When we talk about the phrase ‘defying all odds’, Frank Song is someone who personifies it. From being homeless and sleeping in Walmart as a 14-year-old to currently owning multiple companies in the U.S. and Europe by the age of 27, his journey has been nothing but admirable.
It all began as an essential struggle to survive when, as a 17-year-old high school student, he started working after school and on weekends in real estate. Right after his 18th birthday, he passed his real estate salesperson license exam, going on to build his very own real estate business while attending university. His efforts enabled him to graduate with no student loans, having funded his entire college education.
Once his days as a student were over, Frank’s next target was Wall Street.
During that time, the U.S. was undergoing the worst recession since the Great Depression. While people were being laid off and banks were deferring and freezing their hiring, he found a way to land a role in one of the worst-hit industries – investment banking.
He landed an offer at one of the oldest investment banks on Wall Street, Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF), and was ranked as one of the top investment bankers during his annual review at this 130-year-old firm. Soon after, he was recruited to work on the investment team at the legendary Accel-KKR, helping manage the $4 billion fund. There he helped his team to buy out $20 to $500 million technology companies.
Frank left Accel-KKR due to family reasons and with the full support of the firm. His original plan was to raise his teenage sister and head back to Wall Street after she went off to college, but life had other plans for Frank. Instead, he went on to build his own portfolio of companies, which are now worth over $10 million.
So, what was unique about Frank that made things work in his favor?
Undoubtedly, the answer lies in his thought process and his approach towards finding great investments. He says he loves building businesses in high profit, but unsexy markets since the valuations are more reasonable, and the competitive dynamic is much lower. This ultimately results in high return on investments. His other strategy is to bring more technology to upgrade his businesses. This helps him take market share from older competitors who have not yet advanced their own businesses this way.
Frank further states that he was inspired to build and expand his portfolio of companies by CNBC’s show ‘Blue Collar Millionaires’, which follows various Americans with blue collar occupations who have become millionaires.