Interview with Gisela Wood, property developer at Momentum Property

Find out how her own experience getting ripped off inspired Gisela Wood to launch Momentum Property.

What’s your career background?

I studied chemistry at university, I have never worked as a chemist though as life took me in other directions – though, I have had use for the mathematics and statistical analysis that I learned during my university years.

I have worked as the director of a gym chain and I have written books for young adults and teenagers, mostly fantasy, still unpublished,before I started investing in property.

What was the inspiration behind your business idea?

You might be surprised to hear that it was all about the kids. One day when I and my husband was walking our normal round with our son, William, we passed the preschool he was going to attend. We had gone past so many times that we recognized that it was the same kids playing there early in the morning as late in the afternoon.

We knew we needed to do something different from our parents if we wanted to have that freedom but we didn’t know what. We always were interested in property but we “knew” it was impossible.

How long did the transition from idea to business take?

Not long after we had formulated our vision, we saw an advertisement about a property investment training. We signed up instantly and went to the training, bought the education and started our journey! 

We spent a lot of time learning how to analyze different property markets and we quickly realized that Sweden, our home country, was very tough to invest in. We decided to focus on the UK as it was one of the most beneficial for investors.

Sadly, all the companies teaching UK property investing wererun by British nationals who had never experienced investing from abroad and running a property company from afar and didn’t understand the challenges we would face.

We made a lot of mistakes starting out and ended up being ripped off for about 400 000 GBP. One of the problems with property investing is that it is very slow, we didn’t realize how much we were losing until we were knee-deepin multiple projects and “bleeding” funds.

One example that stands out, one of our very first property investments. We decided to embark ona joint venture with a local UK company whohad been recommended to us. We hadn’t done our due diligence, we just trusted the recommendation. 

Well, the project ended up a disaster. One memorable example;we had an architect design the building when we converted a terraced house into three flats. What he didn’t take into consideration that the upstairs apartments needed to have their own entrance. Instead, he had designed the property so the entrancefor all three flats went through the ground floorflat’s living room!

What did you learn from this experience?

Some important lessons that we have since drawn from this deal that we hope anyone reading this will follow are:

  1. Always, always do your due diligence on your potential partners or team members, who are they? What have they done before? What is their reputation? Do they have the proper education and/or licenses? And always ask for references!
  2. During the project, follow up! Make sure you get weekly updates, including pictures and if needed survey reports.
  3. Involve multiple people in the project, don’t just trust one person. Have your lettings agent view the project during the refurb, have a friend go by and check it out and if possible, do an impromptu visit yourself.

What did you do next?

When our losses began to become apparent, we got a call from our accountant who told us that it was time to bankrupt the company. That would have meant that our investors would have lost almost their entire investment. We decided we weren’t going to let that happen, somehow we needed to turn the business around. 

We were very lucky to get support from some amazing people like Kim Kiyosaki, Randi Zuckerbergs team, the Tony Robbins Organization, Arnon Barnes, David Fabricius and many, many more. 

With their help, we reviewed our company and made some hard decisions.We had to go to the investors and explain what had happened and negotiate a new structure of our debt, this was hard and very emotional, but it gave us a chance to turn things around. We had to review our deals, sell some at a loss and figure out ways to do new deals and move forward, which I am proud to say we were able to do, thanks to the amazing support of our mentors and our community. 

At that time people started reaching out, asking us to share experiences and knowledge. We partnered with a brilliant investor, Lukasz Brzyski, and formed Momentum Property Education to help internationals invest globally. With our own combined experience investing in the UK, Spain, Poland and Sweden we are in a position to help investors build an international team and run the projects from abroad.

The whole journey from start to where we are now has taken about 10 years and we are excited about what lies ahead.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

We work with event companies and organizations all over the world to help introduce us to people who are looking to reach their financial goals through property investing.

Who is your audience?

Anyone looking to invest in property internationally and who wants the tools and connections to do so successfully. If you feel that the market you live in isn’t beneficial to invest in, we can help you identify and succeed in an international market.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

It was when two of our students invited us home for dinner and told us that they had just quit their jobs since they had enough cash flow from their portfolio and did not need to work anymore. They were celebrating the next day with their family, but they wanted to celebrate with us first.

How do you manage your day to day work-family balance?

The great thing with running your own business is that you decide the hours. We get the things we need to do while the kids are at school or after they go to bed, allowing us to spend our time together with each other and the kids when time matters the most.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

K.A.P. – This is our simple formula for success:

  • Knowledge: Learn all you can about your chosen field, find a mentor, someone who has made the same journey you hope to do and can help you avoid setbacks.
  • Action: Without action there are no results, take what you learn and try it out. Analyze the results and take action again!
  • People: Surround yourself with people who can bring you the help you need, mentors, investors, deal finders, support network etc.

If you put these three together, you will succeed in any industry.