Matt Bertram Interview
What is the most interesting deal you have ever closed?
There are quite a few. I closed Dan Gilbert’s (Quicken Loan’s Founder) first CMBS loan in Detroit, which was the first CMBS deal closed after Detroit’s bankruptcy was resolved. But probably the most interesting deal I’ve ever closed is for a Kalahari Indoor Waterpark in Sandusky, OH. At the time it was the largest indoor waterpark in the world. I’ve always been intrigued by the intersection of real estate finance and businesses that have a significant operating component in combination with real estate. With the right structure, traditional real estate financing can be used to provide low cost, high leverage financing for an operating business. This is certainly the case with an Indoor Waterpark. Plus, have you ever had to get a lien on a zoo animal?
How did you end up in Real Estate?
When I was a child, it started with Sim City and Building Blocks. And then I ended up at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I was pre-med, but that didn’t last long. As a sophomore I attended my first real estate club event and I was hooked. If you don’t know, Wisconsin has the top real estate program in the country and the alumni network is absolutely first class. Now I’m on the board of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association and one of my favorites things is mentoring the students as they try to figure out how they build their own careers. One of the things I’m proudest of is the relationship between TermSt. and the Real Estate Program at Wisconsin. We make sure we give back to the program every time we close a deal with another Wisconsin Alum.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
Just as we launched the first generation of our technology in summer of 2019, my wife gave birth to our first child – My Son Grayson. So most of my extra time these days is spent with him. I also like to read a bit, but mostly about work related stuff. I listen to a few podcasts. I play tennis pretty well and I golf pretty poorly. But really these days, when I’m not working, I’m probably thinking about work. I love what I do day to day and we are always thinking about how we can do it better.
Since you mentioned books and Podcasts, can you mention some of your favorites?
All time favorite book – When Genius Failed, by Roger Lowenstein. This is an underrated book that most people probably have not read. It’s a fascinating true story about the failure of Long Term Capital Management during the Russian Ruble Crisis in the late 90’s. If you are interested in finance and haven’t read this book, make it next on your list. Long story short, the company’s derivative positions were so widely held that they nearly collapsed the entire financial system (sound familiar?) before being bailed out by the largest banks on Wall Street. Lowenstein crafts a story as good as anyone I’ve ever read.
Last Book you read – Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou. All I can say is wow. So many lessons for entrepreneurs and investors. Another must read.
Next Book on your list – Loon Shots, by Safi Bahcall. Pretty much everyone has it on their book of the year list in 2020, so I guess I should pick it up.
Favorite Podcasts – Tim Ferris (although I prefer less long form podcasts), How I built this, Startup Stories, Capital Allocators, Duke Long, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs are all good. I’m always looking for new podcasts so send me an email with your recommendations.