Monday, December 19, 2011

Terence Wall Articulates the Entrepreneurial Mindset to the REC

This past Thursday, following the elections for new officers of the Wisconsin Real Estate Club, we were pleased to have Terence Wall as our distinguished speaker for the evening. Wall is a dedicated alum of the Wisconsin Real Estate program, and offers his time to mentor students and to share his insightful experiences as a self-starter in real estate. His company, T. Wall Properties, is an award-winning development firm based here in Madison that owns more than 2.4 million square feet of space and over 750 acres of land.

To start the evening, he gave us somewhat of a mock “pitch” presentation, similar to what we would see as potential equity investors. This included information about the due diligence performed on his recent project, the facts and specifications about the buildings and surrounding area, and his persuasive evidence as to why this development is sure to succeed.

Wall shared insider tips and tricks to his practice - the type of information that us Real Estate Club members really get to benefit from. This information ranged from his tactics of attracting new investors, retaining old investors, accumulating relevant data, and raising the proper amount of capital. He also shared cost saving techniques from a development standpoint, particularly relating to taxable income and the ability to take advantage of flexible depreciation standards.

When asked to share a one of his greatest learning experience, Wall reflected on his endeavor to develop property in Phoenix, AZ. This began as a favor for a friend that was looking to house his business, and turned into a very profitable investment. Wall proceeded with another opportunity in the area, and was again hugely successful in turning the property over in a very short period while doubling his money. When another opportunity came, he decided to press his luck as a result of pressure from the individuals surrounding him in his company, and reinvest in another large industrial property. “This was against my better judgment” he added, “but I went ahead and did it anyway.” As you might’ve guessed, the recession hit shortly after the investment, and the property sat unoccupied. It was eventually sold for pennies on the dollar. Wall reflected on his decision, and how a string of successful developments might cause one to deviate from their established strategy and push the envelope too far.

A key take away from the evening: “Go with your instincts”.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mustache Season Has Ended

Seen an unusually low number of mustaches recently? That’s because Movember is over. If your memory needs to be jogged, then see Andrew Toby’s blog post from November.

A group of 20+ MBAs were able to collectively raise $2,590 to aid in the research for men’s health issues like prostate cancer. The Wisconsin MBA group competed in a group of 17 business schools from across the world to see who could raise the most money. Wisconsin ended up finishing in the middle of the pack at number nine in the earnings rankings. The London Business School dominated the competition by raising $32,574 (we here at Wisconsin like to think that some of those gains were resultant from a favorable exchange rate). Overall, teams raised a total of $119,176!

Generous donations were made from faculty, classmates, family, friends back home and even a few anonymous donors. The lady that cuts my hair even said she was going to donate, but she failed to come through. I finished with a paltry $30, but I know that every little bit helps, so I can’t let myself be too discouraged for my miserly family and friends back in Texas. The top fundraiser was from our Brand Management center and his contributions grew to $420 (which is more than can be said for how well his mustache grew). For worthy reasons such as interviews, and more ignoble reasons such as personal vanity, some MBAs were not able to stay the course for the full 30 days. The real estate guys started with six mustaches, but sadly ended with only four. Proudly I can say that my fellow-blogger Andrew Toby and I stayed the course.

I proudly wore my mustache back to Texas over the Thanksgiving break. Many laughed in my face, at my face. I thought it appropriate to wax my mustache, à la Rollie Fingers, per it reaching an envious length. However, on the flight back to Texas, I ended up explaining that this was not normally the way I looked to the couple on the plane next to me. I decided that I couldn’t handle the mustache was through the holidays, so I trimmed it down to the standard Tom Selleck-esque. In response to this new look, the TSA officer at the airport on the way back to Madison said, “Tom Selleck mustache…aviator sunglasses…that is not a safe look.” Despite that comment, he let me on the plane. Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to November next year. I think the real estate guys might have to be in charge of the campaign in 2012…that is so long as the Fed can give us a good exchange rate to work with, so that we can beat those guys at London Business School.

Jordan Denzer comes to Madison from Dallas, TX (it is often joked that he is one of the international students). Previously, Jordan managed corporate flexible spending accounts, but decided that he wanted to get into real estate development, which initiated the move to Madison. Currently, Jordan is interested in getting into historic redevelopment and/or mixed-use development projects.

