Kevin Cheung, CEO and founder of Landa Global Properties, tells us how he successfully scaled his business in one of Vancouver’s most competitive markets: real estate development
Successfully launching a business in a highly competitive market is never an easy task. And making it grow past the startup phase is even more difficult.But Kevin Cheung – founder and CEO of Landa Global Properties – has managed to do just that. After just four years, the Shanghai-born, Vancouver-raised entrepreneur is finally enjoying his company’s success, having built the company from luxury, single-family homes to a full-service developer with five exciting towers in the pipeline.
We spoke to Cheung to see what it was like to launch and scale a company in one of Vancouver’s most competitive and mature markets: real estate development.
Q: First of all, tell us about Landa Global Properties. What does the firm do?
A: We are a full-service real estate development company that aims to bring a fresh perspective to this well-established infrastructure, by pushing boundaries of design, securing ultra-prime locations and developing products to the highest standards.
Q: What was it like starting a real estate development company in your mid-20s?
A: It was really exciting. The real estate industry is vibrant and progressive, and we are always up for challenges. We have had the good fortune to have some of the best in the business supporting us and endorsing our vision.
My own experience in the industry began when I was 19. I got my real estate licence in Vancouver when I was just starting at UBC, and I began buying and selling single-family houses. Also, my father has been in real estate development in Asia for 30 years. Working for him and for myself over the years has helped me understand the intricacies of the business: what it takes to start a project and what it takes to get it done efficiently.
Q: Do you feel like Vancouver – with its mature and competitive real estate market – presented any particular challenges for the company?
A: Yes. When we started, we were competing with a lot of different companies. At the land acquisition phase, for example, we were bidding against 10 or sometimes 20 competitors. Real estate development is always a challenge. But by applying innovative ideas, design and efficiencies, we have been competitive and successful in acquisition of some of the best real estate in the city. We were only two people at that time, so competing against those larger, established companies was a real test.
Q: What finally allowed you to overcome those challenges?
A: The key thing was being patient, open-minded and understanding that our business model was not all about profits. We have spent the last four years setting the foundation for growth. We focused on learning and keeping an open mind about how things should or shouldn’t work. That seemed to work. We started off with a single project on Fraser and 19th, and now we are on our eighth acquisition.
Q: You’ve quickly gone from having two employees to 15. How have you been able to manage that growth?
A: That is probably one of the hardest parts of growing a business. Finding talent that fits a company is tough, and creating and managing a culture at the same time is even more difficult. There are also logistical challenges around internal communications. As the company has grown, we’ve had to spend more time organizing and putting systems in place so that work flows efficiently. It was tough, but with perseverance, we’ve managed to move forward with success.
Q: Now that you are a well-established player in the real estate development market, what kind of impact do you hope you can have in Vancouver?
A: Today, we have the privilege of working on some great projects in some great locations. Our goal is for our projects to make a positive influence on the city’s architecture. In the West End, for example, we have a two-tower site with buildings that will be 44 and 49 storeys tall. What we have planned there will have a huge impact on the skyline, same as our project on the corner of Denman and Alberni. We are really excited about our new, upcoming developments.
Q: After reviewing your entrepreneurial journey, what tips or suggestions would you give to young businesses or entrepreneurs looking to get into a competitive and mature market?
A: The most important thing is to find something that you’re passionate about. I’ve been really interested in real estate since I was young. Having that passion and interest drives me to want to get better at what I do. It’s what gives me the drive to learn more about and contribute to the industry. So the most important thing for me – and the thing I always tell everyone – is that in order to succeed you have to love what you do.
Landa Global Properties is a local development company that represents the next generation of city builders. Led by Vancouverite Kevin Cheung, the company is leveraging its global experience and success in Shanghai to build ambitious and innovative buildings across the city for the luxury market.