Transcript for “Raising Capital and Real Estate Private Equity with Brian Adams | The Real Estate Investing Club #29”
Unknown Speaker 0:02
Hello and welcome to another
Gabriel Petersen 0:03
episode of The Real Estate Investing club. Place investors go to learn tips, tricks and stories from other investors in the field. If you feel we provide value to you go ahead and hit that thumbs up, share whatever it may be. And if you’d like for us to cover a specific topic, let us know in the comments or reach out to us on our website. Today we have a very special guest. So buckle up, grab your pen and paper and enjoy the ride.
Oh, right. We are live. Brian, thank you for joining us today. How are you doing?
Brian Adams 0:38
Doing good. It’s Friday afternoon. We closed the deal last week, which was a heavy lift to say the least. So I’m ready to cruise into the weekend and enjoy what’s going to be a very hot weekend in Nashville. But my father’s day I’ve got two little boys and the beer will be cold. And we’ll be doing some grilling out. So be fun. I love it. Well, first, congratulations on the deal. It’s
Gabriel Petersen 1:05
always a it’s always fun thing to have happened going right into a holiday here.
Brian Adams 1:09
Now I’ll tell you we were originally supposed to close the first week of April, I had raised $8.2 million of equity, really solid deal in Kansas City with Carmen and cargo, just great tenants. And we were using cmbs, which is what a lot of what we do. And we were just finishing up the paperwork, and then the world went sideways. So we had to get a new lender, I had to backfill about a million and a half of equity, and the seller was very accommodative. So that was good, but obviously that was a little give and take and I’m really proud of my team for getting that thing over the finish line because it was it was work really was so
Gabriel Petersen 1:54
that is awesome. Well, congratulations. I know that COVID has had an impact on a lot of people’s businesses. So Good to hear you guys got that done. But to get us started, why don’t you just you know, tell everybody who you are, where you’re from and how you got started in real estate in the first place.
Brian Adams 2:09
Yeah, absolutely. And thank you again for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. So I’m a New Yorker who married a native nashvillians. So we met in college, went to law school, moved here about 15 years ago. My wife’s family has a family office here. That’s been in the commercial real estate private equity world for a long time. So when I joined the family board, I got exposure to some of the funds we were investing in and some of the sponsors and GPS that we were doing co investment with, fell in love with the business wanted to start my own wanted to be an entrepreneur. So 10 years ago, I launched our first fund. We raised a series of small funds. Over the course of five, six years, we built up a fortune portfolio of about $250 million of commercial real estate in the Midwest in the southeast. We recapitalize that with an institutional partner. And then two years ago, I took a team with me and I launched a pure co investment syndication platform, specifically geared towards individuals, families, independent IRAs, basically taxable investors. And we, like I mentioned the deal last week was our sixth acquisition. So we only buy multi tenant office properties. We focus on secondary markets in the Midwest and the southeast. And I’ve really, over the course of my career, tried to simplify things. And so we focus on three things. Given our product type, we’re trying to give investors access to Office opportunities that otherwise they wouldn’t have exposure to. We try to give them somewhere between a seven to 10% yield depending on the asset The credit profile as well as the location. And then we really try to focus on the tax benefits of direct real estate ownership. In my experience a lot of sponsors and GPS who maybe have institutional LPs or are just starting out, don’t fully grasp the power, that accelerated depreciation cost segregation, analysis, structuring return of capital as opposed to dividends, it can be really meaningful to people in their k one. And so oftentimes, we can structure things so that you’re getting an eight to 10% yield annually, your K one will actually show a loss or a very minimal game for the first 123 years so you can offset gains elsewhere, etc. So I have a CPA, public accounting tax controller in house, who helps make sure that we’re doing everything we can on that front. And so those are the three things that we do. We’ve tried to do four to six acquisition A year it really just depends on finding deals that we like that we find attractive.
Gabriel Petersen 5:06
I love it. I love it and actually, me and my partner’s got into buying mobile home and RV parks just for that tax reason. So a lot to unpack there. I love everything you’re doing. So it sounds like you know, however many years ago, you know, you got married, you kind of married into the industry. You got introduced to commercial real estate through your wife’s wife’s family. They kind of you know, they they put the bug in yet you love what you saw. And you said, You know what, I gotta do this on my own. You jumped out started your own firm, did 250 million in acquisitions. And since then you’ve you’re you’ve branched out into different syndications. And your main, your main goal is multi tenant office was in secondary markets is that it’s a lot to sum up, but does that kind of put you in a box?
