Pine Crest Alumni and Entrepreneurs Focused on Disrupting Private Equity

Posted by Pine Crest School on February 11, 2021 at 11:10 AM

Recent college graduates, college roommates at New York University (NYU), and friends since their sophomore year of Upper School, Jonathan Farchi-Segal ’16 and Mateo Pugliese-Bassi ’16 knew that the corporate world was not for them.


On a mission to become entrepreneurs, they frequently had conversations about starting a fintech company, that is technology that aims to improve financial services.


One day, Jonathan was passing an empty restaurant on a Friday night when he had a revelation. 


“Restaurants are risky,” said Jonathan. “Someone must be invested in that restaurant, maybe more than one person.”


Jonathan wanted to invest in private businesses that would have less risk, but did not have the funds to do so. 


“We had this idea, and it has pretty much stayed the same since the beginning,” said “We want to offer business owners access to capital in a nuanced way through their communities.” 


After studying and working in the finance industry, Jonathan and Mateo felt that there was a better way for private investing that can simultaneously link communities. 

“In terms of private equity and venture capitalism,” said Mateo, “which is essentially investing in a business and helping it grow, venture capitalism has evolved to include crowdfunding, but private equity has not. We thought we could make private equity more approachable and more attainable if there was a way to crowdsource it.” 


Noting that private equity is typically only accessible by wealthy individuals, Jonathan said, “We wanted to make private equity public give regular people the opportunity to invest in private companies. That is when Equity Portal was born.” 



“We like ‘equity’ in our name because investing is done by net worth, so it is an inherently exclusive space,” said Mateo. “We chose the name Equity Portal because of equity’s double entendre; one referring to ownership, the other referring to fairness. Our portal is an attempt to marry these two concepts and create a more inclusive financial platform.” 


Mateo and Jonathan hope to one day create a full suite of financial services, ranging from stock and crypto trading to business loans and financial planning. 


“What Mateo was touching on,” said Jonathan, “is that there are laws in place that keep people without wealth from investing. But if you are wealthy, the federal government accredits you and you can invest in great startups and private equity companies. Crowdfunding is when a large group of people invest to create a large amount of money, so Equity Portal is crowdfunding for private equity.” 


Equity Portal will be based around communities, focusing first on South Florida. It will list small companies on their website, and use crowdfunding as a tool to allow users to invest in any of the businesses listed. The ultimate goal of this would be to generate stable returns for investors and stimulate growth in small businesses. The investors and businesses that utilize Equity Portal’s platform will form a community and alliance focused on mutual success, growth, and knowledge. 

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“We are focused on the community aspect,” said Mateo. “You can invest in your neighborhood companies, you may know the owners, these are members of your community. You can invest in those companies and then your community can grow along with your investment. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this became a focal point for us.” 


Meeting a friend who was working with a crowdsourcing portal cemented Jonathan’s idea for Equity Portal. 


“Mateo and I met with him and spoke about investing,” said Jonathan. “I wanted to invest in private equity but wasn’t wealthy enough to do it. So we ran the model of Equity Portal by him and asked if he knew of anyone doing anything like this.”


When talking about their strengths, Mateo said that Jonathan is good at the finance side of things, and his strengths are math and marketing. 


“I think we are both intuitive,” said Jonathan. “My strengths are thinking differently, and Mateo translates my thoughts to be understandable, not just ramblings! He sees the bigger picture.”


Equity Portal will launch in early 2021 with the help of two more Pine Crest alumni, Tyler Shevin ’16 and Sophia Danielson ’16. 

Tyler Shevin Photo

“I love Tyler,” said Jonathan, “but there is not a person I disagree with more! He is a brilliant guy. He went to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. He is a good guy who loves to be involved. I value his opinions and he is good at finding holes in my plans and making them better.”


“We knew of everyone in our grade,” said Mateo. “We weren’t close with Sophia in school, but we became friends at NYU, and she has been so good to collaborate with. When we got to college, I found that our peers from Pine Crest were better prepared than our peers at school. You don’t realize until you leave how driven everyone is at Pine Crest.” 


“Sophia is a leader, she is brilliant,” said Jonathan. “There are very few natural born leaders whom I have met, and she is one of them. We are grateful to have her and Tyler on the Equity Portal team.”

Learn more about Equity Portal at

Topics: Alumni Newsletter, Alumni, Entrepreneurship, 2021