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Intellectual Property as Collateral: How to Do Business Development in This Booming Industry

An Interview with Joseph Rossi of Aon, Assistant Vice President for IP Lending Solutions at Aon,

In today’s business world, intangible assets are becoming increasingly important. As a result, more and more companies are looking for ways to finance their businesses by leveraging their intellectual property (IP). I sat down with Joseph Rossi, Assistant Vice President for IP Lending Solutions at Aon, to learn more about this burgeoning field and how he conducts business development for what he believes to be the next big thing in lending.

IP-backed lending is a type of collateralized lending that uses a company’s intellectual property as security for a loan. This can include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. The intellectual property is appraised and then used as collateral for the loan, much like a home or car would be used.

IP-backed loans can be used for various purposes, such as working capital, business expansion, or even acquisition financing. And because the collateral is the IP itself, the loan can be structured flexibly and tailored to the borrower’s needs. This type of financing can be particularly helpful for high-growth companies that may not yet be profitable but have strong IP portfolios.

“We have put together a structure in which IP is treated more like a traditional physical asset that is being collateralized for a debt facility and backstopping its value through an insurance wrap,” said Rossi.

“Our valuation process coupled with the credit enhancement often gives companies the ability to access higher capital amounts, which is another form of non-dilution beyond the minimal to no warrant dilution we typically see; it extends the runway for them to not have to raise capital for a while or to skip financing rounds altogether and fully commercialize.”

Three Essential Business Development Tips for Newbies

Rossi joined Aon last year after being a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management for more than four years. Business development for IP-backed lending was uncharted territory for him when he started at Aon. But he says the following three tips have been instrumental in his success so far:

1. Be Truthful

When you’re just starting to get your feet wet in this industry, it’s critical to be honest about your knowledge and experience level, Rossi said. Refrain from acting like you know everything because chances are the people you’re talking to have been doing this for a lot longer than you have.

“I know that if I’m in a situation where I’m not sure what the answer is, or I’m not sure what to do, I know that I’m going to be truthful in that situation,” he said. “The worst-case scenario is me basically saying, ‘Look, I don’t know what the answer to that question is. And, you know, I’ll run it down for you.'”

2. Meet as Many People as Possible

In any new industry, Rossi says it’s imperative to meet as many people as possible and get a lay of the land. This will not only help you learn more about the industry, but it will also help you build relationships with key players. And when it comes to business development, relationships are everything.

“In the beginning, I think you have to turn over every rock,” he said. “You can’t let anything fall through the cracks. You have to try everything until you get to the point where you have the luxury of determining what’s is a good use of your time.”

3. Take Notes and Read a Lot

When Rossi started in this industry, he took notes on everything and read as much as possible. He still does to this day. And while it may seem like a tedious task, it’s helped him immensely in his career.

“I think note-taking is huge,” he said. “And I think that reading is huge. I always have a pen in my hand. I always have a notepad. In my free time, I’m always reading, whether it be a business book, a sales book, psychology book or what’s going on in the market.”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Nov. 2022

Three Tips for Being a Successful M&A Advisor from Sharon Heaton, CEO of sbLiftOff

 

In the male-dominated world of M&A, Sharon Heaton is a force to be reckoned with. The CEO of sbLiftOff, a national M&A advisory firm, she has over 30 years of experience in the industry. She has closed deals worth millions of dollars and advised some of the biggest names in business.

But Sharon is not your typical M&A advisor. For one thing, she’s a woman in a male-dominated industry. For another, she’s based in Herndon, VA – far from the major financial centers of New York and Chicago.

In a recent interview, I asked her what it takes to be a successful M&A advisor. Here are her top three tips:

1. Be Empathetic

Sharon says that one of the most important qualities for an M&A advisor is empathy. “By putting yourself into the other party’s shoes, you can better predict how things are going to happen because you’re looking at it from their perspective,” she said, explaining that while buyers and sellers often have different objectives, both parties want to feel like they’ve gotten the best possible deal.

She adds that certain sellers, like founding owners, are often reluctant to give up control of their companies and may need some hand-holding through the process. “Founder owners are a special unique breed of people,” she said. “They’ve been working on their company as long as they’ve been raising their children. And having an objective view of their company is hard.”

2. Be Persistent

M&A is a complex process, and Sharon says that one of the most critical qualities for an advisor is persistence. “We think persistence makes a difference,” she said, adding that M&A advisors must be able to pivot when things don’t go as planned.

