Jonathan Feldman: Entrepreneur and Investor
Jonathan Feldman is an experienced corporate operating officer and chief executive officer who has a twenty-year track record of effectively identifying opportunity, as well as generating value in niche markets. His investment strategy combines incisive market and financial analysis with practical knowledge of the businesses in which he invests. Jonathan has successfully developed and managed assets well over $650 million.
The entrepreneur’s portfolios have mainly focused on energy-related holdings and real estate. Jonathan’s energy interests are comprised of a physical oil trading company, gas and oil contract drilling and gas and oil production facilities. His real estate investments have included commercial and residential properties as well as advising on nursing home and assisted living facilities acquisitions for a significant Northeast developer.
Through his investment undertakings, Jonathan has created secured lending facilities to private companies. He has also supervised public debt securities portfolios and is knowledgeable in effectively managing tax liability.
Jonathan launched his business career when he was a junior in high school. After earning his Real Estate License, he started to lease apartments in the city in which he was born and raised, Boston, MA. When he graduated from college, Jonathan purchased the apartment buildings for which he served as leasing agent and cleverly converted the apartment buildings into student rentals. By the time the savvy businessman was twenty-seven, he had already acquired and was managing one hundred and forty-four apartments with no assistance of outside investors. Jonathan accomplished this by utilizing government loan programs, which were then being offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. His real estate transactions, both as principal and advisor, have totaled nearly $400 million.
In 2001, Jonathan established Millennium Drilling, a contract drilling company and one of his many energy ventures. Seven years after he founded the company, Millennium had contracted to drill approximately two hundred gas and oil wells for contract values estimated at $250 million on behalf of nearly 30 investment partnerships.
This entrepreneurial young businessman is currently utilizing his personal finances to make private equity investments. Among these ventures are those which involve the transition of family businesses from one generation to the next. Jonathan’s goal is to purchase a substantial equity of closely held private companies where a major stakeholder is needed to recapitalize the business or buy out the business’s existing partners.
Through Mentor USA, Jonathan recently became a mentor to middle school students in South Bronx. He also spends his money and time on several charitable organizations. Jonathan was able to raise more than $115,000 to help fight cancer when he participated in the 2012 Ironman Zurich competition. He resides in Greenwich, CT with his wife and their two children.
Jonathan’s Past and Present Business Ventures
Jonathan was recently asked about the current oil and gas market. He said the market is extremely inflated in terms of the costs of leases and drilling expenses. He believes the market is also suffering from a tremendous amount of “dormant capital looking for a home.” This in turn, he said, is driving costs even higher and investment yield lower, chasing the latest shale to be publicized. Jonathan also pointed out that oil and gas exploration companies have made natural gas abundant. “Through technology and innovation, it has been booming,” he said. “Natural gas is great for consumers, but is horrible for investors.”
Patriot Exploration, one of Jonathan’s companies, had a division that used to finance small to midsized drilling projects in the $1 to $20 million range. As a businessman, does Jonathan consider this one of his greatest achievements? “No. It is just one part of that business, it wasn’t something special, the business had other divisions that originated drilling ideas which when successful, we took a lot of pride in.”
Since Jonathan has been involved in several energy ventures, is the businessman currently a real estate investor? “Yes.”
As a high school junior, Jonathan started to lease apartments in Boston. When asked if that is what motivated him to become a real estate investor, he explained that his father made real estate investments and that his high school sweetheart’s father was a major mall developer in New England. This influenced him to become a real estate investor because “I thought if they could do it, why not me?”
Jonathan added, “I was an ambitious kid. I had dreams, goals and aspirations, I was hungry.”
So what does Jonathan think about the real estate market? He believes individuals can make money in specialized areas of the real estate market, including distressed single-family homes or re-positioning retail properties. He acknowledged, “Things have stabilized in certain markets and there will be growth.”
What would the entrepreneur and investor tell individuals who want to become real estate investors? “I would tell them that it is very difficult to compete in the asset class on national or even regional level now. Find a local market or specialized niche where you have knowledge and competitive advantage, and then focus exclusively on that niche.”
When asked how someone knows if they are cut out to be a real estate investor, he responded: “You need to know first if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur. You need to understand yourself at very deep level, be able to handle personal finances and thrive under pressure. If I lose on a project or don’t make any money for a year’s effort, I also hinder myself to make money in the future because the loss of capital may prevent me from doing another project. It’s not like you lost the company money and the worst thing that can happen to you is that you need to find another job. Being entrepreneur means the buck stops with you.”
