Demian Heald was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He is the son of a carpenter-turned-architect and a 5th generation Portlander who developed a great passion for the city, its needs, and real estate early on.
Inspired by his native roots and civic pride, he built Ten Bridges Real Estate Investment in 1999. And as the company’s President, he leads a team of investment and real estate professionals in revitalizing neighborhoods in and around the city of Portland and delivering consistent returns to their partners.
For the past several years, Demian has focused on buying and rehabbing undervalued real estate properties and reselling them for profit. At Ten Bridges, he and his team maintain a network with local leaders and businesses, private lenders, banks, and other community partners which help them make decisions that are consistent with the city’s planning objectives and needs.
Furthermore, being in service for more than two decades, Demian has gained a deep understanding of the design and construction process. He also developed relevant skills needed in handling distressed properties starting from acquisition, rehabilitation, and sales or rentals.
In addition to his broad experience in real estate investment, he sought expert advice from industry leaders including developers. Fruitful discussions with such people led to the company’s successful transactions, partnerships, loans, property purchases, and asset management projects.
At present, Demian happily lives in his hometown together with his family. Recognizing the importance of family connections in children’s development, he spends most of his free time bonding with his wife and three kids.
Where did the idea for Ten Bridges Real Estate Investment come from?
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with Portland’s architecture, streets, culture, and the distinct personality of its neighborhoods. And as I start to develop an interest in real estate, I figured that it would be awesome if I can be a part of the city’s development. From there, I decided to build Ten Bridges, and ever since we started, we’ve been focusing our efforts on revitalizing undervalued and distressed properties around the city and making sure that our partners’ investments pay off.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with a cup of coffee to accompany me as I check on my email and schedule for the day. Before I leave for work, I make sure to double-check my to-do list and those that are already in progress so that I can easily identify which way to go throughout the day.
When I arrive at the office, I meet with the team to check on the progress of projects, identify and resolve roadblocks and set the direction for everyone for the day. After that, I usually go to onsite and offsite meetings and discussions as I speak with a lot of potential investors and community partners. But at times when I don’t have a scheduled meeting, I’ll be at my office to review and improve on plans and strategies that I’ve discussed with the team.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To spark ideas, I always read because, in reality, we can get a lot of inspiration from other people’s stories or problems. Most of the time, it’s a matter of recognizing a specific problem, creating a solution for it that no one has ever tried doing before, and answering the question, “Why haven’t they tried doing this?” However, before pursuing it further, make sure that you know how you can possibly make it happen.
Once you know that you can make it happen, identify your objectives and start researching. Always remember that turning an idea into reality takes a lot of research and courage. As part of your research, look at the market and study existing solutions, identify what’s lacking, and specify how you can improve everything with your idea.
Now, when you’ve covered all the bases for this part, it’s time to seek help and advice from the experts. For this phase, being familiar with the strengths and abilities of the people you work with is a great advantage. Because if you are, it will be easier to identify whom you can tap for a particular project because you know that they can get things done.
Next, with a team to work on the idea, it’s time to execute it. During this part, what I usually do is oversee the process, do follow-ups and provide the support and resources they need to make things happen.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m really excited about how artificial intelligence is changing things. In real estate, we deal with a lot of information. We use data analysis to identify whether an asset will be profitable or unprofitable and make decisions based on this. Aside from that, it is very important for us to be able to explain these data to our investors in a very understandable manner.
With AI, it is now easier and faster to accomplish these things. Aside from that, with advanced technologies in place, we can quickly identify the key features of a real estate asset, evaluate it, and estimate its value even just by looking at its pictures. In addition, AI can amazingly predict outcomes like possible fluctuations in the sale or rental prices.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
While I use to-do lists, I make sure to keep track of my progress. I do this by keeping a table that reflects my tasks and my short- and long-term goals. From there, I am able to see where I’m at the moment and whether I’m getting any closer to achieving my goals or not. When I don’t see any significant change that shows progress for a specific period of time, I try to find out what went wrong and find a way to improve it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy life and give importance to establishing relationships with your family and friends because these people will stand by you no matter what happens. Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world if you don’t have anyone that you can truly trust and who cares for you.
As for your friends, it would help to find and keep those with whom you share common interests or goals because they can surely contribute to your growth as a person and together you can work to achieve your dreams.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that it is possible for a person to have all things in life. The only difference is that we don’t get it all at the same time. While some things can be done simultaneously, more complicated goals would require us to decide which one to focus on first before starting with another. But it doesn’t mean that we have to give up any of these goals. It just boils down to making the right decisions and knowing how to properly manage your time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I read a variety of books. Aside from serving as an exercise for the brain, it helps to have an idea of different topics because you’ll never know when such information will be useful to you. There are many circumstances in which you can use this advantage. It might be a reason for you to get hired, to meet a potential client and close a deal, or find a new friend. There are a lot of bigger possibilities that can happen if people will only make reading a habit.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We partner and establish long-term relationships with people who are passionate about seeing Portland progress just like us. Working with these people makes everything easier and better. With them, we are confident that we’re making the best decisions for Portland while equally prioritizing our projects’ profitability for our partner investors.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s something that commonly happens to most of us, especially for beginners. There will be times that you will doubt yourself. You’ll ask questions like, “Am I doing it right?” or “Is the strategy working?” Honestly, if you entertain such questions, they will slow you down. So instead of doing that, better take them as a challenge.
First, try to evaluate what you’ve done so far. After that, look for points that need improvement, work on them, and focus on your goals. Lastly, always remind yourself that good things don’t come easy. And when you feel like things are starting to get harder, then you are on the right track to becoming stronger and better.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Let’s combine two emerging trends right now. There is a growing interest in promoting the use of eco-friendly products due to global warming. In addition to that, we are currently facing a global health crisis that requires us to be very careful and practice good personal hygiene. Because of this, I think it’s a great idea to create a travel kit that contains personal hygiene products made from organic and eco-friendly ingredients. In the kit, you may include items like a hand sanitizer, soap, toilet disinfectant spray, disinfecting wipes, and the like.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a new travel wallet which I find very useful especially because I am always on the go. Aside from that, I chose it in particular because it’s a slow fashion product. As you know, it’s always best to find products that last longer and help save our environment so I do this as much as I can. But most importantly, this waterproof travel wallet has a couple of compartments where I can safely keep my phone, bills, cards, and more. And speaking of safety, it even has RFID protection against unauthorized scans by NFC or RFID readers.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am using Trello to organize tasks and monitor projects. It’s a very helpful project management tool because it allows me and my team have a smooth collaboration. With Trello, I’m able to indicate deadlines, add instructions, assign tasks, and check on my team or on updates regarding the activities that each one does anytime and anywhere.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Through this book, author Jen Sincero shares inspiring stories and advice to motivate her readers to start achieving their goals. It contains simple exercises that will help you identify your beliefs and behavior that hinder you from getting what you want from your life. From there, she wants to help you understand why you behave and think in a particular way and encourage you to work on things that you can improve or change and accept those that you can’t. This book is a good source of motivation if you want to maximize your potentials and live the best life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice
- If you want to succeed, building and maintaining a strong network should be one of your top priorities.
- Never underestimate your potential to make a difference in your community. With the right motivation and undeterred determination, you can achieve great things in life.
- Giving back to the community makes you a better person by improving your perspective about life and success.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.