Before You Try Skyscrapers

A conversation with a well-known Architect-Developer Jonathan Segal about the evolution of his business model and the strategic advantages it gives him

Before You Try Skyscrapers (Building Your First Building)

Architects tired of being overruled, urban planners who feel like they’re on the sidelines, real estate brokers who want to create as well as sell properties, and normal people who like the idea of hands on work: these kinds of people often wind up contacting John Anderson. John coaches small development boot camps (here’s a bit of his main talk) which introduce people to the ins-and-outs of acquiring land, getting entitlements, constructing new buildings, and then operating or selling them. In Episode 8, we had a great conversation about the whys and hows of the process he calls incremental development.

We began by talking about why John likes small development, as opposed to large development, and then focused on everything from what constitutes “small development,” getting capital partners (people who help you pay the down payment), risk management, and everything in between. This is really a catalog of “things you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask” about starting your own development company, so I hope you’ll take time to watch it.

After our main chat, I spent time talking to him about the complexities of mixed use development and also did a lightning round, covering topics like whether to have a business partner and whether he likes any of the newer construction methods out there. Hope you enjoy this episode. As an interesting contrast, next time we’ll be talking to Ann Danner, a developer who started her own company, took it up to a huge scale, and then retired to work with organizations like St. Jude. See you then!