To evaluate business opportunities or the startups he’s been involved with, Jeff Dudan, serial entrepreneur and franchise executive at Dudan Partners, always asks himself a few question.
Among those question is, who is the customer? The answer to that question enables him to assess the size of the market and the accessibility of them.
The other is, what is the exit strategy?
“And I ask that question by asking, ‘Who is the natural owner for this business?” Dudan says. “Most businesses are started by people or families or some sort of founder, but typically along the way there’s a better natural owner, so I try to assess that from the beginning.”
He also looks for are inspired leadership. He wants an authentic leader who can grow with the business, which means changing and growing over time to meet the demands of an evolving business.
In the franchise space, he wants to understand the unit economics. If he can find a business that does well at the unit level, he says he can always fix the business opportunities that are required to help the business scale.
Dudan has been particularly interested in service businesses that don’t have any particular sunset because they are multigenerational — brands that have been around for decades and are expected to continue to be relevant.
Recurrence in revenue is always a plus, he says, but he wants to understand the associated margin with that recurrence.
The other factor influencing his investment decision is what he calls white space — what is the opportunity to be one of the first few in terms of territory, meaning available markets to be sold and expanded into. But it’s also a search to determine whether the industry is currently served by businesses that a franchise could better address.
Dudan, who spoke at the recent Smart Business Charlotte Dealmakers Conference, talked more about what he looks for in investment opportunities, as well as how a sports mindset translates to the board room. Click the video above to catch the full interview.