Fix and flips are just one part of Vishnu Chintam’s diverse career. He’s been in and out of school. Worked in the film industry and more. Discover how Vishnu stayed on his path to build a successful fix and flip/real estate consulting business despite losing everything at one point. Learn how to accept and learn from your failures. Find that right mindset with your host Shannon Robnett as he brings in the co-owner of Shoreditch Consulting to share his real estate journey. Go from zero to hero today!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Vishnu Chintam: Residential Fix And Flips

In this episode, I get the pleasure of interviewing a friend of mine. I dig this dude. This is my buddy, Vishnu.

Thanks for having me, Shannon.

Vishnu and I are going to be talking about the right mindset and the journey from losing everything he had to build a successful fix and flip business and a successful real estate consulting business. We're also going to look at things you can do outside of real estate where you can take those same principles that you use in real estate to make money in other areas. Vishnu and I have got some great creative things that we're going to discuss.

In this episode, we're going to talk about how to get 100% loan-to-value, hard money loans residential, how to acquire turnkey eCommerce opportunities, and how to take some real action in your investment journey. More importantly, I'm going to get to hang out and interview a friend of mine. Vishnu, let's jump right into it and figure out what we have got to discuss but what we want to know. Give everybody a snippet of who you are, where you've come from, and what your background is.

As far as real estate is concerned, this was a while ago. I was an undergrad student at DePaul. I didn't want to be there. The long and short of it is I stopped going to classes. I was part-timing as a waiter. I was at DePaul University as an undergraduate student in Political Science and my minor was International Studies. I was lost. I was one of those kids that shouldn't have been at college. I should have been doing other things. I eventually stopped going to classes at DePaul at that time. What they did is they failed me. I didn't even bother to withdraw from the class. It was straight-down Fs. They booted me out of college.

Let's think of the positive way. Let's talk about mindset. You were consistent. They were all the same. I laugh because I did the same thing. I went to college and then I realized I had to go every day. I thought you showed up and you got to wear the tassel. It wasn't for me either. Our stories are similar because it's not for everybody. It's funny how little I need a college education out here where I'm at.

It depends on what you're trying to do. The thing about that as far as young people, if there are young people in the audience reading this, we both know that it was drilled in our head, “Go get that four-year degree.” That's changed a lot. You don't want to spend that money if you're not into it. Maybe you'll be into it late. Eventually, I went and got my degree. I'm glad I have it. I don't use my Political Science or International Studies at all. It’s for yelling at people in Clubhouse or whatever.

How much of it is useful? I would say to people that I'm glad that I went back because it gave me critical thinking skills. This is important. You have to source things in college. You can't willy-nilly make things up off you to some person. It gave me the sense of even translating into things that we do, due diligence, and knowing that these sources are real. There's a lot of benefits to it. Is it necessary for everyone? 100% no.

That's great to understand. Even in real estate, people think that it's one size fits all. It’s like, “You do real estate. You must do whatever I think you're doing.” What you've proven is that there's a lot of different ways to make money in real estate. There's a lot of other ways to make money to then use that money to make money in real estate. You've put together such a menagerie, a repertoire of things that you've done. Tell us about some of the other things that you've done, how you’ve made your real estate journey, and how you've gotten into other businesses.
Don't spend money on something you're not going to use.
I got kicked out of college. I was pretty lost at the time. The long and short of it was I had a good friend of mine that I grew up with. Her boyfriend was doing real estate. This is in Chicago. When I say Chicago, in the city that and not in the Chicago land or the suburbs. We were at a wedding and we were having a good time and he's like, “What are you doing?” I'm like, “I'm interested in real estate.” He's like, “Meet me on Tuesday at the office.”

I hate to use the word mentor, but he was my mentor. He taught me the business. At that time was, I was the project manager. I was overseeing the contractors. I’m not a beast, a huge hulk of a man that I am now in front of you. I was 130 pounds telling Polish contractors and my Mexican brothers what to do. It was interesting work. I had to gain their trust and confidence because they're like, “Who's this skinny punk kid who has no experience?” They had to listen to me.

