Community. Your network is your net worth. Surround yourself around the people who have the same mindset & vision. Remove people who provide distraction and negative attitudes. I constantly surrounded myself with mentors and accountability partners that wanted to see each other succeed and go to the next level in our businesses.
Be purpose-driven. Take time to write down your vision and mission before starting any journey. You will be lost without a clear vision when starting any business. Think about what the business will do to you, your family, your community, and the world. Successful businesses are created to solve a problem and provide value to others. Money is only one of the rewards when you help people solve their problems.
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oscar Setiawan, a serial entrepreneur, real estate investor, and co-founder of Peachy Home Buyers, a real estate investment company that provides solutions to distressed homeowners in Atlanta, Georgia. He manages a portfolio of real estate assets and actively helps other real estate investors all over America.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I came from a hard-working family; my father was a doctor, and my mother was an entrepreneurial homemaker. Growing up in the 1980s and being a double minority, we faced many economic challenges and social injustices. My parents always encouraged me to do well in school so I can get a scholarship to go to college in America. My family always believed that America is the land of the free and opportunities, so when an opportunity presented itself, we left everything behind including our house and business, to immigrate to America with only a few hundred dollars to our name.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
My father received a full scholarship and assistantship to the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. At the time, he realized that it was the best chance for a better life for our family because of the challenges we faced in Indonesia. My father’s goal was to ensure that the family has a better life and future. We used our life savings to purchase the plane tickets and temporary housing and arrived in the US with a few hundred dollars left to support the family.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
I’ve always watched American movies showing sun and beaches growing up, so I was shocked when I arrived in below-freezing snow blizzard weather as soon as I get off the plane. I was 15 years old and traveled halfway around the world by myself. It was exciting and nerve-racking, to add to that, English was not my first language.
I entered high school with no friends or other family member that could help me guide through it. Socially, I had to make new friends and it was really tough because everyone already had their own group of friends and established a familiar environment. I went on to study Math and Computer Science at the University of Illinois as an international student with a scholarship. During High School and College years, our family had to make ends meet by taking any jobs that are available to us. I took many jobs from delivering newspapers, cleaning apartments, and serving in restaurants. Throughout all this, I was still convinced that America provided the best environment to pursue my dream. After I graduated, I moved to the Chicago area and got a job working as an engineer.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
I am incredibly grateful to have been connected to the international student community. They were the ones that really guided my family through the transition. Other international students and families that have been there for a couple of years prior to us helped us to buy furniture, food, and navigate our way around. The Asian international students also helped me to get around with ease and comfort. Those students became my best friends because we were able to find ourselves in a similar situation. We came from similar backgrounds, and that’s where we were able to relate and connect with one another and understood how it felt like because they also went through a similar experience.
So how are things going today?
Being raised in a typical Asian family, it was expected for me to go to school to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. That was obvious to me because my father was a doctor, but growing up, I always gravitated towards entrepreneurship. America provided the opportunity to pursue my passion to create multiple businesses and became a real estate investor.
I’m very excited about Peachy Home Buyers, my latest venture that is helping homeowners provide the best solutions for their homes and rebuilding the community by providing high-quality homes and rental properties. I’m also thrilled to be able to include my children (ages 11 and 13) in the entrepreneurship journey. I hope when they are ready to take on the challenge, they will create their own businesses that would impact the world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m active in giving back to my country, Indonesia, by partnering with local non-profit organizations to build orphanages and schools for underprivileged children. In my rental business, we provide housing for people that are transitioning to a better lifestyle; people who may not have the ideal credit to purchase their home yet or people that may have had to file for bankruptcy. We also provide families with high-quality homes at affordable prices in developing neighborhoods. I’m also helping others who want to jump into real estate investing by providing advice and mentorship in their projects, so they don’t make the same mistakes I did when I started.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
1. Employment-based visas for small companies and startups need to be easier. It is very hard for non-tech small companies to hire an immigrant since the quota and classifications are very strict and outdated, and the application process takes too much time and money. I suggest providing separate quotas and revisit outdated classifications for employment-based visas for small companies.
2. The path to permanent residency needs to be shorter and straightforward. I’ve seen many talented immigrants forced to go back to their country due to the inability to process their green card applications in time or being rejected based on lottery and maximum quotas. These are the people that could change America, create more opportunities and provide more jobs for others. I suggest a streamlined process to qualify and approve permanent residency for talented immigrants.
3. Create an incentive to bring foreign investors and talented immigrants, so America can continue to be the best leader in the world economy and development.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be a go-giver. I learned that instead of asking for help and advice, start with asking what values you can provide in their life and business. When I started real estate investing, I sought out other investors and provided my time for free to help them in their business while learning about the business. The more you give, the more you’ll receive.
2. Hustle hard. Put in the time and learn the business more than others. I remember spending an additional 30 hours a week outside my regular job when I was starting my business. When you have the passion & the vision, you will be able to spend the time and effort more than anyone else to succeed.
3. Community. Your network is your net worth. Surround yourself around the people who have the same mindset & vision. Remove people who provide distraction and negative attitudes. I constantly surrounded myself with mentors and accountability partners that wanted to see each other succeed and go to the next level in our businesses.
4. Fail forward. I’m not afraid to take risks and try things a certain way. If I fail, I learn for myself and use the experience to teach others not to fail the same way. When the risk pays off, I will be able to leverage the result to further my business and others in the same situation in the future.
5. Be purpose-driven. Take time to write down your vision and mission before starting any journey. You will be lost without a clear vision when starting any business. Think about what the business will do to you, your family, your community, and the world. Successful businesses are created to solve a problem and provide value to others. Money is only one of the rewards when you help people solve their problems.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
1. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. I believe the US still has a great future because they are defending these rights.
2. Entrepreneurships. The nation is full of innovative people with great ideas and is always willing to try and solve problems. People I have encountered and the culture here is much more accepting and conducive for people to be able to make ideas come to life.
3. Infrastructure. We continue to improve our infrastructure, technology, and ways to make your dreams a reality. There are so many resources and opportunities available to its residents.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would have a private meal with real estate mogul, Grant Cardone because he was able to build a billion-dollar company all from scratch. His story and drive are so inspiring and motivates me to keep on pushing forward and to never stop chasing my dreams. He didn’t come from a perfect family or perfect background, financially and in terms of family, but he has shown that you can achieve all that even with the struggles in front of him. He endured and was persistent throughout his real estate journey and has created a lifetime of wealth for him and his family.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Thanks for taking your time to reach about my story! You can follow our work online at Peachyhomebuyers.com or on social media.
Facebook: Peachy Home Buyers LLC
LinkedIn: Peachy Home Buyers LLC
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!