Joe DeLuca of NewSpring Capital: Navigating Challenges with Empathy, Strategy

Joe DeLuca recently joined the Karma School of Business podcast to talk private equity. The operating partner with NewSpring Capital spoke with host Sean Mooney about the significance of building genuine relationships during crises, the evolution and adaptability of NewSpring’s value creation model and the unparalleled power of collaboration, drawing parallels from the Manhattan Project.

Their insightful conversation sheds light on the human-centric approach to business and the pivotal role of adaptability in the private equity landscape.

Here are some of the top takeaways from their conversation.

3 Takeaways from Joe

1. Building Relationships in Crisis

In the face of unprecedented challenges, such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeLuca underscored the importance of human connection and understanding.

“I tried to understand what the people that were working at our business, just what was going on so that we could relate to each other,” he said. “Then I could ask of them, ‘Hey, OK, we really need to do X.’ And then there was some empathy and some relationship building in the first week that I just felt was really critical because it was all happening real-time.”

This sentiment is not just about business strategy but about genuine human empathy. By taking the time to understand the personal challenges faced by employees, leaders can foster a sense of unity and shared purpose.

“People are really what drive these companies,” Mooney added.

In an era where technology and automation are at the forefront, it’s a poignant reminder that at the core of every successful venture are the people who make it run.

2. Evolving Value Creation Model

Adaptability is a hallmark of successful businesses, and NewSpring’s evolving value creation model is a testament to this.

“We started several years ago with what we call the value creation team,” DeLuca said. “The concept was, ‘w’Well, let’s get somebody from each of the disciplines. Let’s have a finance person, a marketing person, an HR person, an IT person.’ You sort of get the idea. ‘And let’s have them on tap to call on them and add value where and when needed.'”

This shift from a broad, external expert-based approach to a more focused, strategy-specific model highlights the importance of being nimble and responsive to the unique needs of each investment.

“The biggest single use case we see in private equity is people,” Mooney said. “It’s every quarter, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”

The emphasis here is clear: while strategies and models are vital, it’s the people who execute them that truly drive value and success.

3. The Power of Collaboration

The story of the Manhattan Project, as recounted in “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” serves as a powerful metaphor for the importance of collaboration in achieving seemingly insurmountable goals.

DeLuca drew attention to the unlikely partnership between General Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer.

“These guys pulled it off, and they were completely opposites,” he said. “They were like the stereotypes.”

This collaboration between two starkly different individuals underscores the idea that diverse perspectives can come together to achieve greatness.

“If you work with great people, you kind of understand the situation, come up with a plan,” Mooney said. “If you’re tenacious and you’re going to find a way, and I think that so much just reflects the whole conversation that we’ve had here today.”

The underlying message is clear: with the right team and a shared vision, any challenge can be overcome.


DeLuca’s insights on the importance of understanding and connecting with employees during challenging times, the adaptability required in the ever-evolving world of private equity, and the lessons drawn from historical collaborations, make his episode well worth a listen.

When you’re done listening, head to the main BluWave podcast page for more conversations with business leaders.

Matt Cole’s Route to SBJ Capital ‘A Bit Circuitous’

Matt Cole recently joined the Karma School of Business podcast to talk private equity. The managing director at SBJ Capital spoke with host Sean Mooney about data-based decisions, how he got his start in PE and much more.

Here are some of the top takeaways from their conversation.

3 Takeaways from Matt

1. An Unconventional Route to PE

When asked about his path to the world of private equity, Cole said his journey was atypical.

“Mine is a bit circuitous,” he said. “I feel like it’s a more well-trodden path now and people have to take certain steps and so forth and that was definitely not the case for me.”

Starting in investment banking, Cole transitioned into operations, focusing on understanding the intricacies of making a company successful. His entry into private equity was more opportunistic, stemming from a relationship with a colleague.

He emphasized the importance of his diverse experiences: “It was the right combination of experience that I had to bring banking and operating set of experiences to PE.”

