How Lori Hoch Abandoned A Successful Law Career To Run A Startup

Jan 16, 2020

Lori Hoch graduated first in her class from University of Southern California law school, worked at two of Milwaukee’s biggest law firms, then became in-house counsel for the trust department of Wisconsin’s largest bank. She was on track for a comfortable corporate legal career.

Then four money managers who were starting their own firm asked if she'd be willing to give them some advice. At the first meeting they asked a whole lot of questions about setting up the new company. At the second meeting they had a few more. Then came the big one: Would she run the firm?

Lori agreed in 2004 to lead Cortina Asset Management while her four partners focused on managing client investments. They grew the firm to 28 employees and $3 billion of assets under management. Fifteen years later, in the summer of 2019, Silvercrest Asset Management Group bought Cortina for $45 million, plus an additional $26 million if certain benchmarks are met over the next four years.

Lori’s tips for other entrepreneurs:

  • Find people who do what you’re doing: Whether it’s in medical devices or manufacturing or investment management - go meet with them. People in Milwaukee are very supportive of each other.
  • Hire outside of the box: When you’re hiring and building your staff don’t get hung up on what job candidates did before. Our first trading assistant was a geology major from Denver, but he got rave reviews from people.
  • Do the little things: You cannot be above anything. After the movers came to pack up our boxes and deliver them to our new office, we realized we still had the WiFi hot spots at the old office. As I stood on filing cabinets and desks with a flashlight trying to see where those hot spots were located, that message again hit home — when you own a business you literally do whatever it takes.