Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Patrick Ghali, Co-Founder of Hedge-Fund Advisory Firm Sussex Partners

Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Patrick Ghali, Co-Founder of Hedge-Fund Advisory Firm Sussex Partners

Article excerpt

You don't have to own a risky business to be an entrepreneur. When I co-founded hedge fund advisory firm Sussex Partners with seasoned investor Robin Nydes in 2004, I knew it would be a long game. We matched investors with funds only after years of careful research. Getting clients to notice us at first was unsurprisingly tough. From my spare room-turned-office in Maida Vale, I started cold-calling banks in Switzerland. They get 50 calls a day, but if you're tenacious enough people will eventually listen.

It took six months to get our first client. I made 180 flights in 90 days, sometimes getting four hours in my own bed before having to wake up for the next trip, but it was always worth it. Business is based on trust and you can't build that by email. It's the reason we never charged up-front fees or retainers, and why we invested in our own funds. I even put my mother's pension into one. We have always believed completely in the advice we give.

As a result, when I got the call about Bernie Madoff's arrest in 2008, I was unconcerned and went back to sleep. Forty-eight hours later, people started pulling their money. We weren't exposed to Madoff at all, but that didn't matter. If it had the word hedge in it, it was evil. We lost half our business in six months.

This wasn't the first time I'd watched something go wrong with a company I had founded. Seven years earlier, a few of us at New York University started a internet shopping firm, Inshop. …

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