What I learned at adult nerd camp

Last week, a fellow investing geek and I journeyed to Columbia, MO to take part in the inaugural Capital Camp, a three day meeting of vaguely weird people like us.

Aside from various tornado-related travel snafus, the trip was excellent. It turns out there is a small but vibrant community of finance geeks, mainly to be found on Twitter and a bunch of small investing podcasts, who are thinking about new strategies, investment structures, asset classes, etc.

For example: We heard a talk by two guys who are providing very high cost debt to, among others, a private equity shop that buys catalogues of digital assets (sort of like buying music publishing rights).

Another example: We heard from several people who are out there buying small ($1-3MM EBITDA) companies, on the premise that there are loads of Baby Boomers retiring and you can buy their companies for 3-4x EBITDA (in real estate terms, that equates to 25-33% cap rates!).

For me, though, the most important realization at Capital Camp was that our boring old business of buying dilapidated apartment buildings in Los Angeles, fixing them up, refinancing them using reasonable leverage, and holding them forever is, if not the best, one of the best businesses you could be in.

So, yeah, I’m going back next year, because it’s fascinating to hear from people on the cutting edge of investing. But I’m more convinced than ever that our model is the one I want to bet on for my career.