Free EB-5 Project Evaluation

How to Market an EB-5 Project

How to Market an EB-5 Project

Mike (00:02):
Hi, everyone. Thanks a lot for joining our webinar today. This is Mike Schoenfeld from EB5 Affiliate Network. Also on the phone is Sam Silverman and Joe Girton from our company. We really appreciate you taking the time to be with us as we talk through different marketing strategies that we’ve seen EB-5 projects take. And we’re going to walk through some of the details today on changes in the market and what we’ve seen historically, what the market reality is today, and then dive into, more tactically, what some of the most common marketing approaches are.

Sam (00:43):
Hi everyone. This is Sam Silverman. As Mike said, we’re going to try and share as much of the knowledge we’ve developed over the last couple of years working with clients who’ve taken different marketing strategies, both focusing on identifying qualified foreign investors within the United States and overseas, as possible. And so, as we go through the materials today, please use the chat feature on the webinar to pose any questions, and we’ll address all of the questions at the end of the webinar. So, again, ask questions as things come up—just type them out, and we’ll address them all together at the end of the webinar. And before we get started here, we’re going to run two very quick polls, just so we can learn a little bit more about the audience and customize this to make sure we meet everyone’s experience and interest level as well and some of the different topics we’re going to cover. So, we’ll start with the poll now, and now we’ll do the second poll quickly, and then we’ll get going.

Mike (03:09):
Okay. Excellent. Thank you everyone for answering that. So, to start off with, I think it’ll be helpful to give you some background on our company and why we have a very unique perspective on EB-5 and the marketing strategies that are effective for EB-5. So, our company, EB5 Affiliate Network—we started this about six years ago as Sam and myself and our third partner, Tim Shih. He was a securities attorney, I was working in New York at a large private equity firm in leveraged buyouts, and Sam was in China working for Jack Nicklaus, the professional golfer. And over the last six years, we’ve built a very unique EB-5 platform. We own and operate 14 regional centers that cover more than 20 entire states. So, a vast majority of the country is covered by our regional centers, and we use these regional centers to sponsor high-quality projects that meet our immigration and financial risk criteria.

Mike (04:16):
So, across our regional centers, we’ve been able to view many projects and see which ones have been successful in investor-sourcing and which ones have not. So, we have a very unique perspective there on what makes for a successful project. Additionally, we help structure EB-5 deals and put together all of the required project documentation. And through this, we know what terms are market, which terms are not market, and what helps make a project stand out. So, we really have a very unique perspective and a holistic view of the EB-5 market in which projects have been successful in the past. And we’re able to share our perspectives with you.

Sam (04:59):
Hi everyone. This is Sam Silverman. As Mike mentioned, I was working overseas for Jack Nicholas in China for a couple of years. And while I was there, I saw a number of EB-5 projects being marketed and thought that some of the quality wasn’t where it should be. And so, I kind of worked together with Mike and came up with an idea to put together a series of regional centers that would cover large coverage areas. And we were the first company to figure out how to get USCIS to approve large coverage areas. And so, we filed 14 regional centers and have since gone on to fund more than 100 regional centers, including those for other clients who wanted to own and operate their own regional center licenses. So, with that, we’ll now play a quick, short, one-minute video, and then we’ll jump right into the slides

Video (06:52):
Sam and his team are by far the most open and willing to provide information of any of the people that we asked.

Sam (08:37):
Hi everyone. Thank you for watching that short video. One of the things we’ve tried to do as a company is try to bring a little bit more transparency and professionalism to the space. And so, as you saw on the video there, we’ve developed a number of free tools that help EB-5 project developers and sponsors diligence projects and figure out if they qualify for targeted employment area status. And so, those are all available at our website, and they’re all completely free. So, now let’s jump into EB-5 project marketing. So, for those who are a little bit more familiar with the space, you’ll know that over the last couple of years, a large percentage of the investors who have come into EB-5 projects have come from China. And so, one of the most interesting things about the market landscape in the last 12 months is that given the slowdown in the Chinese market, given retrogression or, put simply, a supply–demand issue with more demand for EB-5 visas than there is supply for Chinese investors, there’s been a greater focus on non-China markets.

