MHT Partners grew out of a political campaign. L to
R: Wade Hansen '95, Mike McGill '95 and Shawn Terry
starts as a Kellogg friendship can turn into a business alliance
go into business with friends or family, runs the conventional
people thinking about working with someone from their social
circle, thats probably still good advice. Great friends
dont necessarily make great business partners.
might not be skilled or driven enough to succeed in a job.
Moreover, the personality quirks that add flavor to a friendship
can prove toxic to a business partnership not to mention
the friendship, if the working relationship heads south.
alums have found ideal business partners among their Kellogg
School comrades. Heres how a few of them are negotiating
the pitfalls and reaping the rewards of building a business
enterprise with a friend.
Terry 94 and Wade Hansen 95
Dallas resident Shawn Terry 94 asked his friend Wade
Hansen 95 to serve as campaign treasurer during his
race for Congress in 1998, Hansen initially hesitated.
a pretty matter-of-fact, straight-shooter kind of a guy, and
politics can be a dirty business, Hansen says. But
here was this person willing to put aside a lucrative business
career and do something for the Dallas community. I could
get behind that.
soon found himself handing out campaign literature and setting
up yard signs, as well as overseeing Terrys election
finances. Terry lost the election, but the pair emerged with
something perhaps even more valuable: the groundwork for a
successful business partnership.
had a passion to do something important, and he put aside
a lot financially and personally to make it
happen, Hansen says. I thought, Someone
with this kind of drive and commitment is someone I can create
a business with.
a founding principal of Dell Computers venture capital
arm, persuaded Terry, who was working for a private equity
firm, to partner with him and create a boutique
investment bank for middle-market businesses. Mike McGill
95, an investment banker whom the pair had met through
the Kellogg School network, joined the business less than
a year later.
and I saw there were a number of medium-sized companies that
were exciting to work with that didnt have many service
providers, Terry says. It seemed there werent
many top-tier banks focused serving the middle market.
MHT Partners, which opened for business in mid-2000. The firm
offers a wide variety of investment and strategic advisory
services to firms with enterprise values between $10 million
and $200 million.
opening its doors, the firm has attracted upward of a dozen
clients. Its going great, says Hansen. The
terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 shut down a lot of deals
in progress, but since Jan. 1 theres been overwhelming
traffic. There is tremendous pent-up demand for both growth
capital and M & A activity in the middle market, and MHT
Partners is getting the call for advisory support.
and Terry say their personalities are complementary yet compatible.
Wade tends to drive harder and more quickly to a conclusion.
Im probably a little more cautious and like to search
for alternative solutions, Terry says. But those differences
seem to work in their favor.
theres a fork in the road, we can probably argue three
or four different options, Hansen says. Its
a good healthy debate, and well have it in front of
our clients. In fact, they often tell us thats why they
like working with us. It seems to be helpful to them to know
theres not group think with MHT.
do see eye-to-eye on the larger issues surrounding their business
their management philosophy, ethics and their approach
to serving clients. They also share a strong commitment to
the friendship that preceded their partnership.
Wade and I go in different directions on a lot of things.
Anyone in business together disagrees with their partner at
times, says Terry.
the nice thing about being friends is that it forces you to
work through things until you get to a comfortable enough
place where you can still go out and have a beer together.