Update in September 2019: Peter Rex is the founder and Executive Chairman of Makerise, a family of technology, real estate, and investment companies. Trustwork is a part of Makerise Launches.
“Trustwork is going to be the biggest company in the world,” said Rex. “Bold statement, but we’re actually poised to do so.”
Trustwork has begun by “uberizing” real estate services and is soon expanding into a platform for entrepreneurship where anyone can find and do business on the Trustwork platform.
A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Peter Rex developed core elements of Trustwork’s vision while building a $1.5 billion integrated investment and operations company which now has more than 400 employees, over $135 million in annual revenue, and $350 million of equity invested. With offices in Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Austin, and Dallas, Trustwork claims to be “a technology business recreating the global economy and building the New Land of Opportunity, where the power of the New Economy – including access to a range of technology, finance, and opportunity – is available to all.”
To succeed at building out this platform, Peter spent over 18 months traveling to 85 countries around the world, including more than 200 cities. Although he took his wife and first child, this wasn’t a pleasure trip. Peter had over 1,000 meetings with local people in all of these cities and came back with 1,600 pages of notes. He met with private equity folks, people who were the owners of property and businesses. He used his networks from Georgetown, Harvard, Young Presidents Organization, and Tiger 21, to help secure many high-level meetings.
To prepare for this trip, he and his team of researchers made tons of cold calls. They secured significant meetings all over the place. This trip, has now become “a huge competitive advantage for me,” said Rex. “Now I know I have an edge.”
One of the things he learned is that “the whole world is kind of so big, but so small,” he said. “There are some things you just don’t understand until you’re on the ground … to really have a sense of what it’s like for the entrepreneurs on the ground.”
While Peter was fortunate to have some great networks and some great previous success in business, which has helped with access to people and capital, he wants to ensure that millions of others don’t need to invest that kind of time and resources to acquire these networks in order to succeed. And that’s where the Trustwork platform comes in.
“It’s a platform of entrepreneurship,” said Rex. “The idea behind Trustwork is to empower people to rise up and live abundantly.” If Trustwork is successful in their mission, “Everybody who is supposed to be an entrepreneur can be an entrepreneur by developing their own skills … and really in today’s economy that’s the only way forward for someone in the workforce. So what this platform is, it is the new economy. We actually want to be the world’s largest economy … an economy that is larger than the United States.”
“Working people everywhere need a new land of opportunity,” said Rex. “I see things as GLOCAL – meaning global and local.” Peter has put in the effort of going around the globe to learn about hundreds of local economies first hand. He has done the groundwork to help “turn on the spickets for capital” for working people everywhere. Trustwork is building a platform to help working people build their profile and launch their own businesses.
As Peter Rex first started out in business, he started trying to learn the things he didn’t know. He didn’t have the networks – so he went to Harvard law school, to build his networks. He didn’t have the capital, so he used his networks to find capital. But when you’re just starting out in business, you often times have to find your own success before others start investing in you.
As he started building out his first company, he started realizing all the things he didn’t know and went out to get them. Through this process, he came to believe he could help others through a new business model that eventually led him to building Trustwork.
“I started realizing I could build a platform that allows people to plug in, make their reputation known so if they’re excellent they could do it on merit – not if they went to some school or not – they could base it on merit, which is what it should be about anyways; and they can access capital.”
“The most important thing, first thing in business for anything to work, is trust,” said Rex. “There needs to be some kind of basis for engagement in commerce – and in order for that to exist you need to have some either trust in the person you’re dealing with … or you trust an intermediary that’s in between you.”
That’s what the Trustwork platform does for working people everywhere and it’s also why ne named the company Trustwork. “Trust is the first thing in business. That’s the bottom line. And the second word is work: and that’s what our focus is: making people productive, empowering them.”
Many web-based platforms, like Facebook as one example, make money off of distracting people, keeping them on their site as long as possible, to generate ad revenue for more eyeball time. Trustwork is taking the opposite approach.
“We are actually going to make money on making people productive,” said Rex. “Our approach is actually that your eyeball is not on that screen too long … it’s really the opposite of a Facebook kind of approach.”
But Peter Rex didn’t start his own mission in life as wanting to be a businessman. In fact, he was raised with a negative view of business people and profit-seekers. As an undergrad he majored in philosophy and political philosophy at Georgetown University. He even went to a monastery, but through his own prayer, he kept having this calling to go into business. He felt very uncomfortable with it, until he talked to another priest who encouraged him to follow his calling. He came to the realization that he could do good works through business.
“Business is one of the fastest moving things today,” said Rex. He has already created hundreds of jobs through his real estate ventures. And now, with Trustwork, he is building a platform that is “trying to help that individual that’s trying to move up and they’re struggling.” Access to networks, capital, and software are the types of things that entrepreneurs need but often times struggle to find. But now those three things move globally and the platform that Trustwork has created is giving them access to these essential elements of building their business where they are locally.
While in college at Georgetown, he often volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Sisters, who served some of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington DC. The Sisters instilled in him a belief of serving the individual in front of you, with the motto of “Serving Jesus and the Poor.” He has turned it into “Serving People in Business” (or for him personally, “Serving Jesus in Business.”)
He knows that while business and capitalism create jobs and have uplifted millions of people from poverty, that “business has its limitations. You can’t get to the poor through business – directly. You can affect it indirectly. But directly you can’t get to it,” said Rex. That’s why he has stayed dedicated to private philanthropy by creating the Make Rise Foundation, as a complement to what he’s doing on the business side. “We have to make sure we are doing something in addition to business as well,” said Rex.
Today, he has 20,000 users on the Trustwork platform, but over the course of the next three to seven years, he projects that millions of people will be running their entrepreneurial ventures on the Trustwork platform.
He is using Trustwork himself to back some companies on the platform as “proof of concept.” But other people are running their companies on the Trustwork platform, “building their reputational information that can turn into entrepreneurial power for you in the future,” said Rex.
“Entrepreneurship is about passion if you’re going to be successful,” he said. “Of the most important things,” for an entrepreneur, “I put love at the top… because you have to love what you’re doing, you have to love who you serve, and I think you should love who you work with as well.”
“Being an entrepreneur is being an artist – because it’s about creativity,” said Rex. “In our nature, we’re creators. We’re created in the image of God … if that is the case, then we would reflect this in some way. When we are creating, we most reflect that creative nature … everyone is called to do that.”
And for Peter Rex, Trustwork has now become his avenue for empowering the creative spirit of millions of entrepreneurs and uplifting people across the globe in the process.
Peter Rex is based in Seattle, where he lives with his wife and three children. To learn more about him and his work, visit: Trustwork.com. To listen to the full interview, tune into Episode 53 of the Agents of Innovation podcast on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, or SoundCloud. You can also follow the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We welcome your comments below!