It was great to get that street cred from salt to the earth, people. I love that experience. I did that for several years and I stopped. I was project manager and that means I was taking care of the budget. I was every day on the job site. For a while, until we brought it in-house, we had clients. I was also the warranty manager. I was dealing with clients. That was the deal with new moms who are going to build a family in their house. It’s not the funnest thing.

That's exactly why I got into commercials. I had experiences with people. This nick in the baseboard, you did that intentionally, “You don't like me. You're trying to make it so that my son doesn't have a good experience growing up. How could you do that to little Johnny?” In a commercial building, you’re going, “The roof doesn't leak. Bring the furniture in. Let's get this office set up. We got to make some money.” That was my transition. You're right. It's home versus tool to make money with a business.

It was a pain in the ass. At the same time, my mentor, Jamie, and I ended up doing GC projects for other people. Eventually, we ended up doing single-family luxury homes on the high end. He instilled in me both of those situations, which I do give him credit for, whether it was the homeowner and I would even say I was better at it than he is. He made me pay attention to detail.

Vishnu, you were doing that. Where's this zero-to-hero thing happened? Where's the punch line?

I went back to college, got my useless degree in Political Science and International Studies. I graduated from DePaul in Chicago. I was once again lost. I was like, “I want to do something radically different.” I moved to New York. I worked in the film and TV industry for a while. To get to your point, there's a theme here, I get bored pretty easily. Usually, when I get a modicum of success, I'm probably like, “That's boring now.” I then move on.

I'm a challenge fiend. I'm always trying to level up. I'm always trying to challenge myself. If I don't see that happening, I get that. By the way, the film and TV industry are the worst human beings on the planet. I did that for a while. What I did was I changed radically to become a trader. I was trading my own money. I was a stock trader at first, where most people start as day traders. I moved into the futures market and I ended up in the options world. Derivative of stocks is where I ended up. I did that for 4 or 5 years, something like that. I did it enough to make a salary. I wasn't one of those millionaire guys. I was enough to peel off enough to live. I was happy with that.

Of course, one of these Wall Street guys that I talked to was like, “It's great until it's not.” It became that. When my buddy, Elon Musk, tweets that his own company isn't worth $420 at the time, that hurts me a little bit. Our former president starts treating it like madness. I'm not going to blame other people. A lot of it was I wasn't managing the risk well. The long and short of it with what Shannon's alluding to, I ended up with a loss of $500,000. I don't do the math because I'll jump out that window right there. I never calculated the math. It was enough money to crush me. That's where that loss came from.

That's the thing. Loss is one thing, giving up and quitting is another. This is the thing that is awesome about having this show because I get to get people to be vulnerable like this and talk about when it wasn't successful. Life was great until it was not. Now that it's not, you have control of that and you haven't left it there. I've never been around a guy that's not happy. I've not been around the guy that's getting his head caved in or trying to figure out if there's enough there to buy ramen. That's what I see in all the successful people that I talked with. Nobody's had it all great in the beginning. Nobody stayed on that wave. There's that element of, “Ta-da. Shoot.” We then go back to, “Ta-da.”

It's peaks and valleys. It goes like this. If you think it's not going to hit you, two things are happening. Number one, you're not diversified enough. It's coming. We know that because we've been there. I was sitting there with a $500,000 loss. To your point, before we even go back to that story, I will tell you the way that I filter people in real estate, for example, “Were you around before 2008? What did you do after 2008? How is your adjustment?” The kids that are after 2008 are crushing it because real estate looks like that. I hate to say this. Yes, everybody has value. To me, the person who survived, how did they adjust? What did they do to survive? It has more value.

In 2006 and 2007, there were a lot of people who were getting into the real estate world. As soon as they realized it was covered in barbed wire, there were real bullets flying everywhere, and you had nine miles to crawl on your hands and knees to get to safety for nine years, they went back to corporate.

For the rest of us, I don't want to say that we were the most intelligent group, but we stayed in it. We stayed after it and we made sure that what we did from here was going to continue to provide us with that value. There's that battle hardness. There's that thing that I know if I'm doing a deal with you, Vishnu, and it goes sideways, not one of us is going to panic and run. We're going to go, “This again.”

