112. Tribevest: Using Open Tribes To Unlock Community Personal Finance With Travis Smith

PILF 112 | Tribevest


Through Open Tribes, Tribevest is empowering groups of investors to come together and achieve financial goals that would have been out of reach individually. When investors work together, they can achieve more than they could ever do on their own. In this episode, Jim Pfeifer interviews Travis Smith, Founder and CEO of Tribevest, about how Tribes can unlock Community Personal Finance. Travis talks about Tribevest and the many innovations and value they offer; including allowing investors to invest as a group with like-minded people, pool their capital, set up their multi-member LLCs, get into more deals than they could on their own and invest with confidence. He shares the many possibilities group investing has to offer. He also dives into the value of investing with like-minded people and using the Power Of Community to maximize your returns. Tune in to learn more about Open Tribes and how Tribevest can help you achieve your financial goals.

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Tribevest: Using Open Tribes To Unlock Community Personal Finance With Travis Smith

At Left Field Investors, we are passionate about real estate investing, but we don’t want to deal with the three Ts, termites, toilets, and tenants. We think real estate syndications are the best way to build wealth without being a landlord. However, many real estate syndications can have a cost of entry that is too high to diversify effectively. Enter Tribevest.

Tribevest is the platform that allows you to invest as a group with like-minded people and accomplish more together. Tribevest allows groups to pool their capital, set up their multi-member LLCs and bank accounts, plus help with operating agreements, funding rounds, and so much more. When you invest as a tribe, you can get into more deals with a level of confidence that is hard to match by yourself. That’s why I’m in eleven tribes. Tribevest is the premier partner for Leftfield Investors. What’s even better is that all Left Field Investors get premium onboarding for free. Go to Tribevest.com/LFI to start your tribe.

I am excited about our guest, Travis Smith, Founder and CEO of Tribevest. Travis and Tribevest have been incredible partners and friends, both personally and to Left Field Investors. This show would not be happening without the initial support of Travis and Tribevest. Not only did they pay for the show initially, but Travis convinced me to do it, so we’re happy to have him back on. He also was a guest on episode 16. Definitely go check out that episode. Travis, welcome to Passive Investing from Left Field.

Jim, good to be here.

Travis, we’ve learned about your journey before. We can read it on episode 16, but can you give a recap of who you are and how you got to where you are?

Thank you. Travis Smith, Founder and CEO of Tribevest. Many of your audience know the story. The origins of Tribevest go back to 2008. My brothers and I were doing conventional investing. We’ll talk about this conventional finance. We realized that we would never be able to reach the financial freedom that we dreamed of.

We knew that people that were building wealth and living their best lives were business owners and investing in real estate, and we wanted to do that. We were bumping up against all the challenges that come with those things. We realized that together we could do more and we could go further. That’s when we formed a multi-membered LLC, opened up a business bank account, and started pulling capital together. One deal turned into another.

We looked back and realized that by forming and funding that investor tribe, we unlocked a future that none of us could have achieved on our own. People started asking us, “How are you doing all of this investing?” We told them about the power of the tribe. They asked if we could help them form an investor tribe. That’s when we decided to go out and build the banking and collaborative infrastructure for the private investing world. That’s the platform we’ve built. We have thousands of investor tribes on our platform now doing all sorts of things, and exciting times for Tribevest and LFI for that matter.

I do want to get on the record before we jump into this that the world record for the number of Tribevest tribes has increased to fourteen because I joined another one, so I might be an addict.

Congratulations. I want to bring it to your attention. We have 1 with 10 and forecasting another 5 here for them. There is some competition hot on your heels. I wanted to give you a fair heads-up there.

I appreciate that. I still want my trophy. We’re going to dig into this. What we’re going to talk about is something that Travis and I call community personal finance. By the end of the episode, hopefully, we’ll be able to turn community into a verb. That’s part of the goal because we’re going to community some deals, we’re going to community the analysis of those deals. That’s what we’re going for. In community personal finance, there are basically three types of personal finance. Can you explain those to us?

You’re the one that helped simplify this and break it down into a digestible way. When we all think about it, we’re all familiar with what we call as conventional personal finance. This is what we all grew up with. At least my family did. In a lot of ways, it comes from a place of scarcity. It’s all about saving for a rainy day, making sure you save more and you don’t outlive your savings. All fundamental good concepts, but that’s the conventional personal finance that we were taught maybe in school and maybe at home.

When it comes to investing, you’re investing in the public stock market and more traditional investing. There are a lot of resources out there. This is a huge market. You have financial advisors. I think there are over 6,000 financial advisors. Two former financial advisors here on the show. It’s a very mature market, meaning there’s a lot of technology. Things make it really easy. You can save right into your 401(k). There are all sorts of cool things out there. You think about Robinhood and how inexpensive it is to do it, etc.

This is the traditional conventional personal finance. What my brothers and I came across in 2008 was this idea, we didn’t know what to call it, but we knew we needed to invest in real things. We needed to invest in businesses and real estate. The challenge with those is there are no financial advisors out there, certainly, not in the traditional sense. There’s very little technology because it’s so antiquated and very entrepreneurial. Quite literally, the deals are hidden. In a lot of cases, it’s against the law to share and market broadly any deals that are out there. How do you break into alternative personal finance?

Third, I’ll introduce it and tease it a little bit. What we’re introducing is community personal finance. That is, instead of saving or investing in things, it’s about investing in people, your network, and your community. You’re wondering, “How does that turn into building wealth?” Stay tuned. Jim, if you wouldn’t mind, even go a little deeper on alternative investing and alternative personal finance. What was the a-ha you had and why is it so important for people to understand it?

That’s a great summary of where we are. You have the conventional and alternatives, and then we’re introducing this third way, which has served me well so far, and I think it will serve others also. The a-ha moment I had was when I was looking at conventional personal finance, the easiest way to look at it is from a retirement perspective.

Let’s give the example of somebody that has $1 million at retirement. Every one of those 6,000 financial advisors will tell you, “You need to keep that $1 million at $1 million because you don’t know when you’re going to die. All of this retirement math would be easier if we knew when we were going to die.” We don’t.

You take that $1 million and every financial advisor’s going to tell you, “You can only take 4%.” What’s 4% of $1 million? $40,000. That’s your annual income and it’s never going up and you hope it doesn’t go down. Let’s say you got to pay taxes out of that. Let’s assume you’re in the 25% bracket. Let’s say you take $30,000 home. The value of that $1 million, you are hoping the $1 million stays the same and you’re hoping you can live on $30,000 a year.

As we know, hope is not a strategy or at least it’s not a very good one. If you take that same million and you go into the alternative personal finance space. Let’s say you’re in real estate syndications, like many of us Left Fielders are. You have that same $1 million. Even with the changes in the market and everything, you can reasonably probably expect a 7% annual return, so that’s going to be $70,000. Already you’re beating conventional.

You then take taxes out, but if you’re doing things right and you’re doing it in real estate, you’re probably not taking any taxes. The $70,000 goes into your pocket. Now, you’re $70,000 versus $30,000 off that same million, but the best part is yet to come as they say in the infomercials. That million is likely the lowest that will ever be. You’re not paying the $70,000 out of the $1 million. The $1 million produces $70,000, and typically your asset value will go up. Over time, the $70,000 will keep increasing where in the market you’re just trying to hold on to that $1 million, that 4%, and that $40,000, and so that will be ever decreasing.

It was a no-brainer when I figured out those and put them next to each other. Why would I do anything but alternatives? That’s where I am. I’d like to ask you if you can dig in a little bit more to conventional as compared to alternatives. Also, there are especially active and passive when we get into the alternatives, and sometimes it gets confusing. I thought I was passive when I was active. Now I know I’m passive. Can you talk a little bit about the transition as well?