Brian Adams 5:56
That’s a lot to sum up, we focus on that 10 to 20 $25 million acquisition price. That’s the only thing that I would add. And I would also add that I made a ton of mistakes the first time around on every facet of the business. I continue to make mistakes, but hopefully new ones not repeating old ones.
Unknown Speaker 6:17
I love it. I love it.
Gabriel Petersen 6:21
Perfect. So yeah, I want to delve in a little bit more into your business. I mean, it sounds like he got a lot of wisdom to share here. So you know you got started you already had a little bit of a background with your with being in your in your wife’s business. And then you jumped in you started doing things on your own. Can you kind of tell us how was that experience? What were what were the big lessons learned that you know, that you just didn’t realize going into it and, and kind of what have you learned since then?
Brian Adams 6:50
Yeah, I continue to learn every day as I make mistakes. But I think the most useful thing and the hardest thing when I first got started out was My father in law, who is a trauma surgeon, took a company public in the 90s. Just a very impressive guy, very intimidating guy. If you don’t know him, he was very encouraging of me to start the company, we think of the family partnership as a way for us to either be of service or to be entrepreneurial and create wealth for our own families and generations. So half the family are kind of entrepreneurs. The other half are healthcare folks, or teachers, etc. He, he made three introductions for me when I started, and he said, Listen, I’m going to make these three introductions. You can tell everyone in the world that I’m an investor with you. But that’s the extent that I’m going to help you in terms of raising capital. And that was really frustrating at the time because I know that he could pick up the phone and make 10 phone calls and bring in a lot of money, but it taught me the hard way of raising capital through the coffee meetings, the drinks the lunches, asking for the intros, trying to get the referral, just grounded pound. And that’s what I’ve spent my entire career doing and really starting to embrace it. But it was very hard at the beginning because I was expecting a lot more in terms of mistakes or lessons learned. One of the big ones early on for sure was we were doing some things in Nashville, my partner I and I had an idea of what we thought would be cool in terms of real estate deals and investments. And they were fine. We got very lucky because we were in Nashville and experienced this, this timing of being caught up in this huge growth. But I realized after two or three years, I was having trouble raising capital. It’s I thought it should have been going quicker and I kind of Press pause. And I went around to all of my largest investors and my most logical investors, people who I knew should invest with me. But Warren for some reason, instead of me saying, here’s this cool, shiny object, you should buy it. I actually listened to what they want it. So I said, if you’re going to invest commercial real estate, what would be the exact return profile? What would the ticket size be? What would the experience be like for you? What would you want, ideally, if you could just paint a picture, and I really pivoted towards just providing a product that they want. And once I started doing that, and listening to my, you know, logical investor base, I started raising exponentially more capital. And that was a big lesson for me that, you know, if you want to scale the business and grow the business, you don’t have to sacrifice your creativity. But I think you need to be realistic with with what your audience wants, and my audience that really wanted office deals. Because a lot of them had exposure to multifamily exposure to triple net retail exposure to self storage, but they weren’t able to get access to office. And they really wanted a quarterly coupon. They just wanted that cash flow. They didn’t care how cool the building was or what it looked like necessarily. They wanted that yield. And so I started just trying to find deals that fit the profile. And when I did that, I started clipping to three deals a quarter and started taking down some bigger deals. So I think that’s a big lesson for me. I can delve into a million different things that I’ve learned, but those are those are some of the bigger takeaways for sure.
Gabriel Petersen 10:41
No, I love it. I love it. I mean, that’s the thing that kind of rang true for me and everything that you just said was kind of either you’re following your your own creativity, your own expression, or you’re following kind of what the market wants. Obviously, there’s a middle ground there, but it’s really difficult to to when you’re when you’re going down a path. You really are You know you’re an entrepreneur, you want to express yourself, you want to, you know, build something. And it’s hard to, to pivot and make sure that what you’re actually focused on is what people want. Because in the end, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to provide a service we’re here to, to give people what they’re actually looking for. And so it sounds like that was a hard lesson learned as you went, and you started trying to raise capital once you’re out on your own there. So I love that story. I want to unpack that a little bit more.
