Smart Business Dealmakers: The Middle-Market M&A Podcast
Ep 253: Disrupting An Industry
with Stephen Glicken, CEO of Project Admission
Stephen Glicken is working to disrupt ticket sales as we know it with his company, Project Admission. It's a unique model that managed to survive the collapse of live events during COVID and continue to draw investor interest, gain market traction and land significant partnerships. Stephen talks about the business, its growth, fundraising, investors and what he hopes to be saying in the next five years about the company he launched.
Ep 252: The Value of Serving Outside Boards
with Ashley Reid, Founder & CEO of Wellist
In addition to being a board member of her own company, Wellist Founder and CEO Ashley Reid has served on a number of other corporate and nonprofit boards. That experience has given her valuable perspective on how to better manage her own business, which has expanded nationally through several rounds of fundraising.
Ep 251: From Wealth Manager to Owner-Operator
with Shaun Stimpson, Founder of North Iron Holdings
Shaun Stimpson left a nearly 20-year career in wealth management to launch North Iron Holdings. The purpose of North Iron was to be a vehicle to acquire an industrial distribution company. After an 18-month search, he bought Mitten Fluidpower Corp., which he now runs as CEO. Shaun talks about the move, the acquisition, life as an operator, building a board and his plans for growth.
Ep 250: Bringing an Entrepreneur's Eye to VC
with Barry Sandweiss, General Partner of Cultivation Capital
Barry Sandweiss has co-founded 7 startups, including Lenders One, a company that became the largest mortgage-banking cooperative in the U.S., which he eventually sold. Now he's with Cultivation Capital, a VC firm in St. Louis, sitting on the other side of the investment table. Barry talks about his experience as an entrepreneur, how it's informed his approach to investing, the urge to use his experience to help others and how his entrepreneurial spirit led him to co-found yet another business in 2015 — FinLocker.
Ep 249: Rolling Up An Industry — Again
with John Cerasuolo, CEO of Leap Partners
John Cerasuolo leads incredibly acquisitive companies. At ADS Security, he led the business through 45 acquisitions in a direct-to-owner model that relied on relationships and an internal team to buy-up companies. Now, with Leap Partners, he's hoping to do the same in the plumbing and HVAC sectors. Already the company he's launched is off to a fast start with 5 acquisitions already complete and a pipeline that could help him realize 20 more this year. John talks about starting the business and how the industry switch and time have affected his process.
Ep 248: Merging Three Businesses Into One
with Joe DeStefano, CEO of Amplix
Massachusetts-based technology advisory firms ROI Communications, Blue Front Technology Group and allConnex joined forces in late 2022 to form Amplix. CEO Joe DeStefano says the three long-time, mutually respectful competitors had a familiarity with each other that made the merger a smooth process. When it took less than two hours to put together a proforma balance sheet, they knew they had a great organization.
Ep 247: Raising Capital To Cross 'The Valley of Death'
with Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth Autonomy
In 1985, Sanjiv Singh worked on the first autonomous ground vehicles to operate outdoors. By 2010, he led a team that demonstrated the first autonomous full-scale helicopter flight. Now he's with Near Earth Autonomy, pushing the envelope in autonomy for aerial vehicles both manned and unmanned. He talks about the evolution of the technology, the company's fundraising and the obstacles that must be conquered in order to reach broader commercial adoption of autonomous flight technology.
Ep 246: Growing A Business With An Exit In Mind
with Harold Green, Founder of Chamberlain Contractors
Harold Green launched Chamberlain Contractors, an asphalt paving company, in 1975 and sold it to Pavement Partners, a portfolio company of Shoreline Equity Partners, in January 2022. While he always had the end in mind, he brought on a partner who didn't share the same goals. Green talks about selling the business, how he resolved the issue with his partner, and his more recent venture that he's hoping to more aggressively grow as he transitions out of Chamberlain.
Ep 245: Starting, Building & Selling An Industry Leader
with Jai Shekhawat, Founder of Fieldglass
Jai Shekhawat is the founder and former CEO of Fieldglass, a cloud-based vendor management software platform that grew to encompass users in 150 countries and more than $60 billion in annual spend, making it the largest such firm in the world. He sold a majority stake in the company to Madison Dearborn Partners, which helped expand the business before selling it to SAP for $1 billion in 2014. Jai talks about the experience from soup to nuts — fundraising, growth, selling and life after.
Ep 244: Behind the Scenes of a Biotech Deal
with Megan Bailey, former CEO of Personal Genome Diagnostics
In 2022, Labcorp paid a reported $450 million to acquire Personal Genome Diagnostics, known as PGDx, a genomic testing company. Megan Bailey, who was CEO of PGDx, stops by the pod to offer a peek inside the deal — what it was like building the deal team, getting buy-in, how they chose Labcorp and why they pursued a sale after successfully raising a $103 million Series C earlier that same year.
Ep 243: Maintaining Culture While Growing Fast
with Marc Bernstein, Founder & CEO of Balto
Marc Bernstein is scaling fast and having fun at Balto, a SaaS platform designed to provide real-time guidance to contact center agents. That’s even after the founder and CEO added multiple investors to the mix and recently raised $37.5 million in capital. Marc talks about launching the company, how he's maintaining the culture as he's added layers to his management team, and how the typical characterization of investors-as-bosses is all wrong.
Ep 242: Founding and Funding A Disruptive Fintech
with Biju Kulathakal, Co-founder & CEO of Halo Investing
Biju Kulathakal is the co-founder and CEO of Halo Investing, the first independent multi-issuer technology platform for Structured Notes, connecting investment advisors and their clients to the world’s largest banks. He stops by to talk about launching the company, pitching to investors and growing the business from an idea to more than 200 employees working in 5 countries.
Ep 241: Beating The Odds At Raising Capital
with James Peisker, co-founder of Porter Road
James Peisker launched Porter Road with what could be considered an ambitious goal: to change the world. What started as a single butcher shop in Nashville selling meat direct from the farm has spread out across multiple states and, through its thriving online business, is now selling across the nation. James shares how the business got started, why banks hesitated to fund it and how the introduction of not just capital but ideas from VC and PE has led to the company's remarkable growth.
Ep 240: Executing & Integrating Cross-Border Acquisitions
with Sean Kennedy, Managing Member of TRG
Sean Kennedy launched TRG in 2002 and has since grown it from a three-person team to more than 300. In addition to its impressive organic growth, the company has expanded through acquisitions, bringing on companies from the U.S., Canada and the UK as it works to become an international player in the managed solutions space. Kennedy talks about the company's growth, the differences between its domestic and international acquisitions, as well as the process of integrating teams that come from much different cultures.
Ep 239: The Current State of M&A
with Gavin Slader, Head of Investment Banking at JMP Group
What's going on in M&A today? Is it a buyers' or a sellers' market? What are the macro factors having the most impact on dealmaking and who's taking most of the hit? Gavin Slader, head of the investment bank for JMP, a Citizens company, offers his state of M&A — an overview of the conditions dealmakers are facing and predictions for how the 2023 deal year finishes up.
Ep 238: Raising Capital, Doing Deals & The Stellar IPO That Almost Didn't Happen
with serial tech CEO Dennis Barsema
Dennis Barsema has had a storied career leading numerous telecommunications, software and optical networking companies. He's engaged in myriad capital raises, mergers and several acquisitions. As the CEO of Redback Networks, he led the company through one of the most successful IPOs in Wall Street history and completed a multi-billion-dollar acquisition. Dennis talks about his experience with Redback, the issue that almost prevented him from taking the company public, and how his path eventually led him to teaching future entrepreneurs.
Ep 237: How Investor Mindsets Have Changed Since The Pandemic
with Jonathan Dane, founder of Defiant Capital Group
Jonathan Dane, founder of Defiant Capital Group, discusses the launch of his asset management firm in 2020 and how the turbulence of that year helped shape the business. He also shares his perspective on how the investor mindset has changed over the years since, and offers tips on post-business investment life.
Ep 236: Pivoting To Find A Sweet Spot
with Yaacov Martin, Co-Founder & CEO or Jifiti
Yaacov Martin's Jifiti business, a buy-now-pay-later white-label point-of-sale financing system for eCommerce evolved from a gift registry business idea into a thriving company that's leveraged financial backing with major retailers and retail holding companies to find a sweet spot in a growing industry. Yaacov shares the story of the company's founding, it's pivot, of sorts, into BNPL, and how the company has grown since.
