Carl Koubek, Acta Ventures
Acta Ventures, Self Funded, Exited
Survey completed September 24, 2020.
Why did you choose your model? Would you make the same choice again?
More upside; yes.
Did you search with a partner? If so, why did you choose them? How did you find them? If not, why did you choose to search solo?
Yes; he was the one/complementary skillset; grad school.
When is the right time to start speaking with investors? How did you select your search and/or acquisition investors?
Day one; mainly friends, family, and former coworkers.
Did you get an MBA before searching? If so, where and why?
Yes; CMU since it was a decent school and located in a town a married into.
Was your search geographically constrained? Where did you search?
Yes-ish; 150 mile radius around Pittsburgh and Atlanta
How long was your search?
How did you find the company you acquired?
Friend of a friend.
Describe the company you acquired.
Office Furniture Dealer.
What was EBITDA and your purchase multiple at close?
How many employees did it have at close?
How helpful was the broker during the process?
What were your post-close plans with the owner? How did the plan go in practice?
A 6 month transition for the CEO, 6 year transition for CSO; Couldn’t have gone better.
During your first year in the company, what changes/improvements did you make? How difficult were they to make?
CRM, Website, Month End Dashboard.
What improvements and changes did you make over your time as an operator?
Added a new location, better software that is cloud based, digitized processes, additional organizational structure at the management level.
Did you implement any growth initiatives, add services or new products?
The goal has been geographic expansion of existing product lines, rather than new ones. This has happened organically and now we are considering tuck ins.
What did you not appreciate about running a company before becoming an operator?
It’s all people-oriented. Everything.
How did you build your team and company culture?
Similar to how Sid Meier builds his Civilization games – Kept a 1/3, tinkered with a 1/3, replaced 1/3. Didn’t do anything the first 6 months.
What became easier and more difficult over time?
Hiring/firing/compensation discussions; Harder to think outside the box or radically change process after living within the confines for 1+ years.
How did the process of selling your company go? Was the price what you expected? What was your post-close role in the company?
Who did you sell your business to?
N/A – I will never sell!
What are you working on today? Do you invest in searchers or other investments?
I am looking to expand said acquired business as well as supporting my partner search for our next permanent capital acquisition.
What articles, books, and resources were most helpful to you in preparing to search and operate?
Harvard ETA book was essential, Jim Sharpe blog helped with specific topics, Searchfunder helped me gain exposure to different methodologies, CMU was the lifeline for interns/space/fellowship with searchers.
What do you wish you knew prior to searching and operating?
A little more on automated marketing processes.
What advice would you share to prospective searchers? Advice to current operators?
Need to attach searching with all your might – shoot your shot and, even if you miss, you’ll end up finding your next professional role because you represented yourself so well to so many people.