Found In The Rockies

Jerryck Murrey & Aly Hollewijn (Annum) \\ Pioneering Housing as an Employment Benefit

March 01, 2023 Les Craig Season 3 Episode 13
Found In The Rockies
Jerryck Murrey & Aly Hollewijn (Annum) \\ Pioneering Housing as an Employment Benefit
Show Notes Transcript

On today's episode, we are excited to share a powerful story of two founders who are on a bold mission to dent the universe by pioneering housing as an employment benefit. Jerryck Murrey and Aly Hollewijn, who are the co-founders of Annum. 

Here’s a closer look at the episode:

  • Aly’s early experience watching her parents as entrepreneurs.
  • Jerryck’s early entrepreneurial aspirations growing up.
  • Learning the world of real estate and development.
  • How Jerryck and Aly met.
  • Identifying the connection between affordable housing and employee retention - especially during COVID. 
  • The value of having a partner that loves the process of building a company.
  • From friends to partners. 
  • What is Annum?
  • How does this work in practice.
  • The difference between housing and other industries.
  • Friction around new benefits.
  • How the feelings of different generations have an impact on housing needs.
  • What does the Annum universe look like?
  • Leveling up society by meeting basic needs.
  • How Aly and Jerryck would describe each other.


Annum website:

Aly LinkedIn:

Jerryck LinkedIn:

Annum LinkedIn:

Jerryck  00:00

I would simply say that, you know, having both of us having been prior athletes, you realize that the championship games or the big shot, or those big moments are, you know, they are microcosms of the complete experience. Right. So, you know, if I look back at my time playing sports, you know, there's probably five or six moments that stick out. But that those five or six moments, there's hundreds of 1000s of hours that go in that aren't fun, that are largely, you know, painful, right, like waking up at 4am, and doing running and dieting and lifting, and all these other things. So when you, I think the thing that Aly and I really realized is that if you apply that to building a company, right, there's only these there's a few moments where, you know, you get the raise, or you know, if we're fortunate, you go public, some of these big keynotes, but there's lots and lots of pain and tough, you know, days in between those, right, that make up that time. And if it's just all about those peak moments, you know, you will fall apart, right, because there's not enough of them to really be glue. So this is a long drawn out way of saying that we just realized that and I realized I needed a partner that was not only just smart, capable and hardworking but would love the process, and not necessarily look for standing on a stage to get the trophy because that trophy always gets a foot out of your reach the further you go, but really just loved building, and the discipline and the relationships and building teams that are aligned to do something special.

Les  01:51

This is Found in the Rockies, a podcast about the startup ecosystem in the Rocky Mountain region, featuring the founders, funders and contributors, and most importantly, the stories of what they're building. I'm Les Greg from Next Frontier Capital. On today's episode, we are excited to share a powerful story of two founders who are on a bold mission to dent the universe by pioneering housing as a benefit. Meet Jerryck Murrey and Aly Hollewijn, who are the co-founders of Annum. I'm so excited to have you both on the show today. Thanks for joining us. 

Aly  01:28

Yeah, thanks for having us. 

Jerryck  01:29

Yeah, thanks for having us. 

Les  02:31

So I'd love to begin this is this is a hot topic right now. So our listeners are going to be really excited. We're talking about affordable housing for people and employees of companies. And a really cool tech solution, that is that is has this massive vision to solve that problem. Before we get into Annum though, I want to hear a little bit about both of you. I just want to hear a little bit about your background stories kind of where you grew up, and then ultimately leading to how you met and where this idea came from. So Ali, do you want to start off take us take it away? 

Aly  03:06

Yeah, sure. Yeah. So I actually am living out in Bozeman. And I grew up in Ashland, Oregon and a small little town in southern Oregon. And out there was raised by an entrepreneur, my parents started a tech company out of our garage in the 90s. And was actually a very disruptive organization or company where we essentially brought electronic claims processing to healthcare, and kind of changed the entire space. So I watched that grow out of our garage. I was, you know, the joke was when I was really little, I was, you know, the voice recording on the answering service, you know, which was fun. 

Les  03:48

And you actually were you actually were on the, 

Aly  03:51

Oh yeah, it was like the Plexus world headquarters or something like that. And so yeah, I've watched I watched that I always tell people, you know, kind of felt like another sibling. I spent a lot of time there. If I wasn't playing soccer, or at school, I was. I was at Plexus working. And, but I saw what it took, saw what our family the sacrifices we had to make. I remember right after 9/11, our investors had pulled out of the company. And my dad and mom stood up in front of everybody crying, essentially, and said, you know, we can't pay you. And, but you've got obligations if you need to leave, leave, and we ate rice and steamed vegetables for a few months, and everyone stayed and worked and made it through. And so, you know, going through those experiences and feeling, you know, really that connection of an organization has always put me on this dreamer's path of doing something like this, as well. 

Les  05:00

Amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. I gotta tell you we've, a lot of the founders we've had on the episode this season have shared a similar kind of background and upbringing, whether it was through their own experiences or through their parents, but like the hardships of, of entrepreneurship, it's not always, it's not always as glamorous as Shark Tank makes it out to be. 

Aly  05:20

No, not at all. You know, it's like, it's a joke here in Bozeman about everything we all like to do, like running up mountains. And you know, the crazy stuff is type two fun, you know, and I really kind of relate, doing a startup is something really similar, where you're, you know, you're in the trenches, and some things are just painful, but you're ultimately, you know, at the end of the day, it's like, that was rewarding. That was fun.

Les  05:42

That's awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Jerryck. What about you? Where'd you grow up?

