She's WILD

How I Raised $100 Million and Launched My Development Company, with Meg Epstein, Founder + CEO CA South

Episode Summary

Meg Epstein as our guest on the show today. Born and raised in California, Meg is now a leading real estate developer in Nashville, Tennessee. She has over a decade of experience creating efficient, modern lifestyles for people where it matters most: their homes and neighborhoods. Meg founded CA South in 2016 with the idea of bringing Nashville her sense of design and style of building honed from her days constructing in California. Over the course of her career, she’s been involved in the development and construction of over 1 million square feet of residential and commercial real estate, representing over $780 million to date. Today, Meg is the CEO of CA South, a licensed Commercial Contractor, a licensed Residential Contractor, a CCIM candidate, and she’s also a licensed real estate agent.

Episode Notes

Welcome back to the She’s Wild Podcast hosted by Nancy Surak! I’m so excited to have Meg Epstein as our guest on the show today. Born and raised in California, Meg is now a leading real estate developer in Nashville, Tennessee. She has over a decade of experience creating efficient, modern lifestyles for people where it matters most: their homes and neighborhoods. Meg founded CA South in 2016 with the idea of bringing Nashville her sense of design and style of building honed from her days constructing in California.

Over the course of her career, she’s been involved in the development and construction of over 1 million square feet of residential and commercial real estate, representing over $780 million to date. Today, Meg is the CEO of CA South, a licensed Commercial Contractor, a licensed Residential Contractor, a CCIM candidate, and she’s also a licensed real estate agent.

In today's episode, Meg and I talk about the power of cold calling and why it is an efficient business strategy when you are getting into development or real estate. We discuss the booming market within Nashville, Tennessee, and why that began to grow exponentially during the pandemic as well as other market trends that are making it a great place for real estate development. Meg sheds light on CA South and how her company is shifting its focus into the industrial market for the foreseeable future.

This episode is great for anyone looking to get into real estate or development as Meg talks through the challenges and wins she has encountered throughout her years as an entrepreneur.

Memorable Moments:
7:03- Cold calling was how I got my first deal funded, my first over 100 million dollar deal funded, during the pandemic, and I've never even met them, but I cold-called them and I had been cold calling them for many years.

10:53- I tend to think really big, I think that's another big lesson I've learned that you have to kind of keep your goals really high and continue coming back to them.

22:00- Well, in this market, deals are really tough to make work. So you have to be creative and find the right opportunities because there's always inefficiency.

28:35- I think that it's been a really tough struggle, the supply chain issues and the cost of construction with the high expectation for land value.

Connect with Nancy:

Connect with Meg:

Meg’s Podcast/Book Recommendations:
How I Built This with Guy Raz
Speaking from Experience via Amazon -

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business via Amazon -

She's WILD Sound Production by:
Luke Surak, Surak Productions:

Episode Transcription

Nancy Surak 00:00
Welcome to She's Wild, the podcast for women in land and development. I'm your host, Nancy Surak. I created this podcast as a way to collect conversations of women in the land and development industry. I've been a land broker on the west coast of Florida for nearly 20 years. And I love to empower other women and to tell them about this amazing industry. But I find often that there just aren't enough women being featured on big stages, whether that's at local conferences, or nationally. So I set out to find these women myself, that are killing it in my business across North America that are changing the communities that they live in every single day, whether they're building condos, multifamily, single family, office, or industrial projects, I hope that you will find this space to be inspirational, motivating, and educational. From time to time, I will feature women who are not only in my business, but also career coaches, and motivational speakers. Hi, and welcome to shoes while the podcast for women and land and development. Today's guest is Meg Epstein, from ca south in Nashville, Tennessee. Mag has a great pedigree of background in commercial real estate development, she's developed over a million square feet of residential and commercial real estate. I am so excited that she's joined us here on the podcast today. Meg, welcome to the show. Why don't you go ahead and give a more proper introduction. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you first got into real estate.

