Entrepreneur Series: Ryan Hughes


Starting any venture is difficult but starting one in a highly established and highly specialized industry dealing with other people’s life savings can be even more daunting.  We are proud and excited to introduce you to Ryan Hughes.

Ryan Hughes is the Founder/CEO of Bull Oak Capital.  Established in 2014, Bull Oak Capital is a firm that provides financial planning and investment management services to clients locally in Southern California and across the U.S.  Ryan brings over ten years of experience to his clients, including two deployments onboard the USS Jarrett with the US Navy and experience with firms Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Ryan has been running his own show for the last four years, and we’re excited to share his experience and guidance with you!


When did you start your own thing?

I’ve always wanted to start my own company, but I never felt that I was ready until I attended UCLA Anderson. I seriously started to consider it in 2012 when I began to write a business plan. I officially launched Bull Oak Capital in January 2014.

Do you still have a separate full-time/side job?

No. Some people can start and run a business on the evenings and the weekends, but I could never take this approach. I knew I had to be fully committed for Bull Oak Capital to work. It required 100% of my attention.

How did you know you wanted to do your own thing?

When I began to dread my 9-to-5 job. I found myself nit-picking all of these mistakes my corporate job was making. Then I realized that I could do a better job if I were to start my own firm. The question then became whether or not I could start a firm that had a competitive advantage. This is when I decided to attend UCLA, which I believed could help me find one.  

What was the hardest thing you faced to get up and running?

To keep the faith when I didn’t immediately hit my sales goals. I was a bit optimistic and naive when I launched Bull Oak Capital. I thought I would be able to generate sales at much faster rate than other startups. I was wrong. I believed in myself, but it took quite a bit more effort to convince others to believe in me.

What has been critical to your success and ability to keep going thus far?

Being relentless. I’ve always kept Babe Ruth’s quote in mind: It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

What has been most surprising about the process?

Operations Management. I dreaded this course while at UCLA Anderson, but it really has served me well. Now that I run my own firm, I am all about creating processes and streamlining the workflow. It is critical to reduce errors and oversights, especially when you are dealing with people’s life savings.

What’s been the best thing about it?

I love the competitive nature of running your own company. It truly is the wild west out there. I get a thrill when trying to outsmart the competition.

What advice do you have to someone who is thinking about starting their own thing or struggling to continue?

If your product or service truly does bring value to the end user, and if you believe in yourself, then do it! Starting your own firm is difficult, but it truly is rewarding, especially at the self-actualization level.

Any regrets, wishes, redos?

It is easy to wish for a redo, especially as an individual grows over time. However, I am who I am today because of previous stumbles. I’ve learned from those mistakes and I am a better individual as a result. So no. No regrets!

What’s next for you?

I am gearing up for a massive marketing campaign, which will require hiring talented individuals. Coordinating this is going to be difficult, but if I can do this right, it should allow me to expand the firm’s reach.

Any finance tips for new grads in general?

Your biggest asset is time. Don’t waste it. If you are thinking about launching a venture, do it! Double down and go for it. If you’re successful, it will likely change your life for the better. If you fail, it is an invaluable life lesson that you can take with you no matter what you choose to do in life (remember, those failures make you a better person). In either case, you will be a better person for it.