Monday, January 31, 2011

Bottom-Up Reassessment

I feel I have come full circle.  Last year, I began this blog inspired by my former professor’s, Edward Altman’s, work at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business. A year later, in December of 2010, he gave me his latest paper to read, “Sovereign Default Risk Assessment From The Bottom-Up,” where he and Herbert Rijken elaborate on their new model, based on Altman’s classic Z-score, and how it measures sovereign default risk based primarily on the health of privately held companies within each country. (You can find a copy of his paper here:

Yet, this last year was more than just reading papers. The year took shape for me by going to conferences, attending meetings, and joining online discussions. All these activities had one thing in common: they evolved around those who manage private companies (small, medium, and large) and the problems that they face each day.

Ironically, I have been pedaling backwards for the entire year. I attended several private equity conferences where the Who’s Who of the financial world stirred as much thrill from the public as Bono does every time he appears in concert. I backpedaled my way to meetings on Venture Capital and realized that the major players had already had a whole other life in seed investing, often as entrepreneurs themselves—on the “other” side, that is. Naturally, I began following what’s happening in the start-up world but from the entrepreneur’s side. Funding ceased being a concern (although it very much is for every single one of the entrepreneurs I met last year).  Building the business, gaining traction, creating a product the customer wants, these have been the primary questions on my mind since last summer.  In the process, I met wonderful people who are inspiring, imaginative, and generous with their advice like Peter Shankman of HARO, Graham Lawlor of Ultra Light Start Ups, Carrissa Reiniger of Silver Lining and so many others.

While I continue feeling the attraction for companies that remain detached from the public markets, what happens in each sphere (private vs. public) is very much intertwined. Vistage, a West-Coast membership organization for CEOs of small and mid-sized companies, has been reading the market’s pulse on a quarterly basis and has been predicting consumers’ behavior and its effect on the businesses with which it works. No matter which side one takes, every decision has consequences and this is what I learned as I studied a few companies that had made a difference in the way the business world is functioning and re-structuring.

My hiatus from this blog for almost three months was due to my own desire to try the market out and build something for myself, a company that caters to those who have not had the chance or the time to learn how to appreciate and incorporate luxury into their lives ( And while the dice has not been cast yet on my venture’s longevity, I am thrilled to return to this blog and keep you posted on what the conference/meet-up and real life circuit has in store for all of us inquisitive minds this year.

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