How do we adjust? You’re right. It's grit. For everyone who’s reading, without grit, patience, and time, go back to the W-2 because this is not for you. It’s simple as that.

There's a way to get that. Hooking up with a mentor, being around people that have been through it, and following their lead. I'm looking around and I see a lot of kids that are doing what I was doing in ’05. You can't miss it at this point. This is like playing Whac-A-Mole being clairvoyant. You know what hole it's popping up out of next. Everything is a home run. One of the things that you've done since then is you've walked through it, you stayed with it, but you've also diversified yourself.

Both of you and me are in Clubhouse pretty often. The problem with Clubhouse is, thankfully, I don't get to sit there and tell my story every day for an hour. It's the nature of Clubhouse. The real value that I have is truly learning from my mistakes. Also, take whatever knowledge I have and apply it. The stuff that I do is not complicated, back to that story of the $500,000. I was sitting there and completely unemployable. If you followed the story, I pretty much worked for myself and I become, somewhat by design, unemployable. I do have a strong network. I went and had to get a W-2. I was an assistant stage manager in a studio in Manhattan where they do film and TV. Going back to my old network of those things when I worked on that.
There is no quit for you. If there was, you wouldn't be successful.
I was a W-2. Anyone that knows me knows that at the end of the day, I'm an entrepreneur and I'm self-employed. From day one, I'm like, “Where's my exit strategy here to get out of this W-2?” I have a $500,000 hole that I got to figure out and that I got to get back on my feet. I relied on things that I knew. Let's get right into it. One of the things my dad instilled in me was to never mess up your personal credit. In a nutshell, I didn't. Throughout all of that, my personal credit stayed pretty decent.

I took my personal credit profile, which the credit score is part of that. It's not an accurate measurement. It’s a poor measurement of your personal credit report. I took that credit report and got small business credit cards. There's a bunch of companies out there that offer people with a decent credit score. People, please do your due diligence on that. You can go and then get small business credit cards. I took those small business credit cards, converted them into cash, and did my first fix and flip while I was a W-2. That's how I got back on my feet.

It's always funny to hear because everybody has a creative way to get back in the game, to get to the next opportunity that gets them where they want to go. You're back to where you felt like you were hitting on all cylinders. You and Jamie were working together. You’re in Chicago. You build luxury homes. You're doing fix and flips. You're doing what you appear to not grow bored with. What's the next step from there? Where are you going with that? How have you taken that and leveled up from there?

What I did is, first, I used those cards. We are a fix and flip company. That's our bread and butter. It is time to level up from a macroeconomic issue, a plethora of issues. Of course, internally for our company, it's time. To answer your question, the next stage is new construction. I did do that with Jamie. Eventually, we ended up doing new construction. That makes sense.

We're going to continue doing fix and flips. Don't get me wrong. We're good at it. We're going to continue doing it, but it can't be the priority. We're going to go doing new construction, that's one. Number two, doing things like my hero, Mr. Shannon Robnett. We’re going to go into syndications, multifamily repositioning, and multifamily new construction as well.

The reality is when you're looking at what your options are, you can stay down, you can stay in the gutter, you can let the world walk over you, or you can get back on your feet. You can find a creative way and you can go to that level. It's that grit that getting to that level where you’re like, “I've figured out a way to not only survive but thrive. Through that, I've seen where I can put extra effort and energy into anything and overcome it.” You're taking that and you're going, “I can go to the next level.” I'm going to ask you simply, if you hadn't gone through those losses, would you have been able to handle the game you have going on?

No. I don't think so.
Fix And Flip: People with a decent credit score can go and get small business credit cards.
That's exactly where a lot of people are. Why?

That's where grit is born. That's where patience is born. I don't use the word failure but I'm going to use it right now. Some people would say, “That $500,000 loss is a failure.” I describe it as the best thing that ever happened to me. Did I know it at the time? Of course, not. I was like, “What is this?”

This is pain. This is bleeding. My spleen can't even dig me out of this one if I sell it.