Meg Epstein 01:40
Sure, um, I appreciate you having me. Thank you. I, I moved to Nashville about five or six years ago and decided to get into commercial development. I came from California where I when I first graduated from college, it was 2008. And I was going to go into the financial sector but decided I didn't want to do that. And I'm happy I didn't because I would have gotten laid off. I'm sure if it was an analyst somewhere. You thought Yes. Yeah. And so I went into construction, actually. And I was building luxury homes for a general contractor. So just crazy houses like 60,000 square feet. You know, Millie, the 50 million plus dollar home. So that was a really good foundational experience. I started on the job sites and learned a lot about construction and project management. And I was actually building one of the homes for a developer. So he sort of did a little mentoring with me. And I understood how he thought about real estate and became interested in doing development at that time. So in about 2012, I moved to San Francisco and I started my own little LLC and started doing home flips and back builds in the Napa area, Napa, San Francisco and the peninsula. And when I moved to Nashville, I tried to do residential, but they're just not the high end home market there. So here, so I took all the CCM courses, which were really integral to understanding real estate investment and underwriting. And that was super beneficial for me. And I started in commercial development here. So that was in 2016 17, and got my first deal funded. And then it went very well. And you know, now we have about 1.3 billion in terms of development, and you now have a much bigger team and it's been a wild ride.

Nancy Surak 03:46
That's, that's great. I am so tell me, what was the first deal that you said I got funded on a deal in Nashville. Tell me a little bit about that project.

Meg Epstein 03:55
Yeah, the first deal was a condo project. And had I known that, you know, no track record or money or experience and getting condos are very condos are a lot harder to fund than, you know, apartments or industrial, for example. But that was a deal. I had an architect builder partner that brought it and he needed the capital to capitalize it. And so I really just did a ton of cold calling and through my CCIM course I called on the directory of private equity investor and got him to come down to Nashville and check out the deal. And it happened. It was good timing. It was about 2017 16. So the market wasn't quite as hot. It was just starting to become more of a darling investment market. And so he came down and basically gave me all the money to do it and it worked out really well. So it's a simple way of saying that we built it and finished it but that was the first deal.

Nancy Surak 05:00
Okay, so you sort of just sped right past, you know, I did a ton of cold calling. I'm a huge proponent of cold calling. I'm a land broker here in on the west coast of Florida. And I think without cold calling, it's really hard to get any deals done, both from, you know, contacting landowners and being able to sell the deals once I have them listed. But I want you to go into a little bit more detail about how many calls did it take before you actually found someone who was like, Yeah, I'm gonna come down.

Meg Epstein 05:30
Probably 1000. I mean, I kept the CRM i bought it i still CRM system I used today, it's got less annoying CRM, it's like $8, and less and, and I, but I had no, I mean, back then I didn't know I mean, now we have all institutional investors, and, you know, whole legal team and everything. But I didn't know the difference between general partnership and a limited partnership, for example. So I didn't really know what I was looking for. It also helps because I didn't really understand how difficult it was. And so that kind of that sort of naivety, I guess sort of helped. But I Googled, I basically just like started Googling, like, where do people like real estate investment capital, just kind of, you know, I went to, like I said, the CCM directory, I bought lists, from family, I went to a few conferences. And then I would just relentlessly follow up with people and honestly, like my bigger institutional investors today, including a public REIT, I cold call, you know, and sometimes it would sometimes they wouldn't reply for a long time, but unless someone told me absolutely, no, I would just follow up with them every three months. And what happened during the pandemic, when Nashville became, you know, all these new york investors didn't want to invest in new york anymore. started looking at these other markets, including Nashville being one of the top ones. They were like, oh, there's that girl that's been bugging me for two years or three years. So, you know, that was how I got my first deal funded my first over 100 million dollar deal funded during the pandemic, and I've never even met them, but I cold call them and I've been cold calling them for many years. So I totally agree with what you said. And I'm sure it's a lot a big part of your success as well. Well,

Nancy Surak 07:18
yeah, yeah. It's a lot of hard work, you know, and I think coming out to, for me, I always say, you know, so much of it's just grit and tenacity, and just saying, like, until somebody tells me exactly what you said, Absolutely not, like, leave me alone, or stop calling me. You know, you're wasting your time. I'm just gonna be like, Hey, it's me again. Yeah. So it's great to hear that you just never gave up. I have a lot of friends down here in Florida, who are females who are entering into their development side of their career. And I'm hearing this just awesome. Stories about Yeah, I got this partner and they agreed to fund me. I just had lunch with somebody this week. And I'm like, Oh, my God, I'm so excited for you. So that first project, how many how many units was that original? First deal that you got funded?