Sam (09:55):
And so, in China, the market has historically been driven largely by large fundraising, foreign migration agents, and companies that specialize in helping wealthy investors from China exit the country and obtain citizenship or permanent residence in other countries. And so, it was largely a very broker-driven market. Now what’s happening is there are a lot more investors and investor activity happening in non-China markets, particularly in India and countries in Latin America, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and countries in Europe as well. And so, a lot of these countries do not have very well-developed migration agency industries. And so, as a result, the market’s a lot more fragmented. You don’t have foreign companies bringing 50 investors in a short period of time for a project like you may have seen in China in the past couple of years—it’s much more fragmented.

Sam (11:01):
One investor here, three investors there—you have a lot of people who are working as EB-5 quote brokers in these other markets, and maybe they’re going to find one or two or three investors in a year, but that’s not their primary business. They just happen to be in an industry where they may come across an investor, and they’re going to refer them to a project that they’re working with and, you know, supplement their income effectively by coming across an EB-5 investor that they can refer to a specific project. So, one thing to keep in mind, given that fragmentation, is there isn’t really a good one-size-fits-all approach in today’s market. It’s going to be based largely on what specific factors are going to impact the project. What size is the project? What is the status of the project—is it under construction?

Sam (12:01):
Is it in the planning stage? What percentage of the capital being raised is EB-5, and how involved does the project sponsor want to be in terms of going out and being in some of these foreign markets and working directly with brokers? Obviously, it’s going to be more costly to spend time and go to these foreign markets and be on the ground. But it’s just kind of an “effort versus cost” question that sponsors will have to determine based on how large the project is and how viable the capital is coming in through EB-5. And so, what we’re seeing additionally in the market, as part of this fragmentation shift, is a lot of smaller projects. We’ve done the documents on a lot of smaller projects in the last six months, ranging from one to, let’s say, 10 investors. You still see a couple of larger projects, too.

Mike (13:01):
But there are a lot of smaller projects as well, the most common being a project sponsor, like an Indian developer, who’s doing a small hotel or is building a small shopping center, and maybe the total project is $7 or $8 million, and EB-5 is coming in as $2 or $3 million. And it’s friends and family that are coming in, and the most of the investors have already been identified, or half of them have been identified, and the other half are going to be relatively easy to locate. So, it’s important to have an idea going into the project of how you’re going to source the investors for the project, but we are seeing a much greater fragmentation and a lot of smaller projects, particularly in the 1–10 investor range, being quite successful in finding all the required EB-5 investors for their projects, particularly in the Indian market. So, as Sam mentioned, historically, the Chinese agents made up almost all of the market. There were over 10,000 Chinese investors coming in, and it was a few large agents that controlled it. Let’s keep going now that Sam covered those slides. So, this is a good snapshot of the EB-5 program over the past seven years. So, you can see the amount of growth that’s taken place in the industry.

Mike (14:52):
So, if you look at the chart, it focuses on the amount of receipts and approvals and denials each year of applications. And the receipt number, you can see, from 2014 onwards, has been over 10,000 investors every single year. So, this market has grown from under 2000 in 2010, and significantly less before that, to over 10,000 a year for the last several years. So, it has become much more mainstream during that time. What this has led to is longer processing times with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They have not grown their staff in a similar way. So, processing times keep dragging out, and there’s more pending applications with USCS than ever before, although it does look like they’re starting to make progress in terms of getting through the backlog and adjudicating faster.

Mike (15:45):
So, if we look at the historical market by country, you see China was the largest and will continue to be the largest. So, this is actually the I-526 petition approvals for the per-country data. USCIS did not publish it on the applications. They only publish it after I-526s are approved. So, this is the best snapshot we can have of a full year. But as you’ll see, China was 83.5% of the market, and over time, other markets have been growing, but China continues to dominate.

Mike (16:33):
So, looking at the shift, we can now look from 2014 to 2017. So, you’ll see China has slightly reduced from over 9,000 applicants to a little over 7,000 applicants. But if you look at that same time period for Brazil, Vietnam, and India, they have grown exponentially. Taiwan and Russia have also grown, but the core bulk of the growth has come from Brazil and Vietnam. And this year, all the markets—Brazil, Vietnam, and India—are all expected to grow significantly even more than last year. So, to take an overall view of the market and just consolidate the non-China countries and put those in one bucket and China in the other, you can see that over the past three years, China has actually gone down in terms of applications, but the rest of the world is up 60% over the last three years.

Mike (17:47):
So, as you can imagine, that’s primarily driven by more of a formalization of the process of investors, of finding investors in these emerging markets. Several years ago, if you went to Brazil or India and you told a wealthy individual that they could invest $500,000 in the US, create 10 jobs, and get a green card, they would have thought it was a scam or it was fraud. It wasn’t well-known like it was in China, but we’ve seen that that trend has changed significantly over the past few years, and now investors in Brazil, India, Vietnam, and other countries understand that the EB-5 program is a legitimate program and is a very fast and effective path to getting a green card. We strongly anticipate that “rest of the world” market will continue to grow, especially as more brokers and migration agent–like companies start getting involved in this space.

Mike (18:44):
Part of what made China so strong for years was the fact that they did have this formal migration agent network all across the country, where wealthy individuals would go to find out how to move out of China and immigrate into other countries. Other than maybe Korean and Vietnam, no other countries have an industry like this or a structure like this set up. So, it will take longer for the markets to organically grow in, let’s say, Brazil and India, but that has already started to happen. The market is becoming more formal. Brokers are starting to pop up, and you’re able to actually get some volume out of these other countries now, where before it was more one or two investors at a time. So, it is great to see these markets starting to institutionalize. This slide shows very similar trends to the last ones and helps highlight the point that over the last few years, and even over the last year, you’ll see that the non-China I-526 petitions has more than doubled from 770 in Vietnam, Brazil, and India combined in the prior year, and then, looking at it this year, it’s up over 2000 applications. So, India is up three times, Brazil is up over two times, and Vietnam is up almost three times as well. So, these markets are increasing very significantly over time.

Sam (20:29):
One last point on the previous side is that, you know, given that strong growth in some of these foreign markets, particularly Brazil, Vietnam, and India, what we’re seeing is a large shift for project developers who are using EB-5 capital. Historically, in China, you would find a lot of U.S. developers, Western companies, who were putting together projects and taking them to China to raise EB-5 capital. What we’re seeing with a lot of these other markets is a lot of the clients that we’re working with today who put together EB-5 projects tend to be, you know, Vietnamese, Brazilian, and Indian nationals, and the project sizes tend to be smaller. That’s kind of the general trend, from what we’ve seen. We still do see some of the larger companies going to these markets and raising capital.

Sam (21:31):
But oftentimes, it’s much easier for someone from that nationality to make a convincing pitch to a potential investor to join a project that’s being sponsored by a fellow countryman versus going with a completely foreign company. And because a lot of these investors are not that financially or legally sophisticated, that level of comfort tends to be more important and tends to trump what would objectively be probably a safer or larger project, versus a smaller project but one that’s being developed by a local member of the community or a relative that that’s known in the community.

