Charlie Gifford, New Heritage, Getting to Yes Through Differentiation in Private Equity
1:45 Charlie's background
7:00 Why did he get into private equity
9:02 How private equity reacts to change
13:22 The evolution of the private IPO
15:29 How New Heritage stands out to portcos
20:55 The future of private equity
25:30 Charlie's advice to aspiring business builders
29:49 Learning how to be successful
36:10 Pro tips about wine
Welcome to the Karma School of Business podcast. This episode is brought to you today by BluWave. I'm Sean Mooney BluWave's founder and CEO. BluWave is the go-to expert of those with expertise. BluWave connects proactive business builders, including more than 500 of the world's leading private equity firms to the very best service providers for their critical variable on point and on time business needs. In this episode, we have a fantastic conversation with one of the very best in private equity, Charlie Gifford, senior partner and co-founder of New Heritage Capital in Boston. Enjoy. I'm very excited to have my friend Charlie Gifford on today. As our listeners may know, Charlie is not only a very successful private equity investor, but also co-hosts one of the best private equity focus podcasts called Middle Market Musings. Today we're going to spend some time not only digging into the mind of Charlie and all things PE, but also very uniquely for him, flip the direction to the mic a bit and do unto Charlie as he so often does with other thought leaders in PE. Charlie, thanks so much for joining us.
Happy to be here. You may have scared off your audience with a concept of digging into Charlie's mind that could lead us into a number of different directions, but I'll try not to horrify anybody that might be listening.
That's great. I'm sure it's strange and dark, but it's also beautiful. So we will dig into this and learn a lot.
I'm not sure about that, but we'll see. Anyway, glad to be here with you today and grateful for the offer to join you.
Absolutely. Thanks so much. So maybe as we jump in here, I always like to just express some of the background of the folks that we're talking with. So Charlie, can you just tell us a little bit about your story and how you grew up and how it formed you into who you are today?
Sure. Bostonian born and bred, grew up in the North Shore in a small idyllic town, made famous by the movie Manchester by the Sea, which is the name of the town I grew up in and led a pretty simple idyllic life. Moved to London for four years, grades two through six came back to Boston or I say Boston, but the only time we ever went to Boston when I was younger was to go to either Red Sox games or Celtics or Bruins games. But beyond that, it was all about just being closer to home, doing stuff with the family, older sister, two younger siblings, and so that's where I grew up. Went to high school there, went to college in the Midwest and business school at Kellogg in Chicago and got into the whole private equity gig in 1998 in between years of business school.
That's a fantastic story, and it's about right at the same time I started getting into PE. So we probably have a lot of parallel stories as this world has grown. Did you grow up in a family surrounded by business or what was it like growing up in your household?
Yeah, my father was in the banking lending world. It was for a very long time. I actually didn't know what he did until I was a freshman in college because he came to one of my sporting events and was a very present dad. But it turned out he ran a big bank. He ran Bank of Boston and then he ran Fleet and then when he retired he was chairman actually of Bank of America, but you never would know about it. He didn't ever bring his work home and he's never been one to talk about himself and he doesn't like to talk about yesterday. He likes to talk about tomorrow, didn't really give a crap about what you did or who you were and where you came from or what your father did or grandfather did. It was almost like he was embarrassed about it.
And so I didn't know what he did until I went to college and somebody said, "I didn't know your dad was so and so." And I'm like, "Who cares?" Because again, it was never talked about, it was never brought home. So there was always in the background, I knew he worked hard. I knew he's always putting on a suit. I was an American history major in college, didn't really know what I wanted to do actually. In fact, after I graduated from college, I packed through Asia for a year with some friends from undergrad trying to figure out, give me a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I remember saying to my dad saying, when he kept asking me about what I wanted to do and he never forced anything on me, he never said, you need to get into bank, you need to do this or consulting or whatever.
He just said, "You know what? You find your passion. I'm happy to answer any questions, happy to introduce you to a lot of people, but you got to tell me what you want to do." So I took the time to try to figure it out, what an experience. I remember him saying, "Well, go give it a go." I bought a round the world ticket that allowed you to stop in 20 places as long as you're flying west. Made it home. No cell phones obviously back then, but man, what an experience. And once I got back, I figured that I wanted to do something in finance and ended up in banking, worked at Smith Barney in New York, worked for a startup and then ended up going to Kellogg in 1997.
