Open for business: Tortola Partners LLC

Of all the places to open a business, why Nashville? No southeastern city has the entrepreneurial energy of Nashville.

How did you finance your venture? Personal capital.

Did you have an “ah-ha” moment? The impulse came from the realization that many businesses in distress fail unnecessarily. There can be a ton of value there for those who know how to get it.

What was your start-up cost? Just under $100,000.

Despite the down economy, you opened. Why? You might think opening a private equity firm dealing with distressed businesses was a pro-cyclical decision in a bad economy. It was not. Even though there may be more target companies to look at these days, the exit strategies are much tougher in a bad economy than a good one. We opened because we were both at a time professionally that we could really dig in.

Describe your business model? First, we work with the management of a distressed company to identify problems and needs. If we believe the company or some part of the business can be saved, we devise a strategy that may include anything from retooling operations to restructuring debt to preparing for Chapter 11 reorganization to investing new capital.

Do you have prior experience as an entrepreneur? Eleven years ago, Robert co-founded Nashville-based MGLAW and helped grow it into a well respected firm with niches in insolvency and litigation. He left that practice last fall to prepare for launching Tortola. Steve spent 20 years as an entrepreneur in industries ranging from music publishing to financial services. In 2008, he sold Finworth Mortgage, a firm he founded five years earlier specializing in sophisticated lending for high-net-worth individuals and small business owners.

From concept to opening, how long did it take? We’ve spoken casually for years about the business, but invested several months in full-time planning prior to launch.

Where will your business be five years from now? We will have ownership in some companies held in a portfolio, as well as a stable of very strong operators with whom we work closely.

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