PEI Operating Partners Forum – New York 2022 Event Recap

On October 19th and 20th, 2022, our team had the opportunity to attend and sponsor the PEI Operating Partners Forum – New York 2022. It was PEI’s largest event to date with over 500 PE ops professionals in attendance, a testament to the growing ops function in private equity.

At the conference, our founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, hosted a panel titled, “Unlocking the Due Diligence Imperative to Rapidly Achieve the Value Creation Plan”. The panelists – Cici Zheng of ParkerGale Capital, Marc Jourlait of The Riverside Company, and Kalyan Mukherjee of Apollo Global Management – all shared insightful thoughts on this topic and we have captured some our key takeaways below:

Leveraging Diligence Streams to Inform Value Creation

  • Overall, value creation plans are being created and put into place earlier in the process than has been done historically.
    • Benefits include building trust with the management teams and having the time and information upfront to formulate a more fully baked value creation plan.
  • Ops teams find it critical to work with specialized groups for commercial due diligence that already know and understand the market.
  • Areas assessed upfront in diligence to help ops teams better understand risk include human capital, technology, operations, and ESG.

Working with Deal Teams & Managing the Diligence Chaos

  • Ops teams have discovered that working with deal teams from day 1 helps avoid any post-close surprises.
  • Early work with the deal team helps the ops teams better understand what the deal team is underwriting for, allowing the ops team to better prioritize and position value creation plans.
  • Many firms are leveraging technology to manage the many diligence processes that are happening at any given time.

We greatly enjoyed learning from these thought leaders and connecting with both familiar as well as new faces at the PEI Operating Partners Forum – New York 2022. You can learn about specific ways we equip PE operating professionals with the exact-fit, specialized third parties they need here. If you have an immediate need we can support, contact us here and we will immediately get started.

ACG M&A East 2022 Event Recap

Our team had the chance to attend and sponsor ACG M&A East 2022 in Philadelphia on October 17th and 18th. At the conference, our founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, had the opportunity to be one of seven speakers to speak on the topic of “Trends and Best Practices in Value Creation”.

In Sean’s presentation, he shared the most recent data in our Value Creation Index and the functional trends we have been seeing within that- specifically within HR, technology, and sales & marketing. The main points he shared from our data were:

  • PE firms and their portcos are focusing on data & analytics to help them become more agile and change with the times.
  • Organizations that traditionally had outside sales are now transitioning to inside sales due to the digital boom.
  • Marketing functions are becoming more crucial than ever.
  • PE firms are bringing in wartime generals in place of peacetime ministers for the new now.

In addition to Sean’s talk, we were able to listen to insights from Dave Helgerson of Hamilton Lane, Dan Kessler of Energage, Justin Kulla of TZP Group, Keith Scandone of O3, Christopher Simmons of LLR Partners, and Laura Queen of 29Bison. The main topics of their discussions were ESG, DEI, talent & culture, and digitization & customer experience. We have shared our key takeaways below:


  • The ESG mandate from LPs is growing.
  • The 3 key factors to ESG are framework, investment process, and organizational guide.
  • Implementing ESG can be a competitive advantage that allows you to unlock opportunities that no one else sees.


  • DEI is an ongoing journey, not a destination.
  • DEI is all about problem-solving.

Talent & culture

  • Capturing the voices of employees is soon to be the biggest trend in diligence – unhappy employees without a voice can become the biggest issue post-close.
  • Implementing frameworks to assess and drive culture initiatives is critical.

Digitization & customer experience

  • Customer experience is a journey, not a funnel.
  • Putting your customers at the center of your business model is a constant that will never change.

We greatly enjoyed learning from these thought leaders and connecting with both familiar as well as new faces at ACG M&A East 2022. If you are in need of third-party resources for your ESG, DEI, talent, or digitization needs, give us a shout and we will be happy to quickly hop-to.

September 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE firms from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with BluWave-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of our client’s musings on employee-based ownership, developing ICPs, creating an employer brand, and more. 

KKR: Employee Ownership

Seeing success after implementing broad-based employee ownership programs in several portfolio companies, Pete Stavros, Co-Head of Americas Private Equity at KKR, shares his insights on the benefits of employee ownership.


