Luke Havard, Managing Director of Disentis Group, takes the time to teach how to open doors. Not any simple doors, but doors towards great opportunities.
As a trusted advisor and investor to small and medium-size businesses and C – level executives and Fortune 500 companies, he’ll discuss in detail the basics of connecting with people while sharing as well his humble and simple beginnings.
Luke details the thought process and work that goes into the keys of communication and client selection.
Some Topics We Discussed Include:
To connect with Luke Havard directly and know how he can help you grow your business, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Luke Havard is an experienced founder, investor, and advisor helping the founders of high growth online businesses like SaaS (Software As A Service), Digital Marketing Agencies and E-commerce businesses to prepare, value and sell their businesses for the best possible price and deal terms.
Luke is a partner at Digital Acquisitions, a boutique sell and buy-side M&A firm specializing in working with online businesses and private investors to facilitate high-value transactions.
I have got Luke Havard. Luke is the Managing Director of the Disentis Group. He’s a trusted advisor and an investor to small and medium sized businesses and C level leaders.
He specializes in finding, facilitating, and executing high level partnerships and joint venture deals, which is the stuff that I absolutely love and can talk forever. His experience is working with clients in North America, Canada, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, UK, and Europe.
I have yet to see the companies that he is working with Antarctica but I’m sure that’s coming. He advises local and central British government, C level leaders and the Fortune 500 companies. He’s on to get his brain picked clean, like the review said, “let it all hang out.”
Luke, welcome to the show.
Brad, thanks for having me.
You’ve got a lot of things that I could talk about. We could make this a six-hour conversation, but I want to get into heart of it. Let me tell you what got my attention when you emailed me. We were chatting and you said that some of the stuff that you’re a good at.
The topics of building a high-level business relationships and partnerships is the most effective way to learn, collaborate and scale a business and that’s one aspect. I’ve built an entire business on strategic alliances and joint ventures. It’s one of the most effective things that I do when I help my clients.
I’m always looking for those high leverage points. You also said with Disentis Global Partners, you help businesses raise money via IPO, exit or leveraging these relationships with private equity firms. I have a couple of questions on that too.
I don’t have a good agenda for this, but I do want to ask you to tell me a little bit more about yourself. I listened to a previous podcast and you said that you dropped out of college.
I want to give you a brief overview of my history. I went to college by the skin of my teeth and I was lucky enough to pass that just because the people at college felt sorry me and the rest of my classmates. In college, I was introduced to these wonderful things called, drugs and more alcohol.
I spiraled out of control. Out of college, I was into the drug scene and then football violence, which being British as you mentioned earlier. Football violence is something that we do in England. It’s not enough to go and watch a football game, which you guys call soccer.
It’s even more fun if you can have full arm punch out with the opposite supporters team. What football hooligans would do is they’ll meet and they’ll effectively kick the living daylights out of each other and they won’t watch the football. I was one of those guys. I was involved in all that scene.
It was a colorful lifestyle that I was involved in. It was a mask to hide the fact that I had low self-esteem and didn’t feel that I was worth much in life and that I hadn’t much to offer. Kick fast forward a couple of years into my twenties, I had to run away to Australia. Things were getting pretty hot where I was.
I was there living in Australia. I had nothing. I had no qualifications, no experience that I thought was worth value. I was suicidal in life. I had this something I would call an encounter.
I don’t know what you’re readers believe, I don’t what you believe, but all I can speak of is my experience. I had this spiritual encounter; I had an encounter with God.
I thought you’re going to say aliens.
No. It was the third time of encounter. Equally, it was crazy for a lot people I believe. At the end of the day, I’m not some woo guy. A lot people take it off me. I had this encounter and I wasn’t this woo guy at that time either.
I wasn’t focus on looking for things. I think sometimes in life things happen to you as you’re not looking for. I had this experience.
I thought, “I can either continue where I’m going and I’m going to die because I’m abusing myself badly or maybe there’s more for me in life. Maybe I can be someone, maybe I’ve got something to offer this world.”
What happened is that moment, I said, “God if you are real and this is real and I’m not tripping out then I’m going to give over my life to this experience. You got my life in your hands.”
I was supposed to go to rehab and try and have some help getting off the drugs and the drink, but I never touched drugs since and that’s being note well over years now.
I didn’t drink for four years straight. I have the occasional drink now. It’s not something that controls me though, it’s something that I can choose to stop or start. I found myself there in this experience where I have nothing to offer, little experience, little self-confidence or self-esteem.
I had to figure out what is it I’m good at, what is it I can do? It isn’t something I have to try. There’s something is a natural skill of mine. What I was good at was talking. I was good at connecting to people, making connections quickly. I was doing street sales for some hostels and hotels there.
I was supposed to get eight people a day. I remember my record was. I came out of the steps, it was 9:00. At five passed 9:00, I’ve clocked off and finish for the day because I got my AP put in five minutes. I realized I was good at connecting with people.
To be honest, if I look back at every single thing I’ve done since point, it’s always being around connecting to people. The better I’ve got connecting to more high level, there’s being real strategy involved in what I say and what I do and how position myself.
That’s an amazing story as well that you went through all of that and you found not only your way out of that darkness that you’re going through. You realized early on one of your unique abilities and then capitalized on it.
A lot of people, myself included it took me a while before I capitalized on my unique abilities. When I was doing things that I shouldn’t be doing that were not in my area of flow in my zone, I wasn’t doing them well. You and I have a lot in common because I got a podcast, I’m good at talking and I love talking and I love building relationships. People have referred to me as having this golden rolodex.
