The Silicon Review
“We have an extensive background in multiple disciplines including real estate investing, historical preservation, commercial development, tax and financial planning.”
The Opportunity Zones program was established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act as an innovative approach to spurring long-term private sector investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The program is based on the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act.
The program establishes a mechanism that enables investors with capital gains tax liabilities across the United States to receive favorable tax treatment for investing in Opportunity Funds that are certified by the U.S. Treasury Department. The Opportunity Funds use the capital invested to make equity investments in businesses and real estate in Opportunity Zones designated by each state.
Simply put, it’s a new program to connect private investment to low-income communities nationwide.
Sikari Inc. is a private real estate corporation specializing in opportunity zone fund investments. It currently has over $1.5 billion in Qualified Opportunity Funds in active investment or planned active stages across five different funds. The company sponsors a variety of investments into both residential and commercial real estate projects across the state of Florida.
Sikari was incorporated in 2018 and is headquartered in Tampa.
Thomas Volpe, Sikari Inc. CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Sikari Luxe was set up as one of the first open qualified opportunity funds to accept investors. Even to this day, Sikari is currently one of only two operating qualified opportunity funds.
Given that Sikari is less than 130 days old we have used rapid growth principles around connected leverage to help us grow.
Our first fund rollout has been widely successful so far. We have begun receiving investors, working through the stages of a couple of major projects.
What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?
So far the responses have been for the most part; positive. Naturally, we got a lot of questions early on which caused us to make some pivots to answer those questions. However, in doing so, and making those pivots positioned us as being uniquely different and stand alone.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
Honestly, we haven’t stopped facing challenges and never will. Early on, challenges centered around building the right team and motivating people around a unified vision. We had to create a culture with a shared win greater than the shared responsibilities of the work involved. We struggled in that area with a few people early on. Now we face struggles of growing.
The best advice we can give is don’t give up. Early on in any start up the excitement of it all wains from time to time. Take time to re-evaluate on the daily. Focus on the core of why you exist and how you exist will make all the difference in your existence as a company.
What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s reputation?
We value honesty, transparency and pursue excellence in our execution of everything we do at Sikari. We hide nothing back from our team, our partners, and most importantly our investors.
Are there any factors that have played key roles in shaping your organization’s roadmap?
Yes. We mapped out a full 360-degree roadmap of our company and focused on key relationships to establish credibility and to create trust focused on long-term growth relationships. We spend a vast majority of our time relationship building.
Building a culture of sustainability within an organization is very important to maintain a reputation in the global market. How is it true for your company?
In Sikari’s case, reputation is critical to our success. We are a startup in a brand new niche centered around Qualified Opportunity Funds. Competition is minimal at the moment and building a culture of sustainability with a focus on transparency has helped rapidly grow our company. We are quickly building relationships and even quicker to expand those relationships between outside partners with one another.
We focus on putting as many hands on our net as possible.
Is it true that striving for both ‘ethics’ and ‘success’ in a business is a tough feat?
We don’t think so! We believe that the right culture determines both our ethics and our level of success. At Sikari, we have worked very hard on the daily to ensure our culture of communication and rapid growth doesn’t get misaligned. Not even for a day. This means constantly recasting the surety of our vision and the road we are on to see it played out.
We value excellence in execution and place a very high degree of value on relationships. We proactively reach out to our investors to keep them informed every step of the way.
If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
We see Sikari Luxe as a leader in the Qualified Opportunity Fund space. We have five Funds right now and over the next 24 months will be looking to expand beyond the state of Florida.
Thomas Volpe A Brief Background
Thomas Volpe, CEO: With over 20 years in historical property preservation in Tampa, Thomas Volpe is a serial entrepreneur who, over his career, has played a key role in Tampa real estate and property preservation. Mr. Volpe has been involved in large-scale renovation projects and owns a construction company.
David Sillaman, President: Executive specializing in developing accurate business models and achieving goals through solid leadership, asset mapping, team building and negotiating abilities. David Sillaman has a demonstrated record of exceeding profitability goals, turn around underperforming units and driving increased revenues and market share in rapid timeframes. David is a former law enforcement officer and pastor. He has served as Executive VP of Operations for Dominion Eagle Advisor Group and Dominion Eagle Financial Group. Mr. Sillaman has formerly worked as CEO of Cornerstone Group and COO of Trucket Inc & Dynamis Alliance.
“Our goal is to provide superior risk-adjusted returns for opportunity zone fund investors. We accomplish this through comprehensive strategies and developing a solid forecast review using underwriting considerations.”