ParkerGale: Developing ICPs

ParkerGale operating partners Cici Zhang and Paul Stansik speak on the importance of defining an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and discuss their steps to building out an ICP.

Listen to Podcast>>>

Insight Partners: Building an Employer Brand

With an increasing emphasis on talent and a push towards putting employees first, it is critical for employers to proactively work to attract and retain top talent. Insight Partner’s Talent COE, Hattie Young, identifies a 4-step process for building a compelling employer brand to attract the best talent.


Montage Partners: Questions Sellers Should Ask

The diligence process should be a two-way street. Montage Partners highlights diligence on the sell side and provides questions sellers should be asking potential buyers.


Blackstone: Dealing with a Tough Market

With recession risks in the US and global economy, Joe Zidle of Blackstone gives his insights to dealing with a tough market, speaking to inflation, a strengthening labor market, and shifting consumer demand.



Read what some of our clients had to say last month on value creation through human capital, continued recessionary pressures, DEI, digital marketing, and more.

Hunt Scanlon 2022: Human Capital in Private Equity

Last month, our team had the chance to attend Hunt Scanlon’s private equity recruiting conference in New York. At the conference, our founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, had the opportunity to sit on the panel, “The Art of Building Private Equity Leadership Teams,” alongside  Jimmy Holloran of ParkerGale Capital, Amanda Roberts of L Catterton, Michelle Nasir of Arsenal Capital Partners, Kit Cooper of Signal Partners, and Adam Zellner of Business Talent Group. There were many value-filled panels throughout the day, allowing for hundreds of PE leaders to discuss and share their thoughts with one another on the current state of strategy, culture, and talent.

The pandemic has both accentuated and accelerated PE’s greatest challenges, and human capital is challenge #1. PE human capital leaders have quickly become the busiest people in the industry, demonstrated by our BluWave Activity Index which shows that 42% of PE projects in Q1 ‘22 were related to human capital, which was up from 36% in the previous quarter. Our key takeaways from the conference below share how talent leaders are staying busy and how they are creating efficiencies to drive more value while they are in such high demand:

1. The Need for a Data-Driven Approach to Talent

  • Business leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance and value of quickly getting the right talent in place across all organizations. According to McKinsey, organizations that get talent right in the first year see 2.5x ROI on their initial investment. Getting talent right is not just a necessity for the C-suite, 90% of critical talent needs in a company lie below the C-suite.
  • With so much at stake if you get talent wrong, many PE firms and proactive businesses are taking a data-driven approach to human capital in order to have best practices to track against.

2. Talent-to-Value

  • Not only does getting the right talent in place quickly improve ROI, it is also crucial to enable companies to deliver on their value creation plans. One way firms are ensuring they get the talent they need is by developing great relationships with their recruiting firms. This allows recruiters to gain a sense for what “talent for that specific firm” looks like.
  • While human capital is critical to value creation, everyone is fishing in the same pond for talent, creating difficulties in getting the talent you need. One solution to this is to take a holistic approach to talent identification & recruitment in which you identify the key targeted areas for value creation in a portfolio company and then systematically focus and prioritize solving the talent that will have an impact on the biggest value creation opportunities. This has been called the “Talent to Value” approach.

3. Growing Emphasis on Culture and DE&I

  • There is a growing emphasis on culture and DE&I in private equity
  • On the DE&I side, each firm needs to take a personalized approach that works for them. A good starting point is to take an initial framework and gather data internally to make sure everyone is included and heard. Then, needs should be measured on a quarterly basis to see how you are improving over time.
  • On the culture side, a focus on internal company culture will help with recruitment & retention efforts, which ultimately, will help you advance your value creation plans. One way to do this is to assess what currently sets your culture apart and then build on it from there. Additionally, interviews should be assessing if candidates have cultural alignment, as much as they are assessing if they have skill and will.

Balancing the art and science of connecting talent to value, amidst a tight market will be the key driver to success as we head into the second half of 2022. If we can be of any assistance, please let us know.

Additionally, you may be interested in checking out some of our human capital specific resources, which can be found here:


An Interview with Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Bunker Hill Capital

We recently spoke with Mark DeBlois and Rufus Clark, two of the Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Bunker Hill Capital, a private equity firm investing in entrepreneur and founder-owned lower middle market companies in North America. Bunker Hill has offices in Boston, MA and San Diego, CA.

