The Fresh Take: BBH Next Generation Summit 2024 Recap

  • Private Banking
In this issue of The Fresh Take, we asked our Next Gen Summit speakers about their experiences as entrepreneurs and in the field of artificial intelligence.

In June, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) hosted a Next Generation Summit for dozens of guests ages 18 to 40 at our New York office. It was a day packed with engaging sessions, networking opportunities, and guest speaker panels. This year’s summit was centered around entrepreneurship and investing, with workshops and speakers focused on answering some “need to know” questions for young entrepreneurs:

  • Is there a “right” way to invest?
  • What are different approaches to investing, and why is investing important?
  • How do I find investors and get funding?
  • What is the best way to build a network?
  • What does success look like, and can it be predicted?

Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Discussion

Following the morning kickoff, where guests got to know each other over breakfast and an icebreaker activity, Thomas Thurston, chief technologist at Ducera Partners, spoke with Mack Dowling, BBH relationship manager and associate director of BBH’s Next Generation Experience. Thurston, who specializes in analyzing innovation using artificial intelligence (AI), discussed the value of failure in the entrepreneurial decision-making process and how to know which variables count, which don’t, and to what degree they can affect a startup’s success.

For example, the healthcare space has tens of thousands of companies, but Thurston said that by using AI, he can quickly narrow the universe in which he believes he can successfully deploy Ducera’s venture capital (VC) to just a handful of companies that have a higher likelihood of successful, profitable exits. He made the point that in the world of VC investing, success is not only a profitable company, but also a company that is sold or goes public, because his mandate is to eventually return capital to his investors.

Thurston also explained that AI reveals counterintuitive indicators for success – for example, a new entrant to an existing market with a lower-end product actually has better odds of survival and a higher growth rate than a new entrant or an incumbent with a better-performing product. He also spoke to generational divides surrounding the use of AI and how over time more people are understanding how AI can be used responsibly and efficiently, vs. simply being afraid that AI will hallucinate or replace their jobs.

Entrepreneurship Panel

Next, BBH’s Carter Moore hosted a panel of young entrepreneurs. Marc Baghadjian, co-founder and CEO of Hypercard and a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree; Tony Peccatiello, co-founder and CEO of Parallel Markets; and September Rinnier Votta, co-founder of Tuckernuck, spoke about their experiences in building companies from the ground up.

They each shared valuable advice for those looking to get started:

  • Pivot to where you see value: Peccatiello’s company was able to raise $20 million during its seed round in March 2020. He discussed how analysis during the fundraising process led him to pivot midstream to a compliance-focused know-your-customer/anti-money laundering company, as he realized that was where market demand was.
  • Differentiation is key: Rinnier Votta also faced challenges when fundraising for Tuckernuck; she emphasized the importance of building trust inside the company and with outside investors, and differentiating your company during this process.
  • Pay now, and play later: Baghadjian advised attendees to take any chance they get to build their network and to build that network early – for example, during college years, when many have fewer responsibilities than they will have once they graduate. He emphasized not to be scared of cold emailing and putting yourself and your ideas out there and to expect 100 “nos” before you get one “yes.”

Investing Workshops

Following lunch, guests chose between two workshops.

How to Analyze and Evaluate Public and Private Investments

Members of the BBH Capital Partners Private Equity and Investment Management teams reviewed how to analyze and evaluate private and public investments. Attendees learned about the key considerations before any investment, the different types of investments, and how to achieve your target return.

Vice President Sid Arora, Assistant Vice President Michael de Luca, and Analyst Drew Kesselmark also covered the life cycle of a business, from venture capital fundraising to exits and initial public offerings, and discussed how BBH finds success in the highly competitive private equity investment sourcing field.

How to Build a Portfolio

In another session, BBH Deputy Chief Investment Officer Ilene Spitzer discussed how to build a portfolio with an “invest bottom-up, worry top-down” mindset. She explained that portfolio construction is the end result of three processes:

  1. Establishing the appropriate level of equity and fixed income with a mix of stable and growth assets
  2. Determining sub-asset class weights by identifying talented managers through bottom-up, fundamental research    
  3. Analyzing qualitative and quantitative criteria to build a resilient portfolio

Megatrends of Today and Tomorrow

Finally, BBH Partner and Chief Investment Strategist Scott Clemons led an engaging conversation on “megatrends,” or dynamics shaping the 21st century and beyond. Clemons explained how balancing the benefits of technological progress with its negative externalities requires appropriate regulation and an open economy.

An evening cocktail hour rounded out the event, giving guests another opportunity to discuss what they’d learned and make further connections.

About the BBH Next Generation Experience

Our personalized Next Generation Experience provides examples, tools, and resources to the current and next generation of your family to support informed decision-making and facilitate communication about a range of topics, such as wealth, values, life events, and business succession. We work side by side with parents and their children, from assisting with early childhood education to advising clients well into their 30s, to provide a helping hand and guidance on any issue they may be facing. If you are interested in learning more, please email NextGen@bbh.com.

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