Q&A with Martin Vaivods: Frugal M&A Origination. PLUS: 3 hustlers using ~0 cost resources to drive deal flow

Following up on that Delivery Hero M&A piece…

Since Martin’s article about applying growth hacker mindset to M&A has generated a lot of interest from the readers – and since we didn’t feel like writing another article, we got on a call to discuss these two topics:

  1. Filtering out the noise when receiving competitive intelligence through industry contacts
  2. Receiving access to automated analytics and tracking tools without paying full (or any…) price

What did I learn? Couple of things:

  • Humans are prone to bias – treat ALL information you receive with a pinch of salt, especially when it comes from “authority” – investors, experienced operators etc.
  • Businesses with multiple acquisitions in the same vertical should think about putting “Chinese Walls” in place, to help built trust between targets and the M&A team
  • New market intelligence tools are popping up all the time. Engage with account managers! Martins talked about being an A/B tester for SimilarWeb as an example of highly synergistic cooperation between acquirer and vendor


Don’t turn down those demos

Martins’ comment about staying ahead of the competition by trying out new tools really stuck with me. At RollUpEurope we constantly see new ventures looking to disrupt the highly lucrative M&A intelligence space.

I recently learnt that top 5 deal data providers (S&P/Capital IQ, Pitchbook, Bureau van Dijk, Acuris/Mergermarket and Preqin) have combined revenue of $3B+ despite having accurate statistics for only c.10% of all deals. The opportunity is therefore immense, both for the vendors and for the dealmakers keen to try out new things.


Who else is good at frugal origination?

Let’s step away from databases for a moment. In Europe, there is a growing number of search fund type hustlers who leverage low/no cost resources, such as social media, to find deals as well as funding:

  • Mikk Margus Sihver aka PrivateEquityGuy, is building a HoldCo out of 5 businesses in Estonia and Finland. He has 100K+ followers on Youtube and 27K on Twitter/X. How’s it going? Apparently pretty well! According to his blog, “Twitter helps our HoldCo raise tens of millions of dollars”
  • Alexey Pikovsky from Nuoptima runs a hybrid growth agency / D2C rollup that he positions as a viable alternative to raising venture capital
  • Dirk Sahlmer from saas.group has built an incredible LinkedIn brand (15K followers) with a mix of incisive analytics and funny memes. Apparently it has been a powerful origination tool. Recently he set up a blog – I recommend you subscribe (full disclosure: Pavel is the Head of M&A at saas.group)


Of course, if you cross the Atlantic, you will find many more influencers like these. People like Colin Keeley, Alex Hormozi and Andrew Gazdecki, who skilfully leveraged content that they publish on multiple platforms, to build their credibility and grow deal flow.

These playbooks contrast with the much more discrete tactics of most software acquirers – especially those that are institutionally backed – who “prefer to stay under the radar”, for fear that their exploits will attract competition.





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