On the anniversary of 9/11 this week I had the opportunity to talk to Air Force veteran Ryan Brown, who served in the Iraq War, about his goal of building a private-equity business.
“I am on the entrepreneurship journey and my mission is to create jobs for veterans by way of buying and building a portfolio of companies,” Brown wrote me earlier this summer in introducing himself via LinkedIn. “It’s a very ambitious goal, but I know it’s possible.”
When I caught up by phone with Brown on Wednesday, he was in Orlando looking to meet up with hospitality executives at the Hilton Americas Owner Conference. Hospitality is one of the services sectors that he has his eye on to buy businesses in through his firm, Patriot Investment Partners. Brown, who’s active in ACG, recruiting businesses in the Melbourne, Florida area, also works as a turnaround management consultant.
Below is more about Brown, who shares my predilection for bullet points, from a written Q&A lightly edited:
Tell us about your career in the Air Force, and about some of your formative experiences while in the military:
- Enlisted Air Force
- Six years active (fire fighter and first responder)
- Two years Air Force Reserves (civil engineer assistant)
- Deployed to Balad, Iraq
- Extended temporary duty assignment (TDY) in Clear Alaska
- Invited to try out for the Air Force Boxing Team
- Won many awards as an airman
- Volunteer Award
What was the most challenging situation you faced?
- That would be getting into the Air Force. I had a hard time getting the score I wanted [on the ASVAB]. It took me four tries and two years after I graduated high school to finally enter the military. I met the challenge by finding a tutor, buying every book I could, and meeting with my recruiter every week to get help and to show him that I was serious about joining. Had I given up on the test, you would not be speaking with me today.
How did you get interested in private equity? What are your short-term and long-range goals in the profession?
- In 2016, while working at a hotel, I asked who owned it and no one could tell me. So I did research and found out that private-equity shop Platinum Equity was the owner. At that point, I did research on them…From there, I got every book, listened to every YouTube video, and went to every conference that I could so I could learn more.
- My short-term goals are to put together a deal advisory board, get connected with investment bankers, and make my first company purchase.
- My long-term goal is to have a portfolio of companies and to be very deliberate in hiring veterans within those portfolio companies. Just like the big PE shops are doing. However, we are going to take a different approach, which is letting veterans have the opportunity to actually become partners in the company.
Assuming you’re open to joining an existing shop, what kind of talents, skills and experience would you bring to the firm? Why should they consider hiring military veterans like yourself?
- Strong sense of commitment
- Positive and strong work ethic
- Adaptability…performing under pressure
- Moral and ethical foundation
- Strategic thinking
- Experienced being in charge of a million-dollar product at age 19
- Strong networker
- Can stand in front of hundred or thousands and speak with assertiveness
I believe all of these are reasons why a private equity firm should consider hiring a veteran also.
Reach Brown via LinkedIn.