A bunch of these white hairs is definitely attributed to that, but it's those scars that tell you who you are and how you handle those things. I have not always handled those things well, but the point is, you get up. If you get knocked down, you get up and you don't quit. There is no quit for us. If there was a quit, we wouldn't be successful. I am firmly in your camp because it's coming. The risk is coming. It's going to hit us, but for people like you and me, we know that we have to adjust. It's okay. We know that and we'll adjust and it's okay. It will always be okay.

People who have had this success without being hit in the face, when it comes to them, might stay down because their grit hasn't been tested. I look at them, and to be completely honest, that's a risk to me. Dealing with someone like that is risky because you said it so perfectly, “Is that person going to cut and run?” You know that I’m not.

Mike Tyson said, “Everybody comes out of the corner with a plan until they get punched in the face.” That's the thing. When I ask that question to people like yourself, they all have that same answer, “No, I wouldn't have learned it.” It's not that we wanted to learn this lesson, but this is where wisdom is born. Wisdom is born with things that you learned the hard way. Prior to ‘08, I remember my dad telling me about what Jimmy Carter did to the economy. Gas prices this, house prices that, 18% interest. I was like, “Dad, that's not how it works now. We make money like we walk outside and we pick it up.”

When this started to happen, that wisdom started to come into my life, “This is why you have a rainy day fund. This is why you don't get payments up to where you can't breathe anymore. This is why you do those things," but it's out of that you also get creative. It's out of that you think of the ways that you can do things differently.
Take whatever knowledge you have and apply it.
With that, you shifted your focus to where prior you had one stream of income. You were a trader. Before that, you were working with Jamie. You had one stream of income. Out of this, you've changed this. I know this because we've talked multiple times. You changed this and added other streams of income to your life that aren't all tied together, so if one goes down for a while. It might be beans and rice, but it's not beans and rice you borrowed from somebody else while you slept on a park bench. Beans and rice are bad.

The thing for me when I lost that $500,000, it was right then and there that I was like, “I will never be in this position where I'm scared and full of fear again.” A detriment to what that does to someone's psyche is terrible, but the decision making when you're so overwhelmed and consumed with fear, how is that not going to be bad decision making? You can't make good decisions. It took me a minute to adjust, but I adjusted.

You mentioned something earlier to go back to when I was doing the W-2 and the fix and flip for the sake of the audience. I want people to understand this. On the first fix and flip, number one, my down payment was 10%. It was a hard money loan. That quickly changed 100%. Why am I saying that? There are hard money lenders out there. If you come under 70% LTV, which means it has to appraise under 70% LTV, there are hard money lenders out there that will pay for the purchase and the rehab. I was in such a hole. That was how we were able to volume and the single-family fix and flip space.

It was about finding the lever to pull to get you what you were going to get to anyway. Let’s be clear, it was going to happen. You were going to get out of that hole. There was no way that you were going to let that happen. A lot of people look at the lessons that you and I've learned in life as failures because that's where that particular lane of travel stopped. They quickly retreat. No more. Thomas Edison says, “No, I didn't fail 10,000 times. I found 10,000 ways not to make the light bulb.”

A lot of that has to do with the mindset on how you sell that to yourself, but so often, people are so concerned about what everybody else thinks about it that they don't want to continue. They don't want to be Colonel Sanders and not find somebody to finance your restaurants until you're way late in life. You don't want to see all these things happen. You want the success early. You want things to happen quickly, but I see a lot of people that don't have that tenacity, so they look at it as a failure.
Fix And Flip: Grit and patience are born from failure. If someone says that half a million dollar loss is a failure. You should think that it's the best thing that ever happened to you. It's those scars that tell you who you are.
In my opinion, it is a failure when that's the last time you did that particular activity because you stopped that education. You stopped that knowledge. For most people that know me, I stopped drinking. I am a failure of drinking. I know that because I've repeatedly proved that I'm a failure at that, but at that same moment, I am okay with that failure. It’s what I do from there where I realized, “I want to get better at something. I want to get better at golf, building, syndicating, and raising capital. I've got to keep doing this and they can't let getting knocked down, take me out.”

That's the common thing that I find with people like yourself, Vishnu, that will always be successful. La Cucaracha. It doesn't matter if it's nuclear war. We will figure out a way through that to let whatever happens to be the circumstances with which we are currently playing the game, but it won't be where we get up, take our toys, and go somewhere else.