Jerryck  05:46

Yeah, so a little bit of everywhere. Born in Oakland, California. And, you know, pretty much until I was 26, you know, lived, you know, only stayed three years in any place, right? Many people thought, oh, you know, your family must be in the military. But, you know, we're looking, it was like the direct opposite of that. We're simply, you know, looking for opportunity, right. And a lot of that was tied to you know, the inception of Annum around housing. So, I mean, I've lived everywhere from, you know, New Hampshire, Alabama, you know, Texas, Atlanta, Illinois. And, you know, really just, you know, had me, my sisters and brothers, to, you know, build that community, right. So, because of that lack of, you know, community at a young age, more or less, I just, you know, really jumped into, you know, when my other talents art, and, you know, found a passion for entrepreneurship pretty early, you know, you know, drawing comic books, selling them at school, fun story, my mom once saw a whole bunch of money in my top drawer. You know, I'm in like, third or fourth grade, right? So I had like, 30 bucks, right? And, you know, third or fourth grade 30 bucks, you feel like, you have a billion dollars, exactly. I can buy all the candy I want. But my mom saw this in my top drawer and was like, you know, where did you get all this money from? And I was like, oh, you know, other kids, you know, they're, I'm selling these comics, you know, for their lunch money. And she was like, what comics. And, you know, I pulled out, you know, a bunch of loose leaf paper, you know, lined paper, and I had my sisters and brothers basically on the assembly line. So I was drawing them. And then they were like, stapling them together. And I was taking them to school, you know, schlepping these things, you know, making two or three bucks a pop. So that was really my first foray into entrepreneurship.

Les  07:48

Do you still have any of those? I mean, what a relic that'd be so cool to have.

Jerryck  07:52

Yeah, you know, it's funny, my mom does, she has it, like my mom's one of those people that have a keepsake, right? Like, after moving around a whole bunch, like, she always just, like, saved like, a box of like, the most important things. So I actually still have that, which is pretty funny, or she has it. But yeah, I mean, that really just grew the love of building things from scratch, you know, being creative, and you know, did all the other stuff, you know, paper route, cutting grass, you know, trying to, you know, sell lemonade, all kinds of stuff. And even beyond that, the usual kind of, you know, quick things, but you know, selling baseball cards, basketball cards, and I also had Popular Mechanics magazines. So I always loved to read, you know, what, you know, flying cars, and the newest electronics and engineering of the day. So, it just fostered a level of creativity as I was moving around the country. And, you know, lo and behold, all those moves just made me extremely curious about, you know, that nurture versus nature, you know, dynamic. And I got extremely curious about real estate, and property and how that could, you know, impact one's livelihood. So I got into real estate, you know, relatively early. Fortunately, I had a great uncle that was, you know, phenomenal at it. And he said, Hey, you don't want to be an architect. You want to be a developer? And, you know, it

Les  09:25

Was that was that kind of the initial idea that you had, like, from art to architecture? And he said, No, no, no, let's take it. Let's take it all the way, take it one step further.

Jerryck  09:35

Yeah. So for all my architecture buddies out there, I love you guys. But you know, he was like, Hey, man, you know, you want to control your projects. You don't want to be an architect, you should be a developer. And lo and behold, at a knack for it, so that really started the, you know, the foray into real estate and attempting to solve housing a bunch of different ways.

Les  10:00

Very cool. And you so eventually though you're in Oregon now, you eventually landed in Oregon, what what, what part of the trajectory got you to kind of like, finally plant some roots.

Jerryck  10:11

Um, man, I'm trying to make a long story short, but um, you know, fell in love with a girl. That's a, you know, from here and, you know, eventually became my wife. But I was playing basketball in Europe professionally. And while doing that, you know, the real estate bug was taken over, so I have lots of downtime. So I was doing, I was interning, actually, with Portugal Best Properties there during the great financial crisis, you know, doing workouts and trying to help the owner of our team who owned the company, you know, sell off assets that were, you know, just riddled with toxic debt. And then that's where I was like, wow, this is not just a, you know, site by site game. This is a massive industry, like, you know, a global industry that, you know, huge Titans play in. So, long story short, I come back, go to Georgetown for grad school, graduate from grad school, doing real estate, looked around and saw all these major metropolitan areas as being more the same. And we decided to, we said, hey, let's bet on ourselves, go back to you know, small town in southern Oregon, and build something. And that's what we did. 

Les  11:27

Jerryck I almost want to keep poking at this story. Just start getting more and more. I'm ready for you to tell me like you went to Juilliard and played as a concert pianist or something next.

Aly  11:41

It’s very likely, very likely.

Les  11:45

I mean you played professional/semi-pro basketball and advising the owner of the team, how to sell off assets?

Jerryck  11:50

You have to find opportunity where you can.

Les  11:53

Were you the point guard, what forward? 

Jerryck  11:56

No, so I'm six, six 240. So I was a, you know, forward guard kind of player. So

Les  12:04

I'm gonna make a claim. You've got to be the only forward I've ever I've ever heard of who's advising the owner of the team on real estate asset sales. That's incredible. To date. All right.

Aly  12:15

We should put it in our pitch deck, Jerryck, I think that's a really

Les  12:20

What a what a renaissance man. Incredible. So through this all, so you finally get back to Oregon. How did how did you and Aly meet then what's Aly, what's that story?

Aly  12:31

Yeah, actually, his wife and I went to high school together. So yeah, we were friends in high school. There's actually a funny story of where I really kind of connected with Jessica was, there used to be a 6am weightlifting class at our high school that only the male varsity athletes could attend. And I was like, No, this is stupid. So I sat out in front of the weight room every morning for a semester to make sure to get in there and eventually started working out in there, the next term like fine ok, you can get a credit for being here. So then they opened it up to all female athletes after that, varsity athletes, and Jessica came in the next term. And so we're working out like we were-her and one of her good friends, Lindsay, the three of us were, I think, though, and one other girl, Alex, were the four girls in the entire class. And, you know, kind of like that, that team. So we had a lot of fun with that. That was and then after that, you know, go our separate ways. And you know, at the time, we were that generation of when Facebook had just started up. And so we luckily were able to kind of stay connected, and went and did our lives and moved all over, whatnot and stayed connected that way. And one day, when we were my husband and I were back in Southern Oregon, I was standing there holding my infant son who's six now and we have an eight year old, and I'm looking out my window and I see Jessica and Jerryck walking right by our house. And I was like, what? And their daughter was there and who's the same age as our eight year old and she's carrying or Jerryck one of them was carrying their infant. And so our two sons were a week apart. And we were a block away from each other. And so we just kind of became each other's like, hey, it's been a crazy day. Let's get some pizza on a Thursday night. Like what are we doing here? What is this like? We're both working all four of us and we've got two kids chaos. Right. And shared in that and when we made the big move back to Bozeman to be with close to my husband's family, Jessica and Jerryck are some of the hardest people to say goodbye to and we've just stayed connected then Jerryck and I have always kind of leaned on each other would with our careers in general and same with Jessica and you know, obviously with my husband, Chris, but Jerryck and I just kind of always connected about what was going on in our life with work and And our life in general. And we stayed connected that way. 