The four partners at Bunker Hill have worked together for over 20 years as private equity investors with lower middle market companies. As lead investors, they actively work with portfolio companies leveraging their extensive board-level and strategic planning experience.

When I caught up with them on the journey of Bunker Hill Capital, it was refreshing to hear how, in a world consumed with change, nothing can quite replace years of dedicated experience, a focus on relationships, and a time-tested investment ethos.

Tell us about the founding of Bunker Hill Capital.

We were senior members of the buyout team at BancBoston Capital, one of the largest bank-affiliated investment companies in the US, and it became increasingly apparent that going it alone would allow us to control our own destiny. Having a private equity mindset is different from how a commercial bank approaches investing, and we wanted to manage the business without these inherent limitations. Also, being able to change our investment strategy and how we invested was just as important.

An example is our ability to work closely with a variety of value-added partners including operating professionals and strategy consultants. Our relationships with them are a cornerstone of how we invest, proactively create value, and build relationships across the marketplace. As part of establishing Bunker Hill Capital, we were able to develop relationships with a wide range of strategic partners that was not possible when part of a large institution.

So, we spun out to start our own firm, Bunker Hill Capital, just under two decades ago.

Since then, how has the market changed?

The transaction dynamics have changed with the growth in the alternative asset class. The amount of capital flowing into the asset class has increased dramatically as has the number of PE funds, pushing up multiples over time.

Our core market, the lower middle market, includes companies with revenues between $5 million and $100 million—of which there are approximately 360,000 in the United States today. Compare that to the next level up, where there are about 22,000 companies with revenue between $100 million and $500 million, so our opportunity pool is 16 times larger.

In our market, we can source deals either as one-off deals directly from owner-entrepreneurs as sellers, through intermediaries such as accountants and attorneys, or through limited auctions, where an investment bank brings together people they know who can close deals and who have years of experience in the lower middle market, such as ourselves.

So, it’s actually the market dynamics in this end of the lower middle market that have not changed as dramatically that allow us to continue to reap the benefits.

An area where we have seen change is increasing prices in each market segment. However, as much as they have all gone up, the relative delta between the lower and upper middle markets has remained constant. For example, hypothetically as the first PE owner we may pay between 6.5x and 7x on EBITDA for the companies we invest in (compared to 2003, which was 5-6x). We then sell these companies to strategic buyers or the next market level up—large PE funds that pay between 8x to 10x on EBITDA multiples. So when we sell our companies to these strategic buyers, we capitalize on this multiple arbitrage.

What differentiates Bunker Hill Capital? 

Bunker Hill Capital is well-known in the lower middle market, having been in this market segment for over 20 years, which is very unusual.

We are unique in that we have the luxury of staying in the smaller end of the market. People tend to think bigger is better. We think we can have more impact strategically on these smaller companies over a shorter period of time, compared with the larger deals that are more like steamships: huge and take a lot longer to turn.

Our key criteria for buying companies is to be the first PE owner buying from founders and owner-entrepreneurs who either want to remain in the business or have identified their management team. This is 70 to 80 percent of our deals.

This is important because these founders are looking to crystalize the value of their sweat equity, and take some of their chips off the table for a variety of reasons. Finding a partner who will risk their own money to do this and take the company to the next level is key. The founder can then continue to enjoy the benefit of their minority capital stake, thereby continuing to increase their wealth by getting a “second bite of the apple.”

We do extensive strategy and infrastructure work at the companies we buy to allow them to scale. The larger funds, in the next level up, buy from folks like us as they can’t grow just organically; they need to grow through acquisition to get the kind of returns and exit multiples to satisfy their investors. Therefore, by definition, they must combine organic growth with acquisitions. And that’s where we come in.

How is Bunker Hill approaching the investment process to generate differentiated returns?

Early on from Fund I we refined our due diligence process, such as building relationships with our network of strategic partners. A lot of these refinements we did during Fund I, so the due diligence process we have now follows the same repeatable model. This has resulted in a time-tested methodology.

