Jean-Luc Nouzille

Founder and Managing Partner,

Bristlecone Value Partners LLC

When did you arrive in the United States and why did you come?

I immigrated to the United States in 1991 upon marrying my American wife, whom I had met in the South of France while she was a student.

Did you intend to return to your native country at the time?

I did not really have any long-term plans. My wife and I both felt that it would be easier for me to find a job here than it would be for her to find a job in France. I was working for JPMorgan in Paris and Cyrena was working for the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. She is now general manager of Ladyface Ale Companie, a brewpub in Agoura Hills and I founded Bristlecone, an investment management company.

Do you now?

We both would like to split our retirement between California and the South of France, which is where I grew up – assuming we ever retire!

What’s the worst the thing about starting and running a business in the United States?

I think that I have been involved in two of the most regulated businesses in America: investment management and alcohol production. So in both cases, there is a significant amount of red tape and regulations to comply with. And as far as the investment management business, more is added every year.

What’s the best thing?

The entrepreneurial culture is just fantastic. Investors and consumers are ready to embrace new ideas like in no other places in the world in my view.

What were the biggest surprises?

How cyclical the residential real estate market is here.

Would you tell someone from your native country to start a business there or here?

Here, absolutely, unless there is something about the product that you’re selling that makes it difficult to sell in the United States, such as raw cheese.

What was your view of the United States when you were growing up?

Like most, I was always fascinated by the United States, particularly California. I always looked at California as offering the best combination of opportunities and quality of life of any place that I had been to.

Did reality match your expectations?

It did with one exception. I was and remain to this day an admirer of President Reagan and his advocacy for limited government. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of regulations that businesses have to deal with no longer seems to get you elected these days, at least not in California.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you as a foreign-born entrepreneur?

When I started in investment management here in Los Angeles, I was fortunate to be hired by someone who became a mentor. He was Jewish and observant. My comprehension of English had room for improvement, so one day, when he mentioned to me that he was going to New York on the “red-eye,” I asked him if the “Redai” was a Jewish holiday.

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