Black-Led Investment Firm Bets on Black Travel: ‘We Wanted to Add a Layer of Intentionality’ | Contractors

In the year since the Streamlined Guardian William Huston, founder and chief investment officer of Bay Street Capital Holdings, a California-based wealth management firm that invests in the stock market with a portfolio of small, minority-owned companies, the U.S. market has seen great volatility. The S&P 500 index peaked in the first week of 2022, but by mid-October had fallen 26.7%. Meanwhile, the Huston company’s portfolio has maintained its $85m (£70m) valuation and its staff of 16 has not had to downsize.

Huston attributes the health of his business to a specific pivot. His business doubled down on an untapped and underserved segment of the US economy: black-owned travel assets. “Black travelers in America spend $109bn (£90bn) on leisure travel each year, and only $1bn (£831m) goes to black-owned hotels,” a- he said of the disparity plaguing the travel industry in the United States. Black-owned hotels represent 0.8% of the 58,000 hotels in the United States. Less than 1% of the money that all African Americans spend on leisure travel ends up in black-owned properties.

With the creation of Resthaven Properties, a portfolio of members-only boutique hotels, Bay Street Capital Holdings is betting big on travelers’ desire to support minority owners and visit properties whose values ​​match their own. According to the marketing company PIM blue stonemore than half of millennials prefer to shop at stores that reflect their priorities, and a similar survey conducted by Survey Monkey showed that 73% of Gen Zers across different age groups said it was very important that they patronize brands with similar values ​​to the ones they own. Huston, who grew up in small town Alabama and now has more than 20 stamps in her passport, is betting on modern-minded travelers with socially conscientious leanings who book into her black-owned properties.

Hotel holdings now make up 20% of Bay Street’s portfolio. There’s a luxury rental in Venice Beach, California that’s popular with influencers and workers in the entertainment industry and upcoming resorts in Portugal’s hottest destinations and the Lake Tahoe ski getaway . Bay Street Capital Holdings also developed Unified, an app that connects influencers to travel properties, all with the goal of bringing new destinations to new audiences. “We wanted to add a layer of intentionality to the business,” Huston said from his home office in Fremont, Calif., whose walls are decorated with a colorful assortment of guitars and designs created by his two-year-old son. year. “We’re never going to compete with Marriott, but in five years people will know us. And they will know the names of some of the other hotels that we don’t own but support, and that’s just as impactful.

“Everyone deserves a financial plan and financial advice, no matter how much money they already have.” Photograph: Dan Tuffs/The Guardian

You founded Bay Street Capital Holdings in 2018. Where did the idea come from?

It all started a decade earlier when I was a sophomore in college and opened a call center in the Philippines. You see, I grew up in a town called Harvest, Alabama, and I was a classically trained pianist. My parents were teachers and didn’t earn any money. I was a freshman at Georgia Tech when my dad became disabled, so our family income was suddenly much lower than it was when he worked as a school principal. I dropped out to qualify for in-state tuition because if you had residency and worked you could go to school virtually for free. The company I founded actually came out of a crisis.

And your solution was to open a call center?

It wasn’t like I had this master plan – it was more like I had a problem. I had a lot of pride, though, and that was my business idea. I had read The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I thought to myself that if I could work four hours a week, I could also be in school and earn money without working. I hired a person in the Philippines and soon I hired a group of his friends. Soon there were 12. I was in Georgia, going to financial advisors and saying, “Hey, you need clients. I have a call center. We will call customers. They will come to you and they will use your services.

Why did you decide to create your own fund in 2018?

I started having this crisis of conscience where a lot of my employees and I were always sick from working odd hours. Many people had miscarriages. I didn’t like this lifestyle that was based on working hours that weren’t natural. So I started over, with a small call center in El Salvador, and signed up for an LLC. The team was working for my own fund, not for other people’s businesses. We don’t call thousands of people a day like we used to. They focus entirely on the investment group.

And what’s the biggest difference between Bay Street and the typical wealth– management funds?

Everyone deserves a financial plan and financial advice, no matter how much money they already have. We have $1,000 (£830) as a minimum billing – or fee – – but we don’t have a minimum investment amount.

What percentage of your investors are diversified?

The majority of our customers are Indian or Chinese or female or LGBTQ. And then some of them are black. And that makes sense because when you look at the wealth pie chart, black people aren’t the ones with discretionary income that they could use to invest.

How do you work to change that from within?

Our pivot to luxury properties aligns with our desire to grow black wealth. We launched a platform that lets people search for properties intentionally, so it stipulates which are owned by women, which are LGBTQ+, or which are owned by a person of color. Airbnb does something similar for 20%, but our rate is 15%.

You are a great traveler. Where would you like to be able to revisit?

I really like the monasteries of Meteora in Greece. It’s one of the most beautiful places – they built these monasteries on top of the rocks. And Singapore is one of my favorite places. It’s a brand new town and it has a nice layout of the buildings. It feels intentional and holistic. It doesn’t often feel like it when you’re in town.

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