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Think Like An Owner

The Think Like an Owner podcast seeks out conversations with small company owners and investors to learn how to acquire and run small companies, with a focus on search funds, micro private equity, and permanent capital.


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Andy Cagnetta – How Business Brokers See the M&A World – Ep.128

My guest on this episode is Andy Cagnetta. Andy is the CEO of Transworld Business Advisors, one of the largest business brokers in the country. The typical guest on Think Like an Owner is an owner operator often running a business they acquired, although not always. And therefore, the buyer’s side of a transaction is where we have spent the most time as a podcast. I wanted to hear the

Trilogy Search Series Ep.5: Kevin Knoepp and Zach Seely – Ep.127

Today I’m joined by Kevin Knoepp and Zack Seely. Zach acquired a healthcare software company called FSI in late 2020 with technical diligence help from Kevin, a software due diligence advisor and Trilogy operating executive. Our conversation doesn’t discuss the attractiveness of software as an investment, which it very much is, but rather on how to properly diligence software and operate and improve the business once acquired. We review common

Trilogy Search Series Ep.4: Kristen Glenn, Jennie Ellis, and Cyrus Symoom – Ep. 123

The 4th episode in our Trilogy Search Series features Kristen Glenn from Reverb People. Kristen is an HR professional with over 15 years of experience in HR Leadership and Business Partner roles. We also have Cyrus Symoom, the Co-CEO of Clariti Software, Clariti helps governments across North America with permitting and licensing solutions. Finally, we are joined by Jennie Ellis, who is an Operating Executive specializing in Talent Acquisition with Trilogy Search

Joe Heieck – Time to Sell or Keep Going? – Ep. 122

My guest on this episode is Joe Heieck. In 2015, Joe acquired gWorks, a software company that takes geographical information system data from government cities and counties and helps them visualize that data on their website among other services. Since then, they have grown impressively well both organically and through acquisition and have recently recapped their investor base through an investment by BV Investment Partners to continue their strong growth

Craig Fuller – On The Intersection of Media and Data – Ep. 121

The intersection of media and data has been the top idea on my mind for quite some time now. And my guest today, Craig Fuller, runs one of the best modern examples of this concept in action. FreightWaves, founded in 2016, is a media and data company focused on trucking, freight, supply chains, and all things logistics. To date, they have raised $91 million, will hit $42 million in revenue

Trilogy Search Series Ep.3: Tom Klein and Roland Lessard – Ep.118

My guests on this episode are Tom Klein and Roland Lessard, Tom and Roland launched a partnered search after running a background screening business together and acquired a language service business focused on intellectual property in 2016, which they sold last year in 2021. In both companies, growth through acquisition was a core to their playbook and we spend a ton of time diving into best practices and things to

Michael Arrieta – Building the World’s Best Holding Company – Ep.117

My guest on this episode is Michael Arrieta. Michael is the founder of Garden City and has raised $51 million in permanent capital to acquire family-owned businesses across the country. The raise was completed in March 2020, and already they have three wholly-owned companies and minority stakes in two. Michael came highly recommended by Brent Beshore, and I can see why from our conversations. It’s clear that Michael is a

Caroline Matthews & Connor McCarthy – Acquiring Youth Summer Camps – Ep.116

My guests on this episode are Caroline Matthews and Connor McCarthy, a husband and wife team running an investment firm called Canyonlands Funds that acquires youth summer camps from Maine to Florida. Both are extremely passionate about the outdoors and met on a trip to Bhutan while getting their MBAs at Stanford. After working in private equity for a few years after graduating, they decided to become entrepreneurs in the

Ayo Phillips & Peter Lohmann – All Things EOS – Ep.115

My guests on this episode are Ayo Phillips and Peter Lohmann. Both operate businesses and property services and management and also run Traction EOS in their companies. EOS rightfully gets a lot of attention in the small business world for providing a structure to grow and being what Peter calls it as a culture in a box system. But every operator uses EOS in slightly different ways, and I wanted

Tony Layne – A Turbulent Journey of Entrepreneurship – Ep.112

My guest on this episode is Tony Layne. I met Tony and his wife Cassi at SMBash in February after several folks strongly recommended I talk with them and I’m glad they did. Tony and Cassi are lifelong entrepreneurs in various ventures, but by far, their most successful venture is Senior Dental Care, now called Aria Care Partners under private equity ownership. Senior Dental Care started as a mobile dental

Tom Birchard – Kicking Off a Home Services Rollup – Ep.111

My guest on this episode is Tom Birchard. Tom has spent a great portion of his career managing service and operations teams for Ingersoll Rand and Trane, and as of March 2022, has taken a president role with a family office to acquire home services businesses. The family office is Whitney Wilder and it’s technically a multifamily office based in St. Petersburg, Florida, that operates like a private equity firm, but without a fund, giving them lots of flexibility, investments, and timelines. The office

Trilogy Search Series Ep.2: Ryan Turk – Ep.110

My guest on this episode is Ryan Turk. Ryan raised a traditional search fund in March 2020 and closed on Radiation Detection Company only nine months later in December 2020. Prior to searching, Ryan served in the Navy aboard nuclear submarine USS Michigan as an officer managing their onboard nuclear power system. Ryan used this experience to launch his impressively short industry focused search. Ryan and I talk about the pros and cons of being from the Navy prior to becoming a CEO,

David Dodson – Searching, Investing, Teaching – Ep.108

My guest on this episode is David Dodson. David started the second ever search fund after being a Stanford case writer, purchasing Smith Alarm Systems in 1989. Over his career, David has been the CEO or executive chairman of five companies, has and continues to invest in search funds today through his firm Futaleufu Partners, and he is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching classes about search and the management of small companies. My conversation

Glenn Gonzales – How to Fly Private as a Business Owner – Ep.107

My guest on this episode is Glenn Gonzales. Glenn is the founder and CEO of Jet It, a fractional share private jet business with a unique model serving customers across the country and in Europe. Prior to founding Jet It, Glenn was an F-15 pilot in the Air Force and sold private jets on behalf of Gulfstream and Honda. This episode is a deep dive into all options available for business owners who want to fly

Trilogy Search Series Ep.1: Nikita Sunilkumar & Kush Das – Ep.106

Welcome to the first episode in our trilogy search partner series with great entrepreneurs and investors from the traditional search world. Today, I am joined by Nikita Sunilkumar and Kush Das who both search and acquired home healthcare businesses through the traditional search process. Kush acquired Ennoble Care and works as a CEO today. Nikita acquired Crown Health in June 2020 and, in fact, just recently sold in early 2022. Both Nikita and Kush are fantastically talented entrepreneurs, as well as being friends which will be

Michael Curry & Keith Burns – Earn The Right to Lead – Ep.105

My guests on this episode are Michael Curry and Keith Burns who together have acquired 11 diagnostic radiation and other physics services businesses since 2014 through their platform Apex Physics Partners. This episode is loaded with wisdom and insights. I had a number of alternative titles I considered based on quotes for the conversation like “the CEO of Delta doesn’t know how to fly” or “putting out fires with your face.” Ultimately, earning the right to lead felt right as we talk

Lori Harrington & Bruce Vanderzyde – Searcher and Seller Perspectives – Ep.104

My guests on this episode are Lori Harrington and Bruce Vanderzyde. Lori launched a search in October 2020 and recently acquired Bruce’s company Anterra Tech at the end of 2021, which offers business intelligence software for the construction and real estate industries. This episode is a great discussion of how building a better relationship with a seller, negotiating upfront, bringing great advisors, and emphasizing strong and frequent communication can lead to a successful deal. Whether you’re buying or selling a business, this conversation

Live From SMBash: Justin Burris and Tim Ludwig on Majority Search – Ep.103

My guests on this episode are Justin Burris and Tim Ludwig who together have co-founded a new search investment fund named Majority Search. Majority Search aims to be the preferred buyer of small companies while giving searchers the chance to own the majority of the companies they operate. This is a brand-new model they’ve spent the last year working on, and I’m so excited to see it finally become public.

Robert Graham – Running Two Businesses, in the Healthcare Space and in the Search Fund Space – Ep.99

My guest on this episode is Robert Graham. Robert worked in management roles at Eaton prior to attending Harvard Business School, after which he worked in investment banking and private equity. Eventually, he decided to search for a business after seeing his HBS classmates do it, and today Robert is Managing Partner at Pillar Health Group, the holding company for four healthcare businesses he acquired together as a searcher. He’s

Chris Williams – Running a Search and Acquiring and Operating a Small Business – Ep.95

My guest on this episode is Chris Williams. I was introduced to Chris via Justin Vogt about a year ago. And since then, Chris and I have talked monthly about his search, thoughts on running a small company, the podcast, and all things work and life. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him, and I’m thrilled to have him on the podcast finally. Chris recently bought a bookkeeping and accounting

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Letters

Each year I write an annual letter to readers and listeners to reflect on the evolution of the podcast and my personal growth.

2020 Annual Letter: It’s Business Time

While 2020 was turbulent to say the least, it was the best year of my life. I married my lovely wife in late August, adopted a corgi, and began working on the Think Like an Owner podcast full-time.

2019 Annual Letter: Gaining Traction

Before getting to the podcast, 2019 was a tremendous year personally. I flew to DC for a FinTwit gathering hosted by Jamie Catherwood, graduated college with a new job, and got engaged.

2018 Annual Letter to Readers and Listeners

As a fun goal for myself, I’ve decided to start writing annual (and possibly quarterly) letters for the Think Like an Owner project to reflect on the growth of the podcast, discussion around the micro private equity market, and my personal learning.