Mike (22:22):
Historically, you would see these Western developers with large projects go on a one-week road show to China, meet with some of the larger migration agents there, sign a deal, and disappear, and the money would come in. That does not work anymore. The clients that we see that are successful—not only are they of a similar nationality of the investors they are looking for—we’re seeing many successful Western companies as well—but they are making the effort to build this as an internal capability. They are not looking at it where they expect a week-long road show to get them the results. Instead, they’re hiring someone as an investor relations manager internally and to manage the EB-5 fundraising process, realizing they’re likely going to have many more channel partners and many more relationships to keep the sources and investors happy, where historically you might’ve made a deal with one Chinese migration agent, and they found you 100 investors in six months. So, we are seeing a shift, and before, you would overpay these agents to find and make the capability external from the company, and now there’s a shift towards internal capabilities to source EB-5 and a true commitment from developers looking to build that as a core capability.

Mike (23:47):
We’ve done our best to lay out a few of the most common investor-sourcing channels that we’ve seen and help put a framework in place. As you think about it, this is meant to be illustrative. It is not exhaustive. There could be many other channels that people use to find investors, but these are some of the most common ones and some common ones that are easy to discuss and describe the pros and cons and how they’re structured.

Mike (24:21):
Historically, the large, the most productive methods were foreign migration agents. Foreign agent conferences were very common in China, where you would have 50+ agents in a room, and it would be like speed dating to meet all of the agents and demonstrate your project. And there are also either broker dealers in the US, who had their own agent networks overseas, or a foreign equivalent of broker dealers who specialized in this. Now there’s many non-traditional channels available as well. We’re seeing more overseas expos, such as real estate expos and other places where there may be wealthy individuals concentrated. There is success being found there. There’s new online platforms that have emerged both in the US and abroad. And then, also, especially most commonly, now we’re seeing a lot of investors that tap their internal network or investor network to find their own investors.

Mike (25:34):
We’ve worked to lay it out on a grid, just showing what we think some of the most important factors are in these different marketing avenues. First is the cost of actually finding the investors, and the other is what it takes internally—how much effort it takes to find all of the investors. If you look at the top left, “foreign migration agent exclusive”—this is what projects used to use most often, where you would go to China and find 200 investors quickly. You would pay the agent a very significant amount of money, both the upfront administrative fee and a large tail or annual amount on the money. And this was the most expensive, but it was the least amount of effort for the company because once you made this deal, someone else was doing the heavy lifting of finding the investors. And in the exact opposite corner, in the bottom right, is the internal network.

Sam (26:27):
If you can call friends and family, this is going to be the least expensive marketing effort that you have, although it will take internal time, and also you’re burning your internal resources and connections to find it. So, all of the other six channels that we’re talking about fall somewhere on this chart. This, again, is illustrative. It’s not absolute, but it’s meant to be illustrative. As you’re thinking about the strategy that you want to use, you really have to balance how much you’re willing to commit internally in terms of resource development and using your team and how much you’re willing to pay to find these investors. And there’s places all along the spectrum there to be able to place EB-5 investors. And given the market fragmentation, it’s normally not the case that a sponsor chooses just one of these six—usually you’ll decide, you’re going to focus on two or three and really invest in one or two.

Sam (27:25):
But it’s usually a handful of these that’ll work together and will define the strategy. So, you’re not typically going to bet the ranch on just one, but you’ll pick two or three and focus on those couple, given the strengths of the project, your ability to travel, your internal team capabilities, who the target audience is, how much capital you’re raising, how attractive the returns are, and how much you can pay a broker. All of those items will drive which two or three of these six potential channels you want to focus on.

Mike (28:10):
Exactly. And we have actually seen clients use all six before. So, that’s a great point, Sam. It is definitely not like you choose one and go with it. You will use multiple strategies to make sure you’ve got the best chance of success.

