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Making Black History in Hotel Ownership with Davonne Reaves

After working her way up from front desk clerk to an asset manager overseeing a $1 billion hotel portfolio for CHMWarnick, in 2017 Davonne Reaves broke out on her own starting The Vonne Group, doing real estate advisory.  In 2020, Davonne Reaves became the first Black person to win the International Society of Hospitality Consultants Lori Raleigh Award For Emerging Excellence In Hospitality Consulting. Not stopping there, in 2020, Davonne became the youngest Black co-owner of a major hotel franchise.

In 2021, seeing a need for community and information, Davonne launched one of the largest Black-owned hotel directories Stay Black Experience, and in 2022, she introduced the first Black-owned commercial real estate crowdfunding platform Vesterr.

This year, Davonne has set herself the goal of creating 90 hotel investors in 90 days!  She has 63 more to go.  We chat with Davonne about Vesterr, how it works, and what other entrepreneurs can learn from her experiences. 

Davonne Reaves making black history in hotel ownership

What inspired you to start Vesterr and how is it going so far?

I was inspired to start Vesterr with the goal of establishing a marketplace where individuals could invest in commercial real estate, including hotels, and where entrepreneurs could raise capital. My primary aim was to streamline the process, making it easier for retail investors to connect with commercial real estate opportunities.

Have many women invested with you at Vesterr so far?

The majority of investors on Vesterr, particularly within the platform itself and the deals available, are women, with a significant representation of Black women. However, it's important to note that anyone, regardless of gender or background, can participate and invest. 

What kind of returns can investors get with Vesterr?

As Vesterr operates solely as a platform, the returns generated are tied to specific deals. Remarkably, the majority of the deals we've observed have yielded at least a 2x equity multiple (2 times their money back). 

What is the minimum people can invest and how risky is it?

Vesterr operates as a crowdfunding platform, where specific deals aren't prearranged. The minimum investment amount can vary, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 per opportunity. Investing carries inherent risks, so we strongly advise seeking professional guidance before making any investment decisions. Despite being regulated by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and overseen by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), we still emphasize the importance of investors conducting their own due diligence. 

For people that are interested, how can they get involved?

Potential investors can get involved by visiting, where they can register to join our mailing list. Additionally, they can follow us on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Love how you don't just think of ideas Davonne, you act on them!  You are truly changing history and creating a new legacy.  What tips would you give other female entrepreneurs on getting ideas off the ground?

  • Believe in Yourself: Confidence in your abilities is key. Trust your instincts and believe that you have what it takes to succeed.

  • Find Your Passion: Pursue a business idea that aligns with your interests and passions. Passion will keep you motivated through the challenges of entrepreneurship.

  • Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with mentors, peers, and advisors who can provide guidance, support, and encouragement along the way.

  • Embrace Learning: Continuously seek knowledge and skills relevant to your business. Be open to learning from both successes and failures.

  • Take Calculated Risks: Entrepreneurship involves risks, but they should be calculated and informed. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone while also mitigating potential downsides.

  • Develop Resilience: Expect setbacks and obstacles, but don't let them deter you. Learn from failures, adapt, and keep moving forward.

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Running a business can be demanding, so prioritize self-care to maintain your physical and mental well-being. Remember that taking care of yourself is crucial for long-term success.

  • Seek Funding and Resources: Don't hesitate to explore funding options and resources available specifically for female entrepreneurs. There are many organizations and initiatives aimed at supporting women in business.

  • Network Strategically: Build relationships with other entrepreneurs, industry professionals, and potential partners. Networking can open doors to opportunities and valuable connections.

  • Stay True to Your Values: Let your values guide your decisions and actions in business. Building a business that aligns with your principles will not only bring personal fulfillment but also resonate with customers and stakeholders.

  • Be Bold and Assertive: Don't be afraid to speak up, negotiate, and assert yourself in business situations. Confidence and assertiveness are important qualities for success.

  • Celebrate Your Achievements: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Recognizing your achievements will boost morale and motivate you to keep pushing forward. 


What was an unexpected challenge you had to face and how did you get around it?

An unexpected challenge I encountered as a serial entrepreneur was the profound loss of my grandmother and father within a short span of time, coupled with the joyous arrival of my own child. Balancing the grieving process with the demands of entrepreneurship and motherhood presented a significant emotional and logistical hurdle.

To navigate this challenge, I turned inward, drawing strength from the memories and values instilled in me by my late grandmother and father. Their legacies became my guiding light, inspiring me to persevere and honor their memory through my entrepreneurial endeavors. Embracing the responsibility of parenthood, I channeled my love and determination into building a legacy that would make my late father, grandmother, and son proud.

Through introspection and prioritization, I refined my focus, dedicating myself wholeheartedly to creating a lasting impact through my ventures. This newfound clarity propelled me forward, empowering me to overcome adversity with resilience and purpose. Each milestone achieved became a tribute to the indomitable spirit of my loved ones, driving me to build a legacy that transcends generations.

In honoring the memory of my late family members and nurturing the future of my own child, I discovered a profound sense of purpose and fulfillment. Their enduring presence continues to fuel my entrepreneurial journey, serving as a constant reminder of the resilience and determination that reside within me. 

Davonne Reaves making Black History in hotel ownership
Davonne Reaves and her son

You're also a single Mom of a 5 year old son, I know this is a trite question, but seriously, how do you balance entrepreneurship and family? 

Balancing the roles of a single mom to a vibrant 5-year-old son, a serial entrepreneur managing ventures like Vesterr, The Vonne Group, and Stay Black Experience, alongside being a co-owner of three thriving hotels, is a juggling act that requires meticulous planning, dedication, and adaptability.

My days often start early, with the joyful chaos of getting my son ready for school and ensuring he's equipped for his day ahead. Once he's settled, I dive into the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship. Whether it's strategizing for Vesterr's growth, overseeing operations at The Vonne Group, or promoting unforgettable Black Owned experiences at Stay Black Experience, each venture demands my unwavering focus and creative energy.

Amidst the whirlwind of meetings, brainstorming sessions, and negotiations, I prioritize quality time with my son. Whether it's sharing stories over dinner, exploring new adventures on weekends, or simply enjoying moments of playfulness together, his presence serves as a grounding force amidst the hustle and bustle of entrepreneurship.

As a single mom and business owner, I've learned the importance of delegation and time management. I surround myself with a reliable support system, including trusted caregivers for my son and competent teams to manage the day-to-day operations of my businesses. This allows me to allocate my time efficiently, ensuring that I can be fully present in both my personal and professional endeavors.

Despite the challenges and occasional moments of overwhelm, I thrive on the exhilarating journey of entrepreneurship and the joy of motherhood. Each day presents new opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally, and I'm grateful for the chance to make a meaningful impact in both realms of my life. Through perseverance, passion, and a steadfast commitment to my vision, I navigate the intricate balance of motherhood, entrepreneurship, and hotel ownership with grace and determination. 


Thank you for sharing your insights Davonne, keep making Black history!  We are rooting for you to hit your target of 90 and whatever goals you dream of next! Thank you!

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