“Find an asset class institutions aren’t aware of. When they do that’s your exit.”

These were the words spoken to me by the Chief Asset Officer of my old private equity job.

Well, I’m paraphrasing. But that’s the gist.

We one day were hanging out smoking cigars and drinking whiskey in San Francisco, pontificating on the next hot asset class. CAO mentioned he was looking at Detroit when homes there were going for $10,000/home after Detroit filed bankruptcy in 2013. Homes there now average around $80,000/home. Would’ve been the type of play financiers regaled themselves with for generations.

This is the edge for those of us savvy with social media. Every day there is someone patting themselves on the back regarding their returns. I’ve seen individuals invest in mobile homes, vending machines, Turo car fleets-the choices are endless.

I hold in high esteem the business acumen of Robert F. Smith, Vista Equity Partners’ Founder and CEO. He began investing in enterprise software right before the dot com crash of 2001-2002. He was investing in lower to mid-market private software companies. He was buying controlling interests in those businesses for pennies on the dollar before institutions flooded the class with capital. Those institutions are who he exited. Now he’s worth multiples of billions.

Or in the words of Sam Zell, “If everyone is going left, look right”.