How a private investment firm CEO and lawyer team up to help businesses thrive

Mauloa. In Hawaiian, it means endless. It might seem like an unusual name for a private investment firm. But for Andrew Sachs that name is Goldilocks.

“We look at businesses with endless perspective because we’re not like most investment funds,” said Sachs, founder and CEO of Mauloa. “For most funds, the whole goal is to make investments, sell the business and raise another fund — then repeat. That is not our goal. Our goal is to help build great companies, and there are no timelines.”

That approach, while unique, works and has proved successful, he said. The firm, which began as Sachs Capital in 2007, has helped 20-plus founder-led, family-owned businesses grow and flourish.

A fundamental ingredient in that success has been a 20-year partnership with lawyer Scott Museles, co-chairman of business and financial services at Shulman Rogers. WTOP talked with Sachs and Museles to learn how their pairing helped with the evolution of the investment firm.

Business acumen plus legal knowledge

“The lengthy relationship that we’ve had reflects the similar thinking that we have and also my experience as deputy general counsel of a Nasdaq-traded company and as a lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Museles said. “I know the things that Andrew focuses on, and the things that are his pet peeves too. It allows me to be a better advisor.”

From Sachs’ perspective it’s a little more than that. It’s the mix of legal, financial and compliance expertise paired with business knowledge that has been most beneficial, Sachs said.

“Anyone can check a box. Anyone can write a document. And that’s not really what business is about. It’s understanding what’s a $10 problem versus what’s a million-dollar problem — what is never going to happen and what might happen,” Sachs said, adding that he views Museles less as a lawyer and more as his consigliere — a close advisor who can help him reach conclusions.

“The private investing where Scott spends a lot of time is very, very complicated and difficult. There are a lot a lot of variables that need to all come together,” he said. “Scott’s flexibility of thinking, creativity and understanding how I think is a huge asset.”

Embracing conscious capitalism

The two share a common perspective that a business, any business, is not solely about making money. “While making money is important. It’s just part of the outcome,” Sachs said. “Great companies improve people’s lives and create opportunities for people and their families.”

That’s also something that he views as fundamental to long-term business success, which drives the investment choices that Mauloa makes. The firm doesn’t aim to create the fastest or potentially highest returns, he said. Instead, it looks at all the stakeholders in a business and ways to improve outcomes across the board.

Mauloa embraces the concept of conscious capitalism, Sachs said. That requires evaluating all aspects of a business in making investments and mentoring the leadership teams, not just the total potential profit margin for Mauloa and the investors it brings to a business, he said. (Discover more about conscious capitalism in this story about Shulman Rogers and the restaurant group that runs Founding Farmers.)

“Andrew wants the founders of the businesses he invests in to be successful and happy and their employees to have a good experience,” Museles said. “He really structures his investments to be completely aligned with his founders.” The desire to help the existing business teams thrive earned Mauloa a spot on Inc.’s list of Founder-Friendly Investors in 2022.

“We see ourselves as supporting the backbone of America, small business, and keeping the leaders who have built those businesses in their positions,” Sachs said. “We come in and acquire the percentage driven by the numbers, and then we really become a partner in the business with the founders, with the management team — and for a length of time that is unknown.”

3 things to consider when choosing a lawyer for your business

Mauloa CEO Andrew Sachs shared three questions that business leaders should ask themselves when evaluating potential lawyers:

  • Are you compatible?
    “Don’t even think about how good of a lawyer they are or their business acumen or their background. First, just consider the person.”
  • Do they have business experience? Can they read financial statements?
    “We’re investing in businesses where the financial statements obviously tell you how much money a company is making and how they’re capitalized. Scott really understands all of that.”
  • Can they mirror that business acumen with legal skill?
    “We live in a litigious society. And so I think the marrying of those two — someone who has deep understanding of the legal side but also can mirror it with the business acumen side and get all the complex variables — is invaluable.”
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