Jerryck  15:06

Yeah, and, you know, what would kind of that that inflection point for Annum I would say is, you know, I was, you know, running the real estate department for Fortune 250. You know, they had a $4 billion real estate portfolio, you know, we're doing massive transactions during, you know, the COVID crisis, as everyone remembers, the markets were just all over the place. And what I started to realize is, you know, here's this titan of industry struggling to keep people, you know, aligned, right, you know, the turnover was crazy. And the company was saying, like, hey, you know, how do we do this, and I'm talking with the HR team, and they're saying, it's housing, it's housing, it's housing. And, you know, my past experience of working in affordable housing, you know, low income housing tax credit, I realized that there was a way businesses could participate in this challenge. And then with the advent of, you know, SaaS, and marketplace software, there was a solution that could be scaled. So, you know, I start going down the rabbit hole a little bit, quit my job, start building, you know, doing a whole bunch of work with lawyers and understanding the ramifications of this. And I come to the conclusion that this is not a real estate problem. But really a personnel HR problem. And the second I came to that conclusion, I was like, Aly, I need to speak with Aly, you know,

Les  16:36

Right, because that's, that's our that's your bet you we didn't even get into that part of the story Aly, but that's your that's your background. Right. That's your experience. 

Aly  16:44

Yeah, I've spent a lot of my career in HR from all the way from generalists, you know, through, you know, executive HR management and, and then on that, you know, healthcare benefits side HR relations. So yeah, that's where I've spent most of my career in general.

Les  17:06

And Jerryck, what so tell me about this is a really, this is a really cool theme, I think, like almost the epitome of a founder, relationship and trust story, right? Because like, a lot of times you'll find founders that are, have incredible careers have incredible paths, incredible technologists, whatnot. And then it's like, how do I find my co-founder? How to Yeah, it's like, this age-old question. For the two of you, it seems like it was just as very both serendipitous, but also natural progression. I'd love to hear from both your perspectives, like, talk to me about the importance of this founder relationship and why it's why it's so instrumental from, you know, from your point of view?

Jerryck  17:47

I would simply say that, you know, having both of us having been prior athletes, you realize that the championship games or the big shot, or those big moments are, you know, they are microcosms of the complete experience. Right. So, you know, if I look back at my time playing sports, you know, there's probably five or six moments that stick out. But that those five or six moments, there's hundreds of 1000s of hours that go in that aren't fun, that are largely, you know, painful, right, like waking up at 4am, and doing running and dieting and lifting, and all these other things. So when you, I think the thing that Aly and I really realized is that if you apply that to building a company, right, there's only these there's a few moments where, you know, you get the raise, or you know, if we're fortunate, you go public, some of these big keynotes, but there's lots and lots of pain and tough, you know, days in between those, right, that make up that time. And if it's just all about those peak moments, you know, you will fall apart, right, because there's not enough of them to really be glue. So this is a long drawn out way of saying that we just realized that and I realized I needed a partner that was not only just smart, capable and hardworking but would love the process, and not necessarily look for standing on a stage to get the trophy because that trophy always gets a foot out of your reach the further you go, but really just loved building, and the discipline and the relationships and building teams that are aligned to do something special.

Les  19:33

Such a great such a great takeaway and theme you know it's like I've seen I'm a big fan of like I watched the I'm not a big fan of Tom Brady but I watched the Brady thing on ESPN

Jerryck  19:43

Let’s be clear, right?

Les  19:45

I almost said I’m a big Tom Brady fan. No no no, I’m a Steeler’s fan, I don’t like Tom Brady.

Aly  19:50

I almost left the cast.

Les  19:52

I know right? But like that is that is something that he says that's something that Michael Jordan, says in like like the most the most the arguably some of the GOATS have a generation of our time or of all time. Like they always they always go back to that principle. I've never heard a founder go to that principle, but I love it as a founder fundamental. Yeah, the work and the process. And for the, for the, you know, for the one or two standout moments, but that's not why it's, it's because of the process. I love it. I'm so glad you highlighted that. Aly, what about you? What about what are your thoughts on this, the importance of that founder relationship?

Aly  20:29

Yeah, there's, it's a really, you know, you read it everywhere, you'll see, you know, top five things for, you know, startups or whatnot, like, find your co-founder, it's always in that top five, if not, number one, and you know, someone you can trust. And the biggest thing that I think is just really important, is being able and willing to have those tough conversations, right. And we have gone through, you know, it's going to be a year, kind of near in a few months, that we've been just like, knee deep in this thing together. And there are times where it's been really, really tough, where, you know, I might be crying on the phone and just kind of, you know, or frustrated or whatnot. And it's like, you know, you stay on that call, you get through it, or if there's feedback for each other, you give it, right? Because that stuff adds up, you know, and you see this all the time, you'll see it in movies, or in shows, or you hear these stories, and I watched it just growing up with my, my family's company watching this type of stuff happen where, you know, all of a sudden, someone kind of explodes and leaves. And it's like, you know, for years, you've done X, Y, and Z. And it's like, Why didn't you tell me? You know, we could have worked through that. And it's one of the scariest things I think in life in general is to have those tough conversations with anyone with your spouse, with your friends, anybody. But Jerryck and I aren't afraid of that. We have. And they come from a place of like love and care and, and just the overall vision, like what we're doing with Annum, what we want to change the world. You can't change the world by shying away from hard things. And so we just we know that we believe it, we live it, we breathe it. And so and I just I knew that with Jerryck that we could have those conversations. And that we could get through those moments and work through them. And it's kind of like a, you know, building a muscle, you do it a few times. You're a little nervous, a little sore, whatnot, and you kind of like beat up and then you realize, like, we're better for it. You know, and so that's been something that's been really, really important and the work. I absolutely agree with Jerryck on that one. You know, I, I love running up mountains for as long as possible. It's just something that for me, it's not a type two fun, I enjoy every second of getting up that mountain and I slip and fall and you know, whatever it is like “that's great, loving it!”.