What a great model to have as a father given the line of work that you found your way in, which is, as we all know, private equity is extremely demanding and it's very easy to lose yourself in the work and forget about everything else in life and family that's going on.
Yeah. It's funny, I ended up getting involved in private equity because I had one of those conversations with my old man and I said, "If you were going to do it over again, what would you do?" And he said, without hesitating, he said, "Oh, I would definitely get into private equity." And I said, "Why?" He goes, "Well, look, it's at the crossroads of capitalism. It incorporates so much about what makes this country great, the helping entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. No two businesses the same. It's so intensely focused on developing rapport, relationships and built on collaboration with management teams."
And I mean I didn't know what the heck it was, but was fortunate enough to find a job in between years at business school and on the last day of my summer internship, I got a job offer which led to an immensely enjoyable second year at Kellogg, but I haven't written a resume since if my dates are right, since 1998 because, so my internship was at Old Co Heritage Partners, which is a predecessor to our fund. In 2006, myself and my two partners, Mark Jrolf and Nickie Norris spun out to form New Heritage Capital, which is where we sit today.
That's a fantastic kind of bridge to getting into private equity when you're in business school and the world's your oyster where you can go left or right or keep on going forward in the same path. How did you think about that? What were the choices that you were thinking through and how did you choose which direction to go given the multitude of ways you could have?
No, I really saw business school as an opportunity to try to get into private equity again based upon the advice I got from my dad. And the reason why is for some of the reasons that I stated in terms of very kind of entrepreneurial focused work, developing relationships with people, so I didn't really want to think about large corporate banks or large investment banks or consulting firms. I said, "I'm going to give this a go." And it obviously turned out to be a very good choice. Feel immensely blessed to have had the opportunity to find the two partners that I've worked with now for, now into our third decade, which makes me cringe. It sounds like I'm well into my fifties, which sadly I am, but it's been a really fun run, and anything now oftentimes people say, "Do you like your job?"
I usually get asked that after I've had a long day and I'm grumpy about something, then I take a step back and I say, "Well, am I intellectually challenged every day I come to work? Yes. Do I really, really like and trust the people who are my partners and who are my colleagues? Yes, if you do well and you work hard, we know it's a long lead time game when it comes to having your efforts pay off in private equity, but if you do, can you be well compensated? Yes." So by those measures alone, it's a pretty good gig, certainly a different landscape than when you and I started in the late nineties in it, but looking back, it was a good decision. I'm grateful to have made that decision and with those that have helped me along the way.
Charlie, as we all know, one of the only constants in this world is change. In the private equity world. Certainly every day changes and evolves and matures. What was it like in the late nineties? What was private equity? And maybe what we'll work our way towards is how's that evolved to today? But going back in time to when you got into it, what did that industry look like?
Yeah, yeah. I mean I'd say directionally, I'll just say, very different J and you'll start with just the number of players and you'd get the book which would never mailed to you. It was never easily copied because they didn't want to have it be copied, but it arrived in a FedEx and there was no such thing as data rooms. There was no such things as what we know now is a traditional Q of E or reps and warranty insurance, all that stuff that has led to a more and more efficient market, but most importantly, the number of participants was materially low, less than it is today, which just created an interesting dynamic because people here at Heritage have a different way we structure our deals. Some of your listeners might know that we have this thing called the Private IPO, which is peculiarly a registered trademark and it was formed back in the before.
I can't lay claim to coming up with that idea, but I certainly hawk it quite a bit and have, we're now into our third decade. But the idea is that if you're going to be successful in a really competitive world, you're going to have something different to talk about to people. You're going to have a better product, better offering not to meet the needs of everybody, but instead trying to find a niche that is looking for something different. And that's what the Private IPO does. It's a traditional equity recap, but we go the extra step of providing founder owners more control and more of the upside.
