I actually started off in the world of finance. I was a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch over in San Francisco. I was there for a year or two and I saw what was happening as the Greek economy had started collapsing and the economists had said, "Hey, no, that shouldn't really affect our market here in the US." But it was still kind of throwing everything off so I was like, okay, that's my introduction to [the idea that] headlines really drive returns. I wasn't a big fan of that so I decided to see what else was out there. I started talking to a family friend who was the CEO of a company that coaches CEOs, which seemed like a great resource. And then I kind of got a curveball—he said, “Well, what do you know about franchising?”
I said the same thing I've heard thousands of times. "Oh, you know, McDonald's, Subway, KFC." And he's like, "Did you know my company was a franchise? There are franchises for everything." To me that was when I realized I've heard of franchises my whole life, but I apparently didn't know that much about them, so I should look into this more. He introduced me to the world of franchise brokerage, which is kind of like being a realtor or a financial advisor for franchises. So sometimes I worked with executives who were trying to leave the corporate world and wanted to own a business, but have some predictability to it. Then in other cases, they just wanted to build this additional income stream and have passive cash flow coming in.
So I joined a company called FranNet. I started off doing business development for them and eventually took over most of LA county. It got to this point where every convention I went to, they were doing seminars on stuff I came up with. They literally plugged my emails and threw them in the corporate training manual. And I'm a co-author of an Amazon bestseller that I don't get royalties for. So I was like, I think it's time to spread my wings and do my own thing. That's when I moved out to Chicago and I started my own brokerage company called Semfia and had the emphasis more on building an additional income stream. That's what I kept hearing more and more from my clients. We call them semi-absentee franchises. If you think of a Supercuts, you walk in and the owner's never there. They have a manager in place and their role as owners is to manage the management.
I did this for a few years and I had a focus on educational content too, because I realized most people were like me from a couple years before and didn't know that much about franchising. I started off just writing on Quora and then became the number one writer worldwide for franchising on Quora. And then my big one was in February. I had a whole Business Insider article on me and my work in the franchise world.
During that time I kept hearing a lot of the same things, like, "Hey, you know, I'd love to own a franchise, but I don't have a spare six or seven figures to throw into it," or "I can't leave my day job," or "I don't have the right skillset." And the idea I came up with was: well, why can't you passively invest in franchises? Like you've been able to for real estate for years. So that's where the idea for FranShares came from. FranShares lets anyone invest into franchise ownership for passive income stream for as little as $500. Actually the big reason that I had to start it now was that I read an article while I was in quarantine that people were betting on the stock market because sports were gone.
So I got the company started, went out and did some venture capital raising, raised almost a million and a half for it. Now we're in the final stages of getting it ready and launched out to make it something that everyone could invest in. For our first fund, we're doing a $20 million fund. That's going to be about 50 different franchise locations.