Meg Epstein 08:07
That was 77 units. Okay. And it was

Nancy Surak 08:11
a million dollars?

Meg Epstein 08:13
No, no, I was I was, I was saying later, like, I continued to cold call for all my later deals, that was about 25 million, I think, okay,

Nancy Surak 08:23
which is not a small amount of money. I mean, that's, that's large. So when you look back at your childhood, I loved us this question. Were there things when you were younger that you could have foreseen, you know, that you would end up in the space that you're in today?

Meg Epstein 08:42
Yeah, I've always loved architecture and building things. My, I mean, on one hand, you know, my parents, I grew up in Sacramento, my parents didn't go to college. I didn't understand anything to do with, like, I managed, you know, to funds now. And I'm very heavily involved in the financial aspect of things and institutional capital. So that world, you know, most of that, like people that grew up in New York sort of understand a lot more from that, and I grew up in Sacramento, but so I didn't have a lot of exposure. So on one hand, that was all completely new to me, but and then on the other, you know, my parents were always very busy. My dad owned a metal array, sign manufacturing company, and he was always an entrepreneur always working hard. My whole family gets up at 430 in the morning. He used to take me to work with him all the time. And he always instilled in me the idea that, you know, it's not necessarily about money, but but being your own boss allows a lot of freedom. It does come with a lot of extra stress, but I always kind of knew that I'd end up working for myself and I really only was employed by two people technically before I just went out on my own because I was just sort of a horrible employee. But um, but he kind of instilled that in me for sure. And I think, yeah, I think real estate was always kind of where I wanted to end up in one way or the other. So what has

Nancy Surak 10:12
been one of the biggest lessons you've learned throughout your career?

Meg Epstein 10:17
Oh, man, persevere, perseverance is when I always come back to I think any entrepreneur knows that sounds a little cliche. But it really is, like I have been, you know, sitting with in the hole, you know, hundreds of 1000s of dollars in the hole. Make you being really tough to see I was gonna get through it, but I just kind of continued to persist and continue to persist and pivoted and brought the right advisors on and assembled the right team. So perseverance is always a big theme, I tend to think really big, I think that's another big lesson I've learned is you have to kind of keep your goals really high and continue coming back to them. And then for me, I always go back to my team, I mean, the people that work for CA South now are much more experienced and a lot, have a lot better pedigree and more formal education and things like that, and just so happy that they, you know, have believed in me enough as a younger entrepreneur to come, come on board, but they're really, you know, they're the ones that really understand the ins and outs of their expertise. And so I just kind of put them all together. But I think for me, it always comes back to our team and having the right people around you and not the wrong people when you have the wrong people that can be, you know, horrific. And so we're very exclusive about how we bring people on now. And so that's something that's super important.

Nancy Surak 11:54
Talk to me a little bit more about, you know, how you went originally from it being you saying, I want to be a developer and I want to do this project to building you know, how did you come with, you're the first person that you added to your team? And then how did you grow from there?