We believe the 20+ year evolution of our methodical investment process is world-class. Being a fiduciary to our limited partners, we are very hands-on in the businesses we invest in. We collaborate closely with our management teams and give them the tools they’ve never had before to better serve the business.

Post-close, we go through a 90- to 120-day strategic planning process to implement the findings from our detailed pre-sale due diligence and formalize the strategy into what we call a “Full Potential Roadmap.” This is coupled with a “Key Initiative Tracker,” which breaks down the Roadmap into an implementable plan, and is then tracked and monitored weekly and/or monthly with clear accountability and performance-based outcomes.

Finally, this plan is driven by the growth initiatives we are going after and how we want to scale the business’ revenue. But perhaps more rewarding is that after going through the process, most of the CEOs thank us for these invaluable tools that help them empower their own people, hold them accountable, and transform their business.

How is working with a Founder-Owned business unique?

Owner-entrepreneurs and founders can run the spectrum on experience and/or business sophistication, so identifying where along this spectrum the founder is and recognizing this is part of our due diligence process.

We place enormous emphasis on these founder relationships and if the chemistry is not quite right, we may decide not to proceed for the benefit of all parties. This is where the buck stops, especially if the owner is critical to the business.

Working with a wide variety of owners and CEOs is like working with any new person. We don’t delegate this relationship down to junior staff, as it is very personal at the managing partner level. You have to quickly figure out their strengths, growth opportunities, skills, and communication style, and we have to work with all of this while going through complex transactions – working through strategy, implementation, and everything else that goes along with the transaction.

Sometimes the owner is the CEO, and sometimes that’s not the case. The strongest CEOs are proactive and are on top of the Key Initiative Tracker. Some of the best CEOs we have worked with are self-aware enough to know where their highest value is in their role with the new company, including using the Key Initiative Tracker to mentor and track their direct reports, and then leading the charge on implementing these growth initiatives throughout the organization.

Can you talk about the role of ESG in Private Equity?:

ESG is a hot topic now. Most PE firms were doing a portion of this before it really got labeled. We were always doing environmental and social due diligence with potential investments.

Historically, we have intentionally looked at where the company could be more environmentally friendly and socially aware. Examples include increasing the recycling of waste materials, cutting down on energy consumption, and recruiting the most qualified candidates for roles.

Within our Key Initiative Tracker, we formalized this by putting in a group of ESG initiatives and being more explicit about it with our companies.

For example, we are being more proactive when we are sourcing overseas with a supplier code of conduct that includes detailed standards that our suppliers have to abide by.

On the social side, we have a strong bench of DEI candidates throughout our companies. DEI is built into our recruiting approach when hiring the most qualified person for the job.

For someone entering Private Equity in today’s landscape, what advice would you offer to them?

Find partners you can trust and work with. There are lots of ups and downs. You work hard and go through a lot— it can be very rewarding, but you need to have trusted partners over a long period of time.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and like everything else there is an evolution. There is no replacement for experience. It is complex enough doing what we do, and over the past couple of decades we have been able to cultivate relationships and refine our process along with the types of companies we invest in.

Also, don’t be afraid to surround yourself with smart people, not only inside the GP but also with your outside advisors. The relationships we have with our world-class executive network have been mutually beneficial. For example, our CEOs that are still assisting in our deals 20 years later is only something you can build over time. You can’t flip a switch and say, “I want that Day One.” It comes with being in the trenches together over a long period of time.


Interested in hearing what other PE experts have said in our interview series? Check them out here.

April 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE firms from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of our clients’ musings on everything from retail industry news to ESG and CEO perspectives.

Blackstone recently gathered CEOs across their portfolio companies for their annual CEO Conference. While we live in a world where it’s rare for anyone, nonetheless decision-makers, to agree on political or major topics as well as growth and business strategies, here are some key insights that brought the group together. Highlights include recruiting and retaining talent, finding success in simplicity, and keeping ESG at the top of their agendas.

Read more >>>

Vice President at Baird Capital, Becca Schlagenhauf, dives into root causes of grid instability and how the growth in demand can lead to growth in distributed energy resources. The movement towards green energy still comes with its own sets of challenges associated with cost and reliability. As new technologies are being brought online, this has created solutions that are going to be vital to the global electricity infrastructure moving forward.