Ep 235: The Charlotte Startup Scene
with Juan Garzón, Managing Director of Innovate Charlotte
For many years, Juan Garzón's work has given him a broad view of the Charlotte startup community. He leads Innovate Charlotte and PitchBreakfast, founded and ran StartCharlotte, which became Charlotte Inno, and The Garzón Company works with entrepreneurs on marketing. Juan talks about his perspective on the Charlotte startup scene, its strengths, its gaps and the progress it's made and still needs to make.
Ep 234: Launching a Private Equity Firm
with Suzanne Yoon, Founder of Kinzie Capital Partners
When Suzanne Yoon launched the private equity firm Kinzie Capital Partners back in 2017, it was one of the scariest things she's ever done. Gaining traction meant overcoming significant obstacles in a highly competitive environment, but it's helped her better understand the entrepreneurial founders she now represents in the lower middle market. Suzanne talks about why she set out on her own, how she gained traction in the market, and why she's active with organizations that work to get and support more women in private equity.
Ep 233: Buying, Growing & Selling Through A Search Fund
with Hugh Slater, Founder of Slater Capital
Hugh Slater struck out on his own after years in operational roles and leading divisions to assemble investors in a search fund and acquire EGC Enterprises in Chardon, Ohio. Pulled by the entrepreneurial spirit, he grew the business organically, made an acquisition and eventually sold it to CDI Energy this year. Hugh talks about the process soup to nuts and what he plans to do next.
Ep 232: Raising Early-stage Capital To Fund Acquisitions
with Ali Ahmadi, Co-founder & CEO of TCARE
Ali Ahmadi co-founded TCARE, a business that helps organizations battle caregiver burnout for those caring for loved ones. The team has grown from two to more than 170 and, after its recent $17 million Series A from a group of 12 investors, is looking to add 100 more as it expands in the market. Ahmadi talks about the evolution of the company, what he's learned about fundraising, and how he's adapting to managing a rapidly growing business.
Ep 231: Forging A Joint Venture Startup
with Sylvester Hester, Founder of LM Manufacturing
Sylvester Hester, a 30-year veteran of the automotive industry, recently launched LM Manufacturing, a company that provides manufacturing, assembly, sequencing, supply chain and logistics management primarily in the automotive vertical. It's a joint venture with Magna International, a $40 billion mobility technology company that has thrown its support behind LM, which expects to generate some 400 jobs as it lays down roots in Detroit. Hester talks about the process of launching the business, how the opportunity came about, and the importance of being a job creator in Detroit.
Ep 230: Investing In Finhealth To Reach Underserved Consumers
with Jennifer Tescher, Founder & CEO of Financial Health Network
Financial Health Network opens the financial services industry to underserved consumers across economic, geographic and cultural spectrums. Founder, President and CEO Jennifer Tescher talks about FHN’s Financial Solutions Lab Accelerator, its cultivated network and its investment in 50-plus finhealth solutions.
Ep 229: Vytalize Health Raises $100 Million Series B Round
with CEO Faris Gawhi and CMO Matt Buder Shapiro
Vytalize Health has been raising funds successively and successfully for the past few years, drawing in $5.5 in 2020, $17 million in 2021, $50 million April 2022, and now a $100m Series B in February. Company CEO and co-founder Faris Ghawi and Chief Marketing Officer Matt Buder Shapiro stop by to talk about the big raise, how they'll apply it, the growth its perpetuating and what comes next.
Ep 228: How Working Capital Can Impact Your Deal
with Tony Montanaro, partner with Louis Plung & Co.
Setting the appropriate working capital target is a significant part of any deal, and it's often something sellers just don't understand. Tony Montanaro, partner in the forensic, litigation & valuation department at Louis Plung & Company, talks about the intricacies of working capital in an M&A deal.