You’ll have to share your story, too. I think of this as an evolution. Eventually, most of us have this eventual path to getting into private investing. What we’re seeing now is if we’re more intentional, we can get there faster, live a better life, and provide more for our family in the next generations. Getting back to the conventional, it’s familiar, expected, and easy. Everyone’s doing it. It’s part of our society and culture. Active real estate investing is always that natural next step. It’s familiar. Most of us that are doing conventional personal finance own our own homes. That’s familiar. We’ve purchased a house. We understand how that works.

[bctt tweet=”Eventually, most of us have this eventual path to getting into private investing. If we’re more intentional, we can get there faster, live a better life, and provide more for our family in the next generations.” via=”no”]

A nice next step is getting into a rental. True investment. What we learn, though, is it’s not as easy as a passive investment. The roof needs to be fixed. You’re getting calls from your tenant and your landlord. This is hard, especially when you have a W2 and you have all your other responsibilities. What I loved about Left Field Investors, you helped me see this. That’s a great experience and everything else.

There’s nothing wrong with active real estate investing, but I had another a-ha, which was I don’t love being a landlord. Is there a way to passively invest in real estate in real assets without all the extra work? That’s just going from active investing to passive investing as a limited partner in these real assets, but even that’s hard. I didn’t mean to steal your story, but I love your personal journey. Also, how hard it is to not just get into active real estate investing, but then how and where do you get into passive investing? It sounds easy, but as we know to be good at it, it’s anything but passive. That’s hard, too.

We’ve talked about this, Travis. When I was a passive investor owning my own real estate, I was active. I called myself passive because I hired a property manager and they would talk to the tenant, so I’m completely passive, right? No, I got to manage the property manager. I was an asset manager. There’s a difference between an asset manager and a property manager.

When I was doing active finance or active real estate, I didn’t know the difference between an asset manager and a property manager. I do now. That’s why when I do passive investing, I’m hiring an asset manager and I’m hiring a professional. That’s where all the active part to my day comes now where I am reviewing a sponsor and making sure that they are a quality asset manager. They know how to hire a quality property manager and that they’ll deal with everything.

I’ve figured out that unless you have a distinct competitive advantage where you know a market, you can swing a hammer or do something active better than somebody else. You are not going to beat passive investing syndication returns as an active investor owning turnkey homes or whatever. You’re not, unless you have expertise.

I don’t have the expertise, so I went on to do passive. Now, we’re getting into what you and I call community personal finance. What is that? I know I’m supposed to be interviewing you, but I’m going to give you my take on this real quick, and then you can jump in with how you think about it. We’ve developed this concept together, and it’s important to talk about it.

One of the challenges with being a passive investor in this alternative personal finance space is finding quality operators. You got a huge learning curve. When you send a wire, it’s terrifying, especially the first time. It’s scary the 10th time, but the first time when you’re not sure it’s going to land where it should, it’s scary. You’re doing all of this alone. It’s super difficult because these are long-term illiquid investments that are completely out of your control. How do you know that the operator you’re dealing with is doing a good job? You won’t for 5 to 10 years. What do you do? That’s where community comes in.

Fundamentally, we understand that people who are successfully growing their wealth and doing it are investing in things like these. To hear you say that, I’m like, “How does anybody get into it?”

It’s a challenge. When you think of your financial advisor, you’re hiring a financial advisor. That’s one person, that’s your team. They’re going to make recommendations. You join a community and you community your deals or community your analysis and your vetting. Now, in my community, I have 1,300 financial advisors who are giving me advice.

Did it start with 6 or 8 people in your dinner club?

It was 12 in the dinner club that never happened. Thirteen hundred is too many advisors, but you can pick the advice. We have a forum and all these other ways that you can learn from the people who have gone there before. That’s what community personal finance is. There are four different aspects to it that we think about.

The first is education. You’re learning. If you’re learning in a community, you’re learning, but you’re teaching. The one thing I have found out through my career is that the more I’m teaching, the more I’m learning because I can’t teach you something without learning it myself. I’ve had both roles in the community. Everyone in our community has both roles as teacher and learner. That’s the education bucket of community personal finance.

There’s the network. That’s obvious. We’ve talked about that. Thirteen hundred people in this community. I’m in another community with several hundred people. I’m part of Tribevest, which is 10,000-plus. I’m in multiple communities, but I use that network and I use the other community members for things like, “Who are great sponsors? Who’s a great attorney? Who’s a great CPA? Who’s a great financial advisor?” All of these things I get from my community.

What that gives me are two things. The education and the network provide confidence and access. In one of the first deals I got into, I was talking to Steve Suh, who’s now a founder of Left Field Investors. He said he invested with the same operators I did. I felt relief and confidence. He’s a smart guy. He’s a doctor. He’s doing the same thing I’m doing. It made me feel like, “This isn’t a scam or a Ponzi scheme. This is for real. I sent my money someplace and it’s going to be returned to me multiples of that.” The confidence is huge.

Finally, the fourth part of community personal finance is access. The communities provide access to deals. We’re going to talk more about the new Open Tribe concept, but that is access. Left Field Investors and other communities provide access to deals, sometimes with enhanced terms, because the community can come together.

Open Tribe is if you’re going to invest $50,000 in a deal, no one’s going to say, “You’re a big hitter. Here’s some extra return on the backend.” If you bring them $1 million, they’re going to start listening and paying you more. They’re going to give you a higher prep and better backend terms. That’s the access that you get.

If you think of these four circles coming together, education, network, access, and confidence, that is community personal finance. That’s what Left Field Investors is dedicated to and that’s what Tribevest’s use for Left Field Investors is. You allow us to get that access through our network, giving everybody the confidence to move forward. I know this is your interview and I jumped in with a whole bunch of stuff there, but that’s my take on it.

PILF 112 | Tribevest
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

I think of the Left Field Investors’ origins, and it reminds me so much of the Tribevest’s origins. Here, you were getting that a-ha of, “I need to be investing in real assets. You’ve made that leap. This idea of, “How do we start to find, vet, and invest in passive investing into real estate in real assets?” I think that was a little bit of the origins of your supper club that never happened before COVID.

You need your community. You need your tribe. At that time, it was much more like the size of a tribe. It was 12 people, not 1,200. That’s what you were seeking. You were looking for a place to collaborate, to discuss, and do a sanity check. Like, “Am I crazy?” That was my brothers and I to a T in 2008. We’re very driven. We had just read Rich Dad Poor Dad. We were having these a-has, but how do we do it? Fortunately, we did what mankind has been doing since the beginning, which is to turn to your tribe, turn to your family, and come together.

That’s exactly what we did because we lacked all those things. We lacked the education, confidence, network, and access. Most of all, we lacked capital. Early in our careers, we were doing well. We had a nice W-2, but we certainly realized that we weren’t wealthy when a house that had been in our family for a long time was being sold by the prior generation.

We came in and said, “I guess it’s our turn for our generation to buy this vacation home that’s been so important to us.” We came to do it and we didn’t have the capital. That was a big slap in the face of, whatever you’re doing right now, you got to change it. We came together as brothers. The four of us formed a multi-member LLC, opened up a business bank account, and started pulling our capital so we could get into investments. We then leveraged our network. We were going to do our first deal.

About twelve months after forming our tribe, we did a real estate syndication, actually passive investing into a physician’s office in Pasadena, California, then we felt cheated on that. You’ve heard me tell this story before, Jim. I was like, “That was too easy.” We wanted to feel what it felt like to be real active real estate investors. We got into the single-family business for a while, which did very well for us, but we realized that it’s awesome to know what it takes to be an active real estate investor, but confirming that being a limited partner in a deal was a great way to go. We have gone full circle there.

PILF 112 | Tribevest
Tribevest: It’s awesome to know what it takes to be an active real estate investor, but being a limited partner in a deal was a great way to go.


Through this experience, we built an incredible portfolio that’s changed our lives. Put me in a position four years ago to leave my destination, high-paying job to start Tribevest. It’s afforded our family all sorts of things. That’s the power of the tribe and the community. If I’m to reflect on it a little bit more, it almost never happened because of all the challenges that come with forming a group. Do I need an attorney? How do I open up a business bank account? How do we structure this? How do we pull capital? How do we track it? How do we do the communications out so everybody’s on the same page? I think anybody that has thought about doing something as a group has run into that.

Fortunately, we persevered and we saw how powerful it is once you do. A few years ago, when it came time to saying, “Could we build Tribevest?” We really had to think about what we would do differently. The answer was everything. That’s exactly what we did. We built a platform that streamlines all those things so that you can come together and invest as a tribe, do more together, and go further together.

As you know, the first tribe, the Origin Tribe was just one reason or strategy for a tribe. That one was, “Let’s pull capital together.” I almost think of it as an experimental tribe or learning together tribe, where we pulled capital. We were super opportunistic. We would look at real estate deals. We would look at different business ventures, different startups, and even racehorses. We were opportunistic when it came to our tribe, but that’s just one approach. At the beginning of the show, you were talking about how many tribes you’re in. When I saw how you were leveraging the platform, I started to understand all the different applications and reasons for forming a tribe. Would you mind talking about that for a second in terms of why you would form a tribe?

I’m in too many tribes to count, and because of the new Open Tribe, which we’ll talk about in a bit, it’s going to keep going. As we talked about it, I had reached the limit of the usefulness of the different tribes. There are five uses that I found. The first one is Mastermind. That’s where you get a group of 5 or 10 people together. Everyone is interested in digging in and learning together. When you present a deal, you have to defend it. People are going to be asking you all kinds of questions, poking holes in it, and that’s where the real learning comes in. It’s 5 or 10 people, or however many, working together to find deals and analyze them together.

There’s crossover here, but I think that’s how I would categorize our Origin Tribe, my brother’s tribe. It was very much that.

The next kind is the Training Tribe, which I’ve done a few of where you have one person who may have some expertise or is already involved and exposed to passive investing. Two tribes have eleven people in them, and the other ten are brand new. They don’t know anything about passive investing but know, “I want to get into real estate. I’ve heard about this community personal finance. How do I do it?” We’d put in $100 a month, and once a year, we get enough capital of $25,000 to invest in a deal.

After a couple of years, what I tell these tribes is, “You got to go on your own now. You’ve learned. We’ve looked at deals together. We’ve talked it through. We’ve had all these meetings where we’re teaching and educating. Now, you go form your own tribe and invest on your own.” It’s not to make a bunch of money. It’s to learn. That’s the Training Tribe.

There’s the Leverage the Expert Tribe. This is where you have somebody like me who’s in this all day. I have a couple of high-paid professional buddies of mine who don’t have the time or interest to dig into real estate. We came together. They said, “You find the deals and we’ll all fund them together.” That’s what we do. I find the deals and I say, “I got a self-storage deal. Are you guys interested? You got capital?” They say, “Yes, we invest.” They say, “No we don’t.” They don’t pay attention to it because they trust me and are just looking to grow their wealth.

Probably my favorite tribe and I’m in a few of these Experimental Tribes. These are where I don’t want to put $100,000 into something brand new that I don’t understand, like an RV park or a pickleball club is one that we did. Just something that’s more interesting. I love chasing shiny objects, but instead of doing it alone, I get in a group of ten people.

Instead of putting $50,000 into one new deal that I don’t understand, I’m putting $5,000 in. If it’s a new operator that we don’t know but we’re excited learning about, you got to invest with them to make sure that they know what they’re doing. Maybe instead of putting $100,000, we put in $10,000 each. That’s kind of experimental. It gets you into new asset classes, new operators, and even new markets.

Finally, institutional access. This is the concept that’s put into your head and my head a little bit. There’s something here for Open Tribes, which we’ll talk about last. Institutional is there are operators out here. We see them through the family office club and smother that their minimum is $500,000 or $1 million. Some of the operators we currently do business with will give us better terms than $1 million.

I don’t have $1 million to put in one deal, but if I can get 30 people to put in that much to get into one deal, then we can have a lower minimum, we can get into this deal, and it’s a single-purpose entity. You create a tribe for one deal to get you access to some of these institutional-type deals. I think that was the spark that gave you the idea that this Open Tribe thing could be something.

