How to Build & Launch a New Business

On Wednesday, May 16th, the Young Leaders Group hosted “How to Build & Launch a New Business” at CFA Society New York’s headquarters.  The basis of this event was to bring together a group of company founders with experience spanning many different areas of the financial services industry to discuss their experiences in starting their own businesses. 

The exceptional founders who joined us were:

  • Simon Lack, CFA – Founder and Managing Partner of SL Advisors,
  • Natalia Oberti Noguera – Founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels
  • Nick Leopard – Founder and CEO of Accordion Partners
  • Aaron Schumm – Founder and CEO of Vestwell

The event was moderated by Cortney Stapleton, a Partner at Bliss Integrated Communication, who has two decades of experience in PR focusing on business and financial services companies.  She is also a founding member of Exponent Women, an organization focused on senior women in the deal-making industry.

The format of “How to Build & Launch a New Business” was quite unique in having a series of fireside chats with each founder separately.  We were able to spend 20 minutes intimately getting to know how each person was able to make the moves necessary to not only start their own business, but also continually grow that business.  By taking this approach, we focused on the specific identities of everyone, which allowed us to learn how each one was able to be successful on their own terms. 

We learned that passion for their business and the relentless pursuit of success was a key theme among all of our panelists.  There were also many other similarities, as well as differences between the stories, priorities, and motivations of our guests. 

  • Simon Lack, CFA discussed the importance of understanding that although most of the time you must focus on portfolio management duties, sometimes you must also be willing and able to deal with a leaky water cooler in the office. Simon has written many books, launched ETFs, and manages millions of dollars, but also understands the humility needed to run a small business.
  • Natalia Oberti Noguera showed great passion for why she created and why she continues to run Pipeline Angels. Speaking to the inequality seen on both sides of the table in the capital raising for and by women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs, she is working to overhaul the status quo.  Pipeline Angels focuses on creating an environment where women and non-binary femmes can support each other in pursuing for-profit social ventures, which is completely underrepresented in the current state of angel investing.
  • Nick Leopard took us on a journey of how a business continues to evolve over time.During the financial crisis, as Nick found himself spending his time in Private Equity helping portfolio companies stay afloat, he saw the opportunity to provide companies with an ‘investment banker on demand’ model.  Although this business was successful and continued to grow, Nick realized that to be truly successful and scale, a company needs to focus on the area where they can add the most value.  At that point, Nick decided to concentrate his efforts into being the go-to partner for private equity portfolio companies in the Office of the CFO.  He points out that one of the keys to success has been having the right people and the right culture in the organization, to which he credits his human resources and operations team.
  • Aaron Schumm of Vestwell showed us what dedication and hard work means in creating a successful venture. He estimated that he has taken about a month off (including weekends) in the last ten years, but he loves every minute of it.  The idea here is that if you are truly passionate and love what you’re doing, that is where your focus should be.  Beyond the hard work and dedication, Aaron has clearly had a great vision for his multiple ventures, but he is also able to pivot when needed and make the necessary, but tough, decisions to keep moving forward.

All of our guests came prepared with amazing insights and our moderator helped foster a very engaging and interactive discussion.  The Q&A from the audience helped deliver another level of engagement that drove home the main themes of this event.  We would like to thank our guests, our moderator, and our audience for helping contribute to a very successful event.