Retired NBA player Theo Ratliff attends ‘The Made Man Awards 2017’ at 595 North on January 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Minority-owned private equity firm Corlex Capital is partnering with former National Basketball Association Center Theo Ratliff to find athletic investors interested in restaurant franchising.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Ratliff said it would take $ 100,000 to get into the fund. Corlex already operates 10 Wingstop franchises and is ready to announce additional closings.

“A lot of people want to be in the franchise industry but don’t have the know-how or ability to run a franchise, and that’s exactly what Corlex brings to the table,” said Ratliff. “It’s like investing in stocks. Let it grow and if you decide to sell it, sell it or keep it going and take the rest of the growth. But I think it’s a great one Opportunity.”

Corlex specializes in finding top fast food restaurants in need of additional management and providing liquidity options to owners, said founder Jason Bedasse. Corlex is not only looking for fast food restaurants, but also for gyms and hairdressing salons.

“The customers we typically serve are the ones who have grown rapidly and are struggling with their growth profile,” Bedasse said. “It’s a different type of person who runs five stores … versus 50 stores. They all have different needs. It is very common that franchisees, when transitioning to a different threshold, sometimes experience problems with the resources that are required are to serve their franchisees on a certain level. “

Corlex charges royalties, a percentage of sales, to help manage the business. “In most cases, however, we will buy the franchise from the franchisee when they are ready to sell it,” said Bedasse.

The company partnered with Ratliff to set up its Playmaker division and use Ratliff’s NBA connections to promote and raise awareness among athletes for the fund. The former player uses his own franchise experience to attract investors.

A sonic drive-in restaurant is shown in Normal, Fig. 1.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Pass on Sonic

The 47-year-old Ratliff played 16 seasons in the NBA and earned around $ 100 million in his career, according to the Basketball Reference. He spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, and Atlanta Hawks.

While with the Hawks in 2002, he turned down an offer to invest in Sonic franchises, which he still regrets.

“I knew I didn’t have the time or the ability to operate the system and I eventually passed it on,” said Ratliff. “It was a lot, but I had no idea how to run a Sonic.”

Ratliff was founded in 2018 and invested in Corlex. He wants to use the new division to attract investors and educate younger gamers about the operation of franchises.

Former NBA player Junior Bridgeman is one of the most recognizable names in the ex-athlete franchise. He bought numerous Chili and Wendy franchises before selling the units for $ 400 million in 2016. Bridgeman now runs a bottling distribution company with Coca-Cola as a customer and the new owner of Black Media company Ebony.

Bedasse said the company plans to raise $ 5 million each for the franchise fund. After five years, investors could refinance the terms or sell shares. Bedasse, a former senior sales trader at Canada-based Dundee Corporation, added that 20 more “established brand” franchises would be announced shortly. He did not give the name of the brand for privacy reasons.

“We were hoping to start in time for Black History Month, but we could be a week too short,” said Bedasse.

Ratliff said he was optimistic about fast food restaurants, even after Covid. But investments in his portfolio include technology stocks that he calls “dividend movers” (Apple, Microsoft), and he still has his first investment in Coca-Cola.

“Fast food restaurants were booming in this market,” said Ratliff. “We’re excited about what the franchises are doing through Covid, and we believe it’s sustainable. Wings and pizzas – things like that – people eat that every week.

“One thing I see is more (players) pushing into business,” added Ratliff. “We have a safe and effective way to get involved.”