Q&A: 2 yrs @ Big 3 Restructuring (forced out)-> 3 yrs Transaction Advisory -> Founder @ AI Startup

Background:

  • BS in Finance + Business Analytics from Indiana
  • 2 yrs @ Big 3 Restructuring 
    • 10-15 deals across industries, multiple Deals of the Year
    • Wrote research paper and built proof of concept of AI software that would automate large section of our practice
    • Kicked out
  • 3 yrs @ tech-enabled transaction advisory shop focused on MM IBs + PEs  
    • Company has software that allows you to have "unlimited" data in excel and process a lot of data quickly and do advanced analytics on it. Specifically designed for the M&A cycle
    • ~75+ deals, primarily sell-sides in a data/tech-focused role 
      • Data analytics/engineering/science, AI + ML, product analytics, automations
    • Late focus on strategy, GTM, building product features, even explored building software for higher education.
    • Spent a lot of time recruiting as well. Company is rapidly growing.
  • 3 months into building AI startup with initial focus on M&A industry
    • Not giving too much detail due to customer discovery survey that we're planning on doing shortly. I believe technology and AI will have a massive impact on the industry 

Happy to answer any questions. If you hate AI or tech, happy to explore those points as well. Will be releasing an updated version of the research paper as a whitepaper for the company.   

 

A&M/AP/FTI. 1) being a brat after being thrown on a project that was mindlessly doing the exact thing my research/POC solved for weeks on end 2) one of the MDs that I was somewhat close with throwing me a life-vest as he realized I wasn't doing good mentally at that point 3) head of the group basically hated me for the research 

Correct on the Alteryx. Heavy use in the first year or so. 

Thanks!

 

were you at A&M and told Stegenga or Caruso that you figured out a way on how to avoid having to bill clients thousands for mindless excel work :D ? 

what happened to your white paper? as someone who used to work in restructuring would be interested in reading it. 

used alteryx once or twice when client had maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassive amounts of data due to business type but otherwise never found a need for it. 

 

Your background is impressive, blending finance, analytics, and technology seamlessly. Your experience in restructuring, coupled with your stint in a tech-enabled transaction advisory firm, showcases a diverse skill set tailored for the M&A industry. Your entrepreneurial venture into AI startup aligns well with the growing importance of technology in the field. Excited to see how you shape the industry's perspective on AI in M&A. One question I have is what motivated your transition from a traditional finance role to founding an AI startup in the M&A industry?

 

Thanks for the kind words. 

I would say biggest motivation are the problems/pains that I saw within the work and day to day that I knew were solvable with AI and saw that nobody was working on them. That was causing me to grow uneasy in the current role as I wasn't able to work on what I believed to be the most important problems. 

 
Funniest

Your comment is impressive, including all the details that a bot would capture and generate a response seamlessly. Your ability to restructure the key components of OP's post, coupled with variable diction, showcase an encouraging tone tailored for this forum. Your skill in using an AI to comment on an AI start up aligns well with the growing importance of AI generated communication across the internet. One question I have is what motivated you to transition from manual typing in a forum to creating a prompt for ChatGPT?

Just messing with you, but seriously, this response reads like ChatGPT ghostwrote it.

 

Mans 100% put this into chat gpt and prompted it to glaze him a bit so he answers. LOL

 

Are you AI clients going to be big institutional clients? I’m curious about how can someone create something to sell to massive banks/AM. How do you market this to these clients?

 

I imagine our early adopters to be fast growing boutique IBs + PEs. I don't imagine our initial clients to be large institutions due to the complexity and their traditionally more conservative nature towards unproven technology. We would likely market to them using the testimonials + proof of earlier clients along with having the capabilities to adapt the technology to all of the specifics of such a large firm.

 

I have a similar skill set between analytics, tech, restructuring, etc. yet I ended up in PE. Pretty cool to see honestly. How do you think about the long term career paths?

 

I believe entrepreneurship enables the most flexibility in terms of career paths and areas of focus. It does limit you away from certain roles and firms since you most likely will cause a disturbance and that's not what is needed for some situations. Given a certain point of capital though, you gain the ability to explore anything of interest which was of interest to me.

 

Sounds like a promising wedge to build a business based on your expertise. Have experience selling technical products to old-school customers so curious how you'll address the following questions:

  1. What's the business case for using this product? -- i.e. Is it purely to save $ and time or does it actually increase capacity to do more deals for a deal team?
  2. What are the compliance requirements and how are you handling them for prospective customers?
  3. Where's the initial training data coming from? or is this mostly process automation vs. insights?

Good luck!

 
Most Helpful

Thanks for the questions! Can you talk more about your experience selling to old-school customers? - what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? 

  1. Business Case: Initially, our focus in on enhancing productivity and expanding the capacity for deal management. This leads to reducing time spent per deal and enabling teams to handle more deals simultaneously. We're targeting a 30% decrease as an early goal with continuous improvements. As we mature, our aim to increase revenue per deal through advanced analytics and deep insights.
  2. Compliance: Each firm's data is hosted on their dedicated server with stringent security protocols. Client/deal data is separated within each server. For training data, we are exploring the use of federated learning, which allows for model training without transferring client data out of their environment, ensuring compliance and security. We can adapt our standards to firms as needed.
  3. Data + Automation: Initially, our product focuses on process automation. As we progress, we'll leverage customers provided data to enhance capabilities, moving towards generating actionable insights from their data pools. Customers interested in it will be key to the training phase, contributing data and working hand in hand with us.

I hope this addresses your questions. Looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

 

Very cool! I'm curious on what your opinion is on which investment banking / M&A workflows are most likely to be replaced by AI? Research, due diligence, document generation or financial modeling? I've definitely seen some interesting companies start to pop up in all of these spaces, very excited to try out the tech. 

 

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