How Glow Capital Partners Choose Bankable Ecommerce Founders | #354

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Justin talks founders, attractive unit economics and falling in love

Justin Ryan from Glow Capital Partners

Justin Ryan is Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Glow Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in high growth and future focused companies.
Justin has an extensive private equity investment track record since starting in the industry in 1997 at Catalyst Investment Managers, including the last decade at Quadrant Private Equity as a Managing Partner. Justin was Chair of the Australian Venture Capital Association (now Australian Investment Council) in 2003.

Since 1997, Justin has led 22 private equity investments, 17 are fully exited and 2 partially exited. Seven have received deal of year from the Australian Investment Council. Justin also has extensive operational experience, gained while CEO and Managing Director of Alesco Corporation, an ASX 200 listed company with a portfolio of over 100 industrial brands which was acquired by Dulux Corporation in 2011.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Justin Ryan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Glow Capital Partners

Glow Capital Partners is a growth equity firm investing in high growth brands and businesses in Australia and New Zealand.  Having led 22 private equity investments and a big fan of partnering with innovative entrepreneurs and founders, Justin started the Glow Capital business in 2021 alongside Kate Morris of Adore Beauty.  Earlier this year they secured their first major client, Cargo Crew.  Justin and I chat about the benefits of having an experienced grass roots founder like Kate Morris at the head of the company, he delves into the detail of attractive unit economics and shares the red flags he looks out for when investing in businesses.

“That’s part of the joy of what I do…I get to see those little miracles from time to time”

Justin Ryan

Founder-focused investment

“I was at another private equity firm called Quadrant. I launched a fund there, a growth fund and found that really enjoyable and met some great founders like Christy Chong at Modibodi, Kate at Adore. And I really was inspired by some of these great founders that had great cultures and were building really exciting Australian brands and growing them quickly. 

And I think part of the thinking with Glow is, by teaming up with Kate, rather than sort of having a private equity firm that was sort of full of ex-accountants and investment bankers, we could have a firm that had a true founder, like a true 20 years sort of started in the garage type founder journey as part of the top team, and that would make us different to many of the other firms. 

And so having that real founder  mindset, which I think the venture firms have done very well, but really focusing in on how do we really communicate and empathize and make ourselves appealing to other great founders as a partner.”

Smaller brands

“We’re looking for businesses that have got good founders, that are likely to have a good brand or an authentic or an emerging brand, and have gone some of the way on their growth journey, but are looking to go on the next leg of that journey with a partner that might be able to help them. 

And so we’re looking at businesses that probably have earnings of maybe three to $10 million and probably enterprise values of $10 to $50 million. 

We think it’s a very attractive part of the market. There’s lots of businesses like that, which gives us a lot of opportunity to work through. Many of the other private equity firms are looking at larger businesses, so we can focus on the smaller part of the market.”

Take a look under the hood

“You have to think about the balance sheet and the P&L. How does it all work together? There’s no absolute rule and all the businesses are a combination of those things. And you don’t want to be too judgmental.  I have to be careful of that myself, that I don’t go in just with a whole bunch of sort of blind assumptions, because often when people are successful, they’re successful for a reason. 

And sometimes you have to have a good look under the hood to sort of see why, even though you may be asking yourself, that seems strange that they’re doing so well, have to really get in and understand why. And sometimes that reveals things that you would never have thought of. That’s part of the joy of what I do. I get to see those little miracles from time to time.”

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