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Meet Alex Cwiakala of CC Solutions in Quincy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Cwiakala.

Alex, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m Alex Cwiakala and I would like to share part of my story. I am the co-founder of CC Solutions and we specialize in real estate development around Boston. I’m 26 and my business partner Christian is 25. We attended the University of South Carolina and graduated in 2014. In our first year out of college, we moved to Boston and started a division of a company called Student Painters. We grew and managed 150 employees, created 1.2 million dollars in revenue and salaried $40,000 each. We knew we needed a change. If we could hustle that hard in one year for someone else, what could we do for ourselves? In October of 2015, we purchased a 3 family rental property to live in and quit our jobs in the same week!

Christian and I dreamed of real estate and without any real knowledge or licensing, we hit the streets to create business. We started door knocking homeowners in pre-foreclosure and seeing if they had an exit strategy. Most homeowners said no but we ended up getting 7 properties under contract in the first 9 months. We had no idea how to pay for the houses we had under agreement so we sold the contracts to other investors for the first 6 properties. We ended up purchasing the 7th and renovating it for a cool 26% return on investment.

Our team has grown to 4 plus an intern and we live together, work together and grow together. We can’t afford office space yet so for morning meetings, we’re crammed in the “War Room” a.k.a our living room sitting on the floor. The living room has 4 desks and 2 whiteboards: a typical entrepreneurial startup.

Since we started purchasing property 16 months ago, we’ve developed and are currently selling over $6 million dollars in property around Boston. We’ve faced many challenges that have tested our “will to win” and we’ve become more resilient because of it. I am very proud to be working with a young hard group of stand-up guys and I wouldn’t change a thing. We’re here to stay and have ambitions to build a skyscraper in Boston one day.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a bitter sweet road to say the least. In certain areas of our business, we’ve felt like overnight successes and then there have been aspects of our business that have been very sobering.

Let me preface this next statement by saying that not all contractors are bad people or bad businessmen, but I’ve seen my fair share of them.

For us, the most challenging part of this business model has been finding quality contractors especially at our scale.

We started this business with no real construction background and paid a hefty price to learn it. If you have to rely on the counsel of your contractor, you’re setting yourself up for an opportunity to get taken advantage of. Pair that with contractors who are too cash flow poor to support their own business and you have a recipe for a sticky situation.

Most of the time, the problems boil down to poor planning and better hiring, both of which are ultimately our responsibility. However, all of those problems provide you the opportunity to learn a lesson.

If it wasn’t for those costly delays and painful unnecessary obstacles, we wouldn’t have created a 350 point construction checklist. We wouldn’t have learned how to properly vet a tradesmen before giving them a job. It would be very difficult at this point in our career for a contractor working on a residential building to pull a fast one on us. Some things you just have to learn on your own.

Poor initial planning on our part partnered with no unrealistic price gouging change orders, unacceptable scheduling delays, poor craftsmanship cash flow.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about CC Solutions – what should we know?
CC Solutions is a company that leverages funds, systems and A-players to develop real estate in and around Boston.

CC Solutions specializes in the renovation and building of apartment buildings with three units or less. We gut renovate deteriorated buildings and make them beautiful again. We’re generally working with the ugliest house on the block and making it one of the nicest.

As a founder and the team’s Investor Relations Specialist, my job consistently revolves around raising capital and fostering relationships with investors. What sets us apart from our competition is our communication. We provide bi-weekly property updates to all lenders through an individual property blog on our website. This lets our lenders and the general public sees the progress of every project in a detailed manner twice a month. We regularly tour our lenders through the projects and they are always informed.

I’m most proud of our accomplishments as a young company. We’re young, fun and we hustle harder than anyone we know. We’re governed by a set of core values and we continually stick to them. Our lenders have given us the opportunity to grow our business and we’re proud to have repeatedly earned their trust.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
We are some of the most resilient people you will meet. We just won’t quit. We have taken so many hits on the chin over the last 12 months running a six million dollar development business and we’ve come out with more motivation and momentum to succeed.

I think what’s even crazier is we never gave the idea of “giving up” a chance of grow in to something.

Being an entrepreneur is tough and lonely sometimes. Having a support structure makes the day to day grind more bearable. We’re all products of the people we surround ourselves with so we work to keep that group a group of elite people.

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