The Mini-Moguls at the Gate



Marilyn Kane doesn’t miss being a schoolteacher. “People ask me that all the time,” Ms. Kane said. “And I don’t really. But I do enjoy explaining things well to people and seeing that light go on.”

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Ms. Kane is the president and a founding partner of Iridium Capital, a real estate fund management company with an emphasis on retail properties (including Walgreens and 7-Eleven) and an exclusive focus on triple net leases. Hatched by Ms. Kane, her husband David Kane and Chief Financial Officer Sean Shanahan during the depths of the Great Recession, Iridium aims to mint what Ms. Kane calls “mini-moguls,” opening its doors to investors lacking beaucoup capital and investment expertise.

Although she no longer teaches in the classroom, Ms. Kane is a fixture on the financial lecture circuit, and she takes pride in introducing largely female audiences to the possibilities of real estate investment. She aims to erase “that deer in the headlight look” that often greets an economics crash course, “especially with women,” Ms. Kane said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, finance—I don’t know that.’ And I tell them, ‘Do not say that to me.’”

Marilyn Kane (Photo: Will O'Hare)
Marilyn Kane (Photo: Will O’Hare)

Ms. Kane’s first real estate instructor was Norman Bobrow, the founder of tenant representation brokerage Norman Bobrow & Company. She graduated from New York University in 1970. After working at a school on the then-terrifying intersection of Avenue A and 12th Street—“we’re talking about crack all over the place, a policeman shot two blocks away”—and then at Random House, she found herself in 1986 in need of a more lucrative position.

“The father of my children had separated from the family,” Ms. Kane said. “And I needed to make more money. Back then, that often meant selling copy machines or cars, but someone suggested real estate. I took the courses and was offered to join with Norman Bobrow. He was a marvelous mentor.” Ms. Kane went on to become a broker and then a principal of the firm Sperry Van Ness Butler Kane.

After the crash of 2008, Ms. Kane’s evolution from broker to principal progressed to the point where she could start a fund. “I was just going to do commercial real estate,” she said. “But the idea started fomenting. I personally wanted to look into some very safe real estate investments. It was such an interesting time,” she said of the Great Recession. “And I hope it happens again in your lifetime.”