And so for people that are not long-term bullish, or I say long-term greedy, that's not going to be relevant to them, but we just think the most intuitive way to invest our investors money is when the insiders say, "I want to vote. Yeah, sure with my feet, but also my wallet because I'm too young to retire and I believe over the next three to five years, this business is really got to take off, but I know what I know, but I also know what I don't know and I really want a capital partner or thought partner to help me take the business to the next level."
Long way of saying Sean, is that the importance of specializing I just think is really, really important. Again, it's funny to think back in the mid to late nineties, we were so maniacal about having something different to talk to people about and it's certainly something that we benefited from and our investors have benefited from over the last two decades or so. By again, not trying to be all things to all people, but just really trying to focus on that niche, those maniacal CEOs that are looking for something different than a traditional 80/20 leverage buyout. And I've often said you could wipe out a certain large number of middle market private equity firms, were they to go away would the world change at all. And my gut would say, probably not because there's such an unmet need, and that the equity overhang continues to grow in an exponential rate. So that's why we like what we do. We like to talk to people about something other than just the traditional 80/20 buyout.
I think everything you said there resonates with me on a number of levels. I remember when I first started in private equity working within the private equity firm of an investment bank, and I said, "Wow, man, I wish I was 10 years older." These guys are all going to own islands, they are buying low and selling high, and the deals would find them. And then the next firm I joined was very generalist. We did all every kind of security, everything, and it worked really, really well.
But then you learn how quickly... Capital is agile, it moves with lightning speed. And then before I knew it every year after that first year, I was like, ?"I wish I was 10 years older," because at the time I thought it was just getting harder. And in some ways it was always hard because you pointed out all this information asymmetry that we all had. We didn't have nearly the amount of data, but the world evolved quickly. And what I'd be curious is did you all start pretty early on with the Private IPO or was that something that you evolved to as your firm developed over time?
No, in fact, so we talk about Old Co, New Co. Old Co came up with the idea and then we bettered it in our minds. So Old co got big very fast. We have stayed very much committed to the lower and middle market in the equity checks, 25 to 50 million dollar range. We just think it's the deepest part of the opportunity pool. Those businesses that have grown and grown to from between, I don't know, six to 10 to six to 12 million dollar EBITDA day one investments.
The types of business that we invest in, that's where owners sometimes hit that ceiling, that they've got their business to that level and when they really are looking to reach out inflection point to accelerate growth. That's generally where they reach out to folks. So if we moved up market, which we certainly could in writing bigger equity checks into a bigger deals, we just think those opportunities would be fewer and far between, particularly given the fact that we don't buy from other equity sponsors. So no secondary buyouts that is no bueno. And the whole strategy is around being the first tranche of institutional capital into these private companies.
Once again, like that perspective. I remember during my own path it was doing everything that we could to deploy capital and it was a really, I think clever at the time and did quite well, but I saw these droves of capital coming in and said, "I've got to be better at fewer things." And so I then joined a very specialized private equity firm around business type, and one of the things that was really helpful about that is we could be better at fewer things. The challenge that we all had though was there were many more companies that weren't explicitly for control sale than those that were. And it took a whole different mindset though in some ways to be helpful and value added to the companies that wanted really more of a minority interest partner versus a hand on the wheel control interest investor. So how do you all think about that when you're talking to these founder owners and talking about here's the differences in why this a path is something that you should really think about?
We play in the change of control equity recap auction world. So we source our deals not uniquely from the long tail of smaller intermediaries and we weaponize them with our structure to go on for deals and use it as their own competitive advantage instead of just talking about saying, "Hey, I can sell your business." Or you can talk about different unique structures like this along a number of other things. So we're always encouraging people and educating them about how do you get a owner to get to, yes, how do you get that engagement letter signed? Because that's what a banker cares about, care about two things, getting the engagement letter signed and closing the transaction. And so it's very much a consultative kind of relationship building exercise and talking to them about something else. So I think that's a really important component to our strategy because again, it's really about trying to provide alternatives to a full 80/20 sale.