Meg Epstein 12:10
Yeah, I think, Well, I first did homes, which, by myself, so I did understand a lot of the aspects of construction and project management and fun, you know, a little bit of the funding, not in the commercial side. But the first deal. I mean, I kind of eased into it, because I had partners, right. And, like my first partner really understood architecture and buildings. So he really took care of all the entitlements and all that stuff. And I was really just on the financial end. And then when I realized, and then I had another deal where I, I had met a partner. It was actually my my very first deal before the the one I mentioned. And I was running along the river. And one of the things about I grew up on a river in Sacramento, and I, you know, grew up going to San Francisco on the water, and I moved to Nashville, and there's just nothing on the water, like you couldn't live on the river and just all the restaurants faced in Word. There's just no river activation at all. And it's sort of like taboo to the locals, like, Oh, why do you want to you know, it's like an industrial feeling. And so I thought, Oh, I really want to build something on the river. And so I called this guy that had a for sale by owner sign of this lot. That was just 10 blocks north of Broadway, which is the main like nashvegas strip, right? And anyways, so we ended up partnering. But he said he was a developer, the long story short, is he said, he is the developer, he couldn't get the project out of the ground. I raised capital for it. And when he couldn't get it over the ground, I was like, Well, I have to do this over because I, I had raised a million dollars, like from random people, I like not friends and family like random, you know, I mean, like cold calling and stuff. And I was like, Well, I have to figure this out. Because I, you know, I need to get my investors money back. And so that's kind of when I dove into actually understanding, you know, the architectural plans and bidding that to the GCS and just sort of learn on that project. And then, yeah, wow. Yeah, I mean, I really didn't have a choice.

Nancy Surak 14:15
So at that point, right, because you felt an obligation, right? You had to get Yeah, like after the people who you you know, right. I guess said, like, trust me. Come on board. I got you. This is gonna be amazing. And then you're like, yeah, yeah, like go from here.

Meg Epstein 14:27
Yeah. And he was like, it wasn't a bad guy. He was just really incompetent, very old. And like I said, he had done all these developments anyways, he just couldn't, it just did. The project just in the end just didn't work the way that he had it designed. So we had to completely redesign it and recapitalize it and everything and it ended up being wildly successful in the end, but it was a lot. I learned a lot of lessons on that project. And it was very complicated. And it was a bit you know, there were times it was heartbreaking. And that's when I really had perseverance when I was like, Oh my gosh, what am I gonna do? Do so

Nancy Surak 15:01
yeah. When you look at a deal today, when you're analyzing something, do you go back to those that scar tissue? Do you say like, Oh, I've been here before seen this before, as part of your decision making process?

Meg Epstein 15:14
Yeah, we're really I'm pretty, I mean, I look at a lot of deal flow now. And we really go back to a lot of our core principles of like, only wanting to do really undersupplied asset classes, or the data really needing to be there. We've obviously have a very experienced construction team that can weigh in on costs, and all the things to really do a lot of due diligence before and not get, you know, not get emotionally tied to a deal because you can invest, you know, 50 grand 100 grand into something and a ton of time. And but at the stakes, if it's $100 million deal. And it's not the right deal, like walk, you know, you got to be able to like walk away from it. And that's something that's, you know, not have it be emotional, because it's like, I don't want to go through what I'm on the wrong deal. So we're very exclusive now and the deals that we do, and we see a lot of deal flow.

Nancy Surak 16:14
So where do you spend, what kind of deals do you spend most of your time on today? Is it condos? Or is it a combination of different asset classes?

Meg Epstein 16:22
Yeah, I would say we're pretty evenly distributed amongst so we do industrial logistics, which has been an amazing platform. And I'll probably put even more into that, going forward, just given where interest rates are going and this in economic environments a little bit. I'm a little bit hesitant. And so I think industrials, probably a good place to focus right now. It's probably about 30% of our portfolio. And then we do opportunity's own multifamily. So 10 year hold, mixed use urban infill projects of multifamily with retail below in most cases. So those are either larger master plan makes use or you know, say 100 to 300 units in in near the urban core. And then we also do condos. And we pretty much only do condos that you can short term rent out, it's sort of some little niche that I found that has worked really well and is in high demand right now. So investors can, you know, own an investment asset, but they can also use it for their own use. And it's just one of those, especially in Nashville, it's like such a good. It's such a strong, they sell very quickly. So that's that's pretty much the only type of condos that we do now.

Nancy Surak 17:40
So talk to me a little bit about that. So it's a short term rental, is that the length of an Airbnb model? Or is it something else?