2. Value Creation with a Human Touch

Value creation is at the heart of SBJ Capital’s approach. Matt emphasizes the importance of working closely with family and founder-owned businesses and understanding their unique challenges and opportunities.

“These are family- and founder-owned businesses. They are not looking for someone with necessarily the shiny bulge bracket Wall Street resume to come in and tell them what the next opportunity is with their company,” Cole said. “I think it makes a big difference both in actual experience to be able to say we’ve walked in your shoes and in demeanor and approach for how we present ourselves to these companies and we call them partner companies for a reason.”

For SBJ, value creation revolves around professionalization and accelerating growth. Cole, however, is quick to point out that they approach this with respect and understanding.

“We’ll never come in pretending to know more about that business after a few-month diligence period than the people that have been there for extended periods of time or started that business themselves.”

3. Data and Decision-Making

Cole also stressed the importance of being prepared and adaptable. He highlighted the significance of data in driving business decisions and the potential of emerging technologies like AI.

“Part of the value creation story that I didn’t touch on as much before is the use of data and how are you using data? How are you implementing systems?”

Mooney added the importance of sharing information within a company, especially in founder-owned businesses.

“A lot of times the senior member of the teams don’t even know the revenue of the business or certainly don’t know the full P&L or the balance sheet or the income statement,” he said.


Cole’s transition from investment banking to operations and his adeptness at navigating the complex terrains of the business world make his episode well worth a listen.

When you’re done checking out his episode, head to the main BluWave podcast page for more conversations with business leaders.

Scott Becker of McGuireWoods: Insights from the Mind Behind Becker’s Healthcare

When Scott Becker speaks, the healthcare and private equity sectors listen. As a partner with McGuireWoods and the founder and publisher of Becker’s Healthcare and Becker’s Hospital Review, Scott’s insights are invaluable. Recently, he shared his journey and perspectives on the Karma School of Business podcast, hosted by Sean Mooney.

3 Takeaways from Scott

1. The Evolution of Becker’s Healthcare

“I started it literally 30 plus years ago,” Becker began, “trying to develop a reputation as somebody who knew the business and legal issues around, at that point, surgery centers, better than anybody else.”

This drive was not just about establishing a brand but about creating a niche in a saturated market. Scott’s vision for Becker’s Healthcare was rooted in his legal background and his desire to provide thought leadership in the healthcare sector.

Over the years, the focus of Becker’s Healthcare expanded. While it was initially centered around surgery centers, it now revolves around hospitals, health systems and health IT, among other areas. This evolution showcases Scott’s adaptability and his keen sense for market needs.

2. Recognizing and Capitalizing on Opportunities

“A lot of it is not brilliant. It’s following what’s working and doubling down on it as a constant business imperative,” Scott emphasized.

This approach is not about reinventing the wheel but about recognizing what’s effective and enhancing it. Scott’s success is a testament to his ability to identify emerging trends and strategically position himself and his ventures to benefit from them.

Mooney, echoing this sentiment, added, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you need to find a new room.”

3. Challenges and Trends in Healthcare

Scott delved deep into the current landscape of healthcare, highlighting several significant trends: “Challenges with margins, labor shortages, especially in the physician and nursing sectors, and the increasing involvement of various players in the healthcare space.”

These challenges are not isolated but are interconnected, shaping the future of healthcare. For instance, as healthcare sites increase, there’s a projected shortage in certain specialties, like anesthesiologists. This, in turn, affects patient care, with many unable to access their doctors promptly, leading to a resurgence in ER visits.

Scott’s insights provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities in the healthcare sector, offering a roadmap for professionals navigating this complicated domain.

READ MORE: Specialized Healthcare Recruiters


Becker’s keen insights offer a deep dive into the intricacies of healthcare and private equity. His journey from attorney to entrepreneur and his ability to recognize and seize opportunities make him a voice worth listening to in the industry.

When you’re done checking out his episode, head to the main BluWave podcast page for more conversations with business leaders.