Les  22:58

Yeah, I just gash my leg open. 

Jerryck  22:59

Yeah, exactly.

Aly  23:01

I just love it. And, you know, and that's, it is so similar to what we're doing here, you know, and it's states that are hard, they're still super fun. And you have to be willing to put that work in and having that history of, of training and doing that, and, you know, wanting to be the best at whatever it is, and maybe you won't be the GOAT, but you're gonna be the absolute best that you can and knowing that you have that in you. And Jerryck has that. And I have that and we just like we thrive off of it. So,

Les  23:32

Man, this is why I love investing in athletes. Having the tough conversations. Yeah. That's amazing. Good stuff. All right. So we I interrupted, we were Jerryck was going down this, this this, this, this path and the story, this thread in the story where he's talking about, like he reached out to Aly? And what what was that conversation like Jerrick? Or what how did it how did it evolve? You had this idea? Was this before you quit your job? I mean, working at a fortune 250 and just saying, you know what, hanging up the spurs like that takes bravery.

Jerryck  24:07

Yeah, I mean, I was very fortunate to be in the position I was with that company. It was a family health business that, you know, ended up becoming really big and becoming publicly traded. And, you know, I, quite frankly, you know, I could not get the idea out of my head. You know, I knew I had the skill set, I knew I had a unique positioning and perspective on the market. And I just felt compelled to build this company. So, you know, I leave the company, and, you know, pretty much for the next six, seven months just working on it, you know, just trying to figure out exactly, you know, the right you know, chemistry and as I said when I came to the conclusion that this was not a real estate issue, but really a people and you know incentive alignment issue, as we say, I knew Aly was the person. So I, you know, go to my wife, I said, you know, babe, this is what I'm thinking. I'm thinking, and literally as I'm saying, Aly, she's like Aly, like you should, you should call Aly. Right? So I basically call up Aly. And, um, you know, it was interesting because it maybe a lot of people haven't, you know, been in this situation, but you don't want to derail someone else's life, right? You're like, Hey, this is an idea that I have, right? Like, I think it could be really cool, but I have no idea if this is gonna work.

Les  25:43

You don't want to derail their life unless you really, really love them.

Jerryck  25:51

Exactly right. I, you know, I call Aly and I'm just like, hey, like, this is what I'm thinking with housing as a benefit. And I know your background. And she's like, huh, I think you could do it this way. Or this way. Or, you know, like, let me look at this. And, you know, she starts going into like, technical health care, HR language that and I'm just nodding my head like, yeah, that sounds sounds cool. And she was like, you know, I'll get back to you. And, you know, we'll figure this out. And I get off the phone. And quite frankly, I felt a little down because I was like, like, Oh, she's like jumping into it. But she's kind of like, I'll help you with your thing. But I'm like, going on my path like I'm, and that's how it felt. Right.

Aly  26:33

Oh wow, I’ve got a funny, funny counter to that Jerryck, but yeah, continue. 

Jerryck  26:36

That's interesting. So you're getting it live here. Les, this is this is in the Rockies original story back, of course. Yeah. So you know, she ends up calling me back and she's like, Hey, you can totally do this. Here's how I think we could do this, that and the other. And then I start overlaying? Well, this is how I see it from the real estate side. Can we structure it this way? And we just start riffing on it. And then after, I don't know, maybe 45 minutes an hour, I'm just like, I need you to be a part of this company. Like, it would be great if you would be a part of this company. And she was just like, yeah, yeah, you know, yeah, yeah, I can do that. Yeah. And I was just like, okay, is this kinda like the, you know, F-U like, yeah, I can do that. Or is this? Like, you're really on? And she was, you know, fully on board. So I'm interested to hear your side, how you interpreted it Aly.

Les  27:38

We already heard the artist's version of the story, Jerryck’s version. Now we gotta hear Aly’s version? 

Aly  27:44

Yeah, it was really, it was really interesting. Because when, when Jerryck reached out, and I just like, we're just like, spitballing, you know, and, and I get off that first call. And I just was so down. I was so down, Jerryck. I literally was like, Oh, I, I've been in this position my entire life. Like, I ran for student body president as a kindergartener, and like, because I thought I thought I should write and like, I never I, you know, I've always been in these positions, where it's like, yeah, let's pick your brain, but we actually don't want you. And like, all like, and kind of, like, been this, like, very confident person that, you know, I'm, I'll put myself out there, I love helping people. And just like, being, you know, I look at him, like, I'm on this earth to do something to help people in whatever way, like, let's leave an impact. And so I'm like, I will, I will take Jerryck's call every day. And I will help him through this every single day if he needs it. But I’m like, when am I going to get the call that like, we want you part of this, we want you like not just what you know, but you and it had been this like, it was like this gut punch of like, and it's not about a victim mentality and I'm not trying to play a victim. But that is kind of what I experienced, I think since I was a little kid and then even working in my family's business like all of it and, and the Jerryck reached out to connect again, and I actually punted the call multiple times, and I was like, so busy, and which we are, but I was really busy at that time, apparently, because I didn't want that feeling again. And I was like, but I need to take his call like you, this is what you do, Aly and so then I finally took that call. And then when he was like, I want you part of it, I'm like, well, there's no one else I would I would I would totally disrupt my life and like build something with like, yes, like, I love what you're doing. I believe in you. Like we can do the thing you're gonna let me be Aly too like I am. I am. I am my own person, right. And I like to be that human and I want to be in a safe environment to do that. And I know that Jerryck and I combined can be those people like, Yeah, we're gonna rock it, you know. So it was really interesting. And the funnier a funny story. I think it's funnier is that I told Jerryck, like yeah, let’s do this thing. And we're like talking about it like talking like, someday, you know, once we're through when we get funded, like what salaries might look like, whatever. So I don't really care. We'll figure it out like, and by no means were we in a financial position for me to be like, yeah, don't worry about it. We'll figure it out. So then I told my husband, I'm like, Yeah, Jerryck brought this up, like, sounds pretty cool. And then a few days later, our friends were over. And they're like, yeah, so you know, what's the update? I was like, Yeah, I'm like co-founding this, this thing with with our buddy Jerryck from Medford and my husband's like, You're what? Like you did it like you. Were like, this is classic Aly, like you're just and he was so thrilled. And throughout the entire experience, like there's been times when I'm like, You want me to go work at the coffee shop, like make some extra whatever? He's like, No, focus on Annum focus on, you know, and but yeah, so it's just, it's just an interesting to hear. We both felt sad after that first call.

Les  31:11

I love it. I'll tell ya, that's the first time I've ever gotten chills on an episode that is I just so thankful that you shared that story from both both angles. So good. So good.

Jerryck  31:20

The first time I've heard the story too. 

Les  31:25

Yeah! So special. All right. So so then what what happened? What is it? What, by the way? Why don't we talk about that? What is it? What is Annum? Jerryck, you want to give it a shot? 

Jerryck  31:34

Well, yeah, I mean, yeah, the short of it is, is that, you know, we work with businesses to house their workforce at below market rates, you know, effectively providing housing as a benefit. Right. And, you know, what we've come to the conclusion is that, you know, housing is less of an issue of supply. And one, as I said earlier, you know, incentive or interest alignment. Right, you know, housing is highly idiosyncratic, you know, so on the other side of the scale, we this should resonate well, with everyone, you know, during COVID. Right. So, you know, two rolls of toilet paper, there really is no, like, distinguishing factors between them. So, at the end of the day, and the return on investment, let's say is so low yielding that, like, you know, anything will generally do, right, yeah, housing’s on the complete other side of that, right. So you have, you know, financing entitlement, which is just another word for politics, you know, construction, which is nothing more than organized chaos, all of these play in to creating this product. And, you know, when you start to look at, you know, basically the material constituents needed to create a home, it only really applies to a fragment of the population. Whereas, again, with toilet paper, you know, there is no like demographic, you know, criteria, you know, some may say, Oh, I'm extra fluffy or something like that, but they're, they're trying to make differentiating factors around the edges. With housing, it's completely different. So, you know, we realized earlier on that, if we partnered with companies, you know, that had, you know, quite frankly, are the best customers, you know, they have, one of the things we say is, Jeff Bezos has a lot of money. Amazon has more, you know, Jeff Bezos may need five homes, Amazon needs millions. And, you know, Jeff Bezos may live to be 200 or something, right? Amazon is gonna be around a lot longer, you know. So, like, when you when we realize the incentives around businesses, and even how they're represented within these communities, they're often you know, community leaders in a variety of ways. That was the best way to align incentives where they could not only attract and retain the best workforce, but ultimately, we can create a product and a, you know, a process that incentivizes the market, you know, developers, landlords, property managers to create more supply or inventory, right? And it becomes this kind of virtuous cycle where companies save money, employees save money, and then investors have risks pretty much reduced. 

Les  34:19

Yeah, fascinating. Such a such a novel idea and a unique model. Can you give us an Aly maybe, maybe even Bozeman is a good example. You know, where I'm at where you're at, but just kind of a case study of like, how it would work or like some of the challenges or like, you know, you can change the makeup names of companies to protect the innocent or whatnot. But I mean, yeah, you give us just an example of how it works in practice.

Aly  34:44

Yeah, absolutely. So you know, we've got multiple ways to deploy, providing this for employers, right. And what we've really found is that being able to provide accessibility is is the biggest hurdle and getting getting people into homes, right and there will, you know, in Bozeman, we're seeing this, you, you've got people trying to get into a rental, and they're applying to 10 different places at you know, $50 application fees every single time, and they're already, you know, paying over 60% of their income towards rent, that money towards every application is incredibly expensive to them, and then they don't get in, because they can't, because the demand is so high. And so, you know, working with businesses here, we've really realized if we can solve for that right out of the gate, to get people in homes to start, then being able to manage the affordability side of it can can come along with it, right. So we met with a client yesterday that, you know, right away, they're like, Okay, you know, we're we'll place your will place your your employees for one time placement fee, that's like, you know, $650 bucks. And then, you know, every month after that, we will manage the relationship between the tenant and the landlord, everybody can use our platform, all of that for $45, you know, per month, for every employee use it, you only pay when you play. And so we're explaining this to this employer here in town. And they are just bleeding in the sense of finding talent, keeping talent and, and keeping their culture along with it. And it's, you know, then it's like, Okay, once you're in that, then, you know, let's look at how can you be bringing in stipending to help out how can you help bring down that cost for them. But let's get them in homes first. And that approach has been really powerful, because they just a lot of people are actually turning jobs down, the affordability is a huge piece, but because you can't even find a place to live, you physically can't show up. There's nothing else matters, right. And so, in Bozeman, that's been a big component. And what we're seeing here is, you know, and we've talked about this Les, some that, you know, both Montana in general is a low population, it's grown over the years, but it's grown relative to our smaller population. And then we've had this larger influx, which feels massive when you're out here, but really, in reality, I think we like just hit a million people in Montana or something. But you know, you've had this influx, and now the prices have gone up, the demand is even higher, and but then the services to maintain all of that are lagging to an extent. So by being able to build have employers go through our platform, to be able to get accessibility, then we're able to actually be able to help with services and support in a more streamlined fashion. Because they’re Annum partners and you know, we're going to do, we're going to be able to streamline, you know, if we need to build more than they're building directly for Annum to, to manage the risk or, you know, manage the maintenance and repairs are going to take place every other Thursday in this neighborhood. Right? So now you've got your services are really scaled and managed because now the handyman doesn't have to drive all over Gallatin County, all over the valley, to get from one job to another, they get to go to one region and take care of those issues there. Right. So now you're you're managing that issue too, and allowing for we don't have to bring in a lot more people to be able to support, you just have to manage it in a more efficient manner.

