$1B Startup Founder and Harvard Graduate Uses Past to Inform Present

Cadre Founder Ryan Williams went from a modest upbringing in Louisiana to owning a multi-million dollar real estate fintech startup.

Williams moved with his mother from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to New York City before high school. After focusing on school activities and entrepreneurial research, he applied to Harvard against his guidance counselor's advice—his guidance counselor thought he would never be accepted. While at Harvard, Williams created his first real estate company, and after graduating, he proceeded to work at firms like Goldman Sachs and Blackstone until he 2014 launch of his company, Cadre.

"I didn't really understand the difference between renting and owning until I got to Harvard," Williams tells Inc.com. "I saw that there were so many people who had built wealth through ownership of real estate."

Cadre is a fintech startup providing a digitized real estate platform that aims to make the industry inclusive rather than primarily accessible to more established players. Those looking to invest at least $50,000 can use Cadre to look through listings and projects on the online marketplace. Cadre strikes deals with companies usually requiring an equity investment of at least $50 million. Every year, the firm evaluates more than 500 real estate projects, but only 2% of those projects are approved for listing. Investors like Mark Cuban, George Soros, and Peter Theil took an early interest in Cadre, leading the company to now be worth over $1 billion.

Williams appeared on Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017 and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Cadre until July 2022. He will remain as Executive Chairman, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Co-Chairman of the Investment Committee, but tells Inc.com that he plans to continue his career in real estate by launching a foundation that will emphasize diversity in real estate investing. He has also used his success to aid those who like him came from underprivileged backgrounds as a part of an organization that helps gifted New York youth.