When Convertible Notes Make Sense for Consumer Companies

Great piece by Ryan Caldbeck, CEO of crowdfunder CircleUp, on using convertible debt to grow early stage consumer product companies.  Shorter version: It helps defer valuation conversations when you have solid revenue, but the current revenue does not reflect the company’s potential.  For the full article, click here.

If you are interested in investing in early stage consumer product companies, I highly recommend CircleUp.  They have a number of great investment opportunities.

E&Y Study Shows Private Equity Backed Companies Crushing Public Markets

A new study released by Ernst & Young examined 539 Private Equity deals that exited from 2006 to 2012.  These are my key takeaways from the study:

  • PE backed firms crushed public companies and have done quite well in spite of the recession.  The PE exits from 2006 – 2012 outperformed investor returns on publicly held companies by a multiple of 5.4 over the same period.  For PE exits from 2010 – 2012, many of which were entered into prior to the recession, annual EBITDA growth averaged 11.8% compared to 5.5% in public markets.
  • Organic revenue growth is increasingly the primary driver of growth in EBITDA.  For PE exits from 2010 – 2012, organic revenue growth (as opposed to EBITDA growth through acquisition or cost-cutting) accounted for 45% of the growth in EBITDA versus 39% in the pre-recession years of 2006-2007.  In 2010-2012 alone, organic revenue growth accounted for over 50% of the growth in EBITDA.
  • Multiples, which were depressed during the recession, have rebounded.  For PE exits from 2010 – 2012, EBITDA growth accounted for 70% of the PE returns with the other 30% being from increasing multiples.
  • Holding periods are up.  For PE exits in 2012, the average holding period was 5.1 years, up from 3.4 years in 2006.

Here is the link to the full study: EY PE Study 2006 to 2012

The National Center for the Middle Market’s 2013 Q2 Middle Market Indicator

d6arbkvd9cf095iaaq9o_biggerDespite sluggish M&A activity, the National Center for the Middle Market’s 2013 Q2 Middle Market Indicator report shows solid growth with optimism and hiring on the upswing.  For the full report, click the link below:

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Management By Dumpster Diving

ManagementByDumpsterDivingI met with a middle market company last week.  It was owned by two charming brothers who had grown it over 20 years into a successful $30 million manufacturing business.  We were discussing preparing the company for outside investment.   If you ever listen to the NPR radio show Car Talk hosted by the venerable, Peabody-Award winning Tappit Brothers, Click and Clack, you have an idea of the type of guys who owned this business and how much fun I had talking to them.

While touring the facilities, one of the owners was talking about their differing management styles and said his brother practiced what he called ‘Management By Dumpster Diving’.  Each morning, he would tour the facilities and each time he passed a dumpster or waste can, he would poke his head in to see what was there.  It was a 24-7 operation, so this was his primary way of determining the waste and efficiency of the operation the night before.  The dumpster diving brother claimed he learned a lot of interesting information about his company and employees over the years.  The other brother claimed he was preparing for a future life on the streets!

This highlights what I love about entrepreneurs and why they need to make changes when they bring in outside investors.  Entrepreneurs are there everyday, doing whatever they need to do to grow the business, taking risks, getting dirty if necessary, inventing their own methods and solutions that fit their unique business and personal management style.  Private equity groups are not going to go dumpster diving to determine the previous day’s waste.  Larger companies with offsite ownership need systems and policies in place to measure and report KPI’s such as raw material usage analysis and production efficiency.  It’s not necessarily better or worse than the dumpster diving approach.  It’s just a good example of how a management process that works for a company at a particular stage of it’s development will not work as effectively as it grows and the ownership structure changes.

As an interim CFO for companies like this, I can help identify the necessary changes and implement them, before or after the change in ownership.  Please contact me directly if I can help your company or private equity group in this capacity.  For 7 tips on being successful as an interim CFO at private equity portfolio companies, click here.  And feel free to share any interesting management techniques you’ve come across and post them in the comments below or tweet them to me @middlemarketCFO with hashtag #ManagementByDumpsterDiving.

SEC Lifts the ban on general solitication. What does it all mean?

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It’s really just removing the first of two obstacles that stand in the way of crowdfunding.  The 2nd obstacle, which could get lifted later this year, would be to lift the accredited investor restriction.  At that point, private companies could raise equity by advertising to a wider audience through crowdfunding websites such as www.CircleUp.com and www.Fundable.com.  This will make it easier for small businesses to raise the capital needed to grow and stimulate the economy, but it could also open the door to fraud and high-risk investments.  What do you think will be the impact of crowdfunding?  

HR1105 to deregulate #middlemarket #PE

H.R. 1105, the Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act of 2013, would allow middle market investors access to capital and exempt investment advisers from having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Currently under the Dodd-Frank Act, private equity fund managers are subject to time-intensive and capital-constraining registration requirements.

The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is in support of this bill.  Their press release is attached here.