Meg Epstein 17:48
Yeah, it's really so we don't operate them, we basically just sell them to the end user. But the way that we set them up is that the end user can then Airbnb them, or VRBO them or they can use a management company that we recommend to the handles all that for them, like, you know, we'll handle the cleaning and booking and everything. And it's just kind of a nice, it's a nice flexibility for people if they want to own something, you know, or you know, people split splitting their time. Now a lot of people do that. You don't have to pay income taxes in Nashville, so you don't pay state income taxes. So if you spend more than six months a year here, but you live in LA, you know that that gives you flexibility and you can rent it out while you're not in it. It's not just sitting dead. And we looked at doing some in Florida as well. The condo laws are a little bit tougher there. But I think in certain downtown's, it would work and it would, you know, you have so many people that only spend half a year in Florida. So that's the idea. Yeah,

Nancy Surak 18:46
I think it's relatively I think there's a decent market share of that in the Orlando market. I'm not quite I can't think of particular one in the markets that I sit in. But I know I've heard about or actually been to those types of projects over in Orlando, they're they're kind of big, so. So talking about a lot of deals and different deals, what has been the strangest deal or issue that you've encountered in your career?

Meg Epstein 19:12
The strangest um, so I have a brilliant, I actually we just had a little party last night celebrating the steel getting done because it was a industrial deal. And I launched the industrial platform in 2010 20. No to 2019 or so. And I can see in Nashville, sort of the same trends. So we really base all of our investment around data and not you know what other people are doing. We tend to be a bit contrarian. And so we got into the industrial market pretty early, which was great because it's obviously completely blown up but one in one deal. It was a piece of land and And there's always hurdles. I mean, now I think I've purchased the land for 60 or 80,000 an acre. And now that same land would be 380,000. I mean, it's just gone crazy, and especially in Nashville, so it's a more urban, last mile logistics project. And there's just all these crazy things with the wetlands. And the environmental department like, this isn't California, this is Tennessee, where, you know, the the state environmental department need us that almost the land was almost going to be unusable because of this salamander breed that was on it. And my chief development officer, Ken, he figured out a way, instead, like most developers would have just walked at that point, because it's like, really tough to figure out. So he basically was able to harvest all these salamanders and transport them to the zoo into and they took care of them at the zoo while we were building. And then we built these bio retention ponds at the end. And this is like an a big industrial project with like trucks coming in and out. But we built these like, protected by our retention ponds, so that the salad wieners could come back to their habitat when construction is done. And he got all this them to go for it and approve it all. And it was like this really cool way to work with the community. And obviously, the council woman and the community wanted this development because it was really cleaning up this industrial area, and, you know, making a nice new building. But this way, it was kind of, you know, it took a lot of meeting meetings of the minds and really can handle it all. But it was just sort of the outside the box thinking that I think, you know, we're that a lot of why we get such high yields on our projects is because we're able to, like find solutions where I think a lot of other people will just be like, Oh, that's not doesn't work. And it's like, well, in this market, you deals are really tough to make work. So you have to be creative and find the right opportunities, because there's always inefficiency, you know,

Nancy Surak 22:09
yeah, I use for those in the audience that are watching on YouTube. You saw me react when I heard the word salamander, because a lot of people don't understand all the different things that can happen in a land transaction or a development deal. And I once had a blue skink issue on a property that I had never I didn't even know it was a protected species. I didn't even know what it was in the process by which a buyer had to go through to document it through the documentation process of were they there. Were they, you know, procreating what was happening with their habitat, like it was, it was intense, it was a lot of work. But you know, I strapped on my boots and blue jeans. And I actually went out to the field with a biologist, because I was so curious about like, well, what is it and it was literally like a three or four inch lizard. That was a consider, you know, a protected species. And I, you know, I love to tell that story. Because, eventually, you know, everything worked out. But it was an very, very interesting situation that I had never seen before folks know about, like bugs and bunnies and those sorts of things, but not, you know, lizards and salamanders as a really critical part of the ecosystem. So I love that. You threw that out as well. This was sort of like something we had to overcome. So in the same spirit, what's been in your whole career from the beginning to now what's been your absolute favorite deal that you've worked on?

Meg Epstein 23:42
Um, first and last, right. The first one is always the riverfront one was, you know, it's near and dear to my heart, because it's it is it was on the river. And it was my first deal. And it was very successful. I mean, it made, you know, was only a $15 million deal. And I think the profit was five or 6 million on it. So that one's you know, and just to be done with it was so it was so great. But if I look at now, going full circle, I have a much larger mixed use project on the river. I'm planning now and I think it will I don't know how much you know about Nashoba Oracle's building a campus on the riverfront across from our downtown. And this project is sort of adjacent to that also on the river and on a park. And what's funny is I also found this project on a run just like the first one because I run along the river right? And I just started to get to know the sellers that way and you know, it stop in and, and took many years to assemble, not many, actually relatively few for the size of the deal. Oh, but I think that one is the one I'm most I mean, it's not done yet, but I'm planning it and it's a much larger mixed use. Project. I'm hoping there's reach retail similar to the armature works project you guys have. And it'll be a big step forward for Nashville to activate the riverfront because it is much more of a dialogue. Now, the mayor's, you know, thinking with it, there's obviously Oracle's putting their big campus on the reverse. So there's a lot more attention on that. And I think this project will really help differentiate that.

Nancy Surak 25:33
Yeah, you know, I went to Nashville, probably four years ago, it was four years ago, I took my daughter and one of her friends for spring break. And that was like, the most surprising thing to me was going down, you know, as a tourist that though, that the riverfront was really not very activated. Because I grew up in New Orleans, and I live in Tampa, and I'm like, wow, this is like such a missed opportunity. Yeah, for the community. So I'm excited to you know, to learn more about your project. And next time I come to come and see what you've done. I think that's it's really special when even if it's an industrial type of river, you know, to activate those spaces, because they're, they're unique, and Nashville has a lot to offer. Like I love I absolutely loved what I saw when I went to the Gulch was, that area was like, phenomenal and super activated. And I think you've done a project over in that particular sub market, correct?

Meg Epstein 26:28
Yeah. And then a few in that area, probably before it got really hot. Yeah, I mean, the one our first 100 million dollar deal was is getting ready to break ground over there. Off of Eighth Avenue, and yeah, it's like, it's just a little bit south of the Gulch, but it's edge Hill. Yeah, it's gotten. I remember when I first bought land, I think I paid $80 A foot and the local developers that I was like crazy, and this girl from California, and now that stuff trades for $200. But you know, it's crazy. So

Nancy Surak 27:05
I was trying to negotiate with a buyer yesterday, who led a deal drop a year ago, and he's like, I want to buy it for what I had under contract for last year. And I'm like, yeah, good luck.

Meg Epstein 27:16
Yeah. No,

Nancy Surak 27:17
I'm like, You're so out of touch with what's happening in the land. I can't help you. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, talk about being in the right place at the right time and pulling the trigger when it's the right deal. You know? So, what are some of the biggest trends that you're seeing right now, as you operate this development company, and you're looking at deals and you're taking things, you know, to construction? What are you guys facing from a trend or challenge standpoint?

Meg Epstein 27:49
Um, I mean, in Nashville, and we're starting to branch out in other markets as well. But generally, the southeast I mean, sellers have just gotten so what's a nice euphemism for greeting? Like, it's just, they're so unrealistic about their expectations, because or not, I mean, I understand they have this really expensive, they have this really valuable in, but now construction costs and pretty much increased by 20%. So, as a developer, it's been getting really, really tough to make deals work at this point. And I'm not going to be, you know, like, do we just, we can't just like roll up shop, right? I mean, but and you have to really find the right deals. And so I think that it's been a really tough struggle, despite supply chain issues and the cost of construction with the high expectation for land value, because it's, yeah, like you said, a seller isn't just gonna be like, Okay, well, construction costs more imminent, like my land is worthless, but as a developer, it is really hard to get that to work. So I think, then you are simultaneously have inflation, you know, you have inflation and interest rates increasing. So your exit caps on the other end have to be underwritten a little more conservatively. And so it's definitely a, you know, kind of a turbulent time. So what we've done, or what we're looking at, in terms of trends is really focusing, as I said, on building out our industrial platform more, because I do think the the cost of construction for that hasn't increased as much. And I think it is still largely under supplied in the southeastern markets. As you know, companies go more towards east ecommerce, and operating businesses and manufacturing wants to be out of the city for traffic and cost reasons, right. So there's really not a lot of places for small businesses like that to go. And so those that's the product type we build. And so for us, we're very focused on industrial sector and rolling that out into other southeastern markets. At the moment, I think you'll continue to see A strong industrial market. And, yeah, I think we just have to be a lot safer. But, but I think also, you know, having enough of not affordable quote unquote, housing, but homes, that people that are financially accessible for people is going to be something that continues to be a problem then that we want to address by doing like larger master plans that include a lot of more compact living and things like that. So that people, because the reality is is like, just because it costs more to build and land expensive, it doesn't mean people can just necessarily pay more for their rent. And so I think that's something that we'll we've also incorporated. As, you know, we've always veered away from ultra high luxury and been always been sort of more of a luxury a middle market developer. And that's kind of what we're gonna stick to for this next couple of quarters while this turbulent time runs out.

Nancy Surak 31:03
Yeah. And I think, you know, if you get back to what you told me earlier, was underserved markets, areas where there's going to be continuous demand. I mean, that that's makes perfect sense. I think when you're talking about your industrial portfolio, that's, that's not the million square feet buildings, right? You're in the, what's an average size for those projects? Yeah,

Meg Epstein 31:22
we're like we'd do 100, like 100 to 500,000 is probably a good, but we do, we will take smaller leases in that to 20,000 square foot leases, for example. I mean, that's our always our idea. Sometimes we come in, and then there's bigger tenants. But we see that when you actually look at deef, like what leases default, that the businesses that are the mom and pop businesses that have been that have been around for decades, they actually default less on their leases than larger corporations, that because it means a lot more to them. And so we want to appeal to those people in that sort of underserved asset class.

Nancy Surak 32:09
Now, at least down here, in Florida, you know, I always tell people, there's so much pent up demand for that small business owner who can't get into like a half a million square feet, they don't need that. They need the 60,000 100,000 150,000 square foot property. And what I the other trend I've seen down here too, I don't know if you're seeing it up there in Nashville, as they typically wait till they are busting at the seams, and they needed it yesterday. They're they're so busy running their businesses and corporations that sometimes you know, they're coming at it, and they're like, We need it. And if it's not available spec, you know, they, they tend to have to suffer for you know, 18 months or two years until it can be built. So I'm glad to hear that you guys are focusing on a little bit of a smaller footprint. And I'm sure you'll reach tremendous success in that space. And so I normally wrap up with three questions. So I'm gonna dive into those. Yeah, this podcast is really meant for women like yourself who, you know, maybe a few years back, right, but you're going to be listening to women who have great experience in the development or the land space across North America. If someone were to reach out to you and say, hey, I want to do what you did. Or or I want to get into the space. I'm I'm super interested in the the build space. But I don't know where to start. What's some advice you could offer me? What would you tell her?

Meg Epstein 33:34
I'm like, say it's not for the faint hearted, are you sure. But CCIM was a really great foundation for me. And if you you know, you're a broker, and you understand, I have my CCIM Oh, yeah, great. So you understand how I mean, I, I felt like it was very integral to really, really grasping all the different asset classes. So I think that's a very doable, approachable way to set a nice foundation for yourself. And, and then I'd say, to find a partner that, you know, that has done it before. And code, like when I first started a co GP with a lot of capital. Now, I only take on LPS limited partners, but you can co sponsor and just try to go work with someone, if you don't want to go right out on your own, trying to go work with someone. I think brokerage is a really great way to understand I mean, if you have no real estate experience, I definitely recommend brokerage to just all those lessons you learn in cold calling and all of that. I mean, I think that is a really great way to start. But then you want to be in development either going to work, you know, with a developer in a lot of times, they're not bigger teams. It could be like one or two people on a team. We have a big team because we do a lot of deals. But there's a lot of independent developers out there that could be You either partnered with or try to find, you know, try to find a deal and bring it and say, Hey, can I part you partner with you on this. And if you're a broker, you're definitely getting a lot of deal flow. And if you, you know, you know how to understand, you can understand underwriting if you've done the CCM, so that would be my way, like, technical way of going about it. Even though my, I had a very non conventional, I probably, the one thing I would have probably done, if I did it over again, is I would have gotten an MBA just because I, but I, that's because I work a lot more with institutions and and I am going towards managing more funds. That would have, I think, been something I would have done. But I also, you know, have several MBAs on my team that are brilliant, and, you know, I weigh on, so.

Nancy Surak 35:57
Thank you for that. Is there a book or a podcast that you've listened to either recently or at some point in your career that has been incredibly impactful for you and how you run your business or your life that you'd like to share?

Meg Epstein 36:13
It's definitely not one book that if that's another thing is I do read a lot. And I don't think enough people do. But I read. I probably read three books a month, at least and usually read several at a time. And I mean, there's so many, but I really, one podcast I do listen to consistently and also has a book is Guy Raz, how I built this on NPR. And that's always just encouraging for any type of entrepreneur. There's a few real estate ones. I think the compass guy did one, Zillow and stuff. So there's some real estate ones, but it's just really sort of inspiring, because a lot of the stories started out kind of like mine, like no money, no track record, didn't notice doing got into into financial mess had to undo it themselves, like, you know, sort of the same key lessons you hear over and over and over again. So I think that one and also follows up with a book and is really insightful. But yeah, I have I listened to. I said, I've organized my way based on me, my company based on a book called speaking from experience, and traction is another one. That's a really good one. And so yeah, I mean, I need to keep a list on my website somewhere.

Nancy Surak 37:33
You really should. Because now I'm like, Oh, wow. Like, what are the rest? Like, I want it? Yeah, I really should. Title I'm like, Well, I haven't read that one. I haven't read that one either. And I'm like, Oh, yeah. And I'm actually on the hunt. Right now, personally, that's why I asked the question. I always love to know what about people?

Meg Epstein 37:48
I will Yeah, I can put together I'm going to add that I will try this together.

Nancy Surak 37:54
If you guys send me a list, I'll be happy to throw it out there too. In order or link, if you put it up on your website. I'll add that to the show notes. And then my final question is exactly that. Where can my listeners follow your progress either through ca south or you personally? Are you active on social media? And where can they kind of keep up with you guys and what you're what you're working on?

Meg Epstein 38:18
Yes, we keep ca sounds LinkedIn and Instagram, which is at CAA South development. Mine is at mango bow Epstein. So we both of those pretty updated this year, South one, you know, we try to do posts based on our projects and what we're seeing in the market. So LinkedIn, and Instagram are probably the best for those. Awesome,

Nancy Surak 38:40
well, cool, I want to thank you again for joining me, it's been a great pleasure and an honor to have you. You came highly recommended by a good friend. And it's really remarkable to see another woman in my world just slaying it and I can't wait to be able to meet you in person one day. So thanks again for joining us and for sharing your career story. We really appreciate it and good luck on your your newest projects and taking over Nashville and elsewhere.

Meg Epstein 39:14
Thanks so much, Nancy. I really appreciate you having me on the show. You bet. Take care. Bye.

Nancy Surak 39:20
Thank you for joining us for another episode of she's wild the podcast for women and land and development. If you enjoyed today's show, please go out and rate us so that we can be found by other women in our industry. And if you know women who are working in land and development, please share this podcast with them. And if you know a total rock star woman, badass chick who is killing it in land and development anywhere in North America. I want to know who she is. Please reach out to me so that I can feature her on an upcoming episode.