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Smart Business Dealmakers

Business & Economics Podcasts

Smart Business Dealmakers is the CEO's M&A playbook. We interview the entrepreneurs doing deals, the private equity, VC and family office players investing in them, and the M&A advisers making them happen. Topics include raising capital, buying and selling companies and managing a liquidity event.

Smart Business Dealmakers is the CEO's M&A playbook. We interview the entrepreneurs doing deals, the private equity, VC and family office players investing in them, and the M&A advisers making them happen. Topics include raising capital, buying and selling companies and managing a liquidity event.


United States


Smart Business Dealmakers is the CEO's M&A playbook. We interview the entrepreneurs doing deals, the private equity, VC and family office players investing in them, and the M&A advisers making them happen. Topics include raising capital, buying and selling companies and managing a liquidity event.




Kareem Afzal, CEO of PDC Machines

As the CEO of a second-generation business, Kareem Afzal is continuing the legacy started by his father, who founder PDC Machines more than years ago. The company, which designs and manufactures specialty gas compression systems, is in the midst of a growth journey that includes a recapitalization led by PE firm Arcline Investment Management and two recent acquisitions. Kareem shares his thoughts on the company’s M&A strategy, innovation and how PDC Machines is changing its industry.


Shane Bigelow, CEO of CHAMPtitles

CHAMPtitles is a SaaS startup that aims to help people, companies and governments digitally create, manage and transfer vehicle titles. Led by CEO Shane Bigelow, the company recently raised a $8.5 million Series A that will help it grow its footprint across the country and beyond. Bigelow talks about the venture, its recent raise and progress in the market, as well as the challenges of being based in the Midwest.


Brian Baum, Managing Director of Interchange Capital Partners

When you’re building a business, having a solid team of M&A professionals is paramount to success. But do you know if you have the right team? Are they thinking beyond just their piece of the transaction? Brian Baum, managing director of Interchange Capital Partners, offers his thoughts on why you might want to re-evaluate advisors, and why you should start thinking about your company as the first piece for a future family office.


Cy Sturdivant, Cyber Division Director at BKD

Without a basic understanding of cybersecurity, companies can stand to lose a great deal. As BKD’s Cyber Division Director Cy Sturdivant points out, companies that acquire businesses with weak defenses may see their ROI compromised as easily as systems with weak passwords. Cy offers his take on the cyberthreat environment, what cybersecurity means in practice, and just how troubling digital threats are for players in the M&A world.


Will Zell, founder of Zell Capital

Entrepreneur Will Zell, Executive Chairman at Nikola Labs, talks about the pandemic-era launch of Zell Capital, one of the new Access Funds seeking to broaden public reach into private markets. He discusses what he saw from the funding community during that time and how it’s changed since. He also delves into the relationship between boards and the companies they oversee, as well as the impact of larger players moving downstream.


Nat Clarkson, Managing Director of CFV Ventures

There’s been chatter of late among earlier-stage investors — seed funds, VC, etc. — about large private equity firms starting to make investments much earlier in the funding lifecycle, like Series A rounds. While most have yet to be directly affected by this trend, they’re thinking about it. And for some, like CFV Ventures Managing Partner Nat Clarkson, it could be a good thing. Clarkson offers his perspective on the trend and how he expects CFV Ventures will adapt to it.


Sehrish Siddiqui, Partner with Bass Berry & Sims

ESG — environmental, social and governance — is an aspect of reporting for public companies that’s been around for a while. Recently, ESG matters have started to work their way from the public sphere into private diligence. Sehrish Siddiqui, corporate and securities partner at Bass, Berry & Sims, says companies that embrace these issues can see their valuations go up. She breaks down ESG’s path from public to private, and what business leaders should understand about its effects on M&A.


David Iwinski, Managing Director of Blue Water Growth

The way David Iwinski sees it, COVID marks a tipping point in the economic relationship U.S. businesses have with China. The managing director at Blue Water Growth expects that will complicate the M&A transactions of those companies with supply chains linked to the country. He breaks down the situation and offers advice for rooting out supply chain risk ahead of — and during — a transaction.


Josh Curtis, Managing Director of Footprint Capital

Footprint Capital is experiencing a record year for activity, mostly sell-side transactions involving business owners looking to capitalize on a strong 2020 while racing to beat the enactment of potential capital gains taxes in 2021. Managing Director Josh Curtis discusses his view of the market from the sell-side and buy-side, as well as his sense of how things could play out for the balance of the year.


