June 26, 2019

SSC lands on Inc.’s Inaugural List of the 50 Best Private Equity Firms for Business Owners

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — June 26, 2019. Inc.‘s inaugural list of founder-friendly private equity firms highlights shops that treat entrepreneurs as partners and operators–rather than as part of the furniture.

Private equity firms have been called all kinds of nasty names over the years: asset strippers, corporate raiders, vulture capitalists. Don’t be deterred by these labels. The PE firms making headlines over high-profile corporate bankruptcies such as Toys “R” Us are rarely the same investors who back small businesses. In fact, more and more companies are taking private equity investment. In the U.S., the number of PE-backed businesses is up 25 percent compared with 2014, according to research firm PitchBook. So don’t forget to call PE firms something else: business builders.

For some private equity firms, investing in founder-led businesses is a big part of the strategy–if not the strategy itself. Before you test the private equity waters, however, you should first take a hard look at your company. “Founders need to think about what they want out of a PE fund,” says Nick Leopard, founder and CEO of Accordion Partners, a financial consulting firm that works with private equity-backed companies. Some entrepreneurs turn to private equity to help execute their vision; others bring in PE firms to collaborate on new strategies or to finance acquisitions. “Doing that self-inspection first is really important,” Leopard says.

Private equity firms are now sitting on a record amount of uninvested capital, which is good news for businesses seeking funds. That cash pile is prompting those firms to expand their purview and do deals with businesses that just five years ago would have been unlikely targets, according to Tom Stewart, executive director of the National Center for the Middle Market. “They’re investing in younger, earlier-stage companies, and they’re more willing to take a minority stake than they were, because they’ve got to put the money to work,” Stewart says. “It’s more of a sellers’ market.”

Family businesses are often strong can­didates for outside investment. “It’s a rare family that can continue to evolve and grow a business without help from a third party,” says Dave Brackett, co-founder and CEO of private credit manager Antares Capital, which has helped finance acqui­sitions for more than 400 private equity firms. “You constantly need to innovate and bring people on board.”

Selling a meaningful stake in your company can be life-altering. That’s why we’ve created this list of founder-friendly private equity firms. We identified firms that have invested in founder-led companies, gathered data on how their portfolio companies have grown, and asked entrepreneurs to tell us about their experiences–including what any founder should know about outside investors.

That research has yielded our list of 50 firms with a track record of successfully backing entrepreneurs. Think of it as the first step in doing your own due diligence.


Accel-KKRMenlo Park, CA $15M-$200M annual revenue
Alpine InvestorsSan Francisco, CA$5M-$100M annual revenue
Berkshire PartnersBoston, MA$100M and above in annual revenue
Blue Point Capital PartnersCleveland, OH
$20M-$300M annual revenue
Brentwood AssociatesLos Angeles, CA$25M-$500M annual revenue
Bridge Growth Partners
New York, NY
$50M-$500M annual revenue
CCMP Capital
New York, NY
$250M-$2B enterprise value
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
New York, NY
Typically invests $100M and above
Clearview Capital
Stamford, CT
Cortec Group
New York, NY
$40M-$300M annual revenue
Endeavour Capital
Portland, OR
$25M-$250M annual revenue
Frontier Capital
Charlotte, NC
$10M-$30M annual revenue
General Atlantic
New York, NY
$25M-$300M annual revenue
Genesis Park
Houston, TX
$5M-$100M annual revenue
Great Hill Partners
Boston, MA
$25M-$500M enterprise value
Gridiron Capital
New Canaan, CT
$75M-$650M enterprise value
JMI Equity
Baltimore, MD
San Diego, CA
$10M-$50M annual revenue
JMK Consumer Growth Partners
New York, NY
$2M and above in annual revenue
Kayne Anderson Capital AdvisorsLos Angeles, CA$5M-$50M annual revenue
LLR Partners
Philadelphia, PA
$10M-$100M annual revenue
Main Post Partners
San Francisco, CA
$25M-$250M annual revenue
MidOcean Partners
New York, NY
$100M-$500M enterprise value
Mountaingate Capital
Denver, CO
Palladium Equity Partners
New York, NY
$10M-$75M EBITDA
Pamlico Capital
Charlotte, NC
$10M-$150M annual revenue
Menlo Park, CA
New York, NY
$200M-$5B enterprise value
Prospect Partners
Chicago, IL
$10M-$75M annual revenue
Quad-C Management
Charlottesville, VA
$75M-$500M enterprise value
Ridgemont Equity Partners
Charlotte, NC
The Riverside Company
New York, NY
$400M enterprise value or less
New York, NY
$15M-$250M annual revenue
Serent Capital
San Francisco, CA
$5M-$100M annual revenue
Shamrock Capital
Los Angeles, CA
$20M-$300M annual revenue
Shorehill Capital
Chicago, IL
ShoreView Industries
Minneapolis, MN
$20M-$225M annual revenue
Sole Source Capital
Santa Monica, CA
$35M and below EBITDA
Source Capital
Atlanta, GA
$10M-$75M annual revenue
Spell Capital
Minneapolis, MN
$5M and above in annual revenue
The Sterling Group
Houston, TX
$50M-$750M annual revenue
New York, NY
$10M and above in annual revenue
TA Associates
Boston, MA
$100M-$250M annual revenue
Tecum Capital
Wexford, PA
Thomas H. Lee Partners
Boston, MA
$250M-$2.5B enterprise value
Tower Arch Capital
Draper, UT
$20M-$150M annual revenue
TPG Growth
San Francisco, CA
$15M and above in annual revenue
Trilantic North America
New York, NY
$100M-$1B enterprise value
Tritium Partners
Austin, TX
$5M-$100M annual revenue
Trivest Partners
Coral Gables, FL
$20M-$200M annual revenue
TSG Consumer Partners
San Francisco, CA
Declines to disclose
Wynnchurch Capital
Rosemont, IL
$50M-$1B annual revenue

Note: “EBITDA” refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. “Enterprise value” refers to the total value of a company.


To access Inc.’s article, “The 50 Best Private Equity Firms for Entrepreneurs,” click here.