She recalls a recent deal that fell through twice due to financing issues and capital market conditions. But Sharon and her team kept working on it and eventually got the deal done.

“The third time was the charm,” she said.

“We came up with yet another buyer, and we did it within three days of the second deal falling apart. We were able to present it to the seller. The buyer and the seller worked extremely well together and were able to close that transaction. Would everybody have been happy if the first deal had worked out? Absolutely. But sometimes, it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just need to be persistent. Stay at it. And you’ll eventually get over the line,” she added.

3. Think Outside the Box

Sharon says that another important quality for M&A advisors is creativity. She provided an example of a company that was installing ATMs in walls, but buyers were hesitant to invest because they considered ATMs a declining industry.

However, Sharon and her team thought outside the box and rebranded the company as the expert in “installing technology in static places.”

“They happened to be putting ATMs in the wall, but no reason could not be putting computer monitors on the wall,” she said. “When you go to New York, and you see [a screen that says]This bus is going to be arriving in three minutes. It’s the same thing. When you go to a parking lot, and you serve an automated way of getting in and out of the lot, it’s the same thing.”

She added that this changed “the perception dramatically by buyers. They said, Oh, I understand. That’s a growth industry. So we went from trying to sell what was being perceived as a buggy whip and turn that into something that was being perceived as a growth industry.”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Oct. 2022

How T.J. Johnson’s Business Development Strategy Helped His Insurance Company Post-COVID

An interview with T.J. Johnson, Client Executive for Business Insurance and Risk Solutions at Marsh & McLennan Agency

 

When T.J. Johnson started working in the insurance industry 15 years ago, he never imagined himself in the business for so long. But now, he says he loves it and has learned a lot throughout the years.

“What I liked the most about this business is working with business leaders, top decision-makers, and business owners and helping them protect their business and their baby,” Johnson told me in a recent Zoom interview.

Johnson is the Client Executive for Business Insurance and Risk Solutions at Marsh & McLennan Agency and focuses on property, casualty, and business insurance for the middle market in Southern California.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, business development (BD) experts worried about what would happen to their clients and how they could keep their businesses afloat. BD had long relied on in-person events, face-to-face networking, and business lunches and dinners to build relationships. But with the pandemic came a new set of rules: no more shaking hands, no more business lunches, and no more business travel.

But Covid-19 didn’t turn out to be as bad as many feared for Johnson and his team. They didn’t only manage to keep their clients; they actually grew their business. To Johnson, Covid-19 served as a time of reflection and change – both personally and professionally. Before the pandemic, he said he spent a lot of time on the road in airplanes and hotels, coordinating meetings and trying to make the most of it. But now, he says he is “working smarter, not harder.”

“I’m able to have ten meetings a day instead of those five, and they’re very productive. And that boosted business big time for me,” he says.

“Insurance is the last thing people think about; It’s not sexy,” he said, adding that this often means an additional challenge for BD professionals working in the industry. The key to success, he says, is to be passionate about the industry and have a genuine desire to help people.

He says one also has to think outside the box when creating opportunities to meet new people. For example, he referred to a recent event he hosted for M&A advisors and investment bankers in Porsches, sipping cocktails and wine with appetizers being served.

“It was a big success,” he said. “It was a big hit because it was different. It wasn’t your traditional, Happy Hour meet at a bar trying to network. There was no agenda. We weren’t talking about insurance. We weren’t talking about banking; we weren’t talking. None of that. It was just, let’s connect, let’s have fun.”

Being focused on building long-term relationships has always been a cornerstone of Johnson’s BD strategy.

“I’ve seen way more success and trying to help others out, where it comes back in tenfold for me,” he says. “You can’t go in there selfishly thinking about yourself when you’re networking and doing business development; you’ve got to build quality relationships of trust.”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Oct. 2022

What We Can Learn from the Struggles of Digitally Native Brands

An interview with Michael Lipkin, CEO of Assembled Brands

 

There’s no doubt that digitally native brands have changed the retail landscape. But as they’ve grown, we’ve seen some common struggles emerge – namely around profitability. In this interview, Michael Lipkin, CEO of Assembled Brands, a Los Angeles-based company that provides working capital and growth capital to early-stage consumer brands, shares some insights into why so many digitally native brands struggle.

1) Know Your Customer:

According to Lipkin, one of the biggest issues is that these companies often don’t have a clear understanding of their customer or how to reach them effectively. As a result, many end up spending endlessly on marketing without seeing a return.

“So many people or companies that we see will spend endlessly trying to attract a customer,” Lipkin says. “But if that channel isn’t efficient, you have to know to cut bait.”

Lipkin says understanding a customer’s lifetime value (LTV) as well as return on ad spend (ROAS), is critical to ensure marketing efforts are focused on the channels that will actually deliver results.

2) Metrics Matter:

Another significant issue is that these companies often don’t have a clear understanding of their key metrics. Without this knowledge, making strategic decisions around marketing and growth is difficult.

“If you’re not profitable, at the end of the day, you’re just going to have to be in an endless loop of raising more equity, suffering dilution, and trying to raise more debt,” Lipkin says. These metrics range from click-through rates to brand mentions on social media platforms, and can tell how effectively your marketing efforts are leading users to take action that generates value for the company.

3) Go Omni-Channel:

Finally, Lipkin notes that many digitally native brands have succeeded by branching out into the omnichannel world. This means, for example, selling not just through their own website but also through wholesale partners and retail stores.

“Direct-to-consumer is a little bit of a misnomer in that we see a lot of success in digitally native brands branching out to become omni-channel,” Lipkin says, explaining that this gives them the ability to reach more customers and ultimately drive more sales.

4) Be Innovative:

Finally, Lipkin says that it’s essential for these companies to be constantly innovating and differentiating themselves from the competition. This means not only coming up with new products, but also new ways to solve customer problems. For example, Lipkin referred to a company that produces towels that are resistant to sand. This company quickly rose to popularity because it solved a problem many people experience when going to the beach.

“If you can differentiate a product to solve a differentiated problem, I think you’ll just stand out from the crowd,” Lipkin says.

5) Focus on the Bottom Line:

Finally, Lipkin says that it’s vital for these companies to focus on profitability, not just growth. He notes that many brands get caught up in trying to grow their top line without thinking about the bottom line. This can be a recipe for disaster, as we’ve witnessed with public companies like Allbirds and Warby Parker, which have seen their stock prices drop due to a lack of profitability.

“So many VC-backed companies forget about becoming profitable that it really, in the end, hurts them,” Lipkin says.

In brief, Michael Lipkin believes that in order for a digitally native brand to be successful, it must focus on five key areas: knowing their customer, metrics, going omni-channel, being innovative, and profitability. By following these tips, brands can avoid some of the common pitfalls and set themselves up for long-term success.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Oct. 2022

Edge Capital Lending: Consider ABL Disrupted

An interview with Lucy Csizmas, Director of Business Development at Edge Capital Lending, LLC.

 

When Context Business Lending, LLC, decided to rebrand as Edge Capital Lending, LLC, in September, they had one goal in mind: to be an even more customer-focused, flexible lender. And with Meredith Carter, a female President/CEO at the helm, they are well on their way to achieving that goal.

Edge Capital Lending is a non-bank, family office backed lower middle-market direct lender that provides flexible financing solutions ($5-$50 million) to companies with annual revenues of $10-$250 million. Founded in 2013 in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, Edge Capital currently has employees in more than a dozen states across the country.

As Director of Business Development, Lucy Csizmas, explains that Edge Capital is willing to work with businesses in industries traditionally considered “out of favor”, – such as the cannabis (CBD), topical oils/creams, E-Commerce, firearms, energy, alcohol and other industries along with traditional manufacturers, distributors, service businesses, online retailers and others. This willingness to take a holistic view of each business’ challenges and turn them into opportunities is what sets Edge apart from other lenders.

Lucy states the name change reflects the company’s commitment to being an ABL Disruptive Lender, being more nimble and willing to think outside of the box in order to provide their borrowers an optimal financing structure.

“We are always open-minded. I believe that is the common thread,” Lucy stated. “We are willing to look at any industry and if we can rationalize and understand it, our credit team is willing to take the time to provide appropriate customer specific asset backed structures. “It’s refreshing to be a part of such a creative and collaborative team!”

In California, where the CBD topical healing solutions market is booming, Edge is positioned to become a leader in this industry. “The companies currently lending into this industry are very expensive,” said Lucy.” As we are comfortable lending into the industry after significant due diligence, we can provide a more cost effective solution to this and other out of favor industries.”

And with female CEO, Meredith Carter, at the helm, Edge is poised to continue its forward-thinking, collaborative approach to lending.

“It’s refreshing for me as a female, to have a female CEO that I report to directly and a very flat organizational structure” said Lucy. “There shouldn’t be a distinction between female or male, but Meredith Carter does bring different ideas and practices to the table. We are very open in our discussions, and it’s an extremely collaborative team with one goal in mind – how to be an optimal financial partner to companies in order to help them create Edge within their industry .”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Oct. 2022

Donika Schnell: Four Tips for Success for Single Mothers

Donika Schnell, Managing Director at Greystone & Co for healthcare, provides four tips for success for single mothers.