Les  38:31

Multiple efficiencies of scale. Yeah..

Jerryck  38:33

Yeah. And what I would say is, is that I mean, there's a bunch of different businesses, like, you know, so we have businesses that have 12 employees, we have businesses that we're talking to that have 200, right, and what we offer is the opportunity through our platform to have an ownership stake, do a master lease and or, you know, structure a subsidy. Right. And if you speak from a technical standpoint, you basically have a marketplace SaaS, right, where HR benefits teams can structure, you know, their housing benefits, and then it's pushed to their employees very similar to how it is in healthcare, where your employer is, you know, scheduling your, your next dental exam or anything like that, and they don't want to be exactly, they don't want to be you know, so we offer that same kind of, you know, frictionless service where they can structure it push that to their employees, their employees have that ready on their mobile devices, and can search and find opportunities that are all curated by you know, Annum and because of that flexibility, again, you know, some businesses want to buy, right and we can, we can adjust that. So, and, and the last thing I would say is probably the biggest difference is typical market, you know, fundamentals are supply demand oriented. Again, kind of getting back to our core thesis when you apply that to housing, you just get price inflation. And this is why businesses really struggle, because they pay people more, but then they have to pay more those people have to pay more rent, you know, what, what we're doing is really trying to break this wheel of poverty by inserting businesses directly into the spokes of that wheel, thereby when you know, businesses, or excuse me, employees get paid more, you know, their rent doesn't have to go up, and they can actually get ahead and they can become a part of the community. And then, you know, it creates an ecosystem where fundamentally everyone wins.

Les  40:36

Interesting. So just to highlight that, if I understood that correctly, what you're what you're also suggesting is that this, this doesn't create a further housing crunch, or crisis, when like a company moves, moves to a place like Bozeman and sets up a new headquarters, where suddenly now, there's all these high paid people in the market trying to further compete for the drive up housing, because this is a relief valve of housing.

Jerryck  41:01

Exactly. And the market, you know, again, real estate isn't an efficient market. So you can't operate using a lot of those fundamentals. But you know, the idea is, is that by removing, quote unquote, some of these people from, you know, the supply demand one person, one developer transaction, you actually get a more equal, you get more equilibrium within the market. So if Google were to come to Bozeman, you know, and say, hey, we're bringing 10,000 jobs there. Of course, they can negotiate a deal with a developer, when that's happening.

Les  41:41

I'm getting ready to leave the leave the recording booth, and there's going to be signs in people's yards.

Jerryck  41:46

Yeah, well, I'm in Oregon.

Les  41:50

Just got to be careful what you say around Bozeman.

Jerryck  41:54

This, like service warning, you guys, this is simply you know an analogy. Yeah, and example. But you know, a developer can talk with them, and structure a deal one on one, right. But what do you do about the taco shop? What do you do about the barber shops? What do you do about, you know, the schools, the teachers, right? What do you do about the fire department? What do you do about really the true workforce? So what we've done is aggregated those people, and they can effectively have the impact of a Google, right, every town's existing workforce, when kind of brought together actually has the power of a Google if not greater, right. So but right now, again, individual incentives, individual goals, you know, flexibility on the workforce, not sure who's going to be we solve all that by saying, hey, come to our top of funnel, you know, use our platform, and then we can aim, more or less to allow developers to build with less risk, because now they have this liquid demand that they can pull from, you know, at any given moment.

Les  43:01

It's brilliant. Aly, what about from the HR side? You know, there's two, two questions. One, like, there was a time once upon a time, where, where medical benefits were not a thing, right? I mean, yeah. And this is this is really about taking a similar paths with risk with respect to housing as a benefit in creating this sort of culture. Is there any friction there? Like, like, what HR professionals be like, Oh, my goodness, this is just a burden on us. This is this is too much to manage? Or like, was there any friction there? Or is this? Is there a relief there? For? 

Aly  43:35

That's interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that that, you know, looking at how healthcare benefits came to fruition was, you know, in the 40s and 1940s, during the anti-inflation act during the war, employers were no longer allowed to raise salaries. And, but they needed to retain they needed to recruit they needed, they needed the same things employers need today. And at that time, Blue Cross had kind of come out and started this network effect with health care. And so rather than you know, in some employers, like your mines and whatnot, and railroads had built little, you know, clinics and hospitals on site. That ended up becoming extremely expensive, incredibly tedious. The mixing the employee health issues with the employer became a lot of other issues as well. So it really became let's give them access to health care. Let's give them cheaper access to health care. So that's where that you know, health insurance came in to employers, it was a negotiation tactic. The reason why health care at that time was the the bargaining chip was because people could afford to live in a home. And so if you look at it almost from like a Maslow's hierarchy, basic physiological needs, that's housing, right that got to have a roof over your head at that time, if most of those employees could at least get into a roof and have something over their head. They were able to, but health care was something that was, you know, kind of next on that hierarchy of needs. And so that's where that came in. And now we're in a really similar time with inflation. And we're at a really similar kind of point of what happens next, something has to change. And if you strip back every single layer, people can't afford to live as So now, it's, you know, you're adding in the ping pong table, and the wellness programs are super fun. Those are great. I don't care about a ping pong table. If I'm about to default on my rent. Yeah, I'm about to be evicted. And my family has to figure out where we go next. Right. But I have a roof over my head. Now. I love the ping pong table, like, you know, it's fun. Give me all the Kombucha.

Les  45:54


Aly  45:55

And so that's, you know, I that you really got to scale it back to that and, and within the HR world. Yeah, like there's absolute friction in the in the initial discussion. It's similar to when organizations had on site clinics and hospitals like this is too much. When we explain like, we are coming in at that layer to protect you, you will not be dealing with the leaky toilet and a performance plan at the same time, we take that we manage that their placement, their rent, everything, all of that is taken care of. So you can focus on what you're really good at. Is it building engines? Is it teaching kids is it you know, your personal, whatever it is, like, focus on that and prove that feed into that we will take care of this, you will get similar to healthcare a report out in dashboard of all the essentials that ensure that the benefit is working properly for your organization. But you don't need to know that we've had five noise complaints at Janie's apartment, and that's causing a problem for Billy, we'll manage it. And so once we tell them that it's kind of like, okay, so where's the contract? And let's do this thing, because we need to, we realize we need this, we want it. And then how can you get my CFO to sign off on this? You know, and they're they're jumping in the conversation pumped about it too, because they're spending a minimum of $35,000 a year per employee, not not backfilled. And they are losing 10 to 15% of employees, on average, like, I think it's 10% of you know, natural attrition that happens every year. And since COVID that’s going up. That's a lot of money. 

Les  47:46

Jerryck, what about - and that was, by the way, incredible history lesson two, I mean, athlete historian, you got it all. Yeah, this team is incredible. But Jerryck, what about what about employees? Like the millennials, the Gen Z's Gen alpha, maybe a little too soon to make an assessment there, but they'll be in the workforce before we know it. But what do they want this?

Jerryck  48:09

Yeah, um, you know, so it's funny, because my brother, my youngest brother, I come from a big family, but my youngest brother is, you know, that Generation Z. Right. And, you know, his relationship with work, ownership, housing is fundamentally different from, you know, any generation before them. I mean, I, you know, when we're having very candid conversations with, you know, business owners, and, you know, I tell them, I say, Hey, if you guys thought Millennials were hard, wait to see these Gen Z guys. You know, they they're willing to just completely lay it all down. You know, and I think a lot of it is, is because they have seen, you know, us Millennials, you know, go through the crucible to some extent, you know, the towers come down, I'm in high school, you know, I ended up yeah, you know, massively impactful to our experiences young Americans, right, we go to college, you know, we're trying to do things the right way, we come out into in the greatest financial crisis that this planet has ever seen, you know, and everyone that was a director got moved to, you know, manager, everyone that was a manager got moved to associate if you're an associate, you got moved to analyst, if you were trying to get that analyst job, you were off, you know, doing some something else, right. So, you kind of lost five years there, then, you know, you start to gain trying to accumulate assets. Meanwhile, the market goes on a massive run, but we have no jobs, no assets, you know what I mean? So, we can't really participate in some of these things. And lo and behold, you know, we get punched in the mouth with COVID. As you know, as we're having children, and the Gen Z's, have largely sat back and saw this and said, Yeah, not for us. Right? So they're far they're if their basic needs aren't being met to Aly's point, you know, we call housing the fulcrum asset of life, right? The asset that if you don't have, everything else falls apart doesn't matter. Right? If their basic needs aren't being met, you know, they're very willing to opt out for what would traditionally be seen a harder route. But for them, it's actually it's far more predictable, right? And what you see is a lot of businesses with the ping pong tables and the nap rooms and some of these perks, they're just trying to reflect home, you know, these are things you would do at the house. So, you know, our argument is, you know, how about, you just kind of go to, you know, first principles and say, well just provide the house, get rid of all the fluff, you know, and you can have a better optimized workforce that's also incentivized, and, you know, their mental wellness is in check.

Aly  51:04

Yeah, just to piggyback on that, Jerryck, like, we were talking with one of our, you know, kind of advisors and or, you know, just a confidant the other day and HR expert, just massive in that space. And he just came out and said, you know, the largest threat to the workforce, to employers, and to Gen Z is housing, that is the absolute largest threat right now. Our entire workforce is staring down the barrel of something major. And that's so yes, Gen Z is they are the workforce that is coming in, they are the workforce that are looking for those full time professional jobs that are going to be you know, working with us. And if they have to be 26 and living at home, and with no outlook of where I where they can go, where they can be placed, ever buying a home starting a family, you lose community, you lose retention, you lose all of what we have fought so hard for. And so yeah, there's a large demand there.

Jerryck  52:09


Aly  52:11

And they're willing to fight. Like, Les time you were up at the lecture on MSU with the Airbnb CFO.

Les  52:18

I was Yeah, I was there. Yep.

Aly  52:21

I’ll tell you what, that generations’ definitely willing to fight. There were a lot, there was a lot of commentary. 

Les  52:26

It was quite a, quite a crowd. Anyway. So I gotta ask kind of I got two more questions. One of them is, well, I always like to end on a fun personal question. I got a good idea for that today. I've been inspired by this conversation. It's coming, just wait. But the first thing, the second the last question. And I'm actually inspired Jerryck I'm gonna call it I love the hat you're wearing right now. Our listeners can't see it. But it says Bend the Universe is black at pink letters. I love it. Yes, if Annum and so I want you both to answer this one. If you so inclined. If Annum were to bend the universe, what would that look like? What would what would a future future universe look like?

Jerryck  53:12

Yeah, everyone that wants a home can have one. You know, we're not really focused on being a billion dollar company, but housing a billion people. You know, and just getting back to, you know, my story, bouncing around, you know, I tried to overlay those sacrifices my family made in today's kind of, you know, box, if you will, and it's impossible. I mean, I truly think, to utilize that strategy. And, you know, be able to have, you know, six, you know, four kids effectively, you know, all end up going to college and living, you know, successful lives, stable relationships. It's very difficult to achieve, you know, as they say that math isn't mathing anymore. Right. So, you know, if you asked me that question, if we'd been the universe, as I said, we have a billion people and everyone that can be housed, or would like to be housed is housed.