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Learn about the four steps our expert service providers say every business must take before implementing artificial intelligence tools:

  1. Identifying Your Use Case
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  3. Evaluating Data Availability and Hygiene
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Hiring Remains Strong, AI is Abuzz in Q2 2023

Hiring activity remains strong, but the focus has shifted. Additionally, the AI craze is reaching a fever pitch in private equity.

These and more insights come from our Q2 2023 BluWave Insights Report. The proprietary data used to compile this report comes from the projects we work on with our 500+ PE firm clients to get a bird’s eye view of the market.

Other key findings from Q2 2023 include:

  • Demand for artificial intelligence tools boosted Business Intelligence, Analytics & AI into the top 10 of value creation services for the first time in three years
  • Strategy, revenue growth and technology-related initiatives are on the rise
  • Deal flow remains slow, but that’s expected to change in the second half of the year

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from Q2:

We can support your value creation needs, human capital needs, technology needs, sales & marketing needs and more.

Q4 2022 BluWave Insights

Every quarter our team analyzes the projects we work on with our 500+ PE firm clients to get a birdseye view of the market. We recently compiled our Q4 findings, as well as annual 2022 findings, into our Q4 2022 BluWave Insights Report. Request your copy.

Key findings from 2022 include:

  • Annual value creation activity increased ~14% YoY.
  • Human capital remains PE’s primary area of focus at 50% of all 2022 value creation activity.
  • Strategy resource usage in 2022 diligence activity increased from 43% in 2021 to 46% in 2022.

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from Q4 and 2022:

Learn more about how we can support your value creation, human capital, and strategic diligence efforts.

Have a live need? Start your project.

Video transcript:

BluWave serves a trusted role with hundreds of the world’s leading private equity firms and thousands of proactive businesses by connecting them with the best-in-class third parties to help build value with speed and certainty. With the conclusion of 2022 and the inception of the new year, we’ve gathered insights from our unique vantage in the private equity landscape. From our proprietary data, we are able to glean insights into how and why the best business builders in the world are assessing opportunities and building value in their portfolio companies. Here are some of the top takeaways from the BluWave Activity Index from Q1-Q4 2022.

The common theme throughout the entirety of 2022 is that business builders were focused on creating value in their companies. In the BluWave Value Creation Index, activity related to value creation was up to 72% by year-end – a more than 14% increase from 2021. Furthermore, Human Capital is surging to historically high numbers. The BluWave Activity Index shows that 50% of all value creation activity was invested in human capital for the year, and 54% in Q4.

On the due diligence side, deal flow was down in 2022. The BluWave Value Creation Index shows private equity activity related to diligence was down to 28% for the year. Within the diligence activity that we did see, we saw firms focus heavily on strategy initiatives – accounting for 46% of all diligence activity, up from 43% in 2021. In 2022, PE firms perceived the cost of misreading the market to be high in an uncertain economy, so they brought in strategic resources to help.

BluWave is pleased to work with some of the best business builders in the world every year. We hope the insights from our 2022 BluWave Insights Report will help you close deals with certainty, create differential value in your companies, and prepare for a confident exit. If you’d like to learn more and get the full report, please contact any member of the BluWave team or follow the link below.

Q3 2022 BluWave Insights

Every quarter our team analyzes the projects we work on with our 500+ PE firm clients to get a birdseye view of the market. We recently compiled our Q3 findings into our Q3 2022 BluWave Insights Report. Request your copy.

Key findings from Q3 ’22 include:

  • Value creation activity has increased 11% YoY.
  • Human capital remains PE’s primary area of focus at 36% of all Q3 activity.
  • Technology activity has changed 86% YoY.
  • Sales & marketing activity has changed 29% YoY.

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from Q3:

We can support your value creation needs, human capital needs, technology needs, sales & marketing needs, and more.

Video transcript:

BluWave serves a trusted role with more than 500 of the world’s leading private equity firms and thousands of proactive businesses by connecting them with the best-in-class third parties to help build value with speed and certainty. From our unique vantage in the private equity landscape, we’re able to glean insights into how and why the best business builders in the world are assessing opportunities and building value in their portfolio companies. Here are some of the top takeaways from the BluWave Activity Index during Q3 2022.

First and foremost, value creation remains key in private equity. Despite the unsteady economic landscape, PE firms are equipping their portfolio companies with resources to maintain the momentum of previous value creation efforts. The BluWave Value Creation Index shows a more than 11% increase in Q3 value creation activity year over year. It is evident that PE firms are running towards the storm, treating economic uncertainty as an opportunity rather than a setback.

Number two, technology is surging as digitization continues to be embedded in the post-COVID world. Private equity firms are equipping portfolio companies with data and analytics capabilities to enable data-driven decision making and workflow automation. We’ve seen technology activity rise from 8% of all activity in Q3 2021 to 15% of all PE activity in this past quarter, and we expect to see technology activity remain high as firms continue to invest in subscription-based software companies due to their stability during volatile economic times.

Lastly, human capital remains private equity’s primary area of focus accounting for 36% of all activity in the BluWave Activity Index for Q3 2022. Firms continue to take strides to ensure the teams in their portfolios are top notch and well-equipped for success. This quarter we saw a surge of PE firms bringing in “wartime generals” with specialized skillsets equipped for the “new now” that can help guide portfolio companies to success in the current economic environment.

It is our hope that the information in the Q3 BluWave Insights Report will give you incremental edge as you build the best businesses in the world. If you’d like to learn more and get the report, please contact any member of the BluWave team or follow the link below. Onward.

Interim CFOs – Why Use Them?

Interim CFOs are a powerful resource that can be used in a wide array of ways.

In this video, BluWave’s Founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, and Managing Director, Houston Slatton, discuss some of the most common uses of interim CFOs and the benefits to both the PE firm and the portfolio company.

You can learn more about the finance resources we have, including interim CFOs, FP&A experts, and more here.

 

 

Video Transcript

Sean Mooney, Founder & CEO: Hi, my name is Sean Mooney. I’m the founder and CEO of BluWave. I’m joined here today by my colleague, Houston Slatton. Today we’re going to discuss one of the most popular use cases in the BluWave toolbox, interim CFOs.

So Houston, how does your team know who’s really good and what’s needed for a private equity grade interim CFO to exceed the standards of a private equity firm?

Houston Slatton, Managing Director: Sure, yeah, it’s a great question, Sean.

First, we’ve got dedicated research teams that are constantly mapping these markets to know who’s really good, know where they’re really good, and know what their specialties are.

Secondly, we use frameworks that you developed over your time in private equity, Sean, to be able to assess them and rate them against particular skills and capabilities, but through thousands of iterations, we’ve been able to take those and take them to the next level and beyond (check out our post that covers the five things to consider when hiring an interim CFO here).

SM: I think you guys have done a great job at that. Candidly, I was pretty good at it. I could do it but I was the king of brute force and it was a craft project every single time, and so what I think you guys have done a great job is through seeing it and doing it over and over and over again, developing these tightly owned processes for assessing who’s really, really excellent at things. I think you’ve done a great job. What do you think about next in terms of other things that you do?

HS: One, we vet them specifically for every opportunity. We want them to give us the “heck, yes,” or “no,” which means really we want them to be self-aware and only tell us it’s a good fit if it really is if it’s a 10 out of 10 project. They’re proud to be in our network, so we get that honesty, but then we also hold them accountable as well, by working with our clients to collect that feedback along the way at the end of projects, to hold them accountable and make sure they’re great.

SM: I think that’s a really powerful part of what we do, is this whole circle of trust. People who are invited into this network are proud to be in it, and they do everything they can to be excellent over and over and over again because it supports their success, and our clients’ success, in this symbiotic fashion. That’s great.

Through what you’ve seen in our client base, Houston, what are some of the ways that people are using interim CFOs?