 

Donika Schnell is a mother of three and a successful businesswoman. She has been divorced since her children were young, but she has never let that stop her from achieving her goals. She is the daughter of Albanian parents who fled the communist regime in their homeland in the early 1950s. Donika was born in America and raised in a traditional Albanian household for Chicago.

She is now the Managing Director at Greystone & Co for healthcare. She provides meaningful, complete debt solutions to skilled nursing and seniors housing, including bridge loans, permanent HUD or Agency financing, mezzanine, and other creative debt products.

Donika is a strong advocate for single mothers. She knows how difficult it can be to raise children on your own, but she also knows it is possible to succeed. She believes there are four things that all single mothers need to do to be successful: get an education, be driven and passionate, be coachable, and form a personal advisory group.

Get an Education:

Donika knows that getting an education is the key to success for any single mother. She has a degree in accounting and communications and has used her education to climb the corporate ladder. As a firm believer in the importance of education, she has made sure that her children have had the opportunity to attend private school to increase their chances of success and also because the private school community provided a consistent, supportive environment for them surrounded by loving teachers and administrators .

“When I was little,” she said, “my father constantly talked about how lucky we are to live in a country with the freedoms we have, that if you have a dream, you can make it happen. And you can do that in this country. So, he was committed to an education for me and my sister.”

Be Driven and Passionate:

Donika says she is a very driven and passionate person. When she sets her mind to something, she goes after it with everything she has. This has served her well in her career in healthcare, where she has succeeded in a male-dominated industry.

“I like to think I have a strong constitution, that I can do almost anything and everything,” she said, explaining that despite the challenges of being a single mother and coming from an immigrant family, she has never let anything stand in her way.

“I never let any of those hold me back…I always behaved as an equal to anybody at the table with me,” she added.

Be Coachable:

One thing that helped Donika succeed is her willingness to be coached by others. When she started her career, she had a mentor who taught her the ropes and showed her how to be successful. Even now, she continues to seek advice from her peers.

“I find myself in situations where I’ve been around really smart people that I can learn from, and strive to be more like them, and they were all kind. They treated everybody the same way with respect.  I’ve been so very fortunate to have amazing mentors in my life” she said.

Form a Personal Advisory Group:

Another piece of advice Donika has for single mothers is to form a personal advisory group. This group of people can offer you support, advice, and help when you need it. For Donika, this group includes her family, friends, and colleagues, including both women and men.

“Build a personal advisory group if you need support or you need advice,” she said. “There are others out there, and they don’t have to be women to support women. I’ve had fantastic male mentors. Men who have helped me be better by either leading or giving me advice.”

Donika would like to add that for any single mother, your future is yours to make.   Stay focused on your children and yourself.   She married a wonderful man 8 years after her divorce who is supportive and an equal partner in life.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Sept 2022

The Woman Behind Anagenesis Capital Partners: A Profile of Melanie Brensinger

An interview with Melanie Brensinger, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Anagenesis Capital Partners

 

Melanie Brensinger is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Anagenesis Capital Partners, a Florida-based private credit investment firm focused exclusively on the healthcare industry. Melanie has spent the past 16 years exclusively focused on investing in healthcare. She feels it is crucial to be solely focused on the healthcare industry to be able to dissect the complexities of the system and stay ahead of the trends as it is a constantly evolving sector.

Melanie has a particular interest in companies that provide delivery of quality care to patients in underserved markets, provide services to patients in their homes and preventative care. Melanie is passionate about the healthcare industry because she believes that it has the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives. She is energized by the innovation that is happening and tech enabled services being established to further enhance the reach to patients in rural markets.

“With that, I wanted to make sure that we focused really on that lower middle market segment, and we provided flexible capital to the end borrower, and then obviously, deliver really good returns for our investors,” she told Opus Connect in a recent Zoom interview.

Melanie is a firm believer in the power of private capital to make a positive impact on society. She is proud of the work that her portfolio companies are doing to improve access to care and deliver quality care to patients. In her opinion, this is what makes private capital a valuable tool for making the world a better place.

“I love going to board meetings and hearing patient success stories, whether it’s our behavioral health platform that’s providing mental care facilities/services to residents in rural Louisiana, or our podiatry platform that’s doing some really creative, innovative surgeries to allow people to walk again after significant foot deformities.  For me, that pushes me each day to focus on the underlying patient population as they are someone’s mother, father, brother or sister,” she said.