Read more >>>

Learn about Heartwood Partners’ continual increased interest in different recycling and environmental services businesses and about their notion to “do well by doing good.” Their ultimate interests lie in the recyclability of finished products after they have been used by end-customers. Opportunistic themes and strategies involve packaging, agriculture, consumers, and more.

Read more >>>

MiddleGround Capital Founding Partner, John Stewart, spills his secrets on how their operational focus enabled their companies to build resilience prior to and during the pandemic. Due to the pent-up demand from 2020 in manufacturing and industrials, Stewart highlights the opportunities for American workers as manufacturing wages are spiking. With the industry being under-invested as a whole for the past few decades, the opportunities for business to take advantage in technologies to produce more products is unmatched.

Read more >>>


Here’s what some of our clients had to say last month on cybersecurity, inflation to sales, and more.

An Interview with Aterian Investment Partners Co-Founder & Partner, Michael Fieldstone

Michael Fieldstone is a Co-Founder and Partner at Aterian and has worked in private equity investing for more than twenty years. Prior to founding Aterian in 2009, he was a principal at both Sun Capital Partners and Apollo Management, and part of the Mergers & Acquisitions Investment banking group at Salomon Smith Barney. With regard to taking the entrepreneurial plunge with Aterian, he says: “We set out to build a firm that appreciates all the stakeholders of a company. To be collaborative in working with management teams. To create a transparent atmosphere in which we are dedicated to solving problems. Success to us is taking companies to new heights, and in doing so, creating value for employees, customers, vendors, the environment, underlying communities, and our investors.”

While his sentiments seem lofty, Fieldstone and his Co-Founders, Brandon Bethea and Christopher Thomas have seen numerous successes over the last decade-plus, and have ridden the waves of economic uncertainty with grit and fortitude. The result: growing already great family-founder companies in ways they didn’t think possible.

During our inaugural BluWave 2022 Top PE Innovator Awards, we recognized Aterian specifically for their innovative practices across proactive due diligence, transformative value creation, progressive PE firm operations, and ESG. Michael recently sat down with me to share some of his experiences and strategies for both creating value and supporting middle market companies during rapid growth.

Sean Mooney: How do you make sense of growth versus value investing in today’s marketplace?

Michael Fieldstone: This is a perplexing question for many investors. The multiples in private equity have changed so much over the past two decades. For example, at the turn of the 21st century, the average multiple was 7x; today, it is an average of 12x. This appreciation applies to both large LBOs as well as those in the middle market which we participate in. Additionally, the range of multiples can be extreme – as one can buy into an out of favor or cyclical industry such as oil and gas for less than 5x or invest in a high growth software or social media company for 20x+.  The last time growth investing was so robust was in the late 1990s, and this phenomenon was driven by venture capital firms and tech companies themselves. Moreover, large non-tech companies had to follow suit and develop or acquire an internet or digital strategy to keep up.  Many large companies such as GE, as we know, had a difficult time adopting startup practices organically. Other large companies such as Polaroid or Kodak became walking dinosaurs.

This time around, PE firms are also participating in high-growth – almost venture-like investing –as both an offensive and a defensive strategy. With technological disruption impacting most sectors (i.e. e-commerce, fintech, alternative energy, streaming/media distribution, cybersecurity, Medtech – and the list goes on), and with cheap and abundant capital, why not invest large amounts alongside mega trends even if at higher valuations? The alternative is to invest against mega trends – for example, into a large, non-omnichannel retail chain – which is like building a plane while it’s flying.

SM: On what side of that investor equation do you see Aterian?

MF: It may sound diplomatic, but our approach to market is a combination of value and growth investing. We typically invest in companies that are “mature” – certainly they already have sales and have typically been in existence for many decades. Then we look to accelerate their growth through investments both organically and through add-ons. We enhance their existing infrastructure and customer relationships in ways the management teams desire but may not have had the capital or organizational expertise to do so under previous ownership. We look to drive innovation, including through new products or services, with greater conveniences or capabilities to become more vital to customers. A great example is Aterian’s backing of a company called The Pace Companies, a leading commercial plumbing contractor in NYC. Three years ago, we partnered with its founder, Andru Coren, to help him achieve his vision of being the leader in all the subcontractor trade groups in NYC and surrounding areas, including HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection. While driving this strategy, we also identified the greater regulatory need to assist developers and building owners on reducing their carbon footprint through energy-efficient buildings. Flash forward to today, through the formation of holding company Eaglestone with shared services, we have executed on Andru’s vision by acquiring over a half dozen companies and becoming a leading infrastructure company in NYC and surrounding areas where we provide a full suite of services including plumbing, HVAC, fire protection, solar, and EV charging stations, all in the context of improved energy efficiency building standards.

