Q: What attracted you to PE?
Reginald Binford Jr.: Ownership. I've always felt ownership matters. I worked in banking, so I helped people get into ownership positions and helped businesses take over other businesses. I've seen how ownership allows you to drive a business in a way that aligns with your values while also effectively managing shareholder expectations. Ownership now gives me the opportunity to drive diversity and other aspects of running a business that are meaningful to me while also allowing me to generate shareholder value for my investors.
Q: What is a goal that you have set for yourself for the near future?
RB: One of the biggest goals I've set for myself is to better ensure I have diversity in the boards I put together and on the management teams within my business. Although diversity is very important to me, I find that I'm not pulling my weight as it relates to diversifying the boards and management teams where I can place people.
To achieve this goal requires that I work to establish connections to various groups to better ensure I find and bring on quality board members for these businesses.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Black entrepreneurs? What advice would you provide to overcome it?
RB: I think the biggest challenge facing Black entrepreneurs, and there have been studies around this, is the funding gap. This gap has several contributing factors, including Black entrepreneurs lacking the networks and connections to all the funding sources that exist and can help drive and grow a business as well as understanding the value of the different sources of financing available. The Black community has frequently been told that debt is bad, which is not always true. We also haven't at times fully understood or appreciated the value of new equity partners.
One of the first pieces of advice I would give to overcome the funding gap that can hold back Black businesses is to learn about the different forms of capital available and understand how they align with your business's growth strategy. For example, you want to learn about when equity is important and when debt is important.
My next piece of advice is to go out and talk to different capital providers. A lot of capital sources are looking for deals. Put yourself out there. Reach out to these people and start many conversations. That should help drive capital to you and deliver the best terms.
This is just the start. We must be prepared to provide education to capital sources about Black businesses and opportunities. This should include citing studies that show strong returns often associated with not just with Black entrepreneurs, but all entrepreneurs of color.
Q: How do you believe Black professionals will be able to influence the PE industry?
RB: I think the biggest influence will be our experiences — sharing our observations, how we've been affected by decisions and our perspective on problems. This isn't just important for Black professionals, but all professionals with different diversity and backgrounds.
I think by having diversity of thought in a room, you can better envision different outcomes and achieve better returns. The more overall diversity of thought we can get into PE, the better.
When I think about my investment team, I know it's important to have diverse people in the room who can talk about their experiences and thoughts and explain how they manage and see problems, whether they are sharing stories from their family businesses or what they went through in business school. I believe conversations that make us look at and consider things differently will help drive stronger returns in the long run.
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