Croatan Investments, founded in 2005 under the name Fort Cap Partners, and rebranded in 2016, is a privately held firm that focuses exclusively on well-located multi-family housing in Class A major and secondary markets.
Serving over 100 private investors in addition to institutional investors, and retail syndication, Croatan Investments currently holds 11 multifamily properties worth 893 million, having exited 18 properties with an actual growth equity of nearly 2.5X.
Due to the remarkable success Croatan has achieved for its individual and institutional investors, the firm broke into the rapidly growing retail alternative investment space in 2018. Though syndication has exponentially increased the number of investors participating in Croatan’s property investments, the firm remains dedicated to its core group of individual investors, many of whom have been investing with Croatan for over a decade.
It was a commitment to serving this group, which Croatan refers to as Friends and Family, that lead the firm to Update Capital in 2016.
“All of our investors are important to us and we take good care of all of them, but our Friends and Family Group is a very loyal long-term base. We were looking for a way to level up our investor relations with this core group and provide them added value and a better experience than our manual investor letters were providing,” says Elizabeth Agbuya, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Croatan.
Before Update Capital, Croatan’s quarterly reporting and investor communications were handled via paper statements. It was a laborious process and the results hardly reflected the professionalism of the firm.
“It was a truly ugly, bland Word document. It looked like something we’d thrown together in a matter of minutes, but in reality, creating that basic document took days” says Agbuya.
They experimented with creating templates to professionalize the look of the statements, but trying to line up the necessary information in graphic elements compounded the endless mail merge errors and only exacerbated the problem.
Not only did this system consume vast amounts of team time and energy - it was also inconvenient for investors. Croatan’s investors had no way to access even basic information about their investments without digging through old statements, sending email requests or calling for information.
“With a hundred investors, creating these documents and answering individual emails and phone calls took up an enormous amount of time” says Agbuya.
In 2016, Croatan partnered with Update Capital to provide investors with a personalized, detailed look at their portfolio anytime, anywhere – no paper shuffling required.
Update Capital’s sleek, professional investor dashboard has not only drastically reduced the time Croatan spends creating quarterly reports but has also nearly eliminated the need for investors to call or email for information about their holdings.
“Come distribution time, what used to take us days now takes less than two hours. Internally, it has cut the time we spend collaborating and checking for errors by 90%. Not only that, but the information is laid out in an attractive, intuitive way that’s much less confusing for investors. It actually makes it much easier for investors to see how well their investments are performing which leads to positive feedback not only about the platform but about our performance,” says Agbuya.
In addition to allowing investors an in-depth look at their current investments, projections, and returns, Update Capital also provides one place for investors to go for all documents related to their accounts.
Croatan uploaded all historical documents for each investor to the portal. Investors can log in at any time and view year-end reports from a decade back, or find emails sent years ago.
Croatan’s investors can find more than just historical data and current portfolio information on their Update Capital dashboard – they can also find advice. The firm’s managing partner, Paul Van, uses the portal to distribute thought-leadership articles about legislative changes, market direction, and emerging opportunities designed to educate and engage investors.
As Croatan prepares to launch a fund, Update Capital has been instrumental in marketing the fund and keeping investors up-to-date.
“Update Capital has been a good way to capture our investor audience very quickly,” says Agbuya.
Croatan considered several different investor platforms, but in the end, it was Update Capital’s ability to cater to the firm’s specific needs that sealed the deal.
“There are a ton of investor relations platforms out there,” says Agbuya. “Many of them are far too complicated. They have a bunch of bells and whistles that we truly don’t need, won’t use, and are far too expensive.”
Croatan is a lean, agile team and Agbuya knew that to be successful, any solution the firm chose would need to match the firm’s existing culture.
“We are a small team and we’re successful because of our individual expertise within the multi-family investment space. Our size and expertise allow us to adjust rapidly to any changes in the market or legislation, and we lean on our like-minded partners for best practices that allow us to find efficiencies that maximize our investor’s returns. Update Capital’s platform provides those kinds of efficiencies” says Agbuya.
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Update Capital had a excellent user experience. The portal provided a clean, simple way for investors to access their needed data, statements and documents for multiple investments. That in combination with their competitive pricing put them over the top for us