Mike (28:24):
So, at this point in the presentation, we’re going to run through some of the details on these options. You may be familiar with some, and you may not be familiar with others. We want to be respectful of your time. So, we’re going to try and spend the next 10 minutes on this, and then leave a few minutes for a Q&A to make sure we don’t run over the allotted time period here. So, the first one that we’re going to discuss are these large overseas expos. So, these are events either directly targeting EB-5 investors or also targeting other high-net-worth individuals through other channels. These are conferences organized by events companies—that’s what you would think of them as, not as migration agents. And they typically charge the presenting companies a fee to attend. Sometimes, they’ll block multiple of these together—so, three of them over a five-day span. So, you’re able to get in front of different markets very quickly. And it’s a pay-for-booth strategy, where you’re hiring an event company to fill the room, hopefully with high-quality EB-5 leads and brokers, and you’re there to pitch your project.

Mike (29:45):
So, some of the benefits of going through this structure is that it’s a relatively cost-effective and streamlined process. So, rather than trying to coordinate your own road show, someone else is doing a lot of that heavy lifting, and you’ll be partnered with other companies doing the same thing—maybe three or four other projects that are presenting. So, you’re able to share the cost, in a sense, with those other projects. Now, there are some negatives in that you do need to follow up directly with all of the investors and brokers that you meet there, and then you need to need to coordinate with them to try and actually close deals with the people that you meet. Also, you will be competing with some of the other projects on the road show with you because you are all targeting the same audience. So, overall, the cost on this—it is not the most expensive option because you’re paying more as an event organization fee, and you will have travel. It’s relatively reasonable for the amount of attendees that you get at these events.

Mike (30:53):
So then, the next large channel that you might use are agent conferences. And I would say this was a very common method in China historically. It is still quite common in the Middle East, and Vietnam has its own. In India, this is not as effective. Brazil is not as effective because there are not built-up agent or broker networks yet for EB-5. In the future, that may not be the case that they’re not as effective there, but for now, China and Vietnam are still the best markets to going to the agent conferences. And these are where you’ll have a large group of migration agents all together, and it’s like speed dating, where you go in with your project—there’s going to be many other projects there. And the goal is to meet as many brokers as possible—not directly with investors, but instead you’re meeting with brokers at these types of events.

Mike (31:52):
So, the benefit with these types of events is you do have most of the potential agent and sourcing partners in one room all at once. So, that’s great. That’s also a bad thing, especially now is that China is having a bit of a slowdown. So, it’s not as successful in China as it used to be. The cost on this can also be quite high for a one-day event. Having a booth at these can get pretty expensive because all the agents are in one place, and the quality of the event can vary significantly. Even within the same organization, that’s hosting it, the quality of agents that come can vary a lot. There’s no results guaranteed, but it is a great way to meet as many brokers as possible quickly. And it can also be a good way to see what type of project is going to get in the specific market, because you have a chance to work with many brokers in a short period of time. And whenever attending one of these conferences, it’s very important to have someone who’s a native speaker of that country’s language with you on the team to be able to approach and communicate effectively with any of the local agents, whether that’s in India or Brazil or China or pretty much any other market—having someone local with you is going to be critical.

Mike (33:17):
So, another potential channel is online platforms and websites. There’s several online platforms, such as eb5projects.com. In China, the largest one is EB-5 Supermarket. There’s many others in the US and independently as well. I mean, the good thing here is that the traffic is being driven online. So, it’s less physical time, and you’re able to get a much broader reach without having to travel to every individual city—it’s a much more passive approach. You’re waiting for the investors to come to you, and it’s a very effective channel for that type of strategy. Some of the good things about the online platforms as well, from an investor perspective, is they can provide additional transparency. All of the projects are in one place. Some of the platforms host a diligence report, and that’s part of how the platforms make their money—by vetting these projects and then providing real insight to these investors on how strong or weak certain projects are.

Sam (34:24):
Yep. And so, just to quickly summarize, there’s three different flavors of online EB-5 marketing. One is where you’ve got kind of a combination of a number of different projects all listed together and compared on different attributes, like EB-5 projects where you’d review EB-5 Supermarket, and you’ve got individual project sponsors, like a related group that has their own website and is doing Google Ad Words and Facebook ads and other things, trying to drive individual investors directly to their own website where they’re just selling their own project, right? And then, the third kind of flavor is individual broker dealers or diligence companies that have been hired to work on specific projects and are sharing information on just a select number of projects where they’re being paid either by the sponsor or by an investor to go through the documents and provide a third-party analysis of the particular projects on the site and sort of run through the pros and cons and costs.

