The Relentless Millennial
Yamal Yidios fulfills his childhood ambition by building a major real estate company in Miami
Looking for a high achiever in the millennial generation? Meet Yamal Yidios. Since founding Ytech International 10 years ago, he has invested in, developed and redeveloped over 7,000 housing units in the southeastern United States – an effort involving $1 billion in capital. Over time, Ytech has evolved into a fully integrated real estate and investment company with 150 staff members and a $300 million portfolio of assets.
Ytech’s roots and headquarters are in Miami, but it owns a diverse real estate portfolio of over 3,000 apartments, including 1,800 in South Florida and 1,300 in Houston. The company also has an ownership interest with a joint venture partner in 2.24 acres at 201 SE Second Avenue in downtown Miami, with entitlements for 2.15 million square feet of mixed-used development with up to 1,120 residential units. The land was purchased for $21 million from Florida Power & Light in January.
Ytech describes its approach as disciplined and value-oriented with a focus on risk and cash flow rather than real estate appreciation.
Yidios was the top Miami-Dade real estate honoree in SFBW’s 2015 Up & Comers. He was interviewed by SFBW Editor-in-Chief Kevin Gale at the company’s penthouse headquarters in downtown Miami.
The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Cartagena, Colombia, where I attended an American, English-speaking school. I attended the first two years of my undergraduate studies under a full academic scholarship at Stetson University in Florida, where I also had the opportunity to play NCAA tennis. I later transferred to the University of Florida, where I graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and continued on to get my master’s degree in engineering and real estate development.
What attracted you to the field of engineering?
My father instilled a strong work ethic in me from an early age (he was also a real estate developer) and made it a point to take me to his construction projects every afternoon after school and on weekends. So, I was exposed to this industry from early on and developed a passion for real estate development.
I had a big advantage in that I knew what I wanted to do from early on in life; I was able to relentlessly invest all my time and energy into the vision that I had for myself and for my company.
What did you do to receive the UF Engineer Scholar of the Year recognition?
I believe my advantage proved to be the fact that by the time I graduated, I already had four years of experience working on large-scale development projects with multinational engineering firms such as Kimley-Horn and Associates.
I struggled to balance a full-time work schedule with a full-time class schedule. It was a 24/7 commitment, as most days involved having to get up at 5 a.m. to make the long drive to the engineering firm, followed by a full day of classes. I averaged three hours of sleep for four years.
Why did you decide to start your career in Miami?
Miami was a no-brainer given that the city is so vibrant and culturally diverse. It is also experiencing tremendous growth in the real estate sector. I have always been attracted to Miami’s entrepreneurial spirit and its tropical landscape, which is why I knew it was the perfect fit for me.
How did you manage to do your first deal – a four-unit apartment complex in Miami Beach?
All of my college savings went into the purchase of this project. From the day that I closed on this building until the day the last condo unit sold, I did not take a single day off. I poured my heart and soul into making sure that this project would be a success.