Folks, “you seem to know everybody.” It doesn’t feel like that. I forget that not everybody has this many great relationships and has the ability to connect. I sometimes take it for granted.
That said, I love not only doing it, but I love the strategy behind doing it well and doing in a way that is able to insert you into opportunities with big people with the ones who can help move mountains for you. It sounds that’s one of the areas you’ve been effective at.
Let’s talk a little bit that because brings up something a couple of questions that are cool. I want to get to more the Disentis stuff and some of the bigger work you’re doing.
I’ve had this conversation a million times here with a lot of people about how to build relationships, how to build rapport with people and honestly.
If my readers are reading this and doesn’t know the basics of building rapport which is give value first, don’t be self-interested, act interested and curious about the person you’re talking to. That’s basic 101 stuff.
The show is Bacon Wrapped Business. Give me some examples of some high level connections you’ve made in the way you’ve done them as opposed to I stumbled across this person and chatted him up.
One thing I will say is a precursor to that. There’s a ton of people that I teach in networking and all of this stuff. The one thing they miss quite often, I haven’t seen many people are doing it is they don’t know how to position themselves to begin with.
This is something I’ve learned the hard way, I’ve had fair share of doors slammed in my face. Before I even discuss certain strategies I would use, because those strategies will only work if the position is right to begin with.
What I mean by that is, for example if someone is a fitness personal trainer or whatever you call them, and then you want to go connect with big online fitness platform and they want to promote their stuff.
If they go straight out and say, “I’m a personal trainer, whatever it is, PT.” The platform will say, “Who give the monkeys?” There’s hundreds and thousands you guys out there and they’re all the same. First and foremost, it’s positioning yourself as different.
The first thing I’ve always done because my background as an advisor or a coach some people would call it. We would call ourselves as business builders or scalers, investors. Essentially, there are loads of people out there called calling themselves similar things.
What I always did is I look there and they were saying, “We’re coaches, were trainers.” I would say I’m a trusted advisor. When I would go to the person that I want to work with, one of my first clients that I connected with was on Twitter, in my coaching business if you like, advisory business, consulting.
I position myself as a trusted advisor. This guy that I connected to on Twitter was a senior director of Global Clinic Research for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies on the planet.
If I got in and said I’m a coach, he would say “So what? We buy hundreds of you guys just to work with our team. What’s the difference between you and any other person?”
Well I was trusted advisor. I said, “Those guys are coaches. What I do is I’m your confidant. I’m the guy you go to when the crap hit the fan.”
You don’t want to go those guys because they don’t know you like I know you. I’m going to be there. I’m going to give you strategy and concepts that they don’t understand. I’m also going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. “Is that okay?” He was, “Let’s talk.”
You put yourself on their level. “I’m not subjugating myself to you. I’m a trusted advisor. I’m not here to win your business.” That’s a big difference.Sometimes in life, things happen to you that you’re not actually looking for. Click To Tweet
Absolutely not. That was well into what I’m going to say now. Having the right positioning, it set you off on a whole different trajectory than going in there and saying, “Here’s what I do,” some generic thing.
I’m giving one example, one of so many. There’s a guy who sold his company for $2.5 billion in the UK. Probably one of the most successful eCommerce guys out there. I connected to this guy in LinkedIn and then I thought “how can I deepen this relationship.” He doesn’t know me.
What I did is I thought, I looked at his profile. He wears Converse with a sport jacket and ripped jeans. He’s not C level suited and booted type of guy. I thought, “I can connect to this guy in a different level.” He’s going to have a LinkedIn account because everyone does.
Where else would you be personable, I thought is Facebook. I went over to Facebook. Sure enough, he’s there. I connect with him there and said, “It’s Luke from LinkedIn. I love to connect with you.” I said a few more things. He accepted my request.
It was around Christmas time, I was like, “Hope you’re having a fantastic Christmas. I’m currently in Germany at the moment.” He knows I’m from the UK. I was only putting a bit of interest out there and I said, “Where are you at moment?” and he said, “I’m home.”
You never connected with him before and you went to Facebook.
Only in LinkedIn I’m connected with him. He has one point of a contact straight away, LinkedIn.
You guys were connections, but you hadn’t been chatting.
We weren’t close. We didn’t know each other. I went to Facebook. I knew his own profile, the way he comes across. I did some research. I dug deep, I found a lot about him and he rarely does do the dress down and he’s chill out guy. I went to Facebook and made this intro.
When you did the intro, that’s where I was going to ask. Did you do this via Facebook email or you posted in this wall.
I did it for a personal message and he said, “That’s fine. I know you from the Linkedin.” That’s important. Have some of contact so they don’t think you’re someone who’s reaching out and there’s no references.
Do you remember what you phrase that initial message as?
Not the initial one, “It’s Luke. We connected on LinkedIn. Hope you don’t mind me connecting you here. I’m quite a down-to-Earth guy, as I know who you are. I prefer to build relationship this way if I’m honest” and he is, “Me too.”
That’s where I was going. It’s not rocket science, it’s being real. What’s weird is that so few people are real. They will go into a connection, you a six-paragraph email as the introduction. It’s not rocket science, it’s being authentic.
That’s right. That’s my way of flushing out the a-holes. I don’t want to be connected to anyone who’s going to be like that anyway.
If you can’t accept the down-to-Earth opening message, then I don’t want to be friends with you anyway. I don’t care how rich you are or how influential you are.
Anyways, he accepted and I knew already how that sense. That’s the way he likes to communicate, that’ the way he likes to roll. I said, “I hope you’re well.” and he responds on Christmas Day.