And again, we talk about leverage buy-ins versus leverage buyouts or how this concept of private equity partnership is an oxymoron because what kind of partnership is it if the sponsor can fire the CEO who we just closed the deal with the day after closing? Now yes, that's an over-exaggeration, but the point being is that it's not a true partnership. The quid pro quo capitalism is the owner gets capital and the sponsor gets control in return, and we think there's certainly room and we show that there's room for differentiated corporate finance solutions out there that meet the needs. Again, not of everybody but just a select few.
That's great. So you're going to be able to go into these broad auctions in a very interesting way, set yourself apart from the field by saying, "We're going to be approaching this transaction in some ways as from an N equals one perspective," and then everyone else is doing the same. Is that a good way to think about it?
Very much so. And what that means, Sean, is that what we fight against is being reduced to a cell in an Excel spreadsheet. So we got to make sure that our letters are very detailed with graphs and charts talking about what they get today, what they can get, talking about upside case set of projections and how that affects enterprise value. And again, they don't care at all about what their equity can grow to three to five years down the road. It's not going to be our deal. That's okay, we'd rather know that upfront. But what we're really trying to do is just to find those folks that say, "Wait, you're telling me that I can get liquidity commensurate with a change of controlled transaction today?
Keep three of the five board seats as well as get to up to 50% of the common equity, which equates to like 25% equity promote and really, really generous promote." If people look at that and do the math and say," I can make a multiple of money on the reinvested capital versus just doing a smaller equity role," they're not going to earn as much as that upside. Then if people lean in and ask those questions, that's a great signal to us that they care about their business, they're long-term bullish, they care about their employees and aren't ready to head to the exits. So that's how we always think about it.
That's a clearly differentiated approach and I imagine it sets you apart in some ways a very crowded auction with something that draws their eyes to you all within the bunch.
Yeah. And interestingly, private equity's a weird animal. Everybody used to talk about proprietary deals and how can I buy this for a half turn less to juice my IRR? And we're a little bit atypical. We don't do direct calling. We're 15 of us here. So we're not staffed to do that. But even more importantly, and it might seem counterintuitive to many, is that we actually like to be compared because when they compare what we're putting and how we're structuring our deal versus an 80/20 leverage buyout, then we compare favorably to the people that care about equity value five years down the road. And I remember there was a deal that we looked at a long time ago that wasn't shopped, signed up the business, did a bunch of work, but the owner after three months, we spent a fair amount of money.
He's like, "How do I know that I'm getting fair value?" Just like you wouldn't sell your house to the first person who knocks in the door. He just always had that nagging feeling in the back of his head that he wasn't getting the full value that he wanted. So he ended up partying ways, but it was just an interesting exercise and a reminder that we like to compare and we like to compete because if again, people like what we're offering, we find it sometimes self-selects those that are the most bullish and represent the best founder owners that we want to partner with.
That's great. Charlie, you've had this really successful career in many ways seeing a lot of what I think about as the modern age of private equity and certainly in the seventies and maybe even the early eighties private equity exists, but the mechanized form of private equities really hasn't been around that long and it's at a point where it's every year it evolves. I'd be curious about your perspective as you turn your lens from the present to looking forward, how do you see this industry evolving over the next decade?
That's a great question. And I guess at a high level, obviously private equity is here to stay back in the eighties, what was your option if you're a private business owner? To go public and then maybe sell to a strategic and thereafter not a lot. So private equity fills a huge gap in the value chain for all those entrepreneurs that are growing their businesses that are looking for some type of liquidity vent. So that's not going anywhere. What else do we know about private equity? Private equity doesn't die a quick death.
Even firms that have some issues because of the agreements they sign with their investors, it's a long lead time game. You invest over X amount of years, you harvest over X amount of years. So the fallout or the shakeout isn't something that's immediate. So the question is, will those funds that may not be the strongest performers funded three years, four years, five years down the road? Don't know that, but I do know that because the returns continue to be consistently beating the S and P, which is what all institutional managers are looking for, they're looking for an alternative asset that they are not going to be made to look bad at in terms of investing in, in the eyes of their boss and their clients.