Unknown Speaker 11:28
Before I do, though, so do you guys do like value add or do you do new construction?
Brian Adams 11:32
Yeah, so these are all stabilized. You could call them core core Plus, you know, my New York City investors would call them core plus just because they’re not familiar with a Kansas City or Richmond or Cincinnati. But if you’re located regionally close to one of those places, you’re probably considered these deals core. So typically, we’re at 5% plus occupied day one. With probably a five plus year waited out Average lease term. So nice stability. Oftentimes we see fact patterns where a local group had bought the building originally. So they nailed the location because their local executives are professionals, but they oftentimes put too much leverage on the deal. And they don’t manage it as a professional as a manager would manage it. So oftentimes, we’re coming in and just right sizing it in terms of lease rate, occupancy and credit. But now, these are day one cash flow properties.
Gabriel Petersen 12:28
Great. I love it. So I mean, you mentioned it multiple times. One of the one of the most difficult part about your business is raising capital. So you know, if there’s a lot of people out there, maybe not in, you know, office buildings, but in multifamily in other types of commercial assets, who are you know, they’re struggling to raise capital themselves. So, if you could give kind of bullet point, maybe top three pieces of advice for people who are looking to raise raise capital, what would those pieces of advice
Brian Adams 13:00
Yeah, one of the reasons we chose office as an asset class was exactly that reason we looked at on the landscape. This is 10 plus years ago, and even then, multifamily seemed like it was really competitive cap rates were tough deal flow is difficult. And office just had less competition within our price range. So I think it’s a great question because you have to face the reality that this is a capital intensive business, and it’s going to be very difficult for you to scale efficiently. If you’re providing all that capital. It’s just you don’t have the liquidity, right. Oftentimes, you’re trying to create wealth. So one of the things that I learned very early on was having a very frank conversation with every third party service provider that you work with. When I got into the business, I got introduced to, you know, PNC insurance folks, lawyers, etc. And all of them talk to big talk about Oh, I’d love to introduce you to my friends or my buddy would like to look at the steel etc. And they never came through. And so I’ve started having very frank conversations of, unless you’re providing a specific niche esoteric service like my securities attorney, for instance, if you’re only going to provide that work flow, it’s largely commoditized. So I need more from you. And I’m not saying that you yourself have to invest. But you need to be able to introduce me to folks that do want to invest, you need to be actively making introductions and referrals, and being a resource for you beyond just the work itself. And so I would encourage a lot of sponsors out there to reevaluate every third party that are working with unless it’s mission critical and you don’t think you can get that work anywhere else. You should shop it. That’d be my advice.
Gabriel Petersen 14:43
I love it. I love it. I mean that and that’s true. Pretty much in anything you do in real estate I got started I’m definitely not seasoned as you are. But I’ve got started in single family and multi family and now mobile home parks and RV parks and, and shopping around even for contractors is one of the one of the biggest Biggest things you can do for yourself? Because it really does. I mean, it matters. You gotta you gotta find the right person for the job. And that’s, that’s definitely a bonus for you. So we should ask this in the beginning, but why? Why office buildings? I mean, there’s that there’s tons of different types of commercial assets. Why did you choose to go office?
Brian Adams 15:19
Yeah. I found that after talking to a lot of my larger investors, oftentimes individuals or even pretty large family offices, the only exposure or deal flow they had in terms of office was a Blackstone or a KKR fund to funds are a one off deal there buddy on the golf course put together. So there really seemed to be a paucity of what I would call middle market sponsors providing accredited investors with Office opportunities. And so they were seeing a lot of multifamily deals, seeing a lot of retail deals, triple net, etc. But they didn’t have exposure to office and I think it’s a misunderstood asset class. A lot of people think 10 improvement dollars and Commission’s will kill the deal over time. And that’s really a function of underwriting. So you have to have enough cash reserves. And you have to have a lender relationships to be able to smooth out those distributions over time. And so it was really a function up. I went around to my logical equity sources, they wanted office and there wasn’t as much competition within my price range, so it was just more inefficient.
Gabriel Petersen 16:29
That makes sense. So you get you saw a market opportunity kind of pop up in front of you. You’re like, this is a place I can fit. This is where we can create our company. And you jumped in.