Those are my five tribe types. I have a couple of each of those, which got me to the ten, and then all the rest of them that are starting up now is when I sometimes join one of these Open Tribes. In Left Field Investors, we do deal webinars to present our community deal flow. Every single one of those deals that we present has an Open Tribe ready to go with it. Tribevest has made that super easy. If you have some comments on the kind of tribes I do, that’d be great. I’d like to dig into Open Tribes as well.

You were talking about what led to the Open Tribes. I can think of a few things and I’ll look at it in a couple of ways, very specifically. You came to me and said, “I love Tribevest, but I’m basically at capacity.” I like to remind people that although we’ve made group investing ten times easier, faster, less expensive, and safer, infinitely more transparent, it’s still not easy.

[bctt tweet=”Although group investing has been made ten times easier, faster, less expensive, and safer, infinitely more transparent, it’s still not easy.” via=”no”]

There is this effort and energy that’s required by that champion or founder. At some point, it makes sense that you kind of get at capacity. That was the first kind of, “How do we make this more streamlined and frictionless, so there isn’t this at capacity.” The second one was these institutional deals were coming up. We were thinking about that. How do we use Tribevest as a way to participate in those deals that we likely couldn’t or wouldn’t on our own?

Those were the two things that were pushing this. If I think about the evolution in our parallel past, Left Field Investors and Tribevest. I think about how this started with a supper club, which was that community aspect. You guys were looking at community deals, collectively sharing and learning, and then you came in and started to use tribes as a way to take action.

Building confidence and having that network is a great way to take action and hold ourselves accountable as tribes. As you progressed, Left Field Investors, unknowingly along the way, kept growing. Eventually, it led to this podcast and it led to a more formal community. You guys took that supper club and took it to scale. You’re still doing this, but it’s become a bigger community collectively sharing, learning, networking and community-ing.

The next evolution here is, will tribes help you take action? Will Open Tribes help the whole community take action at scale? It’s important for everybody to know Left Field Investors has upped their services and value to the community. I want to point out one big thing that was another reason why Open Tribes was enabled.

The consistency that you guys have built with your communications with the community, of course, you guys have your monthly infielder meetings, but you also have all these different events throughout the week. You have two deal webinar presentations that sponsors sign up for. They come and introduce themselves to the community, so people get to meet new sponsors and operators. If they have a deal, they might introduce that deal.

Of course, on Wednesdays, it’s the Deal Webinar sponsored by Tribevest, and then you have your preferred partner slot on Thursday. When you started to do that service, consistently bringing that deal flow to the community. What we’re able to do was now, every deal that is presented, we open a tribe. You’re getting an idea of what an Open Tribe is, but it’s based around a single deal, and if you form the business around that single deal, it becomes real easy for the members to join and participate.

PILF 112 | Tribevest
Tribevest: An Open Tribe is based around a single deal. If you form the business around that single deal, it becomes real easy for the members to join and participate.


What that does is it enables them to join or participate at a lower minimum. If sponsors pitch in a deal that’s $50,000, absolutely you can invest directly. If you’re accredited in all those things that are required by the deal and specified by the deal, you can participate directly with the sponsor or through Left Field Investors and Open Tribe. You can participate in that deal maybe at $25,000 or maybe at $10,000.

All this without having a founder or champion having to coordinate everything. We made it so simple and turnkey that you just have to join. It’s awesome. We’re seeing tribes forming left and right. People participating in deals that sometimes have never participated in deals are participating in more deals. It’s been exciting and an amazing evolution.

A couple of things there. You mentioned accredited. One of the game changers here is also for non-accredited because there’s an operator that we deal with where they can take 35 non-accredited. They only take the 35 non-accredited that invest the most money. Their minimum is $50,000. If you’re non-accredited, you cannot get in their deals for $50,000 unless you are part of LFI and Tribevest.