I said, “I hope you’re having a fantastic Christmas. I hope the business is booming. Here’s what I’m doing.” I said some varied snippets.
He comes back, “Great thanks. What are you doing in Germany?” I got a bit of rapport a bit of vibe. I did some research and you got to be careful with this one.
My wife is from Columbia, South America. I knew his wife was Brazil. “My wife is from Columbia. Your wife is from Brazil. Do you go in Brazil much?” Open-ended question. He goes, “We do. We visit quite regularly.” Initially, we have similarities. He understands what I understand now.
I said, “How’s your Spanish?” He’s like, “I’m Doquito.” I’m like, “Me too.” We started having this little jokes about Latin America and some other things and then we go for a bit more dialogue, “What are you doing at the moment,” “I’m doing this.”
I said to him, “I know you get this all the time, but I’ve got something pretty interesting. I’m not going to pitch you, it’s an idea I think you might enjoy it yourself. Can I send you an email, is that okay?”
He said, “For sure, sent it over.” Because I already said I’m not going to picture you, which is key because he does angel investing.
He’s pitched constantly, everybody wants something.
I sent this email. He loved it. He goes, “That’s brilliant, I like it.” He is giving me insights now. He’s giving me free insights and value. “I know these people X, Y, Z Would it benefit you if I connected you to them?” I’m reciprocating for his value at and we’re going back and forth. That’s one example.
This guy is flow to a country for $2.5 billion. He doesn’t know me from Adam and that’s only over a few interactions and that’s one of hundreds of connections like that I’ve had. I’ve also done this with Fortune 500 companies.
I may have shared this on another podcast. I will give you a quick brief overview of this. I had an idea 9:00 in the morning. By 9:30, I was executing on the idea and it will involve collaborating with big blue-chip corporate companies.
Are you able to be publically more specific on what your general idea was?
Yes. What it was is I was going to offer some training and this is another side project. I love doing lots of little things as you do too. I was at some training for graduates. At the end of the day, who cares if you got a degree or even a master’s degree because so was everyone else. What you set you apart?
I got some ideas on this training because is my thing helping anyone to position themselves. I contact this big corporate companies and said, “Look, I want to interview you and understand what it is you look for in fresh graduates? What do you look for people who are graduates?”
“What it is people have to do in order to get the job with you?” I’m not joking, 50 of this top companies from Apple, Microsoft, from SAP to Dell, you name it. They all responded, “Here’s our personal email to the person you need to contact.” I emailed a bunch of those guys.
There are so many gatekeepers now. I got through to the HR directors of some of those biggest companies. That was with a tweet.
Here’s what I love and I’ve got something specific to follow that up with. In order to get your foot in the door with some executives, big old companies, you said, “I’m interviewing people like yourself about in essence what you’re looking for.”
“What it takes to position yourself to get noticed, to get a job your company.” Is that the essence? The fact that you interviewed them, this is huge and few people know it.
Asking to interview somebody else for anything, whether it’s a blog like this, whether it’s an article you want to write, whether it’s a book, it’s flattering. People love it, people will take timeout of their day for it and you don’t have to be a New York Times columnist to do this.
I’ve done that. I did that in the health space and I interviewed 26 of the top health leaders, from doctor to health practitioners to health, business owners, supplemental owners or whatever. People that I want to build a network with.
There’s a whole process to this, but I said, “I’m putting together this series, from audio series that I’m going to give away.” I want one question, “What is your number piece of advice for people to maximize health and wellness?” This was simple. Yours was much more brilliant.
I asked to interview them and I think had an 80% acceptance rate. One of the keys to letting them know is letting know that I was approaching and asking other people who are their peers. I’ve reached out to X, Y, and Z and these people are in, etc.
They almost all said, “I’m happy to help.” It was a quick ten-minute interview. Most importantly is you’ll agree, I didn’t care as much about the interview as I did in the relationship that I got from the interview.
I’ve got on my Rolodex the Vice President of IBM, you name it.
I can reach back out to them. We’ve done something before. You asked them for something which is their time and insight, but you didn’t ask them, “Can I get your time so I can pitch you something and get your money.” You said earlier, “We think the same with a different accent.”
I love that because you validated something that I’ve done and continue to do. One of the reasons I do the podcast is not because I like to hear myself talk. It’s not for you guys reading, I hate to be the breaker of bad news.
I got this big audience and they listen and some of them love me, some of them might hate me. I do this to build relationships with people like you and I’ll tell you why there is no better in what I found networking hack than starting a podcast.
The funny thing is it’s not about having to do anything massive. The thing was with that thing we mentioned there, the way I positioned to it was way more them, the corporates than it was more or even the graduates.In business terms, relevance needs to be key. Click To Tweet
I said, “Look if you want some of the best graduates in the world, how about you get me to train them for free.” I know exactly what you want from those graduates. I’ll be your mouthpiece for free. Will that benefit you?
You don’t have to recruit massive recruitment firms, you don’t have to pay them hundreds or thousands per person, get me to do it for free.
That was in essence you pitch, but you did after you interviewed them.
No. I said that beforehand and then what I said I was going to do is create a low cost product and I was going to get the people to sponsor. I was going to into students and give it to universities.
I want to train this people, I want your help, I want your insight in doing this and then I can you in training people for you.
Where did that eventually lead to, I can it leading to an info product but did it lead to doing business in one way or another with some of these companies that you reached out to?
Yeah, it did. The funny thing is the product thing. I still got the product. I haven’t done much with it, if I’m honest. What happened is the relationships led to something even bigger.