Brian Adams 16:37
And you know, we’ve had to cycle through We’re in 10 markets now. We’ve had to cycle out of certain markets, right, Nashville, Tampa, Raleigh. They’re great. But we’ve had to kind of move on from them. office was an asset class where we could still buy new vintage buildings with good credit and even today, we can buy seven to eight to nine cap deals, and that just doesn’t exist in multifamily and the cap rate compression has been tremendous. So, you know, unless you’re gonna go out in the limb on leverage, or you know, risk, it seemed like a very stable asset class for us where we could find good risk adjusted returns, and still find some pretty valuable deals, just had to be curious about new markets and get our investors understand that, listen, you know, Nashville just doesn’t have the value it does. So let’s go to Kansas City where you can still get some decent pricing. And once you get over that educational hurdle of teaching about these other places in the game, that comfort, that’s what’s really allowed us to grow.
Gabriel Petersen 17:45
I love it. So kind of on that topic, I mean, you mentioned going into different markets. How is it that you decide on a market I mean, it sounds like you started out in Nashville, or maybe New York, one of the two and then you branched out from there. So So what was kind of take us through The process the thought process of identifying those markets that you wanted to branch into.
Brian Adams 18:04
Yeah, originally it was just what can we find and where can we go? So our backyard was Nashville. We did deals there. Then we moved on to Memphis, Birmingham, Louisville, because they were within three hours drive and I could go there today. We took a step back after that, and really started to put together a formula for markets and we want to do a two attack. So the way we look at it is secondary markets we define as a million plus MSA is outside of the traditional gateway, I call it Chicago’s New York’s etc. And we look for underlying your year job wage and population growth. If those metrics all hit, we go into pricing, you know, what to cap rates look like? What’s the cost per square foot? Is there a lot of new construction, where lease rates can we buy to discount replacement costs, we run all those numbers and then shakes out to probably 10 some odd markets right now. But Specifically and what I think is really important for multifamily, mobile home, etc. It’s in many of these markets that are not coastal. There’s no geophysical boundaries, right. So if you go to places like Kansas City, from our assets to the airport with no traffic, it’s literally a 45 minute drive, right? So these places tend to spread Nashville’s the same way. So that’s where sub market analysis is key. You can’t just go to a market and carpet bomb it and start buying stuff without understand the underlying dynamics because sub markets people where they live work and play is typically within 20 to 25 minutes, right? I mean, that’s probably your experience yourself. Office is no different. So we typically look for two sub markets called it neighborhoods that never experienced more than 10 to 15% vacancy during the downturn, and that have access to single, affordable single family homes. access to education And kind of that live work play quality of life cost of living. So once we’ve determined those sub markets, then we go into our price point, which is that 10 to $20 million price point. And we just start, you know, pounding the pavement looking for deals. So we kind of go top down funnel in terms of how we look at opportunities. I love it.
Gabriel Petersen 20:20
Yeah, so you’re very methodical about it. So you start out, you’re looking for msos that are a million plus, but not in the major metros, like Seattle, Chicago, LA, etc. And then outside of that, you look for year over year growth in basically all the different factors that play into the growth of economy. And then you’re looking into the sub markets themselves. Distance from from the major Metro, the location of it sounds like different types of assets within that area. And, and based on what you find there, you’ll you’ll pull the trigger on something that’s between 10 and 20,000,025 million
Brian Adams 20:58
mark our investment thesis Is this maturing millennial generation, it’s now the largest workforce population in American history. It’s roughly 75 million people total. And because of 2008, the family formation phase of their generation, barely a millennial was delayed five or 10 years, but it’s coming. So as this generation starts to have children get married, they’re increasingly making choices about where they want to live, work and play, based on quality of life, cost of living, the ability to afford a single family home, and the ability to send their children to a great public school or a very competitive private school. And so part of that thesis is these secondary markets are going to experience dramatic growth. Interestingly, I think COVID is accelerating that trend. And you’re seeing more and more new stories come out that, you know, San Francisco, for instance, multifamily is kind of having a hard time obviously we all know about New York. And I personally think a lot of folks are going to look to the suburbs in secondary market. buckets, which is a trend we already saw playing out. But I think COVID is just exacerbating it and accelerating it in terms of how quickly it happens.
