Interview With Connor Browne
Fund / GroupCity Different Investments
LocationSanta Fe, NM
Focus AreasSmall business acquisitions
Stage(s)Mature, cash flowing businesses
Leadership (full time)Connor Browne, Greg Dunn, Joel Van Essen
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GET STARTED IN PRIVATE INVESTING?
My father was a financial advisor and has a long history of buying small, cash flowing businesses with his own and long-time client money. His acquisition business was focused in the Northeast. When we started City DIfferent Investments in Santa Fe, NM, we decided to build out a practice focused on the Southwest. My father acted as an advisor as we launched.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU VALUE IN AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY?
We're looking for a good business with strong management that will continue to work for the business in partnership with our investing group. Predictable revenue, strong margins, and management continuity are our most sought after criteria.
What are the best innovation themes that you see in the market today? And how would this have an impact on City Different Investments long-term goals?
Innovation isn't really the focus of our practice. The businesses we target are generating between $500k and $3MM of annual cash flow and tend not to be technology related. We hope to support current management and help them professionalize their business operations and decision making. Ideally, the business is already well run. Increased options for shared/outsourced business services make our lives easier - but are not fundamental to our strategy.
Beyond economic return, what kind of impact do you hope to make with your portfolio?
As baby boomers age there are many businesses that need assistance in transitioning ownership to the management team that is ready to take over for the founders. Honoring the legacy of the founder while supporting current and future employees is an exciting opportunity.
What's the most pressing challenge or pain point in managing your day-to-day private investment activity?
We see a lot of bad deals. Sifting through all of the opportunities to make sure we focus our time on the best opportunities is our biggest challenge.
What is the hardest investment lesson you've learned and/or the biggest investment mistake you've made?
While City Different Investments is new to private investing, I've watched my father make investments for many years. Sticking to deals that are the right opportunity for our model seems the most important lesson.
What are your favorite industry information sources and/or services?
Pitchbook Daily Newsletter, Axios Pro Rata Daily Newsletter, Transworld Business Advisors, local business brokers and stakeholders, BizBuySell, Bristol Group, SMB Acquisition Attorney (@SMB_Attorney), Indie Acquisitions, Business Reference Guide
What's your favorite non-business interest or hobby?
Santa Fe is in the mountains - the city sits at 7,000 ft in the foothills of a 12,600 ft peak! We're big skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers.
PLEASE LEAVE US A BOOK RECOMMENDATION (BUSINESS OR OTHERWISE).
The Snowball by Alice Schroeder is my favorite Buffett biography. I especially enjoy reading about his days running the Buffett Partnership and the initial setup of Berkshire. There has always been a long-term focus to Buffett's approach that we aim to emulate in our Small Business Acquisition practice at City Different Investments.
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE PRIVATE MARKET OVERALL?
We're very excited about the opportunities we're seeing in the space.