Alumni Spotlight

Crummer Alumnus’ Investment Banking Firm Helps Entrepreneurs Find Their ‘Guiding Light’

Julien Meyer `16 MBA, Founder of NorthStar | Investment Banking, is helping companies with M&A advisory, growth strategies, and financing.

Among the entrepreneurship community there is an ongoing debate: are entrepreneurs made or are they born that way?

Entrepreneurs often hold a passionate, ever-optimistic disposition, the stomach to handle extreme risk, and an innovative mindset that is always thinking through a different lens.

Julien Meyer, a serial entrepreneur and current Managing Director and founder of NorthStar, a fast-growing investment bank, is firmly in the born entrepreneur category.

In the 4th grade he was trading snacks at school, in the 6th grade he started selling gum, and by high school he was selling skateboards, cell phones and anything else he could get his hands on to his classmates.

It’s no surprise that early on in his college days, he started a nightlife event-service company that emerged into his first legitimate company.

He ran and sold collegeTKTS and eventually went on to lead acquirer CollegeStack as CEO, ultimately leading to his second exit.

Successful in his first two enterprises, he learned about failure with his third company BlurtBox, a privatized Yelp system that let customers contact business owners directly instead of publicly. Although he was landing VC deals and funding, eventually he was unable to keep up with the growing financial demands of the company. He calls that the greatest learning experience of his career.

That experience was the catalyst for him to realize that startups don’t always have the guidance they need to succeed, and he founded NorthStar with that in mind.

Crummer News spoke with Meyer about NorthStar, the state of entrepreneurship in Florida, his experience during his Rollins Crummer MBA program, and where NorthStar goes from here.

Failure is never easy, but it seemed to have a profound impact on you. How is NorthStar helping early-stage businesses?

There are still a crazy high number of early-stage businesses failing, around 93%. Not all of these startups have to fail. It’s kind of clear what we must do when you think about the collective experiences we have as entrepreneurs that do not get utilized.

Collectively, entrepreneurship has grown, but problems we still face are a lack of knowledge sharing and an elitist mentality where the people at the top control all of the money and all of the know-how. NorthStar is here to disrupt that. We are here to make access to financing and information both accessible and attainable for all entrepreneurs.

Tell us about the name NorthStar, as it’s often considered one of the brightest stars and a beacon for navigation.

A lot of people make entrepreneurship out to be this fun thing, but there’s also a dark side to it: the neurosis it causes, destruction of health, financial security, and lack of a social life. These are all things you have to sacrifice when you start up a company, so you are really out in the dark.

The essence of NorthStar is you are out in the dark, but we will guide you to where you need to get to and will be your Northern Light. We’ll get you where you want to go.

NorthStar is headquartered in Orlando but has an international presence already. What makes Orlando an ideal place for an investment banking firm?

Previously you would only open an investment bank in a place like New York or London, but with the connectivity we have in the world now, it makes a place like Orlando much more ideal.

In terms of cost of living and key business services, like hotels, convention centers, airports—it’s  all in Orlando at the right cost. Part of what Central Florida has been for us as well is an ideal place for talent recruitment. We recruit a lot of Crummer MBAs.

Speaking of the Crummer MBA, you came to the program at a time when you already had a successful business exit and were in the midst of other entrepreneurial activities. What brought you to the Crummer School and what did you learn? 

At Crummer I realized that the more you know, there’s much more you don’t know about business. There is a culture at Crummer that says in whatever role you are in as a business professional, your goal and job should be to continue growing, learning, and improving.

All of the classes at Crummer were based on real-world experiences that the professors would share with you. The guests that were brought into the classes were also at the top of their fields.

I am so grateful to the Crummer program. As an entrepreneur it’s easy to convince yourself you’ve seen and learned everything, but Crummer really rounded me out as a business person. I am always grateful for that.

What’s next for NorthStar?

2021 is all about scaling our business. We are actively recruiting talent, raising capital, and have more than quintupled our client base for the year. This is really our year to make a statement to Wall Street that we are a firm to be reckoned with.

We used to compete with smaller, regional investment banks, but we are now starting to compete with some of the bigger IB names out there. We are getting to the point of not only being a global firm, but a well-recognized firm, and we are really excited about what 2021 is going to bring for us. Hopefully it’s to the moon!

Featured photo at the top: Northstar | Venture Parter teams work together on a project.