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Launcher Stories

Zubaidah Jackson

By March 1, 2021May 12th, 2021No Comments
Originally, I didn’t think they were going to let me into the program because I thought it was for people who had lost their jobs during covid. I had a full-time job working for the county but I sent in my information anyway and they let me in! I also thought it was for people who had an idea for a business but hadn’t gone too far. When I got into the Launch1000 I realized there are a number of people who have tried and failed or are a lot further along with their venture.
My venture is real estate and being a landlord. I’ve always wanted to do real estate. My parents did real estate and it’s been in my family since I was born. My parents always had below-market value rent but I came into the program with the goal of being able to provide housing and also pay my bills from being a landlord. Along the way, I realized from talking to people that I really like what my parents did. They provided affordable housing before affordable housing was a word.
When I got into Phase 1, if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for. I didn’t understand what talking about myself, my purpose, and my sweet spot had to do with business. I was a little reluctant and I wasn’t sure if I was writing what they wanted me to write. Back then I didn’t see the value of it. Now I realize that starting this venture is a lot of work and it’s easy to imagine wanting to give up. But when you go back to your sweet spot and your “Why”, you remember your goals and why you wanted to do it in the first place.
The most difficult part for me was the accountability partner section in Phase 1. I’m a very reserved person and now to be told I’ve gotta go out and become friends with strangers and talk about my idea with these people, it was really difficult. But it turns out some of the other launchers have been a wealth of information. One of the other launchers connected me with someone in Westchester who is in affordable housing. It helped me realize that what I wanted to do was provide affordable housing in communities with good school districts.
Also, when I got into Phase 2, the curiosity conversations were SO HARD for me to get out and do. I had to ask strangers to answer a bunch of questions for me. But as I went it got easier and now I LOVE the curiosity conversations. I never would have imagined it, but now I feel like I could jump on a call with anybody and ask them questions. I love it, I love it, I love it.
Because of these conversations, I started realizing how hard it was going to be to offer affordable housing in neighborhoods with good school districts. It has made me start thinking about trying to mix affordable housing with fair market value rentals in my portfolio of properties so that I can afford to make it work. I’m also considering narrowing my target market to people who work in Westchester but currently have to live somewhere else. I was studying some of the data about where our workforce lives in this county. And they drive here to work in Westchester but they can’t afford to live here and instead, they live in Queens or the Bronx or somewhere else.
But as I continued, another thing that was really helpful was in Phase 3 was looking at my operating costs and what my upfront costs would be. The upfront costs would be the most expensive for me. But looking at the operating costs in detail, it’s helped me to think on a grander scale. Instead of little ol’ me with one unit, I got to think a little bigger about a multi-unit and what operating costs would come from property management, etc. The canvas helped me dial in on the numbers. It also helped me focus on who I should be having curiosity conversations with. I realized that I should probably be doing more curiosity conversations on who is going to help me make the numbers work on the housing affordable side.
In Phase 4, I wake up in the morning and think about how I’m going to get the prototype done. I’m getting a lot of information and statistics about what’s needed and where. I’m really looking forward to it and I think I’m going to make a video. I like this phase because I can see it’s helping me to figure out if all the numbers are going to work, derisk it, and bring the idea to reality.
Originally I was imagining this venture making money so I could retire early and help take care of my parents, spend time with my family, and vacation more. Now I realize that while that was nice to think about in Phase 1, here in Phase 4 I’m realizing that’s probably not going to happen. Not easily at least. But I’m thinking if I could get a building and help a family who would be able to have their child in a good school district where they can get the resources they need then that would be a success for me. If I could help one family get into a decent area and have a better life that would be great.
I’m so thankful to the county for doing this. They say we’re one of the wealthiest counties and we have some of the most impoverished people. But I see our county doing so much to help the people in the community. Even on just a regular day-to-day basis. But this program even goes so far beyond that. I think there are so many programs that help so many levels of people in the community and I think it’s great.
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