Melanie co-founded Anagenesis Capital Partners in 2015 when there were few, if any, other credit funds focused exclusively on healthcare. She saw an opportunity to fill a niche in the market and provide much-needed flexible capital to lower middle market healthcare companies. Most capital providers offer company’s capital solutions that try to force the company into their “sweat spot”.  I wanted to flip that upside down and understand what a company needs and provide a capital structure that supports the success of the business. She raised a $274 million fund, and the company has been actively deploying capital since that time.

“I can look at a business fairly quickly and understand which direction it’s going,” she said, explaining why expertise in a sector such as healthcare is so important.

“Some people might look at a company and say, wow, it has 50% EBITDA margin. I’d love to invest in this business. But anybody who knows healthcare is always very gun shy of anything that has outsized margins because if it has reimbursement exposure, that probably means there’ll be a cut along the way…Intuitively, you think high margins are always better, and in healthcare, that’s not always the case,” she added.

Melanie says that what makes her unique is the focus on partnership rather than a pure investment return perspective when it comes to working with portfolio companies. “As a founder and entrepreneur, myself, I understand the challenges of starting a business and managing it in good times and challenging times. The challenging times are where character is really displayed.”

“I’m a long-term relationship player,” she said, “I would rather forego a deal or forego an opportunity to either gain a long-term partnership or maintain a long-term relationship. And I’ve always been that way.”

She says often times generalists seek her advice on a particular healthcare subsector where they may not have as much expertise, and she’s always happy to provide her thoughts even if it does not automatically lead to a deal.

“All of those phone calls and time that people would say is a waste of time because it may not be related to a direct immediate deal are what enhances relationships and partnerships over the years,” she says. “I have dozens of relationships that are span over decades. That only happens when you create meaningful connections with people,” she adds.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Sept 2022

Making a Career Change to Investment Banking: Three Tips from Clay Risher

An interview with Clay Risher, Director of Business Development at TrueNorth Capital Partners LLC

 

Clay Risher didn’t take the Orthodox road to investment banking. He started his career in technology sales, working on large OEM account sales globally for clients like AT&T and IBM. After a few years, he got the entrepreneurial bug and co-founded a marketing firm where he ultimately ran operations, but doubling as creative director too. After growing the firm to multiple millions of dollars in revenues, he then exited the business and transitioned into corporate sales, becoming a Senior Vice President of National Accounts for a publicly traded company.

However, Clay wanted to get back into more of an entrepreneurial role soon after his stint as a corporate executive. He started consulting for private equity firms, investment banks, and hedge funds. It was through his working at RSM US LLP, a Chicago-based provider of audit, tax and consulting services to the middle markets that he got the opportunity to work at TrueNorth Capital Partners LLC, an investment bank in Stamford, Connecticut. Ironically, he started with TrueNorth in April of 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At TrueNorth, Clay is the Director of Business Development. The company offers M&A advisory as well as capital raising, restructuring and valuation services to a global clientele. . In this role, Clay is responsible for identifying and pursuing new business opportunities for the firm’s existing clients as well as new clients Clay brings into the firm. He also manages client relationships and provides support during the deal-making process.

“It’s been an awesome journey,” he told me recently in a Zoom call. “It’s been a complete rebirth of my career and I cannot express enough gratitude to the Partners here for taking a chance on me, especially during insanely difficult times due to the COVID 19 pandemic.”

I asked Clay what advice he would give someone thinking about making a career change. He offered three pieces of advice:

  1. Be Curious: Clay says that it’s important to be curious and to ask a lot of questions. “I think that most good private equity and investment bankers that I gravitate towards are naturally curious people,” he said, adding that “it’s easy to get complacent intellectually and otherwise, especially as we age, but I truly believe people must always be learning, growing and constantly trying to improve over yesterday because in today’s world, the only constant is change. If you adopt an attitude of what can I learn today, versus what can I earn today, life gets infinitely more rewarding
  2. Discipline Yourself: Making a career change can be difficult, but it’s essential to have discipline and stick with it. “Train your mind and your body to be the best you can every single day,” he emphasized. He adds that having “a moral compass” is also vital in an industry like investment banking, where one is constantly faced with ethical choices that can impact many people’s lives
  3. Set Expectations Early: When making a career change, it’s imperative to set expectations early on – both for yourself and for those you’re working with. Without setting expectations, he adds, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds and not achieve the goals you set out to accomplish.