Gabriel Petersen 22:10
Yep, that Yep, we’ve I’ve had a number of other commercial guys on here. And they all talk about the move to the suburbs, but I’ve never, I’ve never heard that thesis about millennials kind of their their family rearing years have been pushed out 10 to 20 years that it makes a lot of sense. I am a millennial, and well, kind of in the middle of it. And so yeah, it makes a lot of sense.
Brian Adams 22:32
Yeah. And when you take a step back and think, you know,
many of us don’t, when we’re younger, we don’t want the life that our parents had. And if you think about our parents, my parents are baby boomers, you know, they went through the 60s in the 70s. But for the most part, they end up living pretty much the same places that their parents did. And so I think you’re seeing this play out with millennials where the narrative on Wall Street was, they’re all going to live in tower deals in New York and eat avocado toast, never had children and never have a house. And that’s just not the reality. And then so that was part of our investment thesis. And what we think, is once you see that play out on the employee side, you’ll see more and more employers try to get ahead of that curve, expand their footprint, because you know, pre COVID attaining and retaining human capital and talent was the biggest challenge that employers have. And so that’s not going away anytime soon. And so we think you’ll see more and more folks look to relocate to a hub and spoke model where the secondary market serve as a big office footprint for somebody larger stem knowledge based economy.
Gabriel Petersen 23:45
Users. Yep, that rings. Hundred percent true to everything that I’ve been reading as well. I like the avocado toast coming. That’s true for millennials. All right, so we do try to keep this to about 25 30 minutes. So I’m going to move us along a little bit. We’ve we’ve learned a lot about, you know, how you run your business what you guys are doing. So now I kind of want to go into a little bit about the experiences that you’ve had. I mean, you started your own business. So you got to have ups and downs. Everybody does. So kind of take us you’ve already mentioned it before, just a little bit. But you know, on the roller coaster that is real estate, take us to one of the lower periods. And you know, the best lesson that you’ve learned from that period.
Brian Adams 24:27
Yeah. So when I talked about understanding exactly what my investor base wanted, and starting to give them that product, we grew too fast. We got to dig too quickly. So we started being able to buy an office building every two months, every three mile. And so I raised probably $50 million in three years, something like that. And it was tremendous, and we were very focused on the deals, and the deals were fine. What I didn’t appreciate What really started to frustrate a lot of my investor base was, we were so focused on doing deals and acquiring because we could, we didn’t spend the time or the money on the internal infrastructure to handle the volume of investors and so bookkeeping, accounting, Investor Relations, business development, it all went by the wayside. And it caught up with us in a in a big way. And so there was a big backlash from us by investors, not so much because of performance. And I think that’s a key for folks that are trying to get into business. investors will not begrudge you performance when they understand you’re taking a risk. They understand they’re working with somebody, but the experience that they expect, and the level of experience that you provide to them is key. And so one of the things that I’ve done over the last two years is completely rework my internal infrastructure. So hiring a controller and paying them going out and getting a really good controller Right somebody for the public accounting CPA tax background, paying for Juniper square, which is a best in class Investor Relations, CRM platform. These are expensive things and they’re painful. I was uploading 350 400 contacts to Juniper plus historicals. I mean, you can imagine the brain damage. We actually now get compliments from our investors about how great the experiences in terms of access the portal. And one of the things also I’ve been doing is just trying to provide a lot of content and be a resource for them outside of just the deals that I’m doing. I’m not trying to go out and get all their ad when it’s not a zero sum game for me. And so I’ve started just trying to be more interactive. Hey, if you’re looking at an oil gas deal, if you’re looking at a multi family deal, if you’re looking to maybe sell your business call me because all I do is network all day for the most part, right? I’m focused on raising capital. So I’m running across really interesting people that that may be able to help them and that completely changed where I’ve been 500 some odd investors today. And I rarely get a phone call, they all have my cell phone, they can text me anytime they want. But, you know, with Juniper and some other things that we’re doing internally. That was a big mistake and in a very painful six months, but I think ultimately made me a much better manager, and a much better sponsor.
Gabriel Petersen 27:23
I love it. There’s a lot of good, good lessons learned in there. What I kind of took from it is that you you struggled with the balance that always comes with growth. On one side, you just want to grow as fast as you can. On the other side, you need to build out the systems that allow you to grow sustainably and finding that balance. It’s definitely definitely a difficult thing. I mean, we’re running into that right now. We’ve got a ton of leads coming in for parks that, you know, we could offer on but we just can’t handle the influx of leads. So I like that and then I also like that you mentioned basically systematizing the communication to make sure that you’re you’re on, you know, your investors are being made aware of everything that’s happening. And they’re not kind of being left out in the dust there.
Brian Adams 28:11
We weren’t doing anything nefarious. But when you when you don’t communicate clearly with investors, they’re their thought process go to the worst possible options, right. So now we have a completely transparent system where they automatically get monthly financials. They can go into their website into their portal, and they can look at historical distributions, historical quarterly management updates, asset level commentary from the property manager. And it’s just much simpler. And frankly, we should have been doing it from the beginning, but we didn’t know how bad it was until we realized how good it could be, I guess.
Gabriel Petersen 28:51
Makes sense. All right, we are nearing the end here. But before we go, I want to hear one or two more pieces of advice from you one, what is the habit that you think Feel contributes the most to your success. And to if you were to go back way back in time to the Brian who’s just starting out, just give them one small one sentence piece of advice. What would that be?
Brian Adams 29:10
Pay for an internal controller?
Do not third party, your bookkeeping. It’s worth the money. I love it. I love it. Because we burn through a bunch of third party folks, and I’ve tried to not skimp but not get best in class, and it’s not worth the money you save at all.
Unknown Speaker 29:36
Brian Adams 29:36
good ones early. What was that? If people there k ones early, don’t be the squeaky wheel. And in terms of advice, you know, I think unless there’s somebody internal to your organization in the enterprise, that is 100% focused on the capital side of the business. If you don’t have that person who wakes up every day and thinks about being able to raise equity and find opportunities, you will fail. You cannot outsource that. I love it. So always know the sales officer, you are the chief marketing officer. So when somebody comes to me and they want to start a real estate company and they get coffee and talk about well, first thing I’m going to do is when I raise capital, we’re going to hire somebody to help me do blah, blah, no,
no, you’re not. You will fail.
Gabriel Petersen 30:31
Relationships are definitely they have to be kept inside. You can’t outsource that ever. I like it. Alright, so Brian, you’ve given us so much wisdom. I really appreciate you coming on here on everybody needs things in return. So if somebody were to bring you something, what would you like to receive
Brian Adams 30:48
in terms of how to get in touch with me?
Unknown Speaker 30:51
Well, that’s one thing how to get in touch with you but also, are you looking for investors to invest in your file,
Brian Adams 30:56
right. Yeah, and I appreciate the the setup Yeah, we don’t have an offering right now. We are actually looking at a number of deals. We only work with accredited investors. So you know, if you’re interested we have a very robust content offering on our website. I’m very active on LinkedIn. So you’re just interested in the asset class or want to learn about office are some things that we do reach out. However I can be a resource I’m happy to perfect
Gabriel Petersen 31:27
and to get in touch with you. That’s through LinkedIn
Brian Adams 31:29
correct? LinkedIn or the website Excelsior GP comm are the two best ways All right.
Gabriel Petersen 31:36
Well, again, Brian, I know I can speak for everyone listening and watching we appreciate it you haven’t coming on here sharing your wisdom and for everybody watching if you want to get in contact with Brian the his LinkedIn will be in the show notes or you can go to his website. Sorry, can you say that again? Brian.
Brian Adams 31:52
Excelsior, GP, calm.
Gabriel Petersen 31:54
Excelsior GPS COMM And other than that, I look forward to seeing you soon. Seeing you guys on the next episode.
Brian Adams 32:02
Thanks, Gabe. I really appreciate it everyone have a great weekend out there.
Gabriel Petersen 32:07
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– How to bounce back from bankruptcy and build a thriving empire in the wake of failure
– How to use property management companies to help scale your real estate business
– The best online and offline tools out there to take your real estate investing business to the next level
– How to do out of state investing without risking your shirt in the process
– Going from broke to 300+ deals in a month (really!)
– Investing in commercial real estate
– Stories about brand-new investors and the lesson’s they’re learning as they take on their very first flips and rentals
– How to use Google Ads and Facebook Ads to crush it in off market real estate marketing
– How to fill your pipeline with off market deals using direct mail, voiceless mail drops, and text blasting