The relationships led to coaching opportunities and advisor opportunities. “You’re good at this whole connecting thing, how on earth did you do that?” I broke it down. There’s this thing called Twitter. They’re like, “That’s simple.” I’m like, “It is, you guys overcomplicate it.”
Did you end up coaching some of the people that you had reached out to?
No. Not the people I’ve reached out to, but they would refer me to other people. I should probably should’ve coached some of the people I reached to because they were doing the social media.
They refer you up the ladder to other people with their company.
Yeah. Once you’re talking to a director of HR, they’re on the director level so they can side step you. I’ve ended up coaching senior directors and VPs, you name it.
How to communicate in one another and how to do partnerships. That’s what we spoke about. That’s for me and what we do now in Disentis, partnerships is everything.
You look at the biggest brands on the planet. Everyone goes on about Richard Branson. He’s the entrepreneurial poster boy, but Branson didn’t make his money from building his own company, he made his money from partnerships.
If you look at Branson, what he’s done. He’s got a company, I don’t exactly how many of this, is it 300 companies, probably more. His first company he started was much weeks away from liquidation sometimes.
The point was that when he sold his company and he handled a lot of capital, he then started buying other companies doing mergers and acquisitions, grouping companies and doing partnerships.
A lot of big company still don’t do that. They still think, “Were in this on our own and we don’t need to look around on what’s happening. We don’t need to change our strategy,” and they go bust. Instagram turns up and Kodak is gone.
That’s what I was coming in and coaching these leaders on strategies and saying, “Open your eyes, the world is changing.” Facebook might seem like it’s for the kids, but this thing is going take over. “I’m not Facebook Luke. We don’t do that.” I’m like, “You should do that because it will take over.”
A couple of years later, IPO. These guys then are going, “Thank goodness we listened to you.” For your guys that are reading here, entrepreneurs, business owners. This is what we are supposed to be doing.
We’ve got to keep our finger on the poles. We got to understand that this world is changing so quickly that we’ve got to constantly keep investing in ourselves and knowledge, keeping our eyes open to what’s going on.
What are the opportunities and as we spoke, the most powerful concept is partnerships? It’s said that our net worth linked to our network.
I mentioned this on a couple of my shows, my loyal readers will know. I got a three and a half question exercise that I do whenever I’m building my own business or working with a client. It’s 100% designed to round this concept of partnering.
I don’t have to have all the resources and I don’t have to know everything as long as I either know or can the find the people who do. Those questions are, I call them 3.5 because the first one, it’s a who, what if and why not. It’s who else has what I need, but who else needs what I have.
There’s some real thought that goes into this. Usually, who else needs what I have, which is what do I have and you have to think about this. Your Rolodex alone, your contacts is something you have.
The contacts you have. Maybe you have capital, maybe of a customer list, maybe you have a distribution list. Maybe you think of all the things you would like to have.
What do you bring to the table? Who else has what you need. Do you need customers, do you need distribution, do you need creative, do you need money, do you need what? There are people out there who have it.
I don’t think enough people take a systematic approach to inventorying they have and what they need. The next phrase is what if. This is an open-ended question. I go into what if we partner, what if we do this. I think of scenarios.
What would be a dream scenario and I wheedle it down. I come up with something and more often than not, I come up with a cool idea. The last question is, why not. Is there any reason why this might not work? If the answer is no, I reach out and try to make something happen.
I got to tell you exactly like you’re saying, you can make magic happen when you do that. We’ve talked a lot about connecting at those higher levels.
Another a couple of questions on that. When you are connecting anything from small-medium sized businesses to large ones and connected players.
Is there a typical agenda that you bring, I want to connect with this person because I know that I can this opportunity or your building this connections in the hopes of opportunity will come up through the connection?
There are two things for this. Being honest and what I’ve learned over the years, I used to connect with anyone and everyone. That’s good because you get variety and it’s nice, especially if you get lots of different Christmas cards and why not.
In business terms, for me personally, relevance needs to be key. Is it relevant, is there any synergy? Do they need what I sell, have, or what I can do? Do I know someone that they need? Somedays, I can check my LinkedIn and I’ve got invites in a couple of days or week.
What I’ll do is I’ll go through them. I don’t use any box or all type of things. All I do is I just do it myself. I’m literally getting good at clicking delete. If I don’t know these people and I don’t any relevance, they’re gone. They got to jump high to me.
What I do if I think that looks cool, that’s look good, I could do something with that. I could help them or maybe I know somebody can help them or something. I’ll add them and I have a template email, but I tailor it to their needs. They should’ve read my LinkedIn profile already but a lot of people don’t.
I will say, “I’m the Managing Director at Disentis Group. We help to scale, achieve more liquidity, raise capital or achieve a lucrative extra strategy for small to medium sized businesses. We’re located in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and we have partners all over the world.
I’d love to hear more about what you do. If there’s anything you think the Disentis can do for you, be more than happy to jump in a call and help you out, Luke.” That’s it. Maybe people are going, “What’s in that?” You contacted me for start.
I’m going to respond to you and they’ve given me permission to do so because they’re reaching out to me. I’ve accepted your request. I’m going to give you a brief overview of me and what I do, so that you know. All businesses, they’re only looking for 3 things.
They’re only looking to grow and scale, they’re only looking to raise capital or to exit. That’s what I do. If they’re the small to medium sized business and they’re looking what to do one of those three things and it’s relevant for them right now in those areas, they’re going to be interested already.
They’re going to know exactly what I do. I say, “We’re global” by saying we’re based in these locations. I say, “I genuinely would like to know more about what you do. I’ve read your profile, but tell me more specifically what you do and if you think that we can help, happy to get a call and discuss this further.”