What I love about what you laid out and sharing that about yourself is when you go through things, and the frequency that you've been knocked down, and you get up, but the beautiful thing is there is no more fear. It’s like, “Okay.” The real thing is, what does that look like? Before we jumped on this show, we were talking about flipping planes.

You said so beautifully, “You can flip so many things.” People don’t see that and you and I both, and a lot of people like us understand that if you don't have diversification of assets, that's how you get into trouble. I was a trader. I was working in the film industry. I was working with Jamie. How do you eliminate fear? If one goes down, I have 3 or 4 other things that I can rely on that will always keep me off that park bench.

If you know that, what are you scared of? That’s getting into the actual business plans for people, but the other part of it is, we're talking about two different things. We're talking about a mindset and we're talking about diversification of assets, so you don't have to fear. The mindset to me is everything. You know me. I’m woo-woo all day and I have no problem when someone leverages that criticism at me. Bring it because, to me, that's the stupidest criticism on the planet. Everything starts right here in the mind. That's where the songs come from. If you're not with the mindset belief system, what talk is that? I'm 100% woo-woo all day.

You have to be. At the end of the day, let's be honest, and we're not discounting a mental illness because that takes the mind to a different place. In 99% of people and 99% of cases, the reality is, if you get out of bed, say, “I'm having a great day,” and you force your way through that second cup of coffee, or whatever, you got to drink in the morning and you make that great day happen. You're not going to get to the end of it and have had a bad day. If you get out of bed, I don't care if you scratched off the winning lotto ticket and woke up next to your dream girl or guy, you can have a bad day if you choose to and nothing is going to change that for you.

I'm with you and the thing is, from my cultural background, I was born here. I'm a first-generation Indian and that meant going to India at a young age every four years. At that time, India was not the same country, which is fascinating. As with China and India, the pace of growth historically in those two countries, you didn't see that. It's not the same country, but to say that there's not a level of poverty, that is, by the way, not seen in this country, is being ignorant.
Never mess up your personal credit.
Some people haven't been to those countries. That's okay. Read a book. Open up the internet and look. Use your brain. My mom was a doctor and my dad was a veterinarian. We grew up upper-middle class and a little bit probably higher. It's not like we were hurting, but that doesn't count my mom and dad's families.

I don't remember, but back in the day in the ‘80s, there was Sally Struthers. The late-night, Save the Children. That's what my dad's village looks like. That's what it looks like, but in India. Here's the thing, what I learned right off the bat, talking about woo-woo and mindset, biggest smiles on the planet in the slums in the worst conditions ever. No running water, filth like you can't believe but the biggest smiles. What are we talking about? Poor countries are coming back to the strongest economy and hegemony on the planet. Coming back to a fairly rich suburban Chicago, depression was all around me from rich folks. What did it say? Your money is not what's making you happy. Give it up.

It's also perspective. If you boil it down, the perspective of these people that life is great because my family is alive and I have this and I have that. Whereas for other people, the more money you get, the more your perspective is able to change and now you're able to focus on the fact that I don't have the new this, I don't get that, or my house isn't as big as Sally's house or whatever.

Before we keep going down that rabbit hole, having that perspective and creating that into multiple streams of income have brought you to where you're at now. What are some of the actions that somebody can take if they are sitting here going, “I realized that I am at my point where I lost my $500,000? I'm in Shannon's 2009. I'm in Vishnu’s trading days?” What are the actions that they can take to get from there back on track and back up on top?
Fix And Flip: A lot of people look at the lessons that they learned in life as failures. A lot of that just has to do with the mindset on how you sell that to yourself.
I alluded to it before. First of all, the way you can check is to use myFICO. What you're going to do is check your credit score. I'm going to walk you right through it right now. You can check your score and you're going to use FICO because 80% or 90% of the lenders in the United States use FICO and the rest is filled by the VantageScore by that score type.

Use myFICO because you're going directly and it's accurate. My point is, you need to know what your actual score is and that's your actual report. What is on there? If you have a decent score, that doesn't mean you're fundable. For example, if you look at my credit report, my score is decent. It's 740, 750, or something like that, but I have sixteen hard inquiries on it because I'm constantly getting loans from all over the place.

