It took Chris Perez 12 years to become a self-made millionaire with his lending company, and just one day in 2008 for it all to crumble away.
Perez, of Bala Cynwyd, once directed more than 15,000 brokers as the founder of Commercial Loan Capital. But after the financial market crashed in 2008, Perez’s firm lost its two most lucrative clients in one day, and his business unraveled.
“I made a lot of people a lot of money,” Perez says. “It’s been an interesting couple of years since 2008.”
From the ruin of his lending company, Perez rebounded as the national sales director of a debt collection firm. On the side, Perez hustled between networking events to regain some of his momentum with other entrepreneurs.
“I remember driving to five events in one day, having these grueling 14-hour days,” Perez says. Until he realized he already had his own phone book worth of contacts – contacts Perez describes as the major players and heavy hitters of Philadelphia’s business community – from his 20 years of being a broker and a lender.
Perez approached his friend, Brendan McGrew, owner of Bourbon Blue, about hosting a quarterly networking event to bring the city’s young entreprenuers and business leaders together in the same room.
Perez and McGrew are holding their inaugural professional networking mixer on Tuesday, May 24 at Bourbon Blue. The free event includes hors d’oevres, one free drink and samples of Johnny Walker and Crown Royal.
“With a networking event, the idea is to increase your sphere of influence,” says McGrew. “Everybody now does business with people they know rather than that random person they meet.”
Perez says he hopes the turnout will foster some connections and even create a few new jobs. He’s holding a conference from 4 to 6 p.m. where he has invited some of the “big players” to attend. The networking mixer will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. McGrew says he expects 200 people.
“I still know a lot of investors, I want to be the spark that connects them all,” Perez says. “Hopefully we can create some new jobs for people, because it’s a brutal market.”