Clay’s story is an inspiring one, and his advice is sound. If you’re thinking about making a career change, be sure to keep these three things in mind.

 

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Sept 2022

Stuart Rose: The Man Who Has Seen It All In Investment Banking

An interview with Stuart Rose, a partner at Mirus Capital Advisors.

 

Few people in the investment banking world have more experience and knowledge than Stuart Rose. A partner at Mirus Capital Advisors, a Boston-based middle-market investment banking firm, Rose has been in the industry for nearly two decades, including four years at Mirus.

Rose started his career in the industry, managing budgets and eventually a  chain of shoe l stores for a dozen years. He then transitioned into catalogue and eCommerce, running divisions or companies for another dozen years. In addition to his extensive experience, Rose has taught direct marketing at the college level.

For the past 16 years, Rose has been focused on selling companies in the eCommerce, direct marketing, retail, wholesale and consumer product industries. In that time, he has closed dozens of deals totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Rose’s experience and knowledge have made him one of the top investment bankers in the country.

“I ran e-commerce companies,” he said, emphasizing how his experience has translated into success in investment banking. “I know how they are run. I know what’s possible. I know the dynamics of it. And I can understand and present and articulate what makes an E-commerce company special.”

But it’s not just experience that makes Rose a top investment banker. He sees himself as a good listener who tries to understand sellers’ motivation and what they are looking to achieve beyond just a financial transaction.

“These are their babies,” he said, referring to the emotional attachment many sellers have to their businesses.

“Being a good listener and letting them come forward with that and accept the risk that comes along with that as well because most people know that they’re not going to live forever and they’re going to have to exit at some point. And they should exit to someone when they have control,” he added.

When asked what advice he gives to eCommerce entrepreneurs looking to sell their businesses, Rose highlighted the importance of understanding the value of their company and preparing for the sale process well in advance.

“The toughest part of the deal, aside from signing up a new client, is the preparation because most of our entrepreneur-led businesses don’t have the systems and the accounting to properly present the business to a sophisticated buyer,” he said.

He added that “having good records and a good understanding of the business model [and] what drives value in your business” is critical to getting the right kind of buyers interested and ultimately achieving a successful transaction.

“You have to have a book that is understandable and correct. And having two or three years of good financial data certainly helps,” he added.

 

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
Sept 2022

Can a Sales Rep Become a Business Development Director? One Man’s Story

An interview with Carter Owen, Director of Business Development at Petra Capital Partners

 

The journey from sales rep to business development director is not a typical one, but Carter Owen has made it look easy. Shortly after graduating with a B.A. in philosophy from Duke University, Owen started his career in sales at Oracle Corporation, a multinational information technology corporation. He worked out of Burlington, MA, selling software to large enterprises.

But after spending two years in sales, Owen received a surprising message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, asking if he’d be interested in a private equity role at Gemini Investors, a lower middle-market private equity firm based in Wellesley, MA.

“I think the subject line was a private equity company looking for Oracle Sales Reps,” he recalled in a recent interview. “I was like: this guy must be lost. There’s no way I can do this.”

But he soon learned that many of the skills he had acquired as a sales rep – relationship building, understanding customer needs, and negotiating – were transferable to private equity.

“I think my background is a little bit unique in the sense that I had no corporate finance background when I first started,” he said. “But the money is the money. Sellers are ultimately going to make their decision based on who the people are. To the extent that you can bring people skills to the table, that’s going to be beneficial in this business.”

He credits his success in private equity to several things, including his willingness to learn and adapt, and, perhaps most importantly, his ability to build relationships.

“A good salesperson is going to be the person who closes as many deals as possible. I think a good business development person is the one who can make as many friends as possible,” he added.

In 2020, Owen landed a more senior role at Petra Capital Partners, a Nashville-based private equity firm investing in healthcare and B2B services. He is the Director of Business Development, a role in which he is responsible for leading the firm’s marketing efforts and executing its business development strategy.

He offered the following advice to aspiring private equity professionals:

“Ask lots of questions,” he said, adding that he remembered he didn’t know what EBIDTA was when he first started in the industry. Being humble, coachable, and asking questions can take you far, he added.

He also added that newbies should try to find their own voice and not be afraid to share their own ideas.

“Don’t be afraid to stand by your opinions as it relates to certain investment opportunities, he said. “I think people are always looking for folks that are ultimately going to bring their own opinions, their deals, and their sort of their point of view to the table.”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
July 2022