Am I fundable at this moment? No. Until those inquiries are gone, they’re not that fundable. What I'm saying to people is, you’ve got to know what's going on first in your credit report. If there are derogatories, meaning you have missed payments, there's a whole list of things that will disqualify you for small business credit cards. Small business credit cards are not personal credit cards. Most of us have personal credit cards. Those reports to the personal credit agencies. Business cards will report to the business credit agencies.

What I'm telling you is exactly to answer your question, and this is exactly what I did to get out of that hole and to pay for that down payment and the interest payments in my first flip. You're going to check that credit report and credit score. If it's no good and you have a low one, you're going to get credit repair. You're also talking to a person who had to go through those steps at a different time. Other things happen. I'm a businessman. Things happen all the time, but my point is, my credit score did eventually get knocked down, but there's credit repair for you.

A very loud warning. The due diligence that you have to do on the credit repair people is real. It's full of scam artists. It's full of people that cannot provide the service that they tell you. You must do your due diligence. Get that credit where it needs to be. Get the small business credit cards. Now you have money to do. Let's get right to what Shannon was asking. It doesn't have to be a fix and flip. Is it an Airbnb, an eCommerce store? Whatever it is. Now, you have capital to go and start putting it to work. You’re going to start to have money. People like me and you, we’re self-employed. We’re no longer W-2. Be strategic about that exit. What I’m saying to people is whether it’s small business credit cards or whether you’re going to get a mortgage to the FHA, whatever it is, understand that the W-2 might be your friend.

That’s right because banks like to know that you’re going to get paid on Wednesday whether you did what you’re supposed to do on Monday and Tuesday or not. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we don’t do it exactly, closing gets delayed or things don’t happen, or we didn’t make the kind of money we thought we were, but in the W-2, you do. The bank goes, “They’re going to pay their bills. We can count on that.”

That’s the mindset. A lot of people have this antagonistic mindset going into dealing with lenders. They are your partners. It’s like your friend lends you money. They just want to be reassured that you can pay it. A W-2 looks better to them than self-employed. It is what it is, but that doesn’t mean that you can, even as a self-employed person, go and get logs as we know.

Vishnu, that’s fantastic. Guys, I want to remind you that you’re learning from people about what happened to them. That’s why I love hanging out with Vishnu. It’s not a hypothesis situation. We are not using that Political Science degree of his to debate whether or not Trump would win against Biden. We’re not having that conversation. We’re not talking about what any of these meant. We’re talking about what actually happened. That’s what I love about having real life soldiers on this show like Vishnu, and being able to bring real knowledge.

Guys, I want you to help me thank Vishnu for being on the show. Vishnu, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you, guys, for tuning in. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe on the Real Estate Run Down on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you’re getting your podcasts to get an automatic update. You’ll find us on Instagram and YouTube. You’ll find Vishnu in Clubhouse and here in the show. Thanks, Vishnu, for coming by. I appreciate you being on the show.

See you soon.

Important Links:

About Vishnu Chintam

Vishnu chintam
Around 20 years ago, Vishnu took an involuntary sabbatical from college as the administration saw fit to kick him out of DePaul University. Vishnu had to get a job and apprenticed under a Chicago based real estate GC, investor and developer as a project manager - overseeing the budget and "boots on the ground" i.e., managing the project and contractors

After working for this company for a number of years, Vishnu decided to go back to college full time and finish his degree in Political Science with a minor in International Studies. He went on to work in a couple of different industries including trading options where he lost over a half-million dollars.

Vishnu was forced to go find a W-2 and right away started planning his exit by starting a real estate investment company, Shoreditch Consulting LLC, with his partner Leonard Dixon. Shoreditch Consulting LLC specializes in value-add residential. One of the major differences between them and many, but not all fix and flippers, is that they do this remotely as Vishnu and Leonard live in NYC - and the cost acquisition is insane in their hometown so in a way they were forced to do their projects remotely.

At the moment, Vishnu and Shoreditch Consulting LLC are currently in the process of adding ground-up new construction and entering the multifamily market as well