Case Studies

Our success stories range from advising on communications for start-up financings to billion dollar divestitures to capital raises for alternative investments.

Challenge: The founder of this successful 20-year-old seed-stage venture capital firm had always relied on bare-bones fundraising materials and a small group of loyal LPs. After deciding to raise a fund three times the size of the firm’s previous one, he realized the planned fund needed sophisticated fund marketing materials to attract and meet the expectations of new top-tier institutional investors.

Our role: We developed the strategy for the materials; wrote the PPM, presentation and executive summary; worked with the fund’s attorney to finalize the materials; and handled the design and printing of the PPM. For the PPM, we focused on the following:

  • Helping potential LPs understand the firm’s differentiated investment approach.
  • Guiding potential LPs through the firm’s lengthy track record. We developed detailed investment performance tables, at both the fund level and the individual investment level,using the metrics preferred by LPs. The tables were accompanied by a detailed narrative explanation of performance and a status report on every company in the two most recent funds.
  • Addressing the fund’s primary risks: team risk and execution risk. We built a convincing case for how and why the larger fund would be able to deliver returns consistent with the firm’s earlier exceptional returns. We highlighted the long history of collaboration between the firm’s new and existing partners. We created a “synthetic” track record detailing their prior co-investments plus the new partners’ other relevant investments and experience in the fund’s strategy. We also demonstrated that investment opportunities in the fund’s strategy remained plentiful.

Outcome: Fundraising was completed rapidly. The PPM’s thoroughness and transparency helped the fund accelerate the due diligence and decision-making processes with new LPs. The fund held its first closing two months after the PPM was distributed and was oversubscribed in four months.

Challenge: This prestigious M&A boutique was building its asset management business by rolling out a series of hedge fund products targeted primarily to family offices, endowments, foundations, and high-net-worth investors. The hedge fund group wanted to develop a marketing presentation and produce a brochure that would highlight their capabilities and extend the firm’s brand to their products. They also wanted both pieces to have long shelf lives.

Our role: First, we interviewed the hedge fund group’s senior management to help us define and crystallize their attributes. From there, we developed a series of key messages that captured those attributes and the value proposition. We then crafted a modular PowerPoint presentation around those messages, where selected pages could easily be changed while the core presentation remained consistent.

After finalizing the presentation, we turned to the brochure. From our network, we selected the graphic designer whose style we thought best reflected our client’s design sensibility. The designer used images from the firm’s art collection to create a distinctive and sophisticated look for the brochure. We developed matching stationery for creating timely brochure inserts on performance and the team.

Outcome: The group has been using the materials, which have been widely complimented, with great success.

Challenge: Management of this large private equity firm was dissatisfied with their investment committee memos, which they thought were too long, repetitive, and filled with irrelevant information. At same time, it was important to maintain a consistent memo format across their offices.

Our role: We analyzed a typical investment memo and made three recommendations:

  1. The memos could be shortened and repetition minimized by extensively restructuring the existing template.
  2. By moving the investment thesis from the end of the document to its beginning, the reader would get a quick takeaway of the memos’ main points and the writer would have a clear framework from which to write the rest of the document.
  3. Associates and analysts would benefit from a better understanding of the needs of their audience through a customized written communications training program.

Outcome: Our recommendations were adopted, with excellent results. The new investment memo template was enthusiastically received in testing and was rolled out to equally enthusiastic responses. “It worked one hundred percent better,” said one associate after using it for the first time. We piloted a customized writing workshop for the firm, which taught analysts and associates strategy and tools for being more effective writers, and taught principals and MDs how to provide better feedback and editing.

Solas Communications then worked with the firm to roll out the training program and the new templates company-wide. Memo quality improved measurably and Solas Communications continued to provide training to new hires for several years.

Challenge: This Mexico-based, Spanish-language inbound teleservices company had the right concept at the right time. It had just brought on an industry veteran as CEO, strengthening its capable founding team. Despite a difficult fundraising environment, existing investors were confident that the company could succeed in raising $2 million in growth capital.

However, response to the original investor presentation had been disappointing. Our assessment was that the presentation, like many presentations for early-stage companies, was too focused on selling the product rather than selling the investment opportunity. For potential institutional investors, the presentation needed to demonstrate why the company would succeed and the credibility of its financial projections. In addition, the presenters were uncoordinated when speaking and the new CEO was underutilized.

Our role: Solas Communications worked with the company’s lead investor and its management team to better convey the company’s tremendous upside potential. We restructured and rewrote the presentation using a message-driven approach that made the investment story immediately clear and easy to articulate. We further strengthened the presentation by thoroughly addressing likely questions about the business model. We revised speaker roles to highlight the CEO and his industry experience, and rehearsed the presenters.

Outcome: The company successfully raised its target amount from top-tier private equity funds. It was subsequently acquired by a private equity firm for $50 million.

Challenge: When selling an oil and gas company, valuations are based on “the three P’s”: proven, probable, and possible reserves. The bulk of this Latin American oil and gas company’s value stemmed from its probable and possible reserves, which are generally heavily discounted. In addition, the company had to convey to foreign buyers its top-notch professionalism.

Our role: During two weeks on site with the client, we worked with the deal team to develop, structure, write, and rehearse a half-day management presentation. The presentation made a highly persuasive case for the company’s strong upside potential by providing thorough and highly technical support for that message. We determined presenter roles to highlight the management team’s depth and knowledge, and emphasized the company’s well-run and lean operations in the presentation. We rehearsed the presenters extensively, both individually and as a team.

Outcome: The quality of the management presentation repeatedly surpassed prospective buyers’ expectations and was greatly complimented. The company was sold to a major U.S. oil company following a highly competitive bidding process. The seven-figure sale price reported in the local press was well above industry expectations.

Experience while employee of J.P. Morgan