Private equity has proven to be when you find those strong managers with a strong track record with a interesting strategy, those are always going to be funded. And I do think that there'll always be because of the entrepreneurial spirit of the states, you're always going to have people that are going to be continuing to split off and hanging their own shingle. So I can't really paint a picture, Sean, of how the total number of participants are going to shrink. Despite what I was saying before about if you took away a lot of the players in our market, I don't think the market would lose a beat, but there's always going to be money for those strong performers and even the less strong performance, you have an LP base that are really focused on having asset allocation to the asset class.
Yeah, it's interesting as I've always thought about the private equity industry and you think about other asset classes, say venture capital, which in some ways is very innovative in what they do, but the band of outcomes is quite wide. Where the private equity firms is I think of all the people I know, you and others in the industry, it seems like one of the big defining categories or some of the big defining categories of what's common amongst them is tenacity, grit, figuring things out. And every year as I thought about every investment I ever made in private equity, I never got to year five in that model for the reasons I thought I would. We usually get to the outcome we wanted, but it was totally different ways, and it seems like that's happening in the industry is they're figuring their way, they know what they need to do, they don't necessarily know how they're going to get there, but they'll find it because they're so tenacious.
Yeah, I totally agree with you. I mean, people are the ante to play the game, the private equity game, you got to be pretty bright, obviously. And so in that creativity, I'd add, you said grit and tenacity. I'd also say creativity is also an adjective when you think about some of the stronger performers out there, they possess all of them and you find an investor that has all them, you generally would think that they're going to yield some pretty good returns to their investors.
Yeah, I'd like to say one of the reasons why I think I was pretty good at private equity and there's certainly others who are better, but I ended up being pretty good at it in large part because I think I got turned down a lot in high school, and so I got to hear the word no plenty of times. And then I ultimately was able to figure out ways to have friends.
A hundred percent that helps certainly in the fundraising department as well.
Yep. That's great. So Charlie, if you were to go back and a lot of these conversations, I'd love to have moments of introspection and every day in private equity, I learned things that I wish I knew before just by virtue of working with all these great people like you and your team. And I was like, "How did I not know this before?" And so I've been a collector of life lessons through the graces of others. I'd be curious, if you were to go back and teach a class at your undergrad college to the great Denison University about business and life or one or the other or both, what are some of the life lessons you would share during that class?
My god, that's like me imparting wisdom, which my daughters just threw up in their mouth as they heard that this was taking place. This might strike people as a little bit of motherhood and apple pie, but again, I remember having a conversation with my father and I asked him very early on in my career, I'm like, "What do you think, what's the most important thing about business?" And he looked at me, he's like, "I can't believe you're asking me this question." Because again, we never really talked about business, but I'll never forget it. He said, "What you need to do is you need to find out what you're good at. You need to develop a product or a service that incorporates what you're good at. You got to identify a target market, and you got to service the hell out of them better than your competition." So that really holds true.
It's funny. It holds true across many different, what I do, what you do, Sean, man, you're an entrepreneur, you saw an opportunity and you hit it hard and you guys are killing it, and doing a lot of good work for a lot of firms. So I tip my cap even though I'm not wearing one, to you. But so just thinking about this whole idea and you said it yourself is trying to be better at fewer things and that holds true with lo and behold my day job for now into our 23rd year, which is don't drift invest and do venture investing. Don't drift invest into industries that you're like, "You know what? We're just not set up for being investors in deeply cyclical or highly commoditized industries." Identify a market, create a product, in this case the Private IPO, and work like hell to provide that type of service.
And that's very much what we as a firm have always done. And while it's tempting to raise bigger funds and to do bigger deals and to maybe hire a new team to, I don't know, get into asset management or maybe a senior debt fund and not to disparage at all, there are a lot of firms that have done it and have been enormously successful, but that's just not who we are. We like our little mud puddle and we've been able to stick around again, haven't written a resume since 1998. So that I guess that says something, it either says we've had a good run or I'm too lazy to look for a job.
I'm not falling for the latter.
Yeah, I appreciate it.
I really like how you eloquently said that. It reminds me a lot... And one of the things that we do here is we give a lot of books out to our team members here. And one of the books that exactly what you said makes me think about is this book called Good to Great. And it's this concept of a mole and a hedgehog. And one of the thing they try to really get you is, try to be better at fewer things. And the fox is great at a lot of things, but it gets bored and it chases things and it never really follows through on things. The mole is really good at rolling into a ball with a bunch of little spindles all around it and it will beat the fox every time. And I think what you all do is summed up probably both years of anyone who went through business school all in about two minutes. So I think that's-
There you go.
