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Long-Term Entrepreneurial Visions
EntrepreneurShares Global Fund
Interview with: Joel Shulman

Author: Ticker Magazine
Last Update: Oct 30, 11:11 AM EDT
Visionary entrepreneurial leaders with long-term focus often create wealth for their shareholders through quality products, growth and margin improvements. Joel Shulman, the managing director of EntrepreneurShares Global Fund, applies a bottom-up research process employing a proprietary 15-Factor model across global companies led by visionary leaders.

“Essentially our key message is that Leadership Matters. We quantify what we deem to be good management characteristics. We refer to the high end of that calibration as entrepreneurs—the low end we call bureaucrats.”
Q: What is the history of the fund?

A: EntrepreneurShares started in 2005 when I was a Professor at Babson College and had recently published a book, “Getting Bigger by Growing Smaller”. I was also selling, The Shulman Review—a CFA test prep company that trained over 12,000 investment professionals in 110 countries around the world. Hedge funds were very hot at the time and a few of my students (from both Babson and CFA Program) suggested launching a long-short equity hedge fund. I was able to procure $5M in seed capital and launch the fund in 2005 with a new proprietary strategy (long entrepreneurial public companies and short bureaucratic companies). Five years later, in 2010, we launched our first mutual fund, utilizing the same strategy with a Global long-only strategy.

Since its start, EntrepreneurShares has experienced some growth. We currently offer several mutual funds: the Entrepreneur U.S. Small Cap Mutual Fund (IMPAX), the Entrepreneur U.S. Large Cap Mutual Fund (IMPLX), and the Entrepreneur Global Mutual Fund (ENTIX).

In the near future we will launch the Entrepreneur 30, a rules-based index fund that will be an exchange-traded fund. We are also working on some other SMAs (and recently received two commitments for a Non US Small Cap separately managed account).

The total assets under management for all of EntrepreneurShares are just about $400 million.

Q: What are your benchmarks?

A: We have a growth tilt, so two-thirds of our stocks tend to be growth-oriented. The benchmark for the EntrepreneurShares U.S. Small Cap Fund is the Russell 2000 Growth Index, for the EntrepreneurShares U.S. Large Cap Fund it is the Russell 1000 Growth Index, and for the EntrepreneurShares Global Fund it is the MSCI World Index.

And we use the Vanguard FTSE All-World Ex-U.S. Small Cap Index Fund for our non-U.S. Small Cap Fund.

Q: What defines “entrepreneurial” for you?

A: Our global entrepreneurs need to meet the standards of our proprietary 15-Factor Entrepreneur Model. This model determines whether or not a company classifies as an “entrepreneur.” It’s based on a number of factors that examine, people, leadership, growth and other management characteristics.

We like to see low turnover among managers, executives who aren’t selling their stakes after a few years, a company that grows organically, has low SG&A (selling, general and administrative expenses), high R&D investment, and a number of other key factors such as revenue and profit considerations.

The new rules-based ETF we’re rolling out in November has a similar approach. We’ve closely monitored our performance over the past eight-nine years using a factor analysis and know that we are more than just a growth or momentum shop. In the past eight to nine years since the 2008 recession, our ER 30 Index has generated a return of 485%, with more than 230% above the S&P 500 Growth Index.

Bloomberg’s Factor Analysis shows that the sum of all the style and sector factors such as momentum, earnings, growth, leverage, etc accounts for approximately 26% of the 230% excess returns. It shows how more than 200% of the 230% excess return can be attributed to our selection factor which stems from our entrepreneurial model.

Essentially, what we are discovering is that strong leadership helps generate long-term investment performance. Our Entrepreneurial Factor refers to solid management characteristics.

Q: Would you say you focus on lagging indicators rather than leading indicators?

A: It’s a little of both. Companies in our investment portfolio tend to exceed investor expectations. They may accomplish this by either squeezing more benefits through SG&A reductions, expanding gross margin or EBIT/EBITDA over time, or widening the trading multiple.

Our thesis, in a nutshell, is to look for entrepreneurial companies that are strong in ESG (environmental, social and governance) and Impact. Our portfolio companies have strong governance traits that create jobs, yield strong performance to shareholders, and are led by people who are visionaries/stewards of their companies. Company leaders have a long-term orientation and are not simply in it for profits or quarterly returns.

If we discover that corporate leaders have changed their orientation and are no longer interested in growing organically, (for example, they are only interested in acquisitions that may not accrete shareholder value), then we will likely eliminate that investment.

We believe we are the only firm that invests with an Entrepreneurial model. Moreover, we manage our funds through an advisor named Capital Impact Advisors. We invest in companies that provide impact to their communities. Our investors generate nice returns while also investing in companies that create social benefits.

We know at the end of the day our funds deliver consistent performance. Long-term organic growth among our portfolio companies is a primary factor. It is likely some combination of high growth, better gross margins, and SG&A reductions over time that enables our portfolio companies to outperform their peers.

Q: What is your investment process?

A: It’s primarily quantitative with a few qualitative issues needing to be categorized. We use multiple databases to source our data, which we run through a series of fifteen proprietary filters.

We then weight our securities based on active share relative to our benchmark.

Q: How would you describe your research process?

A: The research process is all bottom-up. We start with 55,000 global companies and immediately eliminate a number of equities based on the liquidity and appropriateness of the market. We won’t invest directly in some emerging markets such as India or China, though we will certainly participate through ADRs (American depositary receipts).

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc