An Entrepreneur’s Story

Paul Jennings—like many entrepreneurs—started his business engagements and activities early in life. At the age of 10, he started a landscape maintenance business. By age 20, he had created several other businesses.

Paul was a poor academic student with learning disabilities, so by high school, vocational education was the only viable option for remaining in school. Paul’s vocational experience in aerospace includes certification for air frame and power plant, and he worked for Lockheed’s famed “Skunk Works” on its F117A’s development team. With a strong technical and engineering background, Paul took a left turn by going back to school for business. Paul landed a cold-calling sales job in 1983, which were the early days of telecommunication deregulations. With the indisputable benefit of choosing to gain cold-calling sales experience over door to door sales, Paul gained an understanding of the endless variations to what businesses can do and the endless opportunities for creating businesses.

Some of the core lessons he learned during this period were to look for barriers to entry and for competitors, and he realized that the longer it takes to close a deal, the longer you keep the customer. This led Paul to form a telecommunication company that provided Government inmate correction agencies with telephone services.

In 1995, after the Northridge earthquake, Paul saw an opportunity to draw on the many years of government contracting and technical experience he gained while working on the stealth fighter to capitalize on FEMA’s federal dollars that were available to repair earthquake-damaged buildings. Through a combination of his business experience, knowing how to work with government agencies, and his strong engineering background, Paul recognized that rebuilding the severely damaged buildings was not rocket science, but was instead a manageable process.

Central to Paul’s belief in jumping into the real estate market was the simple notion that the macroeconomics of the real estate sector is defined by its patterns and predictable market cycle. So while others were still squeamish concerning Southern California and its real estate, Paul began creating collective companies to build, manage, and purchase apartments. By 2000, before others seized the opportunity to buy land, Paul realized the next wave of the market cycle by buying land while values were just starting to rise. With a large acquisition of choice land, this gave Paul’s company an opportunity to build large apartment structures all the way through 2006, and then to sell them all prior to the 2007 market collapse.

In more recent years, Paul’s activities include multiple real estate ventures as well as providing angel funding for startup companies. Living in Southern California for his entire adult life has created for Paul a sense of unbounded opportunities and interest to pursue startup companies.