Les  54:17

Wow, very powerful vision. Incredible. Aly - got to follow that one. Gotta follow that up. You can take it on any direction you want. It doesn't need to even be you know,

Aly  54:29

No, I think it's it is that it's, I think it's the relief valve you said that earlier where but in the sense of the relief valve for our society for our people. You know, I I was raised by a father who was a Mexican immigrant that came over from Mexico as a teenager not speaking English and was orphaned over there for many years. Lived a tough hard life and our entire childhood you know, when you get when you're at teenager and you're getting these arguments, you know, that are just normal teenage arguments. But here's the thing, he would always come out and say it's like I put a roof over your head. Well, that never really hit me until I was a little bit older. And I was like, that was the most important thing in the world for him, a consistent roof over our head. And that, to be able to take that stress and that relief off of our people so that we can all level up to be who we need to be, and not have that stress. If we can do that, which I really believe that Annum has this absolute capability to do that. Our whole society is going to level up, right, there's gonna be way less tension, way less frustration way less, you know, just fear in general in and so it just, again, like what you're saying what we're doing is something that we have the ability, and I have the confidence that we will grow into something massive and large, and it's going to be awesome, right? But it's going to happen because of the DNA of what we're doing, and what we believe in, in our vision and our mission.

Jerryck  56:12

And one second Les, can I pull on that thread?

Les  56:16

Just keep keep giving me the chills. I’m going to need to put on an adult diaper here. I mean, I just have the chills so much. 

Jerryck  56:29

Yeah, no, I mean, Aly, he, he, she tapped into something so amazing, right there that like, like, let's put Annum and everything aside really quick. You know, we don't really get to know a lot of people for who they really are due to financial stress, right? Like that financial burden influences how people behave to such a degree - Economics, tt's like, number one, that, you know, when, you know, I've seen people, my family finally achieve financial freedom, and that they become different people. And as happy as I am for them at times, it makes me sad, because it's like, wow, all that time we spent, I never really got to know the new, the real you. Because we were so focused on getting by. Right. So, you know, I think you know, and just Aly kind of just pinged that in me that, you know, we want everyone to be their, their self, like who they're supposed to be. Right. And it's very difficult to do that, when you can't make ends meet when you don't have a home. Right. So, you know, I think if you whittle everything away, that is really the heart of what we're we're trying to uncover with you know, and especially with the term bend the universe.

Les  57:48

Yeah. So powerful. I mean, bend maybe I get the saying, but like, you guys are you guys are gonna wrap the universe around a telephone pole. All right. Anyway, so last question, the personal one, I'd love for an eye. Whoever wants to go first could just, you know, could go first. But I would like each of you to use one word to describe the other. Who wants to go first?

Jerryck  58:24

I'll go first. Just give me another 10 seconds to think about it. I guess you know, I'll go. I - humble and that is really the ethos of this company. Humility, through humility, we can be honest with each other. You know, and I see Aly, as a very humble person. And humble does not mean meek. It doesn't mean weak doesn't mean like, you know, feeble. It means like being comfortable with the fact that like searching for the truth, understanding that I may get hurt in the process, but I'm gonna be honest about it. You know, and that is the number one thing I admire and I appreciate about Aly, her humility.

Les  59:19

Beautiful. Aly.

Aly  59:22

Thank you Jerryck, that means a lot. Yeah, the first word that popped into my mind is loyal for Jerryck. He is not loyal to a fault, right? And then you can have that where you're blinded by loyalty. But loyal in the sense of, you know, loyal to what is important to him. What we're building. We have had plenty of opportunities to go off the vision just to make the buck and he won't. He's loyal to what is what we're doing. Loyal to me, you know, loyal to my family, which is now really important, and loyal to anyone we bring onto the team, or we're or we're connected with. He will, you know, our first LOI was with a really small, firm up in Kalispell. And, you know, it's just like, we will fight for that, you know, it's the first conversation we had, it's like, cool, you could go get the massive organization, but so people that that commit to Jerryck that he's gonna fight for. And having that loyalty is what brings in that that safe space to know that you can, you can do the tough things.

Les  1:00:37

Beautiful. I gotta say, just, we don't play favorites Found in the Rockies. So I'm not gonna say it but, but incredibly incredible people. I've just been so blessed to spend this time with you on the episode, I think our listeners will agree it's a special one. But I will say one thing that as I as I take a step back, and I think about what you're doing, it's no surprise to me that this is special. Because if you think about, I never knew the story with Jessica and Aly, and that's in them than meeting like, through being in the same community through living together growing up together. That's how the two of you met. Ironically, Aly and I both have, we have daughters. That's how we know each other London and Hunter, from school days. And you know, when I think about a community, the community that you're fostering, you're building and giving people a roof over their head and letting them then be homeowners and letting them be themselves. That's what Annum’s all about. And that's what creates this is sincere and serendipity for authentic real relationships. That's what it's all about. It's so fundamental to being human. I love it. And I just, you know, today's today just reinforced that for me, so, thank you. Thank you both for sharing. Thank you for being on the podcast. And just to conclude, why don't you just let us let our listeners know where they can find out more about you each and annum online?

Jerryck  1:02:10

Yeah, so um, you know, and Annum, first and foremost, That's our website. We plan to go live in April, launching with our platform, and you know, write us an email, you know, talk to us. We'll answer it will be me and Aly that you'll be corresponding with, you know.

Aly  1:02:37

With that are the easiest way to like if you want to shoot us an email and just get to know us or learn about what we're doing We're not going to try to make you remember how to spell our names. So just shoot that that and it goes to both of us so we'll be able to, we'll both see it.

Les  1:02:57

Amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Found in the Rockies. You can find links in the show notes or go to to get transcripts, links, and contact information for today's guests. If you like what you heard and want more, please don't forget to rate review and subscribe to get notified as our new episodes drop every two weeks. We'll see you next time.