... That's perfectly said.
Yeah, Jim Collins would be pleased that we're talking about his book right now. That's very cool.
Absolutely. I think it's one of the better ones around there for sure. And it's certainly helped me because if I have to come up with anything on my own, we'd be in a lot of trouble.
You and me both, bud.
So one of the things maybe with collecting life lessons in line, I think a lot of our friends are this way. I'd be curious thinking about that. Are there any interesting stories that you've come across that inspire you or say, hey, along the lines of tenacity, grit, be better at fewer things that go back in the trivia of the world?
It's funny, I'm mower of a private person then a oversharing person. And I don't talk about my dad too much because I try to respect his belief that who gives a crap what you did yesterday? What are you doing today and tomorrow? But back to his whole adage about being focused, being really good at what you're doing, what was interesting about him, and again, I didn't know about this while he was working, but I learned about it afterwards is that he was a lender by trade, but what he identified and the way he was successful in building the institutions that he led is that he had a very, very much an equity mentality and he just saw stodgy, slow moving, very conservative old banks.
That's what everybody did. And what he always really focused on was being a lender with an equity mentality, and it was something that he got comfortable with. Side note, interestingly, he's never bought a fixed income investment for himself or his own portfolio because he's just a very much, he's a believer in capitalism and in how our economy is run which is amusing to me, but we've had our arguments about the whole idea about diversification, but be that as a may-
No, 60/40 portfolios and-
Hell no, only equity. But what was really interesting tying this in, I remember, so I was, was, still am a rabid Boston sports fan and I blame my dad for that. And we had many shared experiences in watching the Celtics win the NBA championship in 81, 84 and 86. I think I got those years right. Pretty sure I did. We worked together in the the Rams in the Super Bowl in 2001 and have been fortunate enough to go to probably eight of the Patriots Super Bowls.
Oh my goodness.
And have seen a Celtics. So Celtics win a championship, seen the Red Sox win World Series live, all these and the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, did not get to Vancouver. So that's a hole in my portfolio, but be that as a may. But one thing that he did, he was very much into sports and in 1994, he helped Robert Kraft finance the buyout of the Patriots from James Orthwein. And at the time the purchase price was in the $160 million range, which at the time was by far and away a high watermark for evaluation on a football team. And people thought he was crazy to do it, but he was only able to do it because the relationship that I had with my dad and my dad was like, went over the tips of his skis, ended up taking warrants. This is not private information, but he ended up taking warrants because one, he was a strong believer in the civic responsibility of businesses in the city of Boston to ensure that everybody's doing everything they can to keep professional sports teams in the city.
Which is amusing because at the time the Patriots had an abysmal, abysmal reputation and a terrible track record, but he went against maybe what some people, certainly other conservative lenders would've been felt comfortable with. And both Robert and Jonathan Kraft have said many times, and it's in books about without him doing that, the Patriots would've not stayed in the city of Boston. So as a long time season's a ticket holder myself, grateful for that and the last couple years would've been a lot different if we didn't have those six Super Bowl trophies and all the memories that went around them to hang onto so good stuff.
That's an amazing story. And if you think about the embarrassment of riches that the city of Boston has had with their sports success, it could have been very, very different. And maybe the city of Hartford would've had a very different outcome as well. So I think everyone in Boston owes your dad a debt of gratitude for that.
Well, again, he won't tell you it, but it's been well reported. And for all those listeners that are sending thoughts and prayers my way and to all Boston sports fans way, given the fact we haven't had a championship parade in I think three and a half years now, hopefully that drought will come to an end this coming June with either the Celtics or Bruins, but we'll see.