Sam (35:39):
So, the benefit here is that it’s not an agent platform, so you’re not paying a large fee to migration agents. Also, it’s a nice interactive experience for clients, where they can get a lot of the information in one place, and it’s online, so there can be a lot of traffic. You have a very large amount of reach sitting on your laptop rather than having to physically go to cities all across the world, trying to present one on one to individual investors. Now, there are some drawbacks here. One of them is that it’s a relatively passive approach. You aren’t getting out in front of these investors in person—instead, they have to come to you. Additionally, sometimes it can cost a significant amount of money and time to manage the platform, and to get on some of these other platforms. The overall cost benefit of this is that it is one of the most low-cost methods of finding investors. You will eliminate many of the middlemen that are out there trying to collect a majority of the administrative fee, and you’re able to manage costs pretty effectively because of the scale that the internet provides, rather than getting on a plane, staying in hotels, and paying someone else to organize the events. So, it is passive, and you’re waiting for people to come to you, but the cost can be lower. So, using online platforms in conjunction with any other marketing strategy could be a good option.

Mike (37:19):
The next area to look at is broker dealers. And for this, we’re typically focusing on United States broker dealers that are regulated by FINRA. So, the broker dealers can be placement agents on your deal, and they will manage the investor relationship and handle all of the compliance that comes with it. Typically, they will charge a placement fee—that’s how they make their money for investors that they find. And there’s different methods that broker dealers use to find investors. It’s often quite similar to what you could do if you weren’t going through a broker dealer—some of them will have their own websites. Others will have partnerships with migration agents abroad. Some will do their own road shows, and they’ll act more similarly to a migration agent, except for they are regulated by FINRA and able to take transaction-based compensation in the US. There are a large amount of broker dealers that are active in EB-5 at this time. Some of them focus on diligencing projects and producing reports on strengths and weaknesses. Others focus on vetting projects for investors. So, an investor looking at three projects may hire a broker dealer to diligence them, and other ones are directly investor-facing and focused on sourcing investors for the project. So, they can act as a wholesaler. They can find direct. There’s a lot of different ways that broker dealers can interact. And it’s really up to the broker dealer of how they plan to work in this space.

Mike (38:56):
So, for U.S.-licensed broker dealers, and that’s what we’re focusing on here, the pros are that it does offer additional transparency. These are the organizations that, if you’re selling in the US, are regulated by FINRA and are allowed to be paid to sell your project. So, they have very strong rules in place they have to follow to ensure they remain compliant with FINRA. And some of the negatives are that there are upfront fees associated with broker dealers. They do have to diligence your project, and that costs money and takes them time to be able to do that. And some of these fees are not always pay-for-performance—we typically like the pay-for-performance model for a sourcing partner, because then you can hold them accountable, and they earn money when you earn money. On the cost side, it can vary. It’s really hard to pinpoint here because it really depends on what the broker dealer is doing and what role they’re playing. So, it does have to be transparent. There are no hidden fees in there. They need to very accurately disclose all of the fees to the investors and also to the company, seeing that they are regulated by FINRA, a very strict governing body.

Mike (40:13):
Number five, foreign migration agents. This channel has likely found 70-plus percent of the EB-5 investors to date across all years. And that’s because this was strongest in China, and a vast majority of Chinese investors did come through migration agents in China. These are true companies focused on helping individuals migrate or immigrate to the US, to Canada, to Europe, to Australia. And typically, these migration agents are not just focused on EB-5. They will have a whole host of projects with various different countries that have similar programs to EB-5. So, if a potential investor goes in, depending on what their needs are, they may be pitched buying a property in Portugal or investing in Australia, alongside investing in an EB-5 project. Some of the ways that these agents work and used to work where they would require an exclusive. So, if these migration agents are pitching many different projects, they don’t want to have competition in their home market with other migration agents pitching the same project.