Among Jonathan’s real estate investments have been residential and commercial properties, as well as an advisor to nursing and assisted living facilities operator/developer. He advised on the acquisition of hundreds of millions dollars worth of senior living facilities in his twenties.
Recently, Jonathan has become interested again in senior living market.
“Ten years ago, I thought senior living niche was interesting because the baby boom population would need the services offered by senior living. This is only going to become more true over the next twenty years.” Jonathan believes in investing in senior and assisted living facilities in next two decades. “At the right price,” he said, “I would invest in this area.”
The oil and gas business is considered to be a high-risk, high-reward type of business. When asked if the same could be said about the real estate market, Jonathan said no because in the oil and gas business, you drill a well and spend millions of dollars before you know if you will have any oil or gas to sell. Jonathan explained that the real estate market can hit rock bottom, but you still have an asset. Eventually, assuming the location did not change significantly, the property price will recover so an individual can retrieve their money.
As a businessman who wears many hats, many readers may want to know if Jonathan prefers his energy ventures over being a real estate investor.
“I just want to be engaged and interested in what I’m doing,” he said. “Which industry it is becomes sort of irrelevant. Quite frankly, the reason I’m looking at private equity is that I need to be engaged and interested again. I need a new challenge; the challenge is what gets me out of bed in morning.”
How does someone become as successful as Jonathan? Does the businessman have a secret to success?
“You just got to want it and do what it takes to get it. It’s a drive. You have to push through and envision your life. I ask myself, ‘why not me?’ To achieve your goal, you’ve just got to want it more. Growing up, my biggest fear was being average.”
Being a very successful businessman, Jonathan must have had setbacks and learned something from his mistakes. How did he not get discouraged and move forward in accomplishing his goals? He replied:
“I am my biggest critic. I ask myself, ‘Did I do something wrong, what could have I done differently based on the facts and circumstances I knew at the time?’ I know my flaws. I usually make mistakes by jumping into situations and being too aggressive. I learning to be more temperate and analyze myself. There are guys out there who are more successful than I am, but I don’t have a magic ball. I have been in horrible situations, but I would take some situations back, not a lot of them. Failure once in a while helps you, as long as you don’t lose all your chips. ”
Where do you see yourself five years from now? “In August 2017, I am going to re-locate with my family to Florence, Italy, for the year. I am enrolling my children in an international school in Florence, so that they will be exposed to a completely different culture. My wife plans to resume her painting and drawing forays and continue to run her interior design business. I, on the other hand, will commute back and forth running my various businesses interests while simultaneously fulfilling some life long dreams of learning another language and studying music.”
As a businessman, is there anything else Jonathan would like to accomplish that he hasn’t already?
“I would like to build something that will outlast me and have value to someone else.”
What are Jonathan’s personal goals? “I want my kids and wife to be happy.” The businessman laughed and said, “I want to be happy once in a while. I want what’s best for my family and I want to do some more volunteering.” Jonathan discussed sponsoring an I Have A Dream Class. He would financially support and mentor a class throughout their academic career (from fourth grade to college).
Jonathan is also a mentor to middle school students in South Bronx through mentor USA. What got him involved in this organization?
“I went to ‘Date with Destiny’ and decided that this would be ideal way to meet some my needs, while doing good for others. I just don’t want to just give a check; I want to give my time.”
What is the Ironman Zurich? Jonathan said it’s a grueling 140.6 mile race, where an athlete must swim 2.4 miles before completing a 112 mile bike ride and full marathon. Athletes have only 16 hours to reach the finish line. Although Jonathan had torn a meniscus in his knee, he was able to participate and finish the Ironman Zurich in time. “It was brutal. I had a knee operation in September. I trained three to four hours a day for 6 months before the race. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish, but the last sixteen miles was the most agonizing thing in my life. Mind over matter.” Through the Ironman Zurich competition, Jonathan was able to raise more than $115,000 to help fight cancer in honor of a dear friend who had recently beat the disease. He explained, “I also participated in the competition because it was the ultimate physical challenge. I was frustrated at work and I needed something to turn my efforts to.”
Whether Jonathan is competing in the business world or as an athlete, he always puts in one and ten hundred percent of his effort into what he is doing. He has intelligence, experience and most importantly, the drive, to succeed in this world.