SM: What are the key areas Aterian focuses on in its valuation creation plan, and what in that plan is the hardest to achieve?

MF: There are no corners to cut – at the root of any plan is extensive third-party customer and industry research to figure out where the company fits into its marketplace, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve its competitive advantages in partnership with management. Oftentimes, our due diligence prior to acquiring a company confirms management’s strategic plan and it is all about getting there faster with the appropriate resources, whether hard dollars or human capital. Additionally, often uncovered in our due diligence phase, we learn about untapped market opportunities, and after confirming their strategic viability, we develop a plan to penetrate such markets organically or through acquisitions.

Organizational development – retaining and recruiting top talent is typically the biggest challenge to achieving any plan. The breadth of the team required to grow a company, all while keeping an eye on existing strategy execution is most critical as well as our greatest challenge. Sometimes we bring in independent board members (who have been in similar positions) as another set of eyes to assure the organization is ready to embark on growth and transformation.

SM: How do you ensure seamless acquisitions/investments so that founders feel supported? What are some of the strategies/tactics you use? 

MF: It took years for us to learn this, but the most important thing with founders is to listen to what they are looking for, both professionally and personally. Additionally, it is important to align expectations upfront. Some founders want to continue to run and grow their companies, while others want help on an immediate succession plan. We have successfully worked with founders in both situations.

Another critical component of ensuring a seamless process is open and robust communication. PE-owned companies are much different than family-founder businesses. Most founders have heard horror stories about partnering with a private equity fund, along the lines of PE saying, “it’s our way or the highway.” They are afraid they won’t have any influence over the company culture and direction, and this poses a big risk for founders who want to stay in the business. Our goal is always to keep the culture intact as much as possible during the transition, and we do our best to communicate to founders that we want to invest in their teams as well as their valuation plan. These founders want transparency and candor, they don’t want “razzle dazzle.”

We also offer founders the opportunity to speak with other family- or founder-owned companies we’ve partnered with. This open book approach helps ease some of their fears, when they can hear directly from references who have found success working with Aterian already.

SM: What does Aterian specifically do to win founder- or family-owned business trust “early and often”?

MF: The most important thing we can do to build trust is to say what we do and do what we say.  We also need to discuss business goals and objectives in a small group at least a couple times a year. Actions speak heavily as well – supporting companies analytically or by providing other resources they may not have both help build the bridge that we are actually on the same team.

SM: What are Aterian’s internal company values, and how do those get operationalized (or actualized) across your investment portfolio?

MF: We have three core values, and from these fall every action with regard to both our internal and external operations. The first is transparency. With our management teams, our lenders, our investors, everyone. It is our belief that while good news should travel fast, bad news even faster. Without transparency building trust is nearly impossible; and, without trust, you can’t properly evaluate or make decisions.

The next core value is the concept of being collaborative, and hands-on. We expect this from our management teams, and we certainly aren’t sitting back as passive board members. Having said that, it’s important to strike a balance – when to tackle something head on and when to let go.

Lastly, we value long-term thinking. We typically hold onto companies for four to six years but make decisions as though we will own them forever. Warren Buffett has this great quip about the types of companies he wants to buy; he says they should be equivalent to a great piece of art that you would be proud to hang in a museum. In a sense, that’s how we see it. We are willing to put in the time, energy, and resources to make a company art museum worthy.


Interested in hearing what other PE experts have said in our interview series? Check them out here.

Operating Partners’ Forum Recap | April 2022

Every quarter we gather Operating Executives in PE to discuss current industry topics and to offer peers the chance to gather, share information, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we gathered to discuss optimal operating team structure, how firms are tackling ESG, as well as GTM and growth strategies.

