When you meet Colin Wiel, immediately you sense his grounded, calm presence, together with an unmistakable focus and purposefulness. It’s a combination that landed him a dream job with Boeing right out of college, inspired him to start a dot com (and sell it at a profit in two short years), led him to build, with good friend, Doug Brien, a real estate powerhouse, and subsequently hatch the idea for Mynd.
Colin came flying out of university and into automatic control systems at Boeing. He was tasked with a single high-profile assignment: Come up with a way to keep airplanes from skidding off an icy runway. As Colin explains:
“Essentially, I needed to figure out how to make the anti-lock brakes of their planes shorten the stopping distance by 5%. There was very little margin for error in this. So I developed a more efficient algorithm, which was an approach that had never been used.”
Colin’s solution worked, and opened many eyes to the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in aviation.
Jump forward a few years to 1998, when Colin opened an e-commerce startup as the dot com boom was taking off. A Java programming consulting firm called Milo.com, named after his dog, carved out a niche at a time when there were very few folks who had strong Java skills. After just two very crazy busy years, Milo.com sold, with 35 employees and a notable client roster that included Charles Schwab.
Soon after his e-commerce adventure, Colin started to put money into real estate. It was around this time that he became good friends with Doug, whose passion for property investment aligned with his. At first the two were buying rental homes separately, not anticipating anything substantial happening in the way of profits. That changed quickly. Seeing how fast the market was growing, they decided to go into business together, establishing Waypoint Homes. Colin had zero doubts:
“The thing we really focused on was the technology, which many in the real estate world were still very hesitant to embrace. No one owned rental homes on a large scale because it was just too complex to manage, and didn’t bring in a commensurate amount of capital. Creating new technology allowed us to systemize and automate single-family rental unit management. Waypoint was our chance to fill a big void. ”
Before long, large scale became 17,000 properties, with net operating income (NOI) margins which proved that Colin, Doug and their team at Waypoint could manage at that scope — and very successfully. The company grew to be the second largest SFR real estate investment trust (REIT) with $3 billion in assets under management (AUM), culminating with a spot on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The success of Waypoint was fertile ground for building a strong infrastructure for Mynd. Taking a page from Airbnb and Uber, very asset-like companies which can scale up quickly, the goal of Mynd is to create and deliver unmatched property management at huge scale, for investors and owners who want to put their money in single- and multi-family homes, which will enable them to deploy capital and acquire and manage properties much easier. Colin knew it could be done — this time even better.
Since Mynd came out of stealth mode, word of the street has been one of curiosity, excitement and anticipation — not something you’d ordinarily attribute to a real estate company. And yet Colin is simply taking a page from his atypical and innovation-filled resume, helping turn the current state of property management on its proverbial head. The starting point: a full service offering led by management, leasing, marketing, compliance and a fully-vetted, in-house repair and maintenance network.
Now take that full service — which includes 24/7 team support — and add the industry’s first app. What it means for investors and owners is they can, for the first time, track real-time key performance data on the fly, and take care of a wide range of property logistics with just a swipe and tap on their smartphone. Thanks to the powerful Mynd app platform, the millions of Main Street individuals who haven’t been able to invest in this asset class, now can.
A big part of Colin’s real estate path, and in particular, with Mynd, has been an open sharing of knowledge, advice and ideas between Colin (and Doug) with like-minded innovators in real estate. It’s not only proven to be a great way to get a fresh set of eyes, it’s also been a nice sort of mutual admiration society and a conduit for attracting amazing talent, a number of whom followed Colin and Doug from Waypoint to Mynd.
To know Colin is to understand how much he values every opportunity to help other people thrive. Here’s his take on the subject:
“The chance to transform residential real estate investing for the individual owner and investor is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s also an opportunity to have a real, positive impact on people, not least of which is providing affordable, quality housing. Anything we do has to have that positive impact, otherwise we just won’t do it. It’s kind of that simple for Doug and I, and why he and I believe in valuing people above all. Exactly the same reason I support Wildlife Works Carbon, which is working to conserve more than a million acres of African forest, and Rainforest Capital, whose mission is to protect the Panama rainforest.”
Colin has multiple patents in Artificial Intelligence and he developed pioneering airplane brake solution for Boeing. He earned a spot on Goldman Sachs Top 100 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs and was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Colin is the former CIO of Starwood Waypoint (NYSE: SWAY) and earned a BA from Berkeley. If money were no object, Colin would transform Amazon rainforest into a nature preserve.