In this month’s spotlight we’re chatting with Danny Fields of NextGen Succession Partners, business owner extraordinaire and former Military legend.
What is your company name?
NextGen Succession Partners
How did you get into THIS line of business?
After spending 9 years in the US Army, I was at a decision point in my career. Staying in meant getting away from the adrenaline-inducing activities that got me to join in the first place. Leaving meant making a career leap into a world I knew very little about. It wasn’t an easy choice, but after deciding I could build a better future for myself outside of the Army, I moved to Houston and applied to Rice University’s MBA program, where I was fortunate enough to be accepted while also working full-time at General Electric.
While in my MBA program, I met my business partner – Steve Reis – and discovered that we had many shared experiences, from growing up in entrepreneurial families, to graduating from small military colleges, to serving in the US Army, to experiencing the same stresses and excitements of combat, to having an appetite for entrepreneurship. After learning about an opportunity to raise money and then use that money to search for a business that we would ultimately purchase and operate ourselves, we decided to partner and go on that journey together.
How would you describe the early years at NextGen Succession Partners?
The first several months at NextGen Succession Partners were a marriage of stress and excitement. The stress came from time management; we both had full-time jobs that required our full-time attention, we both were in an academically-intense MBA program, I had just become a father, and we had to use vacation days from our jobs to fly around the country and ask people to trust us enough to write us a really big check…every minute was a valuable resource. However, the excitement was always something that was more important than the stress. We were both blazing new career paths for ourselves, building new skills, and entering into an environment we had only really read about. What’s more exciting than the unknown?
What challenges did you face then? What would you do differently?
Time management was incredibly difficult. With full-time jobs, a son on the way, and attending an MBA program on the weekends, it required honest and authentic communication with everyone…my business partner, my family, my entire support network.
Honestly, I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I’m a firm believer that we learn the most about ourselves when we’re placed in challenging circumstances. You’ll never know what sort of stress you can handle until you’re actually faced with it. Everyone is their own personal hero in their own minds, but we typically behave very differently than we think we would once we’re actually faced with adversity. I say all that just to emphasize that even though the first few months were challenging, I wouldn’t change them.
How has NextGen Succession Partners grown? How have you evolved with the marketplace?
We’ve shifted our strategy a couple of times. We started very broadly in our search for a business to buy. We’ve since narrowed our appetite for industries and have focused on a select few that we think fit our criteria as well as our own personal interests.
What advice would you give to someone else starting out in this industry today?
Talk to as many people as you possibly can. There are hundreds of different flavors of private equity, and you need to find the flavor that best suits you. If you jump into this without a clear strategy forward, there will be significant challenges ahead.
What’s been your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is just that I didn’t do this sooner. This has been a life-changing career move for me. Between building a completely new set of skills, working with an incredibly talented business partner, being exposed to so many different business owners, and hearing their stories of grit and hard work to get to where they are now, I only wish I’d gotten into the game earlier.
What’s been your biggest success?
Hands down, my biggest success is finding an absurdly talented partner who is somehow able to deal with me interrupting him every 15 minutes to discuss irrelevant business news or talk about how we need more snacks in the office.
Did you raise any funds and if so, how?
Yes, we raised $600,000 from a small group of investors, which is enough to cover our overhead expenses for two years. It includes everything from our salaries, rent, business cards, travel expenses to meet business owners, and so on.
Raising money can be an arduous task if you’ve never done it before. Steve and I had never done it, and it was very intimidating at first. I’ve never in my life asked someone for $100,000 before without it being a joke. Once we realized that people with money WANT to invest it, it was fairly simple. We found a network of investors who had a substantial history of investing in what we were doing, and in most cases, we reached out with a cold introduction to ask for a meeting. To our surprise, that worked most of the time. Once we were able to meet them in person, it was just a matter of selling them on ourselves and our strategy to spend their money.
If you had to sum up your experience as an entrepreneur / business owner in one sentence, what would it say?
I can’t imagine a scenario where I’m not an entrepreneur ever again.
Learn more about Danny or get in touch, https://nextgensuccession.com/