It is not often when you see a once-homeless teen who eventually goes on to build a multinational investment company.
Early in Frank Song's life, his parents were often sick, so he needed to fend for himself from an early age. He spent most of his teen years borrowing clothes from friends and sleeping in his local Walmart.
During his university years, he operated a real estate business to finance his education, and within four years, invested $10 million into distressed real estate.
Even with all these setbacks and disadvantages, he eventually found his way into one of the most exclusive fields – Finance.
He began his career at the 130-year old investment bank Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF) as a technology investment banker where he executed mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and leverage buyouts. Then soon after, joined one of the most prominent and well-respected tech buyout firms as a private equity investor. There he worked with founders and CEOs of technology and tech-enabled services companies on potential investments to help grow their companies.
Today, Song is most known for building 8-figure businesses in what he calls "unsexy markets." Interestingly, he has also built these businesses against the typical Silicon Valley tradition of raising large amounts of investor capital. Instead, he claims he has never taken any investor money to build his companies.
When we pressed Song for why business owners choose to receive an investment from him, he answered, "Well, it's because I have a variety of experience that spans investment banking, private equity, real estate, sales, negotiating legal documents, operations, hiring, technology, and programming. The reason why this is important is because a business is a connected organization."
He further states, "many companies struggle to grow because they think of their company in terms of modularized 'departments.' As a specific example, the common problem is that the marketing department is often on an island of their own disconnected from the sales department. However, the customer's buying process starts with viewing the marketing and advertising, then continues with the salesperson, then ending with the product or solution delivery.”
Song then invited the following question, “If the buying process is one continuous process, how can you expect success if each department is not linked closely with each other?” He goes on to express, "This is where my understanding of so many different fields comes in and adds tremendous value to the businesses I invest in."
Song continued to communicate, "So when a business owner comes to me and says 'I want to increase sales,' 'I want to increase profits,' or 'I want to increase my market share,' well, there are many areas that need to come together to make that possible. The proper solution is multi-disciplined. Song shares the following example, "if someone wants to increase profits, then I need to build a detailed financial model for us to analyze the key areas of optimization of the business, then we need to think about all the ways available to optimize them."
He goes on to propose the following considerations, "should we change our billing model, or offer discounts and bundling? Maybe we could scale marketing or expand to other channels or change our sales team's compensation structure. Perhaps we can test new value propositions, acquire a competitor, or grow organically. What if we can integrate technology into the workflow or reorganize people's roles and responsibilities?"
Song concludes, "Then, of course, we need to build another financial model to analyze each proposed decision's impact and potential risks. In the end, it's usually a combination of solutions, since again, to increase profits, it's rarely just one department involved."