Don’t “Fake It ‘Till You Make It.” Instead, Keep It Real
August 15, 20163 min read
You may remember Reichen Kuhl as the winner (along with his race partner, Chip Arndt) on season four of the hit CBS competition The Amazing Race.
Winning first place and a million-dollar prize was just one of countless life rewards and fast-paced adventures for Reichen, including a multifaceted career as an Air Force officer, book author, actor, model, activist, and even a physics teacher.
One of his biggest challenges – for which he is now seeing a very rewarding finish line – is entrepreneur.
Reichen is co-founder of the lease protection program called LeaseLock. It’s the only nationwide lease protection default program that is actually backed by insurance. The renter pays a fee that gives the landlord an insurance certificate – a guarantee that the landlord will receive rent no matter what.
How it works: a tenant applying for LeaseLock coverage completes a super screening underwriting process. If a one-year lease is $1,000/month, the approved tenant pays LeaseLock 10% of the monthly rent for the entire lease rental sum; in this case, $1200.
What that means for landlords: if a tenant defaults on rent, the landlord does not have to chase down a co-signer or stress about collection. The landlord simply files a claim online (the system is automated), and is then issued a check. This covers any owed back rent and the lease’s remaining monthly rent payments (or until the property is re-rented, whichever comes first). Do the math: that’s way better than a security deposit.
What that means for the renter: an apartment that may not have been available without LeaseLock, as well as a trade line on their credit report that could increase their credit score.
The plan is beneficial for college students who need to build a credit rating, as well as people new to the United States and have no credit record yet. The plan also helps anyone who had experienced a financial hiccup (think the 2008 recession) but are now back on their feet.
LeaseLock is currently enrolling over a million rental units, and is available in all 50 states.
What sped up this race for Reichen: a Silicon Beach incubator called Mucker Capital. He brought them the LeaseLock idea on just a napkin, but they were hip to it and helped him raise the first round of financing (an angel group from Orange County with $50,000).
Lessons Reichen learned:
Be around people who speak a language that you do not yet speak (in this case, financing). Immerse yourself in this language until you are fluent.
Never raise more money than you need. Reichen brought on a co-founder, who is well versed at raising money. However, they never paid themselves; instead, they poured blood, sweat and tears into the company, educating landlords and property managers about how LeaseLock works.
Reject the notion of “fake it ‘till you make it.” The well-intentioned but misguided logic of this term: if you fabricate an image, then everyone will believe in you, and suddenly money will flow. To this mindset, Reichen says no. When you live that lie, nobody wants to help you. Don’t pretend to be bigger than you are. If you are really honest, and ask for help, most people want to get involved and help you because they see the candor; they respect your honesty. Like LeaseLock, it’s a solid guarantee.