Ep 227: John Estafanous, Founder & CEO of RallyBright, Baltimore
John Estafanous is leading RallyBright, the second company he's founded. He's recently raised investor capital — his first experience with the process — as he looks to accelerate growth for the company, which offers a software platform designed to improve team performance. John stops by the pod to talk about how founding the first company has informed building the second, what he learned selling that first business, his experience raising capital, and the importance of connecting with the right investors.
Ep 226: Liana Douillet Guzmán, CEO of FOLX Health, Boston
Liana Douillet Guzmán joined, FOLX Health as CEO in February 2022 and was tasked with growing the business to all 50 states. FOLX Health, operator of a digital health company intended to serve the LGBTQ+ community, has raised nearly $60 million since its founding through seed, Series A and Series B rounds, putting the company’s pre-money valuation at $95 million. Guzmán discussing the growth of FOLX and how raising capital has changed dramatically in the past two years.
Ep 225: Eric Satz, Co-Founder and CEO of Alto, Nashville
Eric Satz is the co-founder, president and CEO of Alto, developer of an alternative asset investment platform intended to connect everyday investors to alternative investment opportunities. Satz and his team raised $39.94 million of Series B venture funding in 2022, putting the company's pre-money valuation at $250 million. He talks about the capital-raising process and what the future holds for Alto.
Ep 224: Andrew Bennett, Chief Business Officer of Provide, Columbus
Provide, an integrated suite of financial products for healthcare practitioners, was acquired by Fifth Third in 2021. The company, which launched in 2013, made its way through pivots and financing rounds to ultimately become an independent business line of the bank in a deal that could accelerate the growth of an already growing company. Provide Chief Business Officer Andrew Bennett stops by to talk about the acquisition and what it means for the future.
Ep 223: David Tolmie, Senior Partner of Edgewater Funds, Chicago
Dave Tolmie is a senior partner at The Edgewater Funds, a private equity firm he co-founded in 2001 and has helped grow to more than $3 billion in committed capital. The former CEO of Yesmail, Inc., a company he led through a successful IPO and subsequent sale for $720 million, and previous Senior Vice President of Operations for Bally Total Fitness, a company he joined after building and selling a regional health club to Bally for $90 million, talks about what he looks for in the entrepreneurs who will lead his portfolio investments. He walks through the major stages of that investment and how that affects CEOs as they sell to PE, aggressively build and then sell again.
Ep 222: Dick Simon, CEO of Sensorium Therapeutics, Boston
Dick Simon, a serial entrepreneur and leader in advancing psychedelic-assisted therapies, is the co-founder and CEO of Sensorium Therapeutics, a company that identifies new, promising drug leads for therapeutics inspired by psychoactive plants and fungi to address mental health issues such as anxiety. Dick talks about the business, how it’s grown, and its recent fundraising, which brought a $30 million Series A into the business in 2022.
Ep 221: JD Harris, CEO of Ascent Solutions, Minneapolis
After JD Harris joined Ascent Solutions in 2014, he bought out the previous owners and turned the company from a hosting company — which was 95 percent of its business — into one that provides cybersecurity advisory, consulting, education, and managed services. In 2021, he sold a minority investment in the company to RunTide Capital to accelerate the already exponential growth the company experienced since he first got involved. JD talks about that first big pivot, the company's growth and the process of bringing on a PE partner.
Ep 220: Matt Massucci, Founder & CEO of Hirewell, Chicago
Hirewell, a recruiting company founded by Matt Massucci back in 2001, recently raised $21 million from Pry-tek Holdings, a company with global reach. Already, Matt has teamed with Pry-Tek on an investment in the London-based executive search firm TritonExec, a company that's expected to compliment the capabilities that Hirewell brings to the organization. Matt talks about the deal, the diligence and what it all means for his and the company's future.
Ep 219: Tranice Watts, Founder of Lifting Lucy, Baltimore
Tranice Watts co-founded Lifting Lucy when she was in her early twenties, working in an industry not known for much diversity. The idea came to Watts — the first Black woman to co-own and operate a craft brewery in the state of Maryland — when she was on a subcommittee of the Craft Brewers Conference. Lifting Lucy has since grown into a national organization that supports under-represented communities within the brewing industry by helping finance opportunities for exposure and inclusion.
