U.S. PE funds can provide a compelling financial offer while also bringing relevant industry experience. As business owners, an investor that is able to gain a firm grasp of your business concept quickly is advantageous. Otherwise, the investor can be a costly drain on your time.
In selecting a best-fit investor, your needs as a business owner must be aligned with the investor you select. There are a wide variety of PE funds, tailored to a variety of business owner’s needs. Will the PE fund add identifiable value?
A lot of PE funds simply supply the capital injection and remain a passive investor for the term of the investment. Others are much more focused in providing a team effort with management to kick-start the growth plan. If applicable, a PE fund can also assist with U.S. expansion.
I encourage business owners to ask for the track record of PE funds. Canadian companies should opt-out or avoid being the test case for a fund’s first Canadian investment. “What is the fund’s track record in Canada?” Call up the list of CEOs the PE fund has worked with in the past. They can shed light on the relationship and experience.
Evaluate the fund’s total strategy and investing style for compatibility. There is a huge diversity in the U.S. realm of PE funds. Funds typically vary in size of investment, industry focus, preferred stage of investment company, ownership of investment, and board participation to name a few. PE funds invest in late stage growth where products already exist and there is a revenue stream. Large investments can be up to $100 million USD in equity or as small as $10 to 15 million USD. With their equity stake, some funds may prefer a control or minority ownership position.
Typically PE funds reside on the board of the investee company as either active or passive board members. Active is good, but not undermining management, which often can be a slippery slope. The degree of diversity of investment professionals is also important as business owners should be looking for board members who provide expertise in a wide range of business areas. Maturity of the fund is also imperative as the stage of the fund’s life will dictate the timeline of investment.