Friday, December 9, 2011

MBA Team Project

In the first semester of the Wisconsin MBA, students across specializations are grouped and tasked with “creating” a new product for a publicly traded company. This is known as the “Integrated Company Analysis” project or “ICA” for short. ICA projects are worked on throughout the semester, and final presentations are made after final exams. Our grades from these projects constitute a percentage of our final grade for each of our four core classes.

The project begins with a list of the companies that were chosen for projects last year which aren’t allowed to be used again. This policy is so that you can’t get assistance from second year MBA students who previously reviewed that same company. Companies that are chosen for ICA projects are actually notified and invited to attend the presentations. On average, about three companies come each year to view the presentations. This is a unique opportunity, as it provides the company with a vision for a possibly unconsidered new product offering, and it allows the MBA Office to show off its students and build employment opportunities.

My team of five proposed to create an internet radio, much like Pandora, for Amazon. We thought that this would complement Amazon’s existing MP3 purchasing platform. In our concept, a shopper could browse through Amazon while listening to the radio functionality, exposing the shopper to new artists or popular hits, and then songs could be purchased via Amazon MP3. Unfortunately, no representatives from Amazon were available to come and view the presentation.

The members in our group represent the following specializations: Human Resources, Supply Chain, Brand Management, Corporate Finance, and of course, Real Estate. This project fell right into the wheel house of our Brand Management and Corporate Finance team members, but the rest of us had to recreate our areas of expertise. Our Supply Chain team member was a lawyer in his previous life, so he handled all of the legal elements regarding streaming a record company’s music for free over internet radio. The Human Resources team member and I were tasked with evaluating the competitors and the marketplace as a whole for internet radio. Initially this didn’t seem like too daunting of a task, but it is becoming apparent that I was mistaken. Primarily because the internet radio/streaming music industry is so new, we are having trouble finding any applicable resources. We are working with librarians in the business library to help us with research in industry specific publications. This is a critical piece of information so that we can make projections on revenues that could be gained from advertising.

We have another week until our slide deck for our ICA projects are due, just a few days after we finish exams. Then we’ll meet with a business communications specialist and go over our presentation. Finally we’ll do our final presentations that following week.

The semester is definitely going to end with a bang. I’ve gained extraordinary experience from it, but I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to a little R & R over the Christmas break.

Jordan Denzer comes to Madison from Dallas, TX (it is often joked that he is one of the international students). Previously, Jordan managed corporate flexible spending accounts, but decided that he wanted to get into real estate development, which initiated the move to Madison. Currently, Jordan is interested in getting into historic redevelopment and/or mixed-use development projects.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Roses and Badgers are red!

What a weekend for Badger fans! With Saturday night's win against Michigan State, Wisconsin is the Big Ten champion and headed back to the Rose Bowl. This is the second-straight trip to Pasadena where the Badgers will face off against Oregon on January 2nd.

Fans had to act quickly for tickets; the university said today that its allotment sold out as of 9:00 this morning.

For more details of the game and information on the Rose Bowl trip, visit

Photo by Aaron Stroot via Flickr

Friday, December 2, 2011

Real estate alum Jake Wood, co-founder of Team Rubicon, to speak at Dec. 18 Commencement

MADISON - Jake Wood, president of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit veterans' service organization that he co-founded following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, will speak at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's 2011 mid-year commencement.

Commencement ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Kohl Center, 601 W. Dayton St. No tickets are required for admission and the ceremonies are open to the public.

Wood's organization provides military veterans with purpose, community and self worth through volunteer service, and gives them the opportunity to use their skills in disaster zones.

The organization aided tornado victims in Joplin, Mo. in May. Team Rubicon plans to begin operating out of 10 U.S. geographic regions in 2012, each carved out according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's regional model.

Wood, a UW-Madison graduate, served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq's Anbar Province and in 2008 to Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. He is a leading advocate for veterans and speaks around the country about issues they face on their return home. He also serves on several veteran-focused committees at the national level.

Wood received his bachelor of business administration degree in 2005 with a double major in real estate and urban land economics, and political science. He was an offensive lineman on the Badger football team from 2001-04. Last year, he was honored with a "Forward Under 40" award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

This year Wood received GQ Magazine's "Better Men, Better World" award, and the Big Ten Conference honored him with its "Live Big" award for his work with Team Rubicon.
- Liz Beyler, (608) 263-1986,