Yeah, it's interesting you say that. I have this great dad who was an entrepreneur and built a company and he's absolutely one of my very top heroes and he, I think bestowed on me just so many things that helped make me the person I am today. One of the things where he was very unlike your dad though, was he bestowed the Cleveland sports teams on behalf of me as someone who was born in Cleveland. So I have had a lifetime of sports misery and I was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Austin, Texas. I could have rooted for the heyday cowboys teams could have had just this great childhood of memories of victory instead, I think the story is clear. And so when I had a son and a daughter, I literally had this moonlit teardrop moment tear going down my eyes and I told my son, I said, "Liam, you can choose any sports team you want. I'm not going to make you root for my teams."
I love it.
And you'll love the choice he made. He's clearly smarter than I am. He chose the Patriots.
So he has enjoyed victory after victory and he took the other sports teams and I continued just to toil and misery year after year.
Well, I would tell you there's still a room on the bandwagon, but there's a lot of room now, remember the fact that, well, let's just say that it's changed a little bit, but again, we have lots to be grateful for and it was a hell of a run for sure.
All right, so I have one last question here for you, Charlie. So we're both fans of wine, and certainly it's something that probably was for me, born out of a stressful job and wanting to have a nice glass of wine or two after wine. And I'm always trying to figure out these knickknacks because of my private equity background, I love nothing better than a deal. And so I'm always looking for the highest rated wine for the lowest price. And so I'm coming up with these little knickknacks like these things called the Wands that will take sulfites and histamines out and these little aerator devices. Now, I understand that you have been a tremendous innovator on how to aerate wine and it made the national stage. What can you share on that?
That's embarrassing. I guess we are going to go there. My grandfather was a big wine collector and he taught us at a young age, not a legal age. We always used to have a sip of his wine and he taught us how to aerate wine in your mouth and it's basically, it's not dissimilar when you decant wine or you swirl a wine in a wine glass. You're trying to aerate the wine as much as possible, not dissimilar to what you do with frothing using it. So it's just trying to introduce as much oxygen into the wine itself. And so I used to do that, take a big slurp of wine in my mouth and just basically breathe in through your mouth without obviously spilling the mouth wine. And I did it a couple of times. We got to know Kelly Ripa, a talk show host and been with them and her family and her husband on spring breaks a lot.
And so I do that all the time when I drink wine and she's just fascinated by it. To a point where she talked about it on air for three minutes a couple years ago, I got all these emails. People are saying that you're on Kelly Ripa's show. I'm like, "What are you watching Kelly Ripa's show for in the middle of the day?" I don't even think people would do that, but apparently they did. Anyway, 15 minutes of fame was more like 30 seconds of fame. But anyway, it's pretty amusing.
I love it. You're very atypical in private equity in that you're an influencer, you've got a podcast, you're on a daytime talk show. So clearly a multifaceted person here.
I'm not sure any of those are a benefit at all. But is be that as it may, I'll continue to ride the horse that got me in here or whatever it is that they say.
That's amazing. Sure. Our listeners can find it if they're clever with Google,
Yeah, yeah. For sure. That's for sure.
So Charlie, this has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share your insights and perspectives.
Listen, it's always a pleasure, Sean, and I mean, what I said before, I always feel like we're somewhat simpatico because we look at the world through a similar lens and what you have built and your colleagues have built a BluWave, you have much to be proud of. And I know we've found you guys to be a fantastic thought partner in helping us scale and helping us get to really hone in on what we're looking at in a certain industry. So grateful for all the work you've done for us as well.
Thank you, Charlie. I really appreciate it and it is one of the things I've been most proud of in my at least professional career, getting to do something like this, but also that gives us the opportunity, I mean this completely with all sincerity, is the opportunity to work with people like you every day and watch you all do what you do. So thanks so much.
All good things. More to come. Enjoyed our conversation. Thanks for having me.
Thank you. Special thanks to my friend Charlie Gifford for joining. That's all we have for today. For more information, go to bluwave.net/podcast. That's B-L-U-W-A-V-E. Please continue to look for us anywhere you find your favorite podcast, including Apple, Google and Spotify. We truly appreciate your support. If you like what you hear, please subscribe, review and share. In the meantime, let us know if there's anything we can do to support your success. Onward.
BluWave Founder & CEO Sean Mooney hosts the Private Equity Karma School of Business Podcast. BluWave is the business builders’ network for private equity grade due diligence and value creation needs.
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