If there’s someone who doesn’t fit that bill, usually I won’t even connect with them. I’m giving them permission. I’m telling you I’ve got about twelve different deals that we’ve got on the table. I can pick and choose which one we want to do. It’s because we positioned it well.
We could do it more intricate than that, but to be quite frank, when I’m going into a business, realistically can we scale that business? Does that business or could that business potentially need to raise capital or would that business be good to sell?
If it’s a business let’s say at the lowest end $5 million, at the highest end, it could be at the $500 million, I don’t mind. We know who we can exit out to. We do know people we can do with for all contacts.
If we think we would exit it, great then we’ll hone in on that. If we think that they may need raise capital, then we’ll look at that.The better your connections, the better the opportunities are and the bigger the games that you can get in to. Click To Tweet
It comes down to if they’re in that small to medium bracket, I’ll look to connect with them. Again like I said, I’m opposed to connecting with people if they don’t fit the bill, but I’m more selective now about who I do, branch out it.
That’s a good segue into some of these bigger deals and the Disentis stuff and the equity. Unless you have a lot more you want to add about the connecting and building relationships.
It’s perfect because the next step is the better your connections, the better the opportunities and the bigger the games that you can get in. I know for a fact you’re in some pretty games, you’re in some pretty big deals that we’re not going to go into.
I want to find about the Disentis. You got great connections. Disentis does amazing work whether it’s raising capital or helping to increase valuation and helping to take people towards maybe a roll up, may be an exit and what not. You do some equity deals, you do some cash deals.
Let me ask you about the equity deals. Let’s say I got a $5 million company. I don’t know if there are certain type of businesses you like with product, eCommerce, service, etc. more than others.
One of the issues for consultants doing equity deals is it sounds sexy, but in practice it can be hard unless you’ve the ability and skillset to make an exit. Equity doesn’t mean crap if there’s not real payout, etc. If you have a minority equity, you might not never get paid.
I have seen some consultants, I can say that I’ve done this in the past where I thought I was doing a great deal of doing an equity deal. I didn’t see any cash from it. I didn’t have the ability at that time years ago.
You make the deal on the exit when you have equity, but there’s also the profit sharing deal. When you go in, question number one, is it a true equity deal, is it a profit sharing, “You’re going to give 10% of the upside of this or is it combination?
It’s combination. We wouldn’t want to do equity unless we knew that they were going to exit pretty quickly.
I don’t mind if it’s doing that. We are involved in some of those as well. One we are working on right now, 20% equity. This is for advisory board role. Not getting involved that much.
What we will do for that is we’ll do a lot of introductions, opening doors to some big players. We could open doors to Apple, to Coca-Cola on that scale or other small to medium sized businesses if wanted to.
It’s globally. You’re based over there in England.
I’m based in England; my partner is based in the US.
You got it covered
We have other partners all around the world, in Asia, Australia. We would take the 20% and that’s only because we knew this particular person that wouldn’t want to go higher. We have discussed another deal for 30% equity, then we would look at 10% revenue share.
Even already before we even sign this deal, we’ve got other deals coming in who fit the bill perfectly to integrate into this deal.
Depending upon the positioning that you had going into it, but has it been challenging to get some of these business owners to agree to an equity position? As a business owner giving up equity that’s like giving up part ownership your child.
Yes and no. It depends again how you position it. Yes, there is always a bit resistance. If someone is not resistant at all, then something wrong with that. They haven’t got something to be that worried about losing or giving away.
We want to see some kind of fight, but then that ups the ante for us to stack our value even more that we do well. We’ll say, “You can have the whole 100% of your pie or we can give you a very big pie and you can still keep 80%. We’ll take 20%. Doesn’t that sound like a better deal?”
We’ll say, “If you can meet these companies like X, Y and Z on your own, go and do it.” If you know you can’t and you know probably won’t be able to and you may never be able to, then you should probably take this deal because we have your interest first in this, otherwise we will be asking for a lot more.”
I’ll be honest with you, there was another deal and we asked for 50% revenue. They took it. We said, “It’s not as attractive as it could be. We know we can help you, but we don’t see that your heart is in it as much and you think the way we’re going to carry you and that’s not how we roll.”
We work hard for you, but you got to put in the other side of the work. You got to reinvest in to a company and what not and they weren’t interested. They wanted to get an easy ride. We said, “You can have an easy ride, but we’re going to take 50% of that.”
You took 50% of the revenue share.
The revenue share on new deals that we helped them bring in. For us it’s literally opening the door.
That’s the next question. There are many things you can do to grow a business. One of them is these strategic alliances. Others are more marketing advice services, “Let me help you improve your offer, if you have a website, let’s improve your sale funnels or your copy.”
Do you guys primarily focus on opening those high leverage relationships and introductions? Do you go in as well, get your hands dirty with all types of marketing advice services? I don’t mean what can you do, I mean what do you typically.
Both. Depends on what the business needs on the scale. Put it this way, we can come in and do everything from how you structure the organization to grow bigger so it doesn’t fall apart when you do. We can help you to work on your hiring, your teams, strategy, your business plans.
If you want to raise capital, first thing we need to look at is your business plan because we’re going to go to anybody on anyone’s behalf unless their business plan all adds up and it’s realistic and proves that they know what they’re doing.
It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve made, still people can do descent business plan. They can’t put their projections right and all sort of things don’t add up, we will go and do that to looking at the whole leadership, helping them.
That’s my background as an advisor. Helping on their psychology, their communication, understand what’s limiting them from moving forward. When you look at a company, it’s the same as the captain of the ship.
If it’s not going in the right direction, look at the leader. We’ll do that as well. If you need more clients, then we’ll look at your marketing strategy. We’re going to go as deeply. You’ve got friends we can call them for that if we need. Sometimes we will.
If you were to have those connections over there, what would that do for your business? That could be a huge contract because they need exactly what we have. Let’s have a few phone calls, we’ll have a few dinners and we’ll see what we can do.
What would happen if you could do a massive joint venture with that company over there? We know them, let’s see if we can it up for you. If you go, they’re going to close the door on you, but if we go they owe us a favor anyway. It’s likely they’re probably do it.There is nothing more fun than getting into a good and powerful partnership. Click To Tweet
For us to do those things, we have to know 100% that the company we’re going to be doing it for can deliver. That’s all reputation. My business partner is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization.
I don’t know exactly how many members on that organization. It’s every major president or C level executive in the world. That’s how we can do, we’ll make a phone call in that. He’s ex-Harvard.
For me, I would have some influential friends in the UK or here. We’ll be hopefully going for a dinner in November time with a guy who is a CB, knighted by the queen. He’s a lord. When you know people who are in house of commons or parliament, high up in government and they can open doors that way.
It does come down to who is it that you have in your network. How close are you to those people? At the end of the day, what have you done in order for them to want to open the doors for you? What’s in it for them too? That’s the way we always look. Does everything add up?
We don’t want to be one sided. Before we even work with a company, we’re looking at how valuable is this this? I wish I could tell you some of the thing we’re involved in, it’s ridiculous.
Technologies that you wouldn’t believe like artificial intelligent things that you would think that’s something out of some movie, but it’s happening. We’re on the brink of being on advisory boards for some of these guys.
What they need right now is not money. People are throwing money at them. What they need is the right doors to be open.
That’s what we will say. We’ll say, “Don’t worry about it. We don’t want any money to be your board. Get the 6% equity in this startup,” which is hard. That’s for both of us. That’s a split, so 3% each.
What I’m going to do your typical advisor, I’m not going to sit there and hand you advice. We’re going to go out there and we’ll fly over to such.
You’re giving it as an ownership. We will take ownership; we will treat it like it’s ours.
We’ll go and get the deal that you’re looking for with someone like Universal Studios if you wanted it. That’s what we’ll do. It depends on what they need. If it’s less hands off and they just need some advice and need to bounce ideas, we’ll do that. We will take less ownership or less equity.
If it’s more raising capital, then we’re going to the success for you when we do that for someone. The same if we’re going to exit to company. In essence, the big challenge that most people have in these situations, they’ve done an amazing job to build their own company to the stage its at.
They don’t know some of these things. Someone already sold their company, they’re not going to know how to do it. They’re going to get screwed if they try on their own.
When it comes to working with some of these companies how much time do you spend on some of them? The bigger the deal is and the bigger the stakes, the more important it is. Not working with hundreds of companies at the same time, you only got some of the hours in the day.
I’ve noticed that in my own consulting. One of the challenges I’ve had is fulfillment of not that I can’t fulfill, but it gets to be ridiculous. What you’re selling, you’re selling you and your partner’s expertise time, Rolodex, etc. It’s not a service that you’re turning out, you can outsource in higher way.
Realistically, how much time is this taking? Is it a fulltime thing with each company or do you sometimes make the right connection and it gets easy?
Different strokes for different folks is the answer for that one. For those who are not familiar with whole startup scene, advisory boards, nonexecutive directors’ roles. It can be different for different things, but essentially let’s say they are startup. It’s going to be a bigger push to begin with.
Once they level out, they get some traction, it could be a couple of hours a month. “Luke, look over this things we’ve done, we’re going to a press release. What do you think?” It looks great go and do it.
If it’s a press release, if it’s any certain other strategies, are you doing that for them or you’re working with their team to get it done?
We might say, “Send it to us, let’s have a look.” “It looks good. Thanks. Right back to you, do it.” We might get on the call with them and say, “Here is how you would stack the value on that, here’s how you position it, here’s how you put your bio.” We might work with of their team on it.
Essentially, what we do is we move fast. If you got 45 minutes to do this, we’re going to get it done. We’re not going to monkey around, we’re not going chitchat, and we’re going to get this done and get it out the door quick.
That’s the thing with all of these guys. Again, I can’t say too much first. There’s a cool business we’re involved in. There are a couple of major brands that we all spend time on every single day. They are set to disrupt this industry big time.
Here is thing, if they don’t move quickly like all of these guys, someone else could come up with their idea or steal their idea.
The game of business is so fast paced.
We will say, “You need to get this done quick and this is going to take some our time, but we want more. You want us to put some energy behind this, you got to put your money where your mouth is.” That’s what we’ll say. That’s how we do things.
We evaluated based on what we think we’re going to need to put into it versus how much the company is going to be worth, how much value is going to be involved in it. For a company that could be worth a $100 million, we’ll probably put in more time for a company that only going to do $5 million.
It’s different for a startup as is to an established small to medium sized enterprise. It does depend on where they’re at, what they need for some people. I’ll be honest with you, I told you off air that someone pretty well known that we’re going to be on a boat with.
I know for a fact the only reason he’s on the board is because of the PR. People will put someone on the board because it looks good for them. They know full well that person is not going to be in the trenches with them. That’s going to give them extra kudos.
For instance, we might be the guys who do the extra work for them because that’s what we do. We do get involved. If people are reading and you are the one million plus and you’re looking for consulting, then we can look at doing consulting with companies and we would that on a fee basis.
Why we do equity in other company is because we see the long-term value. If that company if going get sold, especially the startup industry, they’re all looking to sell. Reasonably, they’re looking five, ten years and they get out of the game, hopefully with a $100 million in the bank or more.
If they’re going to go in IPO, we want to be involved in that story. We’re happy to stick around and take equity and not see any money because it’s a bigger play than to see at the end of the day.
It’s far more lucrative and more intelligent to be involved at that level and to stick around and to put into hard work at front. Imagine you do keep to help them get a lot of traction and then they say, “We don’t need to speak to you for a couple of months.”
You’ve an equity share in a company that’s going to be worth hundreds of millions. Let that sink in for moment. That’s the value, that’s difference between doing fee work and spot in the right company at the right time and getting in early.
That does take a bit of skill as well. To be honest, when it’s a startup, no one knows. Everyone would like to say all this people out there investors and their commentators but let’s look at their whole portfolio.
Let’s see how many of their companies that they’ve put real money into takes off from flies, it’s not always the case. That’s our strategy.
What’s a nut you’re trying to crack whether it’s in your business or anything else? Are you looking for certain types of relationships that either myself or some of readers might have? Are you looking to getting the word out to explain what you can do, attracting the right people?
Is there anything you’re trying to crack that nut and figure, either a skill, a resource, a person, a relationship for this? There could be multiple nuts.
There are multiple nuts. Two things is I’ll say. We’re interested by companies that have real promise that are going places. Our business is to partner with the right people and to help accelerate their growth exponentially without them having to go and do all that hard work.
Look at this way, it’s almost like running a marathon, we like to help people run the last ten yards and get the medal at the end of the day. We going to help you to accelerate that quickly. We’re interesting in meeting more types of people like that who’ve got that business potential.
We’re all about those win wins. We’re in it to do it for ourselves, we’re thinking out the reason that we are able to have the success that we do is because we’re all about saying, “It’s leverage. Let’s leverage the people’s visions and dreams.”
The other thing we’re looking to, another venture business, we’ve got a partnership with some other guys who do something similar, but different and cool.
We’re looking to what’s known as rollups. It’s grouping different types of companies. Typically, they will in the same industry, slightly different niche.
Do you have any specific types of industries that you’re particularly looking at?
High growth and it doesn’t matter too much. We’re not trying to be experts in this.What people need right now is not money. What they need is the right doors to be open. Click To Tweet
Are you looking at tack, brick and mortar, anything in particular? Is there any that you’re working on currently?
Yes. We’re doing at the moment recruitment. I assume it’s the same around the rest of the world, but in the UK your recruitment is on fire. It’s a hot thing, it’s big money because the companies they want to have people recruit top talent for them.
What we’re looking to do is do recruitment rollups, group and smaller recruitment agencies. We double their value overnight by taking them public. We’re looking to do those kinds of group, but that’s just one example. There could be different industries.
As long as they’re high growth, you can’t be an industry that plateaus. We’re not looking for things, “It’s a nice idea, you’re so open,” whatever. That’s not we’re looking at. We’re looking at things that can scale. If it can scale, but it’s early on and they’re struggling maybe to get the capital they need to grow.
They don’t want to be stuck in this for another 10 years before they can enjoy it because that’s what happens. You know this, I know this.
Everyone works their ass off and then suddenly they wake up one day and they’re older and they’ve spending their whole life building this thing and now they can get a Ferrari, but you didn’t do it while you’re in your prime.
What we want to say to people, “What if you can shortcut that by one, your group of company here’s what happens, suddenly you got a larger profile overnight.
Second, bigger companies that you want to do deals will come to you because you’ve got security, you got backup. It’s not you anymore. It’s these other people involved and you can partner with each other underneath that group. You can do joint ventures and strategic alliances.
The third thing is while you double the value of your company overnight in shares when we take you public. It’s an amazing concept. I can’t take credit for this concept and neither can the people we’ve partnered with because it’s not new. It’s different the way they do.
They were the ones who came up with it and they’re doing it right now and we’ve just, “We love what you do and we’ve got extra skill that you don’t. Let’s something together.”
Give my readers a short example of what a rollup would look like. Let’s say Brad Costanzo owns high-tech recruiting for high-tech individuals, software engineers, etc.
That’s my company, I’m grossing $5 million a year. I don’t if that’s a good number, low, high. Explain to my readers what a rollup would like in that situation.
Essentially, it’s finding other smaller companies that size or smaller. It’s doesn’t matter. You don’t want to go too high because then it gets more complicated.
The idea is you don’t want to compete. You’re non-compete because the one name like recruitment or construction, there’s different type of.
Absolutely. You’re looking for people that are open-minded. They’ve got to understand there is super value in group.
At the end of the day, you’re going to slog your guts all your life or do you want to accelerate everything you’ll do in a unique way and here’s what we do. You retain most of your autonomy.
We’re not trying to run your business, we don’t care about you being the boss, you’re the boss, and be the boss. What we’re doing is we make value from helping to structure the deal.
What you can do when you go public, you can take shares off the table which is cash and then you can do what you want with our cash without selling your company. It’s a clever way of leveraging money that some people value your company at.
Drilling down a little more even specifically there. We’re going to take my company public and people don’t realize you can take almost any type of company public. Sometimes it’s harder and sometimes handful of steps were involved. There are different ways to do this, but with yours.
This is me being the CEO taking this public and then purchasing of these companies under where I am the flagship there, I’m buying them or you talking about.
“We’re going to take this public with a handful of other big companies. We’re going to do all this and I’m just one of the other one’s that’s benefiting from a rollup?”
Is it, “I’m going to help this client go acquire and get vertically integrated just acquire other companies in its space to where I’m still lead.” Is a little bit of both?
