave the banking world and purchase a media company?
05:44 — What was the search fund model experience like?
08:16 — How long was your search and how many businesses did you look at?
10:53 — Why did you choose HousingWire and how did the transaction go?
15:25 — Have you made any other acquisitions since?
16:38 — How do you value a media business?
17:48 —  How much has the business grown since you bought it?
18:43 — How is the team structured?
21:19 — How do you convince someone to use your paid service versus the many free options available?
23:34 — Who is your target market?
24:27 — What’s the environment around housing-lending like right now?
28:36 — Do you see the housing market doing well coming out of COVID-19?
32:27 — Are you able to track where the demand is?
35:37 — Do you see a wave of people motivated to sell right now?
36:48 — Has COVID shined a light on any new housing innovations?
38:58 — Do you have any insight on changes in residential construction costs?
40:00 — Are there any companies that you have your eye on in Fintech or REtech?
42:38 — Do you have any insight on the single-family rental sector?
44:35 — First-Time Homebuyer Trends
48:10 — Smaller Home Trends
50:18 — Clayton’s Thoughts on Airbnb Post-COVID


Episode Summary

Clayton’s roots trace back to investment banking and private equity. However, a twist of fate and ambition propelled him into the dynamic world of media. Under his leadership, HousingWire has emerged as a beacon for professionals in the real estate and finance sectors, offering them valuable insights and data-driven content. The platform’s evolution signifies the ever-changing media landscape and the demand for timely, relevant information.

A significant portion of the conversation revolved around the transformative power of technology in real estate. Clayton emphasized the growing role of PropTech, a game-changer for traditional real estate practices. This technological renaissance, as he mentioned, is not just about flashy tools but about fundamentally altering how business is done. It’s about harnessing data to make informed decisions and provide enhanced user experiences.

As the dialogue transitioned to the housing market, Clayton offered astute observations on the challenges faced by millennials and first-time homebuyers. Economic factors, evolving homeownership trends, and market dynamics play pivotal roles in shaping their decisions. The narrative then steered towards mortgage finance. In an environment of fluctuating mortgage rates and government interventions, Clayton’s insights into the future trajectory of the mortgage industry were particularly enlightening.

One of the standout moments was Clayton’s candid reflection on his entrepreneurial journey. Scaling HousingWire wasn’t devoid of challenges. Yet, it was his unwavering commitment to team dynamics and fostering a positive company culture that steered the ship through turbulent waters. His experiences underscore the importance of adaptability and vision in leadership roles.

Networking and relationship-building emerged as recurring themes. For Clayton, genuine connections transcend transactional interactions. They lay the foundation for sustainable business growth and foster trust in an industry often riddled with skepticism. His anecdotes served as a testament to the power of authentic relationships in the real estate arena.

Offering pearls of wisdom to budding professionals, Clayton stressed the indispensability of continuous learning. The real estate world is in a state of flux, and staying abreast of industry trends is not just beneficial – it’s essential. He also highlighted the immeasurable value of mentorship, advocating for young talents to seek guidance and learn from industry veterans.

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