HS: Sure. I guess one of the top ones is just the unanticipated departure. When a CFO may leave for any number of reasons, it’s great to bring somebody in that can keep their hands on the wheel, keep things moving quickly and continue to make sure the company’s producing at an excellent level.

We also see a lot of groups that need somebody to come in once a deal closes to do what we call professionalize the finance function, get the right monthly reporting packages in place, make sure that the PE firm is getting the information it needs, do any conversions, transformations, things like that to make sure that the finance function of the portfolio company is really up to private equity grade.

SM: Yep, and I think that’s a great emerging use of this resource in that they not only can get things done faster with more speed and certainty, but they get to show, particularly newer CEOs and CFOs, what really good looks like at the private equity standard when a new deal kicks off? What about on the other side of the equation?

HS: As PE firms start to think about selling a company, CFOs have a lot on their plates already, and so we’ve had clients who will bring in an interim CEO or an FP&A resource that can help respond to diligence requests, assess data, pull reports, and allow the full-time employees of the company to keep things moving while keeping the sale process moving without delay.

SM: Yep. I think that is one of the other really surging use cases for interim CFOs or FP&A professionals. The modern-day M&A process is fast and furious, and the second you have to hit pause you can see valuations decline. Our best clients right now are using that so they can run at a really fast pace and not lose momentum during a sales process, so I think that’s another great thing to think about for this type of really excellent professional.

HS: Sure.

SM: I think those are some great insights around a tool that’s been around for a long time in private equity, but is being used in different ways. One of the things that I’ve learned probably most since moving from private equity to BluWave is that experience and velocity and laps around the track really, really matter. When I was in private equity, I would do things episodically and it was hard to become an expert at them.

At BluWave we’re doing things thousands and thousands of time for the very best private equity firms. We have the highest standards in the world and that helps us become increasingly better and better and better every day, and it’s gotten to the point where we’re trusted by more than 500 of the world’s top private equity firms to help connect them with the very best third parties, who we’re very proud to work with as well.

If you’d like to learn more about BluWave and how we can help you, please feel free to reach out to Houston or any member of the team or me, and we’d be happy to do anything we can to help give you just a little more excellence, a little more alpha with ease, in a way that’s supportive of your success. Thank you very much.

Q2 2022 BluWave Insights

Every quarter our team analyzes the projects we work on with our 500+ PE firm clients to get a birdseye view of the market. You can request your copy here to view all of the trends that we have seen over the past quarter.

Key findings from Q2 include value creation remaining strong due to the record number of deals made at robust valuation multiples during 2021, inflation continuing to wreak havoc on global economies, and the recessionary pressures availing substantial opportunities for all of the best business builders.

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from the report by watching the video below.

To request the full the report, click here.

Video transcript:

BluWave has a unique vantage in the North American economy. While working with more than 500 of the world’s top business builders, we’re able to understand unique insights into how and why the best business builders in the world are assessing opportunities and building value in their portfolio companies. Here are some of the unique insights we generated during Q2 2022. The name of the game in the second quarter was value creation. Value creation accounted for 68% of all activity funneled through the BluWave engine. Value creation was so robust during this last quarter for a number of reasons. Number one, private equity firms invested in a large number of companies last year so they’re acting on those investments to begin transformation. Number two, deal flow is down. A lot of the best companies were sold last year. Other companies are pausing their ambitions as the economic cycle is softening and the results slow in kind. The other mega trend that is readily apparent in our data is the specter of inflation. The private equity industry is not resting on its laurels. It’s taking aggressive action to raise prices, reduce costs, and bring in the right people with the right skills for the current times. It’s our hope that the data and insights we’re sharing will help you build your business with more speed and certainty. If you’d like to learn more and get the full report, please contact any member of the BluWave team or follow a link below.

Q1 2022 BluWave Insights

Every quarter our team analyzes the projects we work on with our 500+ PE firm clients to get a birdseye view of the market. You can request your copy here to view all of the trends that we have seen over the past quarter.