These forums are for PE Operating Executives only and follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you in private equity and interested in joining fellow Operating Executives during our next Operating Partners’ Forum? RSVP for the August 23rd forum.

  • Optimal Ops Team Structure: Every ops team continues to look slightly different—varying between hiring full-time functional/industry experts and/or “athletes”/generalists. Generalists can be dropped into any portco situation, analyze it, and pull in the right third parties when needed. On the other hand, specialists can insource the work by adding niche expertise and credibility. When making the decision between a generalist and a specialist, consider the ramp-up cycle and strategic value. If the project has a high strategic value, many firms choose to use specialists and keep the work in-house. General rule: Have enough capability (in-house or outsourced) to own and execute the value creation plan.
  • ESG: Even without a mandate, ESG is coming up in more and more conversations and firms are leaning into creating a plan. These plans can look like a lot of different things, but a simple first step is to gauge where you are on various ESG factors at that given moment, and then start to measure (and report) progress. Pick your shots, and don’t feel compelled to tackle every aspect under the ESG umbrella. On the DEI front, some firms have developed a baseline to measure progress on diversity in recruiting, board composition, internal fund composition, and recruiter candidate presentation. Some firms, such as Sumeru, have developed a GP-level DEI strategy by recruiting candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and creating mentorship/fellowship programs.
  • GTM/Growth Strategy: Go to market strategy is one of the biggest value creation levers a PE firm can pull. In the “new now,” industries and supply chains are meaningfully changing their pricing structures. For many, pricing has become a top initiative at every portco in the portfolio. The top tips in this category were: 1) decrease portcos’ reliance on a single supply contributor in case that person leaves; 2) over-assign sales quotas, knowing you will likely have more attrition than historically; 3) lean more into digital channels to stay relevant.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to gather with PE Operating Executives to discuss these current hot topics. If we can be of help sourcing needed specialists, developing your ESG strategy, or connecting you with pricing expertise, please contact us.

Interested in learning more about BluWave? Check out our Introduction to BluWave video to learn more about us and how we can help you.

March 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE funds from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of reports, insights, and musings from a handful of our PE fund clients on everything from ESG to cybersecurity, and inflation to sales.

Advent’s Managing Director, Tricia Glynn, talks with the chair of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking division about a wide array of topics including investing through an ESG lens; trends in the retail, consumer, and leisure sector; and her economic outlook for 2022.

Listen to their discussion>>>

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many businesses’ plans to move more and more digital. With this change comes an increased risk in terms of cybersecurity. With a cyberattack estimated to occur every 39 seconds, Blackstone shares insight into how their portco Vectra has developed an innovative solution to this problem.

Learn more >>>

Scot Duncan, MiddleGround co-founding partner, speaks on a panel covering sustainable profitability in manufacturing companies. He shares ways MiddleGround’s portfolio companies are increasing revenue amidst an environment of supply chain challenges and labor shortages.

Watch the panel >>>

ParkerGale’s Paul Stansik is joined by two guests to talk about prospecting and how to get growth right. They share their varying opinions on how to prospect well, the evolving role of the BDR/SDR, and more.

Listen to the podcast >>>


If you are in need of resources that can help you with ESG, cybersecurity, pricing woes, or sales & marketing, we can quickly connect you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, exact-fit ones you need. Give us a shout.

Read what some of our clients had to say last month.

January 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE funds from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of reports, insights, and musings from a handful of our PE fund clients on everything from community building across your portfolio, expected surprises for 2022, operational due diligence, and go-to-market strategies.

On the latest episode of The Private Equity Funcast, Jim, Cici, and Jimmy discuss their approach to building community within their portfolio. They share what has worked and what hasn’t for them, why community building is beneficial, and how they’ve seen their efforts have a positive impact across the companies within their portfolio.

Listen to the podcast >>>

Byron Wien and Joe Zidle share the unexpected, yet probable events that they think could shape the political, economic, and financial landscape in 2022. Some of the surprises they expect include persistent inflation becoming a dominant theme, group meetings and conventions returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, and ESG evolving beyond corporate policy statements including government-enforced regulatory standards.