Ep 218: Silas Deane, Founder of VendEngine, Nashville
Silas Deane founded VendEngine, a financial tech software solution for inmates and their families, when he realized there were serious issues with correctional facilities in regard to money transfers. He discusses the founding of the company, how COVID-19 played a critical role in the firm's path, and how he ended up selling the business to Tyler Technologies.
Ep. 217: Jon Eesley, Partner with Windsor Advisory Group, Columbus
Selling a closely held business is a unique and taxing challenge. When an owner's eyes are focused too intensely on how much they'll get and how to keep it away from the IRS, there's a lot they can miss. Jon Eesley, who has been a part of many M&A transactions both as an accountant and as a financial adviser, talks about the personal toll a process can take, how to emotionally prepare for an event, and where to get objective advice.
Ep. 216: Guy Friedman, Co-founder & CEO of SteadyMD, St. Louis
Guy Friedman is Co-Founder, President and CEO of SteadyMD, a B2B telehealth infrastructure provider that enables telehealth patient experiences in all 50 states. He spoke on the Dealmakers Podcast about how he built SteadyMD as a direct-to-consumer offering, but quickly realized its value to other businesses.
Ep. 215: Sanjay Singh, Chairman & CEO of Mace Security International, Cleveland
Years back, Sanjay Singh lead a company through a challenging integration after acquiring an industry competitor. Those first 100 days were critical to the deal’s success. Sanjay, now Chairman and CEO of Mace Security International, talks about the deal, and how he walked the companies through the post-deal work, in what could be called a tense environment, to move the needle, and how his integration process has evolved since.
Ep. 214: Joe Hipsky, Co-founder of IRALOGIX, Pittsburgh
IRA record keeping and technology solutions provider IRALOGIX raised an $11 million expansion of its Series B in 2021 and $22 million Series C funding in 2022. In this episode, Founding Partner Joe Hipsky talks about those raises and some things he might do differently looking back.
Ep. 213: Jason Barsema, Co-founder of Halo Investing, Chicago
Halo Investing’s vision and execution has propelled it to one of the top FinTechs in the U.S. That success also allowed it to easily raise capital to further its long-term goal of making structured notes accessible for just one dollar. Jason Barsema, co-founder and president, joined the Dealmakers Podcast to talk about how they built the company to where it is today and what we can expect in the future.
Ep. 212: Andrew Ashur, CEO of Lucid Drone Technologies, Charlotte
Andrew Ashur's Lucid Drone Technologies is a robotics company that's outfitting flying drones to soft-wash buildings. After bootstrapping to get to proof of concept, the design caught the eye of Y Combinator, leading not only to a significant capital raise but also an informative stint with the influential accelerator. Andrew talks about how his company and his fundraising tactics have evolved, and traces the growth of the business since its launch in 2018.
Ep. 211: David Dunstan, Managing Director of Citizens M&A Advisory, Boston
Citizens Financial Group has released its 2023 M&A Outlook, its annual survey of 400 leaders at U.S. middle-market companies and private equity firms. David Dunstan, managing director in the Citizen's M&A Group, talks about the results — that despite some caution because of macroeconomic uncertainty, pre-pandemic norms are the expectation in the 2023 M&A environment — and what that could mean for both sellers and buyers.
Ep. 210: Dr. Patrick Hines, Founder & CEO of Functional Fluidics, Detroit
Dr. Patrick Hines is CEO and Founder of Functional Fluidics, a company that has developed a testing platform that can assess the health of red blood cells. The company recently raised a $3.1 million bridge round and, at the time of this interview, was in the process of working to secure a Series A that would help it expand its reach into the market. Dr. Hines shares the story of his mission to develop the diagnostic tools to help people with serious health conditions resulting from abnormal red blood cell function receive the right care.
Ep. 209: Thomas Goodmanson, CEO of Calabrio, Minneapolis
Thomas Goodmanson has been with Calabrio essentially from the start. From its spinout the company has been acquired twice and grown exponentially in both headcount and revenue. And with its recent acquisition by Thoma Bravo, it's looking to step even harder on the accelerator. Thomas talks about the experience of bringing on a financial partner and the differences and similarities the second time around.
