First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ari Rastegar: We’ve been very fortunate. Our family’s been very, very healthy. I think like a lot of families, our three children are pretty bored at home, but it’s hard to complain when boredom is the biggest worry. So, we’ve been very, very fortunate during these times. We all kind of know the negative things, but it’s also been a lot of positivity that we get to spend more time with the kids and see them more. Adapting to virtual school has been really challenging for our seven-year-old, but she’s taking it in stride with a great attitude, so we’re very fortunate in that regard.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Rastegar Property?
Ari Rastegar: I founded Rastegar back in 2015, just with this need and this desire to build a better private equity firm. I’d been on Wall Street for many years, worked for some other great minds, but I just felt there was a better way to do it, use technology, be innovative, and offer better customer service. It was with that belief that we could do something better, faster, more efficiently, and with more integrity that I started the firm, and I did so after becoming an attorney, which was my original trade.
How does Rastegar Property innovate?
Ari Rastegar: We use technology in every facet of our business, and we’re constantly finding new ways to incorporate and use big data, artificial intelligence, and technology to drive our decision-making, to find better, faster, quicker, more efficient ways to do things. Although we are a private real estate investment firm, as a culture, we see ourselves more as a technology company.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Ari Rastegar: We’re thriving. We see this as one of the greatest generational buying opportunities. We bought numerous properties with a large insurance company as our joint venture partner during the pandemic. We’ve seen it as an opportunity to buy properties, create value at a time when a lot of folks aren’t making those types of decisions. We’ve made tons of acquisitions and built a great pipeline.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ari Rastegar: Yes, you have to make a lot of difficult choices during times like this, and mostly because there’s so much uncertainty, and there’s so much newness. How do you reassemble the office? When people work at home, how do you put systems in place to retain occupancy? What safety precautions are you putting around the office, whether utilizing masks and hand sanitizers? And so, it’s been challenging. I wouldn’t use the word “difficult,” but I’ve learned that there are better ways to do these things, to create more safety, more security, and the importance of sanitization and the safety of our workers, not only on our build sites at the property level but also within the office.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Ari Rastegar: I’m a huge proponent of transcendental meditation, exercise, and healthy eating. By utilizing meditation, healthy eating, and exercise, I’m able to constructively manage my stress.
How do you project yourself and Rastegar Property in the future?
Ari Rastegar: We’re growing exponentially. We see ourselves constantly growing, always innovating, and having a solid 10-year plan for the company. We’re launching new products, have new acquisitions just about every month, bringing on new staffing, adding new technologies, but there’s massive, massive growth in our future, but very much centered around technology and real estate.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ari Rastegar: There are a lot of great real estate folks out there, such as Starwood, Trammell Crow, and Brookfield. We plan on being more agile, more innovative, quicker on our feet, have more grit, be scrappier, and pay more attention to details.
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