In Open Tribe, we made those minimums $10,000. If you’re not accredited, you can jump into that Open Tribe and put $10,000 in. The Open Tribe always gets at least $100,000 or $200,000 in it on these deals. All of a sudden, Open Tribe becomes the largest non-accredited investor in the deal. Now, a non-accredited can get in for $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000, when before, they couldn’t even get in for $50,000. That’s one thing.

The other thing where you’re soft-pedaling this a little bit is, having Tribevest manage these open tribes is incredible. I have an open tribe that was before Open Tribes. It’s one of these institutional access deals. We have 28 members. When distributions come out, I got to send out distributions to 28 people. I got to get 28 Social Security Numbers when I file the tax return. It’s work.

If it’s an open tribe managed by Tribevest, I just sit back and enjoy. I wait for you to send me my K-1. I wait for you to send me my distributions. I don’t have to do anything. As you said, it is a little bit complicated managing a tribe. It’s worth it. The benefits way outpace the downsides. When it’s an open tribe, there are no downsides because someone else is managing it.

All it is is one extra step with that extra K1. Let me back up. Regular tribes through Tribevest were a complete game changer. Open Tribes add another huge change because you can still do the regular tribes and I will and I do, but now you have all these open tribes that are frictionless to get in and frictionless to operate. Kudos to you guys because it’s a great service to our community.

Thanks for pushing us. That’s true. A ton of where our product is now is feedback from you, the community, and our customers. That’s what has led us to these open tribes. It’s one thing to start a tribe and then it’s another thing to manage it. What Tribevest has done with Open Tribes is we’ve taken care of that admin. Any communications that are coming in from the sponsors, we’re distributing that to all the members. Any distributions that are coming in to the tribe, we’re distributing that to all the members. The K1s where one K1 comes into the tribe, we’re doing and processing that and sending those K1s to each one of the members. When you think about it, just that back office communication work is incredibly valuable. It gives people the ability to scale and do as many tribes as they want.

[bctt tweet=”It’s one thing to start a tribe, and another thing to manage it. ” via=”no”]

We’re running out of time here, but I do want to ask, could Open Tribes help a capital raiser in some form? Could they use an open tribe to drive their business forward?

Absolutely. Two main applications here. The one we’ve talked about is the community. No better example of that than Left Field Investors. The capital raisers are excited. You think about all the back office work that they’re out there doing. These are investors and a lot of them are in your community. They’re passive investors and limited partners, but they’ve put a lot of work into developing their relationships, formed relationships with these sponsors, and vetted these deals.

They recognize this opportunity. Instead of coming with $100,000, they have a whole network of people that might want to come in for $1 million. They’re doing this already, but they’re doing it with spreadsheets, Google Drives, and everything else. When they see the power of Tribevest that we take care of all that back office stuff for them, it’s talking about a big game changer for them. Those are the two exciting fronts for us. Helping communities. These capital raisers are out there, helping them with their business.

Travis, the last question I always ask is, what is a great podcast that you listen to? I don’t recall what you said in episode 16, but it’ll be interesting to check and see if it’s a different one this time.

Jim, you’ve made me a believer. This podcast is my favorite. I’m not just saying that. I think the last time, I said Wealth Formula. That still is one of my favorites. In fact, I’m going to be on with Buck here in the next couple weeks, which I’m excited about.

Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. Wealth Formula is a great podcast. I enjoy that one as well. Finally, if the audience want to get in touch with you or learn more about Tribevest, what’s the best way to do that?

LinkedIn is where I’m most active. You can put in LinkedIn Travis Smith Tribevest. Let me know that you read this. Certainly, if you’re part of the Left Field Investors community, I want to connect with you. Of course, go into Tribevest.com. Learn about Tribevest, our open tribes. You can schedule a call with our team. Tribevest.com is a great place to find me and learn more.

Tribevest has a great team. They’re super responsive. It’s always a pleasure dealing with Travis and is the full team. Travis, thank you so much for being a fantastic partner to LFI to providing these tribes so we can get into more deals, diversify, and become better investors. We appreciate all you do for our community. Thanks again for being on the show. We’ll have to get you on again and we’re not going to wait for 100 episodes this time.

I appreciate all you do, too, Jim. Thanks for being an awesome partner and friend.

Thank you.

That was a lot of fun talking with Travis. I said it in the main interview, but Travis and Tribevest have been instrumental in allowing us to even do this show. Travis had the idea, “Jim, go do a podcast.” He then put his money where his mouth is literally. Tribevest paid for all the stuff we needed to get started. I’m super grateful.

Our partnership goes well beyond the show. As you know, we’re partnering on presenting deals and we’re working with Tribevest, just hand in glove. It’s a fantastic relationship. Travis and his team are phenomenal. I wanted to get that out there. If that wasn’t already clear, I’m a fanboy of Tribevest and Travis. Travis and I have worked on the concept of community personal finance. We’ve done a few presentations on it.

As he mentioned, conventional investing is easy. You go to Robinhood or Schwab and throw money in your 401(k), put it in index funds, and off you go. Easy doesn’t necessarily mean good, but it is easy. Alternatives are hard. You got to find the investments. You got to send wires. You got to figure out, “Is this legit? Am I getting scammed or not?” There’s so much to it. It’s very difficult, but it’s profitable. You make more money and you pay less tax. That’s why alternatives are interesting.

You add in the community aspect. As we’re trying to make community a verb, let’s community alternatives. That’s what community personal finance is. It’s adding in the community aspect to make alternative investing easier and work better. That’s the passion that Travis and I have, both of us. We’re trying to expose as many people to alternative investing as we can. We’re trying to make it easy.

Left Field makes it easier because you have a community, you get education and you get deal flow. Tribevest makes it easier because they make it so you can invest together, reduce your minimums, and increase diversification. There’s so much there that we work together. Tribevest solve part of the capital problem. Everyone has limited capital. Even Bill Gates has limited capital. He has different limits than you and I do, but he has limited capital. Tribevest solves the problem. If you only have $50,000 to invest in a year, you can get in 10 or 5 deals, more than 1 deal. That’s the power of Tribevest.

Open Tribes, as we talked about, it changes the game because now I don’t have to go find a bunch of people, put together a tribe, do all the administration, which I still do. That’s still a valuable thing, but now, with Open Tribes, I can have Tribevest manage it and with the deal flow that Left Fielder or any community is giving you, you can jump into these open tribes and test things out. Smaller capital outlays are the goal there.

That’s awesome. We’re going to continue talking about community personal finance, but I had a great time chatting with Travis and Tribevest. They will continue to be a partner of ours for as long as Left Field exists. That’s my hope and intention. I had a great time chatting with Travis. Hope you enjoyed this episode. That’s all for now. We’ll see you next time in the Left Field.


Important Links


About Travis Smith

PILF 112 | TribevestTribevest was founded by entrepreneur Travis Smith to solve a significant problem in investing. He and his brothers realized that if they were going to change their family’s financial trajectory, they’d need to work together. They wanted to invest as a group, but Travis quickly discovered it required a complicated path of lawyers, paperwork, banking regulations, and hundreds of hours. He knew there had to be a better way. Enter Tribevest.

Before building Tribevest, Travis was a top financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. Armed with his wealth management training, he became a thought leader in the FinTech industry focused on digital payments. He led the Strategic Alliance team at Jack Henry & Assoc., a multi-billion dollar FinTech company and core software for thousands of banks. Through these experiences, he discovered it was exponentially more fun to disrupt the reigning wealth management institutions than to be part of them. Through Tribevest, Travis seeks to empower everyday people through accessible group investing.

Travis is obsessed with building a platform that standardizes, streamlines, and ultimately de-risks group investing. He won’t stop until every single-player deal on and off the internet is an opportunity for a multi-player experience. He is building Tribevest, so you don’t always have to go it alone.



Our sponsor, Tribevest provides the easiest way to form, fund, and manage your Investor Tribe with people you know, like, and trust. Tribevest is the Investor Tribe management platform of choice for Jim Pfeifer and the Left Field Investors’ Community.

Tribevest is a strategic partner and sponsor of Passive Investing from Left Field.

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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