Mike (41:25):
So, they may require an exclusive. If you’re selling a Hyatt hotel, they want to be the only one in their province or region selling that Hyatt hotel. There were maybe five absolute monster migration agents in China that produced a great amount of the volume. In the second tier, there were around 30 very reputable migration agents. And then, after that, there were hundreds of other, smaller mid-sized migration agents, all across China. A similar network has developed in India and South Korea with these types of migration agents, and they’re still finding success in placing large amounts of investors. So, the benefits there are they’re able to fill projects quickly and effectively when they’re successful, they have the largest reach and can work the fastest , and it’s very hands-on. The development company does not have to actively manage them, and it’s not usually that involved in the road show or in pitching investors.

Mike (42:28):
The drawback is that sometimes an exclusive is required and you are more at the mercy of that agent. Also, quite often, you have to pay up front, and if your project doesn’t sell, they may put it on the shelf and move on to another one. So, results may vary. And if you’ve given an exclusive, you’re going to have to negotiate your way out of that exclusive. It continues to become less important with the growth of these other markets—other channels are becoming more prominent in terms of investor-sourcing and are helping to replace these large foreign migration agents. This was by far the most expensive option historically. These agents were very proud of what they did, and charged a lot of money upfront—a majority of the administrative fee and a large portion of the backend interest that was going to the sponsor. So, it was an expensive means to raise EB-5 capital, but it was the fast way to do it. There is a shift away from this strategy, though, towards lower-cost options and options that may not be quite as fast as migration agents were, but where you have more control over other channels.

Mike (43:45):
And the last category that is worth noting is the internal network, and this can range from friends and family members of the project sponsor to friends and family members of the primary investor. We’ve seen some private equity funds working on real estate deals in the US that tap their LP network to find investors. We’ve seen successful businessmen pitch this to their clients overseas from their other company. Really, there’s an unlimited amount of ways that we’ve seen project companies tap their internal network. It does take more effort on the inside of the company and building the core capability, but these investors are usually coming in. There’s less competition, they’re not looking at other projects, and you’re also paying a very large fees to finders for these investors.

Mike (44:44):
And please submit questions. This is the last slide that we’re going to go through, and then we’re going to open it up to questions. So, if you have a question, please send it in. So, that’s covered. With the internal network, the benefits—it’s the least expensive option in terms of just paying outside brokers—you don’t have to do that. If you have a strong network or someone in your company does, or you can hire that capability, it could be readily available and much faster than going out and trying to wholesale out the project. Also, it’s the most defensible. Once you develop this capability and you have some success, friends will talk to friends, and the entire group will start talking to each other, and you’ll own this channel and network of potential investors, and they’ll come to you first.

Mike (45:30):
The downside there is you do need an internal network. You need some connections. If you’re from… let’s say you’re from Miami. You’ve always been in Miami. It’s hard to have connections in India if you aren’t Indian and have never lived there and never worked there. So, it’s much more attractive for developers or sponsors that do have direct personal ties to some other countries or have someone in their company that can handle this. The cost on this—it’s limited to what you’re spending on your internal team and reaching out. Overall, the cost is going to be the lowest using this type of network, and it can be done extremely efficiently. It’s not scalable to the point that if you’re looking for 100 EB-5 investors, chances are this won’t work, but if you have a project that’s $5 to $10 million of EB-5 and you’re only looking for 10 to 20 investors, you could be very successful in sourcing a vast majority of them from your internal network. So, smaller projects—this is a key way they’re being funded now. Large projects—I would not advise relying on this type of strategy.

