On many occasions, you might have heard storytellers talk about stories of individuals who rose from their miserable circumstances to succeed in business and life. The difficult circumstances you go through in the past will not define your future. You can mold your future, and do not let your past dictate it.
The story of Chi Ta, who rose from a troubled teen and built his own business, is truly inspiring. Chi is the son of two Vietnamese immigrants who worked hard and overcame life’s challenges to give their families a better life. Chi’s journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is also a tale of rising out of poverty. Chi admitted that he was never the best performer when still in school, but it didn’t stop him from striving to become successful in life. Today, through his hard work and perseverance, Chi earns millions by renting his properties on Airbnb.
Chi belongs to a family of Vietnamese immigrants who migrated to California for greener pastures. “I moved here when I was only four years old. I grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in San Francisco,” he said.
Chi shared that he and his sister grew up extremely poor. “When we arrived here, my parents were quite fortunate to get cash-paying jobs. They were working for about $4.25 to $4.50 per hour. But that’s not big enough to get us a decent home. Imagine that there are four of us living in a small studio apartment together,” he added.
He recalled that he only got his own bed when he turned 18. “When I was younger, I only slept on the floor and got a decent bed when I got older,” he shared.
Growing up in poverty, Chi recounted how his father encouraged him to get an education. “Since I was young, my dad kept reminding me every day to go to school, work hard, and get myself an education so I could have a great job,” he added.
Chi said that his father wanted him to become the best student in the world. “On the contrary, I was the worst student in the world. I couldn’t do it. I hated going to school,” he continued. He admitted that he got into a bunch of trouble when he was a teenager.
First Business Success
Chi might not be the perfect student, but he loves working and self-learning. He banked on these to get his entrepreneurship journey rolling. He started his first business that revolved around reverse mortgages. “These are government loan programs, specifically designed for people 65 years old and older. It guaranteed them that no matter what, as long as they live in their homes and pay their property tax and insurance, they can never be foreclosed,” he explained.
Chi added that they could skip any payments remaining on the home in perpetuity. “If anything happens to them and they pass away, their heirs inherit the home with equity, like 95% of the time. If the equity ran out and the homeowner outlived the bank, the heirs never inherited any debt,” he continued. He earned tens of millions of dollars in that industry and did that for ten years.
However, a momentous event beyond his control altered his future course. In October 2017, the US Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the state-run institution that sponsors and ensures all these government loans, changed the guidelines.
“They took away the only reason anybody would apply for these loans. FHA added a credit qualification. So, loan borrowers should have good credit to qualify. Typically, the people who need these loans are those with bad credit because they are falling behind on their bills,” Chi said.
Chi admitted that the changed policy had a massive impact on his business. “It disqualified about 75% to 80% of my clients. And the remaining 20% of my clients, at that time, who are qualified didn’t need the loan because they have good credit,” he added.
He tried spending millions of dollars on marketing and thought this was how he would return. Unfortunately, I didn’t work, and Chi suddenly realized that it was the end of the road for his business.
“I sold all my fancy cars and condo to finance my marketing campaign, and nothing happened. Everything I own is gone, and I must pay the rent for the place I lived in. In those turbulent times, I called my dad and mom and told them that I missed them and wanted to spend time with them,” Chi said.
While spending a few weeks with his parents, Chi remembered about Airbnb. “Without thinking that much, I jumped into it,” he said. Chi used the place he was renting for his Airbnb venture. “I don’t know what I’m doing. But I know I could cover my rent. Then, I will figure out my life in the two weeks that I listed that rental property on Airbnb while I spent time with my parents,” he said.
That move changed his life forever. “The property made more money in the two weeks I could nearly pay my rent and utilities for that period. My rent is $3,900, and in those two weeks, I made $2,500. I didn’t know anything about the platform then,” Chi narrated.
Chi was excited about turning this discovery into a business. “I figured out how to finance the entire operation with no money. I used credit cards to rent a bunch of properties and furnish them. At the end of the month, I make a lot of money,” he said.
Then, Chi figured out how to gain my strategic advantage in his business venture. He rented two properties in San Francisco, generating $5,000 in monthly revenue in the first year. In the second year, those properties made close to $10,000 monthly profit per property. In year two, Chi got $2.9 million per property and generated total earnings of about $6 million. “In the next nine months, I ended up leading up to 30 homes, and I forecast yearly earnings of $2.4 million,” he said.
Now, Chi buys properties monthly worth $2 million to $5 million in single-family homes. He also put mortgages on the properties. “My Airbnb income pays off all the mortgages, and I make up to $10,000 a unit,” he added.
Chi also shares how he turned rented properties into a successful business. He teaches people how to earn from Airbnb. “I teach them how to find the landlords that would allow them to use their properties for Airbnb. How to find a profitable property and eliminate any risk?” he said.
On A Final Note
Chi’s story showed the value of perseverance. He grew up in poverty and went through a troubled teenage life, but he didn’t allow those things to hinder him from craving a better future for himself.