Brennen Degner, 29
D & B Capital Partners and Arrowroot Real Estate in Santa Monica are real estate-focused private equity groups, while D & B Properties provides property and construction management services.
Financials: $50 million-plus in assets under management. Targeting $350 million assets under management in 18 to 24 months through various capital commitments recently received.
What led you to start this business?
A burning need to build a life of personal and financial freedom led me to start my first business.
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
The first six projects that I did on the side while working full time were funded through syndicating money from friends, and getting commitments from DRA Enterprises, a small real estate investment fund led by Devin Antin. Now we source capital through high net worth individuals, family offices and institutional investors.
Are there advantages/disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s, and if so, what are they?
An advantage is a higher level of flexibility in your time and your ability to recover and learn from mistakes. You also can take more risks financially because you do not have anyone but yourself depending on you for income. A disadvantage is you tend to lose the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes (i.e. working for another company).
Do you have a mentor?
My parents, Mark and Marilyn Degner, showed me what it meant to work harder than the next person in pursuit of my goals. My former boss, Mark Weinstein of MJW Investments, taught me how to leverage my time and the resources around me, and the importance of delegation to operate at maximum efficiency.
Where do you go for advice regarding your business?
My network of resources and mentors. I have had a lot of success in turning back to professors I had from my time at USC’s Master of Real Estate Program.
Where do you go for professional services (legal help, accounting, etc.)?
At a high level my go-to legal is Kramer Holcomb Sheik and my go-to CPA is Simantob & Associates, Inc.
How much time/money do you spend on social media for your business?
At a corporate level, we spend very little money or time on social media. However, at the property level, social media has become an integral part of the marketing program for sales and leasing.
Does social responsibility play a role in your business?
All properties undergo an overhaul at acquisition to improve the efficiency of water and electrical consumption to reduce each asset’s environmental footprint.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market, or do you feel you could have launched it in another location?
We have a national investment focus that has brought us into many markets outside of Los Angeles, so we haven’t had issues getting out of just the Los Angeles market.
Do you encounter skepticism from investors because of your age, and if so, how do you handle it?
We encounter similar barriers to entry in terms of access to capital that other new organizations do.
What do you do for fun?
Basketball, flag football, snowboarding and mountaineering. I also grow our ancillary non-real estate businesses, most notably our wine label Dear Rosé.