Safe And Affordable Housing For Military Families Spearheaded By Air Force Veteran
Pierre Cook, Air Force Veteran & CEO of Pay It Forward Today
Tell us about you and your military background:
I’m Pierre Cook. I was proud to serve in The United States Air Force for 8 years. My service time was from 1982 to 1990. I had just made Staff Sergeant when I separated.
During my time in I was stationed at Dyess AFB, RAF Lakenheath, and RAF Greenham Common. I was deployed a couple of times to Central America in my early days while assigned to a MAPS unit. The best times in my military life were the days playing football while assigned to RAF Greenham Common.
Tell us about your business:
Our company is called Pay-It-Forward Today, whilst the HQ is based in Florida we operate on a national basis. The original company was started in 2016 as Cazle Realty Inc.
We started out as a Real Estate referral business but soon found that dealing with 3rd party Real Estate Brokers was a challenge so we pivoted to become an educational, training, and marketing company for real estate agents seeking to work with PCSing military members. We developed a unique proposition of taking one agent per base and training them to engage, grow and convert methodology that we designed in-house.
Pay-It-Forward Today Inc.’s mission is to provide community-based solutions for military families where education and support are lacking. Whilst ensuring the continuity, relevance, integrity, and synergy of our mission of assisting active and retired military members and families in fulfilling their home ownership aspirations and dreams
Pay-It-Forward Today Inc. is a marketing and services company catering to the total Real Estate sector with a focus on active and retired military families.
Describe how you got the business started:
It was a relatively quick process from idea to concept once we established what markets we wanted to serve. It was about creating a corporate structure that allowed us to operate as a corporate brokerage meaning we found a broker to represent the organization as none of the original partners were real estate agents.
The initial investment was $60,000 of bootstrapping and tons of sweat equity.
We reviewed what agents were doing and came up with a unique way of lead sourcing that involved presenting agents with clients rather than leads. Both myself and my partner went to real estate school as part of our training though due to the rules of the game, we could not be licensed and own a real Estate Corporation where we employed a broker.
Cazle had it, first customers, rather quickly but we soon discovered it was not sustainable so we pivoted to our current business iteration and change the name and scope of our business
Tell us why you wanted to become an entrepreneur:
I was very successful in the corporate world. I held various board-level positions in Fortune 500 companies in Europe.
“I was very fortunate to have great mentors and receive word-class sales training as well as working on leading-edge operational solutions.”
I was blessed to retire at 41 and moved to Florida to take on the most fulfilling role of raising my son.
Once my son was old enough to drive I needed something else to satisfy my competitive drive. I knew I would never allow myself to be employed again so when a military friend approached me with partnering up with him on an opportunity it was the perfect timing.
My partner at the time was another veteran with whom I have been friends for over 35 years from when we served together in the Air Force.
Describe how your military background prepared you for entrepreneurship:
The Air Force gave me the discipline and determination to succeed no matter what. I learned how to compartmentalize tasks and how to determine the vital few actions needed to bring a project to a successful conclusion. I also learned how to manage and merge diverse personalities into one cohesive team.
Tell us about some of your obstacles and challenges, and how you overcame them:
Fortunately for me, I have a mindset that anything is possible once you set your mind to it. I am blessed with an analytical mind that allows me to model a problem and build a real-world solution.
There is never enough money or time but an entrepreneur will not let that be a reason to stop trying.
“The difference between an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur is a never say die mentality.”
I am truly blessed to have the support of all of those who matter to me.
Describe how you're doing today and what the future looks like:
With the establishment of our brands, we have established a renewable pipeline of $800,000,00 in real estate opportunities. We currently have over 100 Ambassador Communities and a world-class partner in the mortgage market.
Our top priority is to expand our communities and develop new tools and products that will allow our customers to stay ahead of the competition in their markets.
We are in the process of redeveloping our website and CRM to meet the ever-changing requirements of our customers.
My Vision for Pay-It-Forward Today Inc is to become the nation’s foremost authority in supporting active-duty service members as they PCS around the country. Pay-It-Forward Today Inc is dedicated to developing PCS support programs to bolster and in all areas possible exceed the current capability of the US government to assist service members in PCSing.
Share some advice with your fellow veteran entrepreneurs:
There are things I think I could have done better but rather than dwell on them I live my business life in a state of continuous improvement. Our business is run with a managing daily improvement philosophy.
“An entrepreneur should always be networking and sharpening up their mental state.”
The one mistake people make is they gravitate to people very similar to themselves. I find the people I learn the most from are those that challenge me rather than instantly agree with me. When you are hiring remember you are not looking to recruit a copy of yourself. I have a saying “You do not have to be the smartest person in the room, just make sure the smartest person in the room works for you.”
My last point is this an entrepreneur has to have strong faith and belief in themselves. I get my extra strength from God, family, and the friends I love because those 3 things give me the strength to persevere when times are tough and also a platform to celebrate when times are great.
Where can we go to learn more: