20°F (-6°C) outside, a group of first- and second-year Tuck MBA students are boarding the bus in Hanover to go on a Private Equity and Venture Capital (PE/VC) trek in Boston. It is the first freezing morning in the Upper Valley, but this does not deter the group of eager students from taking on a busy day with a robust schedule visiting two PEs, a VC, and a Due Diligent Management Consulting firm. This trip is part of the PE/VC trek that Tuck students organize twice a year with the help and support of the Career Development Office (CDO) and generous Tuck alumni who work in the industry.
A few hours after boarding the bus, students arrive to Boston. The first meeting is with Audax Group, a leading middle market PE firm with over $12B under management. Its strategy is to buy platform companies and aggressively grow them through bolt-on acquisitions; in many cases, the number of bolt-ons exceeds 10 transactions. Audax also has an extensive network of operators and consultants on board ready to help articulate and define an investment view, conduct due diligence, and implement growth strategy. Three Tuck alumni David Goldenheim T’11, Nathan Shippee T’16, and Asheesh Gupta T’03 welcome the Tuck group for a dynamic conversation about PE. This is an action-packed meeting that covers topics such as key drivers in PE deals, operational strategies, different PE investment strategies, corporate structures, and, of course, how to break into PE. Next stop, Bain Consulting.
Bain Consulting was an untraditional stop, since unlike its sibling organization Bain Capital, it is not a PE firm. However, it holds over 90 percent market share in PE due diligence for funds greater than $5B. Bain Consulting is the pioneer of PE due diligence and boasts an accomplished track record of adding value to PE firms. The meeting, led by a T’12 alumnus, covered quantitative improvements that consulting companies add. Consulting companies, and Bain specifically, help PE companies with pre-acquisition strategic and business due diligence, 100-day operational plans, vendor due diligence and exit ideas.
.406 ventures is the third stop, and two Tuck alumni host the group of approximately 20 students. By this time, it feels that Tuckies are everywhere. .406 ventures is an early stage technology and health-care focused VC, and differentiates itself by working closely and collaboratively with the management teams of their portfolio companies. The speakers covered four ways to get into VC, industry trends in health care and tech VC, how they evaluate investment targets, deal sourcing, and value that they add through a high-touch process. The meeting concludes on a warm note and after exchanging contact information with the speakers, the Tuck group is off to its final company visit of the day—HarbourVest, one of the largest PE investment managers in the world.
With $40B AUM, HarbourVest is a recognized global private markets investment specialist. We met with one of the principals at the firm who dove deep into the background of secondary investing, valuation mechanics, ways to evaluate managers, and how HarbourVest adds value to its customers. Conversation balanced detailed technical topics as well as more high-level overview of the return curves in the industry. The meeting also covered ways to join the PE industry coming out of business school.
The trek comes to an end and the group heads to Fenway for a networking Tuck ’Tails session ahead of joining a massive crowd of Dartmouth alumni gathered to watch Dartmouth take on the Brown Football team at the Fenway ballpark, which is occasionally retrofitted to host other sports and concerts besides baseball. Although this was completely unrelated to the PE/VC trek, it is a nice coincidence and shows the breadth of the broader Dartmouth network, of which Tuck is a part. Spoiler alert, Dartmouth Big Greens prevailed over the Brown Bears 30-10.