Letter to a friend who may start a new investment platform

A friend of mine who is thinking about starting a new hedge fund recently asked for my advice. I wrote him this letter. While this friend is thinking of starting a hedge fund, I think many of the questions are relevant to starting any new platform.

I know you’ve been thinking about starting your own vehicle for a long time. At the start of each of the last several years, after your bonus check has cleared, you’ve debated whether to take the plunge. In advance of our lunch next week, I’ve tried to distill the patterns my partners at East Rock and I have observed in other new initiatives into a series of seven questions for you to ask yourself as you hold the possibility of launching your own platform live in your mind.

1) Are you ready to fully own the ambiguity of a new initiative?

2) Is your spouse fully on board?

3) How will you accelerate the process of building trust with new partners?

4) How will you protect the climate within your skull?

5) How are you going to source enough good ideas?

6) What are you compulsive about? Is it possible to put that at the center of the platform’s activity?

7) Are you really focusing on what you’re going to value over the long term?

Graham Duncan

I co-founded and help manage East Rock Capital, a multi-family investment office. I also co-chair The Sohn Investment Conference, which raises money for pediatric cancer research. Before I set up East Rock fourteen years ago, I worked at two other investment firms. I graduated from Yale in 1996.

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