RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Entrepreneur Brian Hamilton, who sold his company Sageworks last year, has launched a $100 million fund to provide loans to other businesses.
“We’re going to make loans to businesses that might be perceived by banks as a little bit higher risk, but to us, because we’re experienced entrepreneurs, are not super risky,” said Hamilton, who specified the loans are not available for start-ups.
Hamilton moved to North Carolina to attend The Fuqua School of Business at Duke, before starting his professional career in the state.
He initially sold his business to focus his efforts on his Inmates to Entrepreneurs program, aimed at assisting the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated as they reintegrate into society.
This latest venture, called Brian Hamilton Main Street, works with applicants who are hoping to grow their companies. So far, Hamilton estimated they have provided about $5 million to a variety of businesses, including Blue Line Aviation.
“They were able to help us because we were able to actually get the loan, and the money wasn’t unreasonably priced,” said Trey Walters, the company’s founder.
Walters, a former Raleigh Police Officer and Air Force veteran, began the flight school in 2012 with one plane.
Next October, they plan on moving into a 50,000 square foot aviation complex in Johnston County, as they try to keep up with demand.
“We think that will at least triple our capacity by having that,” said Walters.
Currently, they work with about 200 people, a mix of students and members. The additional capacity could mean hundreds of new students a year.
“Flight schools back in the 2008-time frame had a lot of trouble with finances when they had the economic downturn. So I think a lot of banks are shell-shocked if you will about those experiences, and more hesitant to get back into the business,” Walters explained.
The company’s latest plane was purchased from a loan by Brian Hamilton Main Street.
Walters explained they are still waiting on several more planes, which are essential for training purchases in the face of a worldwide pilot shortage. Boeing reports there is a need for nearly 800,000 pilots over the next 20 years.
“The industry is needing pilots really bad, and I can pursue this dream that I’ve had since I was a kid,” said Joseph Lancheros, a student at Blue Line Aviation.
On Wednesday, Walters provided Hamilton and ABC11 with a tour of downtown Raleigh in the newly purchased plane, as he laid out his future goals for the company.
“We want to find entrepreneurs. Good people like Trey, who know what they’re doing, they’ve bootstrapped, they’re positive cash-flow, and leave them alone,” said Hamilton.
The fund will have a focus on North Carolina companies, though it will not exclusively work with them. Hamilton also noted the quick turnaround time the fund can provide compared to a bank or traditional financial institution.
“We’re not going to string people along. It used to drive me crazy… there’s sort of a string along thing, where it’s 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, ‘I need this document, I need that document.’ We’re not going to do that. We’ll give quick answers, maybe 24 hours, 48 hours, real fast,” Hamilton explained.
To learn more about Brian Hamilton Main Street and the Brian Hamilton Foundation, click here.