Vivek Tandon

Founder & CEO of EB5-Brics - the go to source for everything related to EB-5 U.S. Immigrant Investor Visa (Green Card) Program.

Let’s start by telling us a little about your background, parents, family, where were you born, and where do you live?
I was born in New Delhi, India to a public servant dad and a school teacher mom. As a fourteen- year old, we moved to the land of movie stars, Los Angeles, California. More recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in India and travel throughout the country for business but luckily manage to take some time out to see the cities I visit. My favorite ones so far have been Chandigarh, Cochin and Bangalore.

What did you want to become growing up? And what did you go to school for? (They don’t have to be the same, they hardly ever are).
I wanted to be a foreign service officer or a news anchor. However, life took me on many twists and turns and I ended up pursing a degree in Business Finance at California State University Long Beach. The work I did felt very clerical and mundane so after working for a few years and saving some money, I ended up going to law school and practiced law for a number of years before my current avatar as an investment banker.

In one word (okay, one sentence), who/what are you?
I’m a nice guy and certainly a dreamer. While I believe I am currently doing something that helps people realize their dreams and ambitions, I continue to push myself to see if there’s more I can do for those that are less fortunate than the rest of us.

In a couple of sentences, describe your profession
As a U.S. lawyer and investment banker, I focus on inbound U.S. immigration driven investments. As such I divide my time between India and the U.S. counseling and educating high net worth individuals about EB-5 U.S. Investor Visa Program and Investing in the United States.

How did you get started in the industry/ this startup/company/ project?

Although I enjoyed my initial stint after law school as a public defender, I ended up changing jobs about six times in my 7 years of being a lawyer. I knew I was cut out for something more entrepreneurial, and thus, started exploring opportunities that would fulfill my entrepreneurial spirit yet allow me to use my legal and finance background – the EB5 program with its focus on law and finance and Indo-US cross-border trade and investment fit the bill.

What according to you are the most important life lessons you’ve learned that have made you better at what you do?
Persistence i.e. not giving up and honesty and fair dealing have allowed me to gain clients’ trust and confidence.

Describe your daily/weekly routine.
Client calls early morning and late night due to the time difference between India and the U.S. keep me busy during those times and deal-making during the day with projects and investment opportunities keep things interesting. My two dogs keep me busy during my spare time and my wife and I enjoy going hiking and exploring nature with them.

Share some of the growing pains in the industry/ profession/ startup/ latest project, and any failures, setbacks. And how you dealt with or overcame them.

I have been burnt more than once by clients whereby they take a lot of my time gaining a complete understanding of the investment process but end up going with the ‘cheapest’ option. Unfortunately, that is the nature of this business and I continue to tweak my approach to see how I can close the client instead of losing them to competition.

Any lessons learnt from these setbacks that you can share with our readers?

Don’t give everything away at once. Make the client wanting to come back to you for more and fully understand the value that you bring to the table. Try to get a commitment, contractual or financial at the earliest opportunity possible.

How has being a Desi inspired, motivated, or positively or negatively impacted you-professionally and personally?
For the most part, being ‘Desi’ has always been a positive trait personally and professionally. I was assumed to be smart when I started high school in the U.S., and, in fact, I proved everyone right by scoring high in all my tests. Sure there were those occasional taunts about being the person with the funny accent (which actually never really existed in my case), but I didn’t let that hold me down or demotivate me in some way. I just learned to ignore it. I kept doing what I wanted to do and wasn’t bothered about what some young not so enlightened 16-year old thought of me. Being Indo-American has helped me play a cross-border, cross-cultural role in the lives of people from both countries. This might sound clichéd but having an opportunity to live and work in India and the U.S. has really allowed me to enjoy what I do and do my little part in the bigger scheme of things.

What drives you? Approval of somebody/ anyone you are trying to impress (consciously or subconsciously)?

My desire to be close to nature drives me. I think subconsciously I am trying to impress my late mother by accomplishing things in my personal and professional life that she couldn’t have imagined for me.

What next? Where do you go from here? (1/3/5 years out)

Spend more time in India and be the market leader for what I do and in about 5-years time, hopefully have the freedom to live on a farm/ranch in Southern California taking in rescue dogs and horses.

Any practical and philosophical advice you would like to share?
Let bygones be bygones.

Please list any charity or non-profit you support that you would like readers to know about?
I support Akshya Patra and Sankara Eye Foundation.

Rapid Fire:

Favorite City/ cities - Los Angeles and Chandigarh

Favorite Movie – Dev D

Favorite Song(s) – Wakhra Swag (Punjabi)

Favorite time of day - 7.30pm

Weirdest thing you have ever done - That the world can know about? Accidently shoplifted a padlock from a CVS.