Robert Berdanier and Deron Curliss of BDO

Getting a company off the ground is never easy. It often starts with a founder putting some money in, tapping friends and family, and then attracting outside investors. But ensuring your company is prepared for growth — round by round — is more art than science. BDO’s Robert Berdanier and Deron Curliss share their thoughts on analyzing management teams, operations, and the keys to professionalizing a business to prepare it for going to market and securing early stage and mid-stage rounds of...


Perry Maughmer, Vistage Chair

While many owners are thinking about and likely planning their exits, they’re not rushing, says Perry Maughmer, who mentors CEOs as a local chair for Vistage in Columbus. Before stepping away for good, they want to know that the legacy they’ve built and the people who’ve helped them along the way are respected. From his seat at Vistage, Perry talks about the CEO mindset and how that’s informing the decision to sell or stay put.


Matthew Wiener and Benjamin Popson of Aon

SPACs fast track the path for a private company to go public. The second part of that process — the one that’s not as widely discussed — is de-SPACing and is needed to complete the process. Like most everything in M&A, it comes with risks. Aon Managing Director Matthew Wiener and Vice President Benjamin Popson discuss the risks inherent in the de-SPACing process, and how to effectively mitigate them.


David Sowerby, Managing Director at Ancora

The high-volume deal activity we’ve been seeing for the past 12 months has many business owners getting out while the getting is good. The often once-in-a-lifetime liquidity event has likely given them a great deal to work with and may encourage some to start investing. David Sowerby, managing director and portfolio manager at Ancora, offers some words of wisdom to those who are eager to put their money to work, and warns that business owners, post-exit, should expect to become very popular...


Eric Easton, CFO of Ampex Brands, and Jayne Juvan, M&A Chair at Tucker Ellis

Ampex Brands recently acquired bakery-café chain Au Bon Pain from Panera Bread, becoming a franchisor for the first time in its 16-year history and expanding its footprint internationally. Ampex Brands CFO Eric Easton and Jayne Juvan, M&A Chair at Ampex's law firm Tucker Ellis, discuss how it all went down.


Linda Pringle Evans, CEO of Pringle Business Consulting

Female entrepreneurship has been on the rise over the past decade. The pandemic brought unique challenges not only to this group, but generally to women in the workforce. Linda Pringle Evans, founder and CEO of Pringle Business Consulting and the Director of Education at Empowering a Billion Women, talks about the state of female entrepreneurship, where systemic flaws lead to a less-clear path for women who might otherwise start businesses, and about the launch of the Empower a Billion Women...


Neil Cooper and Alyssa Brodzinski of RCCB

The red hot deal market features the promise of incredible valuations and the threat of higher capital gains taxes. Business owners could feel that this is their moment to sell. But should they? And is a sale the only way to leverage this opportunity? Executive Partner Neil Cooper and Partner Alyssa Brodzinski of law firm RCCB dissect this moment and lay out some options business owners may want to consider before taking their company to market.


Ahmed El Nokali and Yenner Karto of First National Bank

As the world emerges from the COVID-driven shutdowns, global markets enter a new phase. So what impact has the pandemic had on the fiscal and monetary-related activities, supply chains and even risk? Yenner Karto, Head of International Banking and Foreign Exchange at First National Bank, and Ahmed El Nokali, the bank's Head of Capital Markets, discuss these issues and more.


Kevin McCarthy and Scott Buschmann of Kian Capital Partners

Kian Capital Partners recently completed a majority recapitalization of T Sportline, an e-commerce provider in the Tesla aftermarket space. It’s the third platform investment in the automotive aftermarket space for the middle-market investment firm. Co-founder and partner Kevin McCarthy and partner Scott Buschmann talk about the investment, the opportunity they see as auto manufacturers ramp up their electric vehicle offerings, and their sense of how this year’s M&A market is progressing.


Wendy Jarchow, Chief Investment Officer of River SaaS Capital

River SaaS Capital identifies software-as-a-service companies that it can add value to not just by writing a check to help them scale but by leveraging the resources the firm has built. Chief Investment Officer Wendy Jarchow discusses how River SaaS Capital's 2020 played out, what the firm’s survey of its portfolio companies told her about how they adjusted to the pandemic’s challenges, and what she expects from its target sector this year.


George Nemphos, Managing Member of Nemphos Braue

As the deal market sizzles based on pent-up demand and an abundance of capital in search of good deals, the M&A world races toward a post-COVID reality. Yet questions about structure and terms still remain as we try to settle into a new normal. George Nemphos, founding member of law firm Nemphos Braue, shares his thoughts on the activity he’s seeing, deals he’s been closing for clients, and what’s different from the deals that got done in 2019 and early 2020.