All started with a simple quest for purpose, fulfillment & happiness.
Developing Real Estate. Funding Impact. Early on, we would have described our interest in charity as slightly above average. We would volunteer locally in high school and college, not necessarily as a pure dedication to help others, but as something just to “do” with friends while making a small impact. During college, we both decided that we would dedicate the majority of our University time working across different facets in the real estate development process (i.e. Property Management, General Contracting & Private Development) as our “tuition” rather than spending our days in class/studying. Upon graduation, Shray went on to work for a renowned developer in the city managing acquisitions, pre-development, financing & project management. And Sunil went on to work for a successful General Contractor managing new-construction developments on the ground level ranging from single family homes to Mid-Scale Multifamily Apartments. However (to keep a long story short), during these times, we were each thrown some pretty tough curveballs in life sending us down an expedited path of searching & longing for a sense of purpose, fulfillment and happiness in our lives. So we both went through something of a shared Odyssey to find these answers…
At first, the glaring “answer” pointed us toward striving for achieving wealth and financial independence as the surefire way to be “happy”. Thankfully, working in a lucrative industry as real estate development, we were able to see & interact with many who have reached this state of financial independence. Yet, we noticed over and over that many of these people felt the same angst, the same longing for purpose and happiness as we did, despite reaching this independence. We quickly realized that solving this challenge isn’t going to be that easy – sending us into a deep & itching search for other answers.
During this exploration (involving many late nights at the Perelman Quad & many morning readings at Clarke Park) , we stumbled upon the research & findings of Peter Singer – a bioethics professor at Princeton University – who may in our eyes be one of the world’s most important influential living philosophers. Singer believes very deeply that if we can prevent something bad from happening without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance to ourselves, then we ought to do so. This is especially the case as it relates to people like Sunil and I – upper-middle class people living in the United States – compared to people in sub-Saharan Africa & India living on less than $2/day. And for a very very small cost to ourselves, we can make a SIGNIFICANT difference to improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty by giving to HIGHLY-EFFECTIVE, EVIDENCE-BACKED charities & interventions. For $50/person, we can provide someone with sight-restore cataract surgery & cure them of preventable blindness. For $2, we can provide a bednet for 2 children to prevent them for being infected with Malaria, one of the leading causes of child mortality in sub-Saharan African. This “impact per dollar” research by Peter Singer, GiveWell and the Effective Altruism community deeply stood out to us and shifted the way we think about money & wealth.
However, going back to our original question, what does this have to do with being happy? Turns out, the answer was dead smack in our face this whole time. Harvard’s acclaimed 80-year study on adult life found that surprisingly “being good to others & our relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” Additionally, we came across considerable evidence from many other credible studies that acts of altruism make us happier, more satisfied and even healthier. Even more similarly, all spiritual paths & mainstream religious teachings at the core advocate – think of others first and you’ll be ultimately benefitting yourself. Then it clicked.
We found an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY to not only be happier personally – but for others as well. One that caters to our selfish human desire to achieve self-satisfaction & personal happiness. And one where we can make a truly huge impact on the lives of others – potentially for 10,000 if not 1,000,000+ people in our lifetimes. It became very clearly to us that we must use our expertise, network, resources & time as Real Estate Developers in order to help the most amount of people in the world. Because altruism, when conducted effectively using both the heart & the head, is the MOST impactful way to benefit others & ourselves.
Therefore: We are real estate developers committed to finding & funding solutions to save or improve the most amount of lives, especially for those living in extreme poverty.