Key findings from Q1 included value creation at a historical high, deal flow reflecting 2019 versus 2021, & inflationary pressures impacting how firms thought about everything from pricing to talent.

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from the report by watching the video below.

To request the full the report, click here.

 

Video transcript:

BluWave has a unique vantage in the private equity industry, working with more than 500 of the world’s top private equity firms across thousands of projects in due diligence, value creation, and preparing for sale. From this activity, we’re able to discern unique insights regarding how and why the world works. The top insight of the first quarter of 2022 relates to value creation. A staggering all-time high record 78% of initiatives tracked in the BluWave Activity Index related to value creation. Here are a few other trends that you might find helpful. Human capital is becoming increasingly important in private equity. With the fallout from The Great Resignation still alive and well, firms are struggling to fill key roles, which has resulted in an increase in time and resources invested in human capital. Across the BluWave Activity Index, 42% is related to human capital, which is up from 36% in the previous quarter. Firms have been utilizing specialized HR resources to recruit A-level talent, retain key players, and bring in critical interim skill sets. One of the biggest trends we’re seeing in private equity and the broader global economy is inflation. We’re seeing PE take proactive measures using specialized third-parties to help them pass through rising input costs, defend against price increases, and hone the operational efficiency of their portfolio companies. For more unique private equity insights, request the BluWave Q1 Insights Report today by following the link below or by contacting us at info@BluWave.net.

Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards | 2022

We are pleased to announce the inaugural 2022 Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards, an award recognizing firms that represent the top 1% in the private equity industry as determined by BluWave for their innovative practices in:*

  • Proactive Due Diligence Practices
  • Transformative Value Creation
  • Progressive Private Equity Firm Operations
  • ESG

The BluWave Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Award recipients were selected based upon a rigorous assessment in consultation with leading limited partners, investment bankers and other thought leaders in the private equity ecosystem. Partnering with more than 500 leading private equity firms, we have a unique perspective that enables us to understand best practices and innovation in the private equity industry.

“Private equity is a driving force in the economy, supporting the growth and development of virtually every type of business and providing more than 11 million jobs in America,” says Sean Mooney, Founder and CEO, BluWave. “We congratulate these top 50 private equity firms that are taking uniquely innovative approaches to building businesses and creating sustainable value for a wide range of stakeholders.”

BluWave also recognizes Lexington, Kentucky headquartered MiddleGround Capital with the Innovator of the Year Award due to the company’s achievements across due diligence, value creation, PE firm operations, and ESG. MiddleGround makes control equity investments in B2B industrial and specialty distribution businesses. The firm was founded by John Stewart, Lauren Mulholland, and Scot Duncan in 2018. MiddleGround partners with small and mid-sized businesses, providing extensive operational resources to help them build and grow. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, which provides a framework for investing responsibly and integrating ESG practices into investment practices.

You can discover further information on the BluWave 2022 Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards, including the selection process, selection criteria, and recipients, here.

 

*BluWave, LP has not received investment capital from and holds no ownership interest in the PE firms evaluated or recognized under the Top 50 PE Innovator awards program. BluWave received no compensation from any of the PE firms in connection with this awards program. However, BluWave may otherwise provide services to the PE firms and/or portfolio companies, but BluWave confirms that its assessment of the PE firms was independent of any such service arrangements. Top 1% in the PE industry is based on BluWave’s review of the more than 5,000 PE firms in the U.S. and Canada from which 50 PE firms were selected as award recipients.

2021 Annual BluWave Insights

Every quarter our team analyzes the projects we work on with our 500+ PE fund clients to get a birdseye view of the market. For Q4 of 2021, we not only pulled together our quarterly insights but also analyzed year-over-year trends dating back to 2019 to gain a deeper perspective (grab your copy here).

Key findings from our annual analysis included a sharp increase in the rise of human capital activity and rebounding of operational investment post-COVID.

bluwave activity index

Learn more about the insights we gleaned from the report by watching the video below.

To request the full the report, click here.