Here’s how ParkerGale, a Chicago-based private equity firm in the technology industry, broke from the pack to bolster their brand and stand out to potential transaction partners:
Search for “private equity firms” in Google, you get 29 million results in 0.68 second; search “podcast” in Google, you get 300 million results in 0.48 second; search “private equity firms + podcast” in Google, you get one million results in half a second, and the top one on the list is “Podcast – ParkerGale.”
ParkerGale’s two founding partners, Devin Mathews and Jim Milbery run a bi-weekly podcast program to educate “bootstrapped companies about what we have learned about growing software companies,” said Mathews.
Since 2014, the inception of The Private Equity Funcast, as the firm calls it, Mathews and Milbery have produced 140 episodes of “occasionally insightful and often entertaining discussions about building technology companies and the tools to grow them.”
Mathews said doing a podcast is a way to stay connected with their audience, who are mostly middle market technology business owners. “If we were doing a sports podcast, no one would listen to it. One, we don’t know anything about sports. Two, there are a lot of choices […] We’re the only private equity podcast. So if somebody wants to listen to a private equity podcast, they only have one choice.”
He said half of the episodes are just him, Milbery and their team talking about what they do and what they have learned, and the other half they invite guests who are often service providers the firm uses to do specific jobs inside the portfolio companies.
Topics of the podcast range from something as simple as “what’s debt and how to use it in a company” to “how to assess people you want to hire.”
When the first episode of Funcast came out three years ago, the reaction was “silence,” Mathews said. “There were no reactions. No one listened to it.”
But that didn’t stop the two partners from producing more content. Asking how they marketed the podcast, “It’s all word of mouth and free T-shirts,” said Mathews.
He said listeners can email topics they want the podcast to cover, and they receive a free Funcast T-shirt in return. “We have gotten more listener requests for topics than we actually have time to record. We probably have a hundred topics we haven’t covered yet,” Mathews said.
Starting from a trickle in 2014, the podcast now generally receives about 25,000 downloads each month.
While ParkerGale has a strong reputation for its focus on buyouts of small, profitable technology companies, the podcast has helped accelerate its industry profile. “There are 20,000 companies in our target market in North America and we need to use every tool possible to reach them,” Mathews said. “The podcast has been a big help getting us get closer to business owners who might not have heard about us from other sources.”