Ryan Caldbeck – Quant in Private Markets – [Invest Like the Best, EP.110]

My guest this week is Ryan Caldbeck, a private equity investor who wants to bring quantitative rigor to the private markets. Ryan is the CEO of Circle Up, which uses a system it calls Helio to identify attractive investments in early-stage consumer brands.

While I am of course a fan of quantitative investing, I also know from experience how much harder private markets are than public markets when it comes to the transactions themselves. We discuss this and many other potential roadblocks to bringing models to private markets.

Using many individual companies as examples, Ryan explains some of the major predictive factors they’ve uncovered in their research. We also discuss which parts of the private markets might be infiltrated by quant processes first, and which may never be.

I expect many more to go on a journey similar to Ryan’s in the years to come. They serve as an interesting example for ambitious investors out there.

Please enjoy our conversation.

 

Show Notes

1:39 – (First Question) – Formation of Helio

6:57 – How they handle the relationship building needed to make investments in private markets

10:26 – Why consumer and retail are interesting spaces to apply their quantitative approach in private markets

12:54 – Searching for new relevant data

16:14 – How do they stay ahead of the commoditization of uniqueness

16:21 – Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning

17:24 – Sam Hinkie Podcast Episode

18:00 – Dominant predictive factors in this world

21:05 – Which is more important, relative value or rate of change

21:48 – What does the data say about online sales vs offline (being in a store)

23:30 – Variable that consumer investors think matters but it doesn’t

24:53 – Valuing companies and accounting for mispricing’s

25:36 – Michael Recce Podcast Episode

26:41 – Goes through the process using Liquid Ivy as an example

28:46 – Most interesting sub-categories

29:33 – Future for this model

32:10 – Albert Wenger Podcast Episode

35:19 – Other categories outside consumer and retail interest Ryan

36:28 – Biggest challenges for CircleUp as a business

38:46 – Handicapping their earnings expectations

41:36 – Take on the VC/PE landscape

43:03 – The types of models that are most interesting to the team

45:05 – Quantitative elements of brand that are most interesting

47:30 – Most unique brand and distribution strategy he’s come across

53:27 – Who has influenced Ryan the most

54:37 – His personal values

55:51 – More people who had an influence on Ryan

56:05 – The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business

57:07 – Thoughts on goal setting at the company

59:29 – Unchangeable factors that shape their long-term vision

1:02:01 – Most interesting individual conversation as part of this journey

1:04:02 – If he could only keep one dataset, what would he keep

1:05:09 – kindest thing anyone has done for Ryan