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Boomers & Black Swans

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

JRA Ventures was born out of a real market need that's on an eminent collision course with our future economy. We're gearing up to make the greatest impact we can, for good.

For many businesspeople, and particularly those in the investment banking and M&A fields, the notion of legacy can present opportunity. If that's the case, then legacy is about to present opportunity like never before and never again-at least in the foreseeable future, anyway. Nearly 50% of the small businesses in America are owned by baby boomers, that translates to 3.5million small businesses being owned by the aging population born after World War II and between 1946-1964. This generation of "boomers" has been part of an era in the United States where economic growth and post war abundance spurred a population bubble that has moved its way through the lifecycle of business and now is at a point where many of these owners and their entities will need to transition in the next decade or sooner. The approximate market value of this transition, $25,900,000,000,000, yes that's $25.9 trillion dollars of economic value, which wields the power over nearly 72,000,000 full-time employees in different segments, all within the small business category. A seismic shift, a black swan event on the scale we've never seen in the business world, is happening, and with each passing day at a quickening pace.

A black swan
Black swans have become synonymous with significant changes either predicted or not, in human history.

Legacy as earlier noted, can present opportunity. Over the past 2-3 decades Private Equity (PE) style M&A has been center stage to capitalize on these earlier legacy transitions. The chart below shows how M&A activities and broader macro-economic factors have trended over time. As Bain noted, certainly the 2020 year had its uncharacteristic dynamics with capital markets playing a do-or-die-dance with a-hundred-year-pandemic, where liquidity was relatively high with government backed stimulus fueling possibilities, and yet confidence fleeting for firms and investors, making for some interesting market outcomes.

chart of M&A activity
1999-2020 M&A deal value and trendline

Then, moving through the last 18-months we've all watched market recovery dynamics playing out with the global supply chain gap, volatility in the availability of fuel, fears looming of a global recession occurring with the federal reserve making interventional interest rate adjustments to slow inflation. In the midst of this a new style of investment was gearing up-building further momentum from its initial tentative structures, seeking out the notion there could be something better. A style of investment that would focus not only on opportunity and value creation coming from legacy transitions-but also from sustainable management practices, community focused leadership, and the interest in making a long-term difference for owners in transition, founding families and the close-knit stakeholders that small businesses so often impact.

JRA Ventures sits at the crossroads of these various market forces, looking for opportunities to impact these transitions in meaningful ways. With a cultural mantra focused on the positive sustaining effects business can have for good, JRA's mission is "Asking more of business" for those very same reasons. Similar to some of our leadership team's experiences in higher education, where the mindset to "grow the good in business" was hard coded. To be growth minded, but as importantly to be human focused, acting with integrity and an infinity mindset. Focusing on returns, but not at opposition with management practices that bring team members and stakeholders along, and along on the human continuum-not just the curve of proforma financial returns & exit planning.

Our ambitions for growth are not small, and we're winning big with the investments we make. Without question there are win-win scenarios all around-for buyers & sellers, and the teams in the middle. We're looking forward to an incredibly exciting time ahead and preparing and building our teams to be ready as well. From engaging with the real boomers in meaningful legacy dialogs, to welcoming the transformational black swan events that will ensue, we're waiting, ready, for what's next.

If you are interested in hearing more about JRA and our team, businesses in transition, market statistics & factors driving these trends, have a business that's in need of legacy planning, or just want to connect over a cup of coffee-please don't hesitate to reach out.

Author: Brandon Buckingham

Title: CEO JRA Ventures

About: As a long-time leader of businesses large and small, Brandon stepped out of the corporate world to acquire and build businesses. With a passion for true leadership and a vision for growth he now leads a diverse team across several growing ventures.

Education: University of Notre Dame MBA, Finance & Marketing (cum laude), Sloan MIT trained innovator & technologist, GVSU Laker

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