Mike (46:40):
So, at this point, I think we can open it up to some questions, and we’re going through them now. And Joe will ask some of these questions, and we’ll respond.

Joe (47:04):
This is Joe Girton. First, I want to thank everyone for joining. I am going to read out a few of the top questions that we’ve gotten from everyone who joined today, and then Sam and Mike will be able to address those so everyone can hear. The first question we have is, “What is the main reason for sudden growth in Brazilian demand in the EB-5 market?”

Mike (47:32):
I would say that there’s a few things driving this. One of them is just political instability. There are things going on in Brazil that make it a climate where many investors with money want to leave or at least have a backup plan in place in case things happen in the country politically where they need to get out quickly. Another thing is that the EB-5 program is becoming more well-known in Brazil. The last few years have been in “education mode” to show that this is a real program where investors can get green cards. And at this point, we’re seeing many more investors who have friends or family members or friends of friends that have successfully gone through the program, which really helps with the credibility of EB-5, and it’s helping to drive the growth in Brazil.

Joe (48:21):
Good. Thanks, Mike. Another question that we’ve gotten is, “What, if any, success have you seen your clients have marketing on social media platforms, and which ones?”

Mike (48:34):
So, I think it’s still early days for this, and this would be a securities thing to think about—whether you’re going to do general solicitation, depending on how you’ve structured your deal and what exemptions you’re relying on. But if you’re, let’s say, a broker dealer who is advertising on social media—I don’t think there’s enough proof points yet to know if it works or if it doesn’t work. This is really a one-on-one relationship with an investor. I don’t know if many investors are trusting that Facebook or Twitter is their primary news source, but that is where they are aggregating some information. I don’t think it’s ineffective in terms of driving interest, but I don’t think you’re going to close investors directly through social media. Potentially could get some leads from there, and then it’s going to come much more from internal capabilities.

Joe (49:24):
Thanks, Mike. Another question we got from a few attendees was, “What kind of growth have you seen in other areas, notably South Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of Africa?”

Mike (49:36):
So, we’ve seen a lot of growth in South Africa and Turkey and France. There’s many other countries that are growing—we just highlighted the ones that are doubling or tripling year over year. Those were the fastest-growing, but we are seeing just an overall growth in the rest of the world compared to where it used to be. I haven’t seen much growth in Africa other than South Africa. I think most of these statistics should be available on our website, with the full breakdown of where investors are coming from. The Middle East has grown due to the Trump administration and some travel bans that had made it more difficult for certain nationalities to go through this program and successfully get their visa. Although Eb-5, for the medium to longer term—in many of these countries, the investors are still going through this to be EB-5-approved.

Mike (50:28):
And then, whenever the travel ban is lifted, where they pass the more in-depth screening, they are able to come to the US. So, I would say it’s a bit of mixed results coming from the Middle East.

Joe (50:40):
Those are the main questions that we’ve gotten from people. I mean, there’s a few more smaller ones that I’ll address individually over text, but that’s all from the group Q&A. Sam and Mike, I’m gonna hand it back to you.

Sam (50:53):
Excellent. Thank you very much. Yeah. We want to take a minute and thank everyone for their attention. We’re still a little bit new at these webinars, so bear with us. And as we mentioned earlier, a number of these free tools are available on our website, eb5an.com.

Mike (51:35):
I lost Sam. I’m not sure if he’s still on or if you can hear me, but if the webinar is still going and you can— we’re having technical difficulties again—we wanted to thank you very much for the time that you spent listening to this. Hopefully it was very helpful and you were able to learn more about marketing. And also, we’d recommend that if you have any questions, we have great resources on our website, and you can find them there. And we also have a lot of free tools as you’re starting to think about your project and seeing if it’s in a TEA, a free job calculator… and feel free to reach out with us with any questions you have. All right, well, thank you very much. And at this point, we’ll end it, and please, send us any feedback you have on the webinar or any questions you have. Thanks.