The Day I Ventured Out – Saad Ladki, Founder and CEO of Padvest

August 9, 2021

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1. What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was a senior director of product management at Microsoft Azure. My organization’s last mission was to revamp how Azure builds its data centers and cloud regions to make them more resilient to failures. This was one of the top enterprise requests from customers looking to build mission critical applications on Azure. I was lucky to partner with very talented people on this journey as we changed Azure from soil to its core services.

Prior to Microsoft, I was an early product management hire for AWS where I defined and built the businesses around many of the AWS developer services. One example of this was S3, which I helped grow into an exabyte-scale service used by some of the largest enterprises in the world.

2. When did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

In 2015, I started investing in real estate and learning about how to effectively buy and manage rental properties. I experimented with DYI management vs. property management, short term vs. long term rentals, and flips. The more I dug in, the more I realized that investing in real estate is hard and requires lots of manual tasks, especially for people who work outside of real estate. My itch to solve these problems with software kept growing every day and other real estate investors confirmed a similar set of problems and stories. In 2019, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that my true calling was to use my product development and management experience to make an impact on real estate investing space. This was the genesis of Padvest.

3. What initial hesitations did you have about starting your first company?

When leaving a steady job, I felt all the usual discomforts: worries about the loss of financial stability and health benefits, the anticipation of more stress on myself and others around me, and the fear of failure. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive friends and family who encouraged me to think about these as “solvable problems” rather than “hesitations”.

I wrote down every nagging discomfort and worked out a potential solution for each of them. For example, to support myself financially I created a tiered approach for how I save and spend money.  I reduced some of my largest expenses, and even started a business to help bring in additional income. There are many ways to go about solving each of these problems and I am always happy to pay it forward and help others brainstorm.

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4. Can you remember the day you put in your notice? What was it like, what was going through your mind, how did your manager take it?

My last day was very bittersweet and emotional. On one hand, I knew I was going to miss working with my team and partners. On the other hand, I was excited for my new journey. My mantra for these moments is best represented by the French expression “au revoir”. It translates to “until the next time” and it leaves the door open for a reunion at a future time.

I’ll share a few mind tricks that helped me get through the day:

  • Morning workout routine
  • Meditation with a focus on gratitude for past times and a hope of reuniting with my teammates in a new setting
  • Farewell hallway conversations
  • Lunch with a few people
  • Spotify playlist on repeat on the drive back home with a mix of dance music and rock music to get those good vibes
  • Bright spot: I wasn’t going to miss 520 rush hour traffic
  • Nice dinner out with loved ones

5. What are you doing now?

I am now building Padvest, a real estate investing platform that helps investor research and manage their residential investments. We launched our first product in 2020 which helps people evaluate investment properties in seconds using a powerful data platform that aggregates data across many sources. Our mission is to empower every person to generate wealth through real estate investing. I am very excited to wake up every day and continue building out the team and expanding our portfolio of products that contribute towards this mission.

If you are interested in working at a startup, if you share a similar passion for our mission, or if you are a real estate investor, please reach out to me. I am always looking to connect, as we continue to build our team and products in support of our mission.

6. Looking back on your experience of founding a company, what do you know that you wish you knew before? Are you happy with your decision?

Building a startup is a continuous growth and learning journey and if nothing else, that is enough to make me happy. Of course, getting love notes from customers and seeing your user base grow, feeling proud of what the team has built, and knowing that we are making real estate investing more accessible all add to that feeling of satisfaction. I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat.

When transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, I did not realize how many support and back-office systems I took for granted in a corporate environment. For example, most corporations already have marketing and content platforms, a sales process to engage with customers, and HR systems to support employees and managers. When building a startup, it’s easy to think that you either need to build these things or pay a fortune to outsource them.

What has surprised me is the amount of tech platforms and automation that can help you bring these functions to your startup quickly, in an on-demand, follow-your-growth fashion. I highly recommend that each entrepreneur asks others for recommendations when it comes to building these systems. As an example, we used an automated legal platform to set up the company and manage much of the initial paperwork, with the help of a lawyer as a reviewer. We were able to move fast and keep our legal costs down.

7. Any other advice you can share for others contemplating a similar path?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my one and half year of entrepreneurship, I have been incredibly surprised by and grateful for all the mentors and community who have helped me and Padvest along the way. Reach out to people, ask for connections, and be genuinely curious. There is something to learn along the way and always offer your experience back. In fact, I would love to pay it forward and help new founders as much as possible too. If any of my journey or Padvest’s mission resonate with you, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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