Ep. 208: Keith Campbell, Senior Partner with West Monroe
West Monroe Senior Partner Keith Campbell stops by to talk about The Future of Diligence in Private Equity, which just happens to be the title of a report he recently co-authored. Highlighting survey findings from 100 U.S. PE companies, it explores the shifts in diligence approach that move away from identifying risk to identifying opportunity, greater data needs and the application of data analytics tools in a more commonly remote setting. Keith talks about how much progress has been made toward these changes as well as what middle-market companies headed toward a process should expect from this new diligence approach.
Ep. 207: Chuck Morton, Partner with Venable, Baltimore
Chuck Morton, Partner, Venable LLP, has been recognized for decades as one of best middle-market deal lawyers in the United States. During his time as an M&A attorney, he’s seen business leaders make some excellent choices and some not-so-brilliant decisions. He sat down for a discussion with Smart Business Network to elaborate on both and provided specific examples.
Ep. 206: Jared Paquette, Managing Partner of Conanicut Capital, Boston
After 20 years of working in PE at different firms, Jared Paquette has stepped out on his own, launching Conanicut Capital. Targeting the lower-middle-market, his aim is to deploy patient capital at founder-led businesses to help them grow. He talks about launching the firm, the first deal and how the process of getting capital backing for the firm affected how he looks not just at deals, but his own business.
Ep. 205: Debbie Gordon, Founder & CEO of Cloud Range, Nashville
Cloud Range is a cybersecurity company led by security executives and engineers who encourage military-grade simulation training for enterprise security teams. The company recently raised its first round of outside capital from three different investors. Founder and CEO Debbie Gordon talks about what that process was like for her, what she's learned that she'll apply to future rounds, and how the company plans to use the investment to grow the business.
Ep. 204: Joe Bagan, CEO of STAQ Pharma, Columbus
STAQ Pharma recently raised about $45 Million of Series C venture funding to build a $70 million facility on the west side of Columbus, which will add 300 jobs to the area. Its 503B Outsourcing Facility will produce compounded medications under the Current Good Manufacturing Process (cGMP) quality system, a Federal Drug Administration standard. CEO Joe Bagan sat down with the Dealmakers Podcast to discuss the capital raises and the new, much larger facility being built in Columbus.
Ep. 203: Michael Pearson, Founder of Union Packaging, Philadelphia
Michael Pearson launched Union Packaging in 1999. Over nearly 20 years, he grew it to employ some 100 people, many of which he hired from what he calls non-traditional sources. Recently he sold that business to LBP Manufacturing, and became a partner at Iron Stone Real Estate. In addition, he's giving back to the community through board participation at many Philadelphia organizations. Mike shares the story of Union Packaging, how he prepared for and executed its sale, and offers advice for those getting ready for life after an exit.
Ep. 202: Nick Mirchef, Co-founder of SmartWitness, Chicago
Nick Mirchef and his son-in-law, Chris Pflanz, went through the trails and tribulations of early-stage capital raises with their company SmartWitness, a pioneer in video telematics. They found a big payday at the end of it all. Today, they offer others advice using their experience as a guide.
Ep. 201: Michael Healander, CEO of Airspace Link, Detroit
In four short years, Detroit-based startup Airspace Link went from a couple founders and a few employees to recently raising $23 million in a Series B to aid its global expansion. It started with a $100,000 convertible note, a $3 million pre-seed, a $10 million Series A and now the global expansion raise. Michael Healander, co-founder, president and CEO, is a drone pilot enthusiast who envisions the positive impact drones could provide to economies and quality of life. His company is creating a roadmap in the sky for drones of all types and sizes.
Ep. 200: Rocco DiLillo, Serial Entrepreneur, Cleveland
Rocco DiLillo has lived the entrepreneurial experience. He's operated 10 companies — five he founded and five he acquired, taken a company public, rescued struggling businesses and realized successful exits. His passion for building businesses compelled him out of his first retirement in his mid-40s. And even today — many years later as he begins to divest himself of his business holdings — he finds himself drawn back in by opportunity. DiLillo share some the highlights from his decades of experience, including one of his most recent exits from the North Carolina manufacturer, PCX.