The oldest of four children, Peter J. Burns III was raised by well-established parents—first in the exclusive Chicago suburb of Barrington Hills and then in affluent New Canaan, Ct. The family summered on Nantucket Island and wintered at Sanibel Island, and when they were home, Burns’ father spent ample time playing golf at a country the Biltmore Country Club. It was there that Burns made his first dollar.
“I retrieved golf balls that golfers hit into water hazards and sold them back with a glass of lemonade,” said Burns, who was six at the time. “It didn’t take long for my venture to be shut down, but I made $50 that day, compared to my $2 a week allowance.”
More than five decades have passed, yet Burns vividly remembers the story. The experience played a pivotal role in shaping his future while paving opportunities for others to achieve their dreams.
“I never forgot that lesson, and it inspires me to this day,” Burns added. “By thinking of an idea, and implementing it, I provided a service that was in demand and was generously rewarded with what I earned. That implanted the concept in my mind that ‘what one can conceive, one can achieve.’”
Life is a series of evolving chapters. For the now 63-year-old Burns, those chapters have featured one constant theme — a thirst for launching and growing business ventures. The serial startup entrepreneur has started, operated, sold, and/or expanded 150 plus companies in an array of industries.
At an early age, he started the first moped rental business in America. Decades later, Burns founded the nation’s first college for entrepreneurship. More recently, he created a luxury group home business for senior citizens which promises to reshape that industry in the coming months.
Seizing the Opportunity in a Beleaguered Industry
With the destruction of the pandemic, the luxury group home business is a major focus of Burns.
“Group homes and nursing homes were set up poorly, where residents were too close to other residents and procedures to prevent the spread of a contagion were not in place,” said Burns. “By taking the lessons learned in the pandemic and applying a little extra capital, we can give residents and their families piece of mind. We have a half-dozen homes and a mansion poised to open as the pandemic wanes. We are seeking investors to further build out this model.”
Burns’ affection for starting new businesses, like the luxury group home business, is matched by a passion for offering funding and guidance to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
That passion led to the creation of Burns Funding in 2019, which is an emerging aggregator of non-traditional tools for securing growth capital.
Among those tools, Burns Funding institutionalized the bridge funding process to help clients reduce credit card debt and obtain a higher credit score. This allows Burns Funding clients to secure more capital at remarkably low interest rates, in some cases as low as zero percent, for an introductory period of 12-21 months. Others include the use of cost segregation studies to allow commercial real estate owners to generate capital (in the form of tax savings) based on a little-known IRS allowance as well as the creation of a blanket loan program that absorbs multiple loans at higher interest rate into one note at a more modest interest rate.
Along with the funding, Burns embraces the role of guiding entrepreneurs down a prosperous path.
“I remain inspired to create and help others create by identifying opportunities that exist between seemingly unrelated components that, when joined, lead to a profitable venture,” Burns said. “All my life, I’ve had an uncanny ability to recognize patterns and opportunities that no one else sees.”
Burns Funding and its application of bridge funding is a prime example of this. Burns is not the first person to think of the idea to use a bridge loan to reduce credit card debt and gain a higher credit score. Yet the premise is generally attributed to shady companies charging exorbitant rates with the intention of making money off hard-working consumers. Motivated by the dozens of daily requests for financial help from existing aspiring business owners, Burns developed a platform where consumers struggling with credit card debt and small business owners eager for capital can unlock more money at better rates.
Did Somebody Say Shark!
“Fortunately, I have a particularly good skill set of recognizing opportunities early in the process and being able to fund almost any enterprise with creative financing techniques I’ve learned over my career,” Burns said.
One prime example of this might seem outlandish to some, but not Burns. Shark attacks in beach towns that rely heavily on tourism represents millions of dollars in lost revenue. Multiple reports in recent months have shown that Orcas, or Killer Whales, are a predator to sharks and sharks leave any area occupied by the Orcas. Orcas are not a threat to humans. Why not form a venture where the presence of Orcas can be replicated, Burns recently thought.
“I spent a lot of time on Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard as a child and shark incidents there are what inspired the book and the movie, Jaws.” Burns said. “If we can create the presence of Orcas it could turn beachfront communities into shark-free zones.”
Burns has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and spoken with dozens of scientists, bringing him closer to the solution to a problem that few could envision.
“What a perfect example of finding a problem, implementing a solution, and making a difference for the benefit of humankind,” said Burns. “There are thousands of businesses like this waiting for a willing entrepreneur and the necessary funding. Let’s get started.”