Each year, the National Capital Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) sponsors the Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, an event that brings together the top business minds from across the Mid-Atlantic region to share best practices, learn, network and connect.
During the conference, the chapter also plays host to DealSource, which allows dealmakers, investors and business leaders to meet face-to-face to identify opportunities and drive deal flow. Previously likened to “speed dating” for deal making, DealSource is considered a must attend for the region’s growth community.
To learn more about DealSource and why it’s one of the hottest tickets in town, we recently sat down with Jim McCabe, a VP at Clearsight Advisors, a business services and technology-focused investment bank built to advise world-class growth companies. Here is what Jim had to say:
Jim McCabe: Clearsight is a mid-market investment bank focused on the professional services, technology and data industries. We look to establish longer-term relationships with clients to try and find the best outcomes for them – whether that’s over the next few months or the next several years.
Clearsight was founded on the thesis that there is an ongoing convergence in M&A among our different areas of focus – professional services, technology and data. Where once upon a time, firms only sought to acquire other firms with a similar business model, now their customers are demanding a complete solution, so they’ve adapted their M&A focus accordingly.
We position ourselves at the nexus of these areas, where we’re able to address the needs of buyers and sellers across functional areas. We often find that the best buyer may not be the most obvious one, but is in an adjacent space seeking to complete a solution offering. We’ve seen this trend in the marketplace for some time, so while we don’t overlook the most obvious buyers, we also target the unusual buyers that may see the highest value in our clients.
Our clients range from $200M in revenue on the high end, down to $20-$30M in revenue. Our average deal size last year was around $75M in enterprise value – that’s an area where we can add a lot of value to enterprises.
CGCS: Why does Clearsight Advisors participate in DealSource? What makes this event a good fit for the company?
Jim McCabe: A great many of our buyers are Private Equity (PE) groups. Some of them are looking for a platform in a market where they have conviction, but often they already have a portfolio company in the space that are looking to grow through M&A. Both instances offer potential buyers with a professional approach to M&A and access to capital, with the latter group bringing a strategic dimension to the discussion as well.
The great thing about DealSource is that it allows us to catch up with our existing contacts, and make new ones as well. This allows us to expand our relationships and make sure we have a current understanding of where they are, what they’ve done and what they’re looking to do.
There are so many firms out there and so much deal activity that it’s quite possible we might be unaware of an investment that someone has made in a space we’re covering. DealSource helps keep us up-to-date on what’s going on in the market.
That’s our main goal, to get an opportunity to meet with people face-to-face – all in one day – to refresh existing relationships, make new connections and make sure we’re on top of the latest information.
CGCS: Who should attend DealSource? What types of companies and executives should attend this event?
Jim McCabe: Anyone interested in increasing deal flow should attend. We use it as an opportunity to interact and meet with people in the PE market, anywhere along the spectrum – in the mezzanine world, alternative lenders, buyout shops, growth equity investors, all of the organizations that are looking for opportunities, add-ons or platform investments.
One way DealSource helps us extend our services to clients is through relationships with lenders we might not know well, as a means help our clients find bridge financing while they’re working towards going to market for a sale. Having a broader network within the lending community can be essential for securing bridge financing, and we welcome meeting and building relationships with that group at DealSource.
CGCS: What benefits can participants in DealSource expect to gain?
Jim McCabe: Market intelligence is the biggest one. You get to select the partners that you’re going to meet and interact with. You can select people that tend to do a lot in your space and that focus on the types of deals you’re working on. You can use that opportunity to get a sense of what they’re doing, what they’re looking at, what’s in their pipeline and get a better feel for where they’re interest lies and what deals are getting done in the space.
The second would be the expansion of your personal network. It’s nice to have conversations with folks over the phone, but it’s better to meet them face-to-face, shake their hand and get to interact with them in a longer format. Even if you don’t necessarily having something immediately for them, it’s a way to make sure you’re top-of-mind for future opportunities.
It’s also good for seeing what potential opportunities are out there. Most investors- including many that aren’t investing anymore – still have portfolio companies that they will eventually need to take to market. Meeting with them at DealSource gives us the opportunity to position Clearsight to help them on the sell side when that time comes.
Those are really just a few of the potential benefits and the three largest benefits to me, personally. Also, if I’m being candid, the coffee at the event and cocktails following it are always excellent.