It’s a bit of both. We are the vehicle. We created the group. We bring the members, all the separate people into the groups, separate companies. As a company owner, business owner being under this group.
Suddenly, you have all the benefits of the group and you can increase the value to a company, we operate the group. We take it to the IPO. Anybody trying to do that on their own unless if they’re under $50 million, it’s going to be hard.
When you take it to the IPO, is that you’re taking my company to the IPO or you’re taking me?
All of the groups. When you come in to the group, it’s the combined value of all the companies.
Who becomes the de facto, CEO then?
We would operate the group, but everybody underneath the banner is still operating their own company. Do as you do normally. The combined benefit is that the companies are worth a lot more than they were when you were just solo.
Let’s keep it simple. All of our financials look approximately the same. I own 100% of my company now, but with this rollup I’m getting 20% of the IPO’d company, what does that generally look in financial terms?
I won’t go into the specific so much, but we would get a percentage for setting up the deal. We get a percentage of each of the companies as an all group companies starts to have equity stake in all of those companies and their value on the market.
The individual company themselves they increase in their own and share value. The market values the whole group in terms of all the evaluations they’re all $5 million, then it’s formed and is going to be $20 million.
That would take that value up significantly, but then as your company you would still have your original value plus whatever the market increased it to. Does that make sense?
Yes, it does.
That’s how they would it. It can be very complicated if you wanted to, but I try to make it everything simple. It took me a while to get it. Don’t get me wrong if people are reading, “I don’t get it buddy.” It’s like, “I didn’t either.”
The point is look at company that goes public and now tell me whose worth more, private or public. It’s always public. That’s why all this big tech companies, that’s what they dream for. They all do it. They’re in Silicon Valley going, “Ten years from now, we’re going to be billionaires,” that’s what they all want.
That’s what happens you’ve got a certain structure and leverage. That’s typical with tech companies, especially because tech companies can be a billion dollar company quickly if it is an Instagram or Facebook or an Uber or whatever.
If you’re a normal SME, Small to Medium Enterprise, it’s very unlikely you’re going to grow like that. We’re offering an opportunity that most business owners will never have in a lifetime. They don’t have to do anymore work or have any high overheads to do it. It’s so brilliant. It’s genius.
When I heard my partner was talking about this, I was like freaking, “That is brilliant.” Like I said, “I didn’t fully get it, but I caught it enough to say let’s be involved. How do we get involve?” That’s one thing we’re looking to do. It’s not easy. It’s a process, we’re still working on it.
Again, it goes all the way back to relationships. I’ve got a relationship on cultivating in the recruitment industry and various other industries, which trying in the leverage those.
We can go at and do all the work ourselves and bring in people to a group. We can have someone who is trusted advisor or trusted authority to them already and they can do it. They become a partner with us. We’re always looking at how we can partner. That’s how we do everything.
I love it. It’s powerful, it’s proven, and it’s fun. There’s nothing more fun than getting into a good and powerful partnership. This has been awesome. I’ve had a lot of fun as I said in the beginning. I didn’t know where this was going to go.
You and I are in a lot ways cut from the same cloth. Hopefully, maybe there’s some business we can do in the future or whether someone with my connections or yours and stuff. It seems like of us are able to spot opportunities and love being in different opportunities.
We like the variety of the game and keeping it fresh with new relationships, new ventures, new opportunities and things like that. I always like keeping in contact with folks like yourself.
If people want more information from you and they want to go deeper down this rabbit hole, how do they get a hold of you or find more information, what websites or information do you want to give them?
If people want to personally get hold of my, Luke Havard then you can find me in Facebook, pretty easy to find on that. You can find me on Twitter, @LukeHavard. You can find me on YouTube, I also have some videos there. I did lot of videos in the past and I left them up there.
If you’re interested and you’ve been reading, “I would love to have some coaching or insight from Luke” in terms of how we do business and we leverage stuff, then reach out to me on LinkedIn, Luke Havard.
If you’re a bigger business and you’re interested in exits or raising the capital or whatever it is you’re interested in discussing, we’re happy to have conversations. Go on the Disentis Group website which is www.DisentisGroup.com.
If people are interested, just reach out to me and let’s talk. We don’t mind having conversations no matter where they go. At the end of the day, if there’s some value that we can add to people, we can advise them on what not to do or what to do. We’re happy to chat.
I appreciate you being on the call and I hope my readers got as much value out of this as I did. Lot of fun, lot actionable advice and value. The topics were broad and many, but I loved it. I will absolutely be keeping in contact with you.
Guys, if you have any questions, if you have any insights, if you have anything you’re working on right now and you might want eyeballs on, send me an email to AskBrad@BaconWrappedBusiness.com. If you’re not subscribe into the show on iTunes or Stitcher, do that.
Hit the subscribe button and listen to more podcast if you’re not already. Tell your friends about me, post this stuff on social media, it’s the way that I grow. I don’t ask for money for the show. I do this because truly love it.
I like putting this out there and I like having the opportunity to talk to people like Luke and expand my own personal relationship. If you have any questions, AskBrad@BaconWrappedBusiness.com. Until next time, Luke thanks a lot for you time. We will talk soon.
Thanks, it’s been a privilege.
Luke Havard is an experienced founder, investor, and advisor helping the founders of high growth online businesses like SaaS (Software As A Service), Digital Marketing Agencies and E-commerce businesses to prepare, value and sell their businesses for the best possible price and deal terms.
Luke is a partner at Digital Acquisitions, a boutique sell and buy-side M&A firm specializing in working with online businesses and private investors to facilitate high-value transactions.