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Susan Clark, Managing Director and Head of Technology Value Creation at Sun Capital, joins several other private equity leaders on a Privcap Media podcast on best practices for operational due diligence ahead of PE investments. Susan shares what she looks for in ops diligence and how it helps create a go-forward plan post-close.

Listen to the episode >>>

TCV’s Amol speaks with Trulioo’s CEO, Steve Munford, about how Trulioo’s customer base is integral to how they prioritize go-to-market channels on the Growth Journeys podcast. In addition to discussing GTM strategies, they also discuss tips and best practices for preserving culture across a rapidly growing multinational organization.

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If you are in need of resources that can proactively help you with ESG, provide the specialized operational diligence you need, or help with your GTM and growth strategies, we can quickly connect you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, exact-fit ones you need. Give us a shout.

Read what some of our clients had to say last month.

ESG: 3 Proactive steps your PE firm should be taking

ESG has grown in importance and prominence amongst the investing community in the past few months. After a year and a half of unprecedented times, investors have found that they can help cause positive change by placing a focus on ESG. Additionally, investors have found that ESG criteria often points to improved long-term returns, with roughly 53% of institutional investors agreeing that companies with better ESG track records generate better investment returns. 

With the importance of ESG rising in terms of investment evaluation across the board, we are hearing from our more than 500 private equity firm clients that questions on ESG policies and reporting are increasingly coming from LPs. Before you start raising your next fund, here are three steps you can take to start being proactive in being able to answer any questions that may come.

1) Develop policies at the fund level. 

If you don’t have them already, the best place to start with ESG is to develop policies at the fund level. These policies can serve as a guiding light for how actions can be taken throughout the firm, down into portco investing, to help advance ESG efforts. 

Our clients have leveraged third-party ESG experts to help them develop and implement ESG strategies for the first time. 

2) Conduct diligence on your deals. 

ESG diligence should now be part of the routine diligence process when assessing any target. However, ESG criteria varies by industry and is extremely trade-specific, so it is most valuable to have an outside resource do this work for you. In fact, we saw this trend occur so much in Q3, that ESG diligence crept into the top 10 of the BluWave Private Equity Due Diligence Index for the first time ever.  

Additionally, third-party ESG diligence resources have tools and scorecards they use to audit companies against SASB standards, allowing for an easy way for you to measure your target company against other companies in the same field.

3) Monitor progress against ESG targets at both the fund & portco level. 

 LPs are no longer just going to look for ESG policies to be in place, they are going to look to see if action is being taken against these policies. The best way to prove this is by having metrics that show progress, and we have third-party resources in our network that will help you build in ways to track them over time. 

At the portco level, these resources will allow you to collect and visualize your ESG data, making the impact of your efforts easy to understand, demonstrate to LPs, and analyze.  These resources will also allow you to implement software tools that will make tracking and monitoring your efforts more automated.


No matter your ESG need, we have the resources to help you streamline your efforts and prove your action. Contact us to schedule a scoping call, we’d be happy to hop on the phone and quickly get started in providing you with the solutions you need.  

Posted in ESG

November 2021 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE funds from around the globe, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of reports, insights, and musings from a handful of our PE fund clients on some of PE’s recent hot topics including rising inflation, ESG, product development, and human capital.

Joe Zidle, Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist of the Private Wealth Solutions Group at Blackstone, shares insights into where investors should look for returns in an environment that will likely soon feature higher inflation, less policy support, and muted returns.

Read what Joe has to say >>>

In this short video, members of the Apax Partners team explain why “impact” is a distinct investment category, why it’s the natural next step for all PE firms, the importance of strong ESG credentials, and success stories from their own impact portfolio.

Watch the video >>>

Matthew Jacobs, Investment Director at Livingbridge, shares insights from his conversation with Mark Davison, former Chief Data Officer at Callcredit and current non-executive director at Mobysoft, about successful product development in software companies.

Learn tips from this interview >>>

While effective human capital strategy remains at the forefront of every business leader’s mind given The Great Resignation, John Broderick, Operating Partner at Argosy Private Equity, shares keys to building an engaging and high-performing culture that naturally drives the execution of strategy.

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We’d be happy to provide you with PE-grade third parties to help you with any of the above or with any other need you may have, just give us a shout. Additionally, view what some of our clients had to say last month here.