As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ron Hirsch.
Ron Hirsch, Founder and Chief Strategy Adviser of Title3Funds, brings his expertise in economics, finance, money management, and research to the team. As a crowdfunding pioneer, venture capitalist and former CEO and Chairman of a public company, Ron fully understands the challenges and opportunities in the business world. An army veteran with a strong sense of social justice and equal opportunity, he co-founded Title3Funds with the idea that investing in startups and new businesses online should be available to everyone.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When I was a kid, I remember looking at the newspaper and asking my father, “What are those pluses and minuses next to those numbers in the financial section?” He explained that through investments in the stock market, you could make more money than you had, which got me interested in the inner workings of finance from a very young age. This curiosity continued to flourish during my college years at Michigan State University where I studied economics and psychology. After graduation, my wish was to move to Wall Street because I loved markets, investments, and studying companies, so I started my career as a stock broker. Later I got involved with money management, banking, and Venture Capital. After establishing myself in the finance sphere, I bought a home in the Catskill Mountains and became, to my knowledge, one of the first Wall Street people to work remotely. Virtual work is, of course, becoming increasingly common due to the constraints imposed by COVID-19, but I pioneered this type of business operation in the financial sector.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I first started on Wall Street, I realized, as many young people do, that there were people who were smarter than me. When my initial trades weren’t as successful as I wanted them to be, I read almost every book on investing, economics, and finance that I could get my hands on. I learned there were many forces at work in determining stock prices, including macro economic factors and micro factors pertaining to specific companies. I also came to understand a great deal about the forces of human psychology. I founded Title3Funds on the belief that “the wisdom of the crowd” is often more effective in deciphering the truth than any single individual or expert.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy, written by Bill Gates over 20 years ago, provides important advice for entrepreneurs that rings just as true today. One quote from the book that resonates with me is “how you gather, manage and use information, will determine whether you win or lose.” Another fascinating book is the The Quark and the Jaguar : Adventures in the Simple and the Complex, written by Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann, which explores the relationship between the simple — a quark inside an atom — and the complex — a jaguar prowling its jungle territory at night. By exploring the diversity of the universe, one can better adapt to the challenges of life and even business.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Ever since the SEC’s Title III Regulation Crowdfunding (aka Reg CF) took effect in 2016, my mission has been to help democratize crowdfunding for the everyday person. For too many years, regular people were barred from participating in some of the most lucrative investment opportunities, but Title III changed that by allowing the average person to invest in private companies for the first time in history. The way we achieve this at Title3Funds is by connecting the most promising entrepreneurs with people who believe in their company visions. What we are doing is especially important now that people and businesses are facing the realities of the coronavirus economy. Businesses need to raise capital and people need new sources of future income. Crowdfunded investments can help both businesses and everyday people thrive, even during these trying times.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Maintaining focus, irrespective of the current environment, is ultimately what will help people survive difficult times and arrive at where they want to be in the future.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Of all the health, economic, and psychological challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, I especially miss the inability to meet family in-person, but like so many others, I’ve adapted to using new technologies like Zoom to connect. I also find it’s important to remember that challenges create opportunities, and this period of strife has given Title3Funds a chance to help businesses and regular people create new and better realities for themselves.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
As is the case with family relationships, I think there is something special about meeting colleagues, partners, and clients face-to-face. As wonderful as Zoom is, relationships are cemented through eye-contact, hand-shakes, and exchanging stories over a cup of coffee or a good meal.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I believe in the power of meditation to calm the mind and focus. I’m also fortunate to live close to nature, and I would encourage people to connect with whatever form of nature is available to them. Watch the clouds and listen to the birds because there is so much we can learn from natural phenomena. Animals possess an intuition that informs their behaviors, but we too often forget that we are animals too and can tap into our intuition when we are uncertain about how to proceed or feel unbalanced.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Many people will take advantage of this time to learn new things — like how to invest in crowdfunded assets that can provide a long-term hedge against the present stock market volatility. The more people who understand the benefits of this new asset class, the more financially empowered our society will be, as crowdfunded investments allow everyone the opportunity to expand their wealth. By the same token, we will also see new entrepreneurs rise and bring exciting, world-changing ideas to fruition through crowdfunding.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Remote work will certainly become more normalized, which is positive because it allows people to work from anywhere. This shift in the way we work could lead to a transformation of our towns that allows for more space for people and less for cars. Hopefully we will become more connected and more community-oriented. The coronavirus has also shed light on how our treatment of animals and the natural environment in one place impacts people in another. Keeping this interconnectivity in mind, technology can help us educate and take global, collective actions to make the world a better place for all of us.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Title3Funds is unique in that our business is a direct solution to many of the problems facing regular people and entrepreneurs today. Our platform is designed to support everyday people who understand the value of diversifying their portfolios — we call them “Adventure Capitalists” — with more control of their own finances. This is especially paramount during the economic downswing brought about by the coronavirus. We also support startups and early-stage companies with a path to obtain capital by connecting them to these Adventure Capitalists who believe in their visions. I am a firm believer that this is how we create a better future — by allowing the wisdom of the crowd to dictate which new companies are supported through crowdfunded investments. Importantly, many of these companies focus on sustainable, eco-friendly products and supply chains that can improve our lives.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Businesses should review their expenses and take steps to streamline operations and become more efficient. This is a great time to reflect on the real-world problems people are facing and consider how your business can fit into this new landscape in a useful way. In today’s times, adaptation is the key. Out of every crisis, a new opportunity can emerge. Likewise, I find it important to understand the concept of perception vs. reality. People who are able to understand the difference will not only improve their personal relationships, but their financial performance, as well.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Louis Brandeis, an American lawyer and associate justice on the Supreme Court, said “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” I strive to keep this in mind in all of my endeavors.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Please feel free to visit our website or follow us on social media: