Sean Frank is a managing partner atCloud Equity Group, a boutique investment management firm specializing in leveraged buyouts of tech-enabled service providers. Cloud Equity Group started out as a small independent sponsor offering direct investment opportunities into individual deals. Today, the company manages discretionary capital out of its private equity investment funds for its high-net-worth individual, family office, and institutional investor clients.
What makes Cloud Equity Group different from many of its competitors is the deep level of specialization and expertise it has in uncommon technology sectors like small/mid-cap cloud and web hosting. Cloud Equity Group’s core investment strategies within these sectors include leveraged buyouts, controlling ownership investments, and arbitrage through rollups.
Cloud Equity Group is not Sean’s first business venture. When Sean was only 12 years old, he came up with his first entrepreneurial idea—to start a full-service web hosting provider. At the time, he wasn’t even entirely aware of what he was doing. He just was a middle school student interested in website coding. With the internet starting to become more readily accessible at home and gaining popularity, he saw a demand from both individuals and small businesses to create a web presence. Sean soon realized that he could help people to get online, while making money in the process. Over the next few years, he made websites for anyone who asked in exchange for a monthly fee to maintain them online.
As time went by, Sean’s company grew quite quickly. However, Sean was still just a young kid with no real work experience and no formal business education. As a result, he really needed to research and teach himself as he went. “I started to teach myself how to run day-to-day operations of an actual business. This included not just paying bills but also managing staff, maintaining customer satisfaction, and creating growth strategies to continue scaling the business,” Sean explains.
By the time he was in high school, Sean was already making more money than his teachers. Fortunately for him, he was just a kid living with his parents and didn’t really have a need for money. Instead, Sean started saving up his money and using it to buy out competing businesses and scaling inorganically. While in high school, Sean picked up a mentor – founder and former CEO of Monster.com Andy McKelvey – who really helped him finetune his process.
After graduating high school, Sean decided to continue his education and study finance at the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly thereafter, he pursued his Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Equipped with this advanced education and over a decade of executive-level business experience, Sean started his next business venture shortly after graduating—Cloud Equity Group.
“Nothing was really planned. I saw opportunities and figured out how to capitalize on them. I’ve always been incredibly analytical and have had a strong ability to diagnose any given problem or situation from multiple angles to assess what response would produce the best outcome,” Sean said.
When asked about the advice he would give to all aspiring entrepreneurs, Sean said that every entrepreneur should be prepared to fully invest themselves in the process. “You need to work harder and longer than anyone else and be willing to prioritize your business venture over absolutely everything to succeed,” Sean said. “If you don’t believe in yourself and are not giving it absolutely everything you have, why should anyone else believe in you?”
Today, Sean continues to be an active investor in the web and cloud hosting sectors and takes a very hands-on approach with the management teams of the companies that his firm invests in. He also speaks at conferences and college campuses on a wide variety of topics, including entrepreneurship.