RDCP Group & Dealsuite: The Benefits of Virtual Dealmaking
RDCP Group is a diversified investment firm based in London that controls $600 million of assets across multiple sectors. Led by founders, Sameer Rizvi and Iryna Dubylovska, they have been Dealsuite subscribers since 2019 and are keen proponents of virtual dealmaking.
Dealsuite is one of the tools that Sameer relies on every day to complete deals virtually. “I use a MacBook, so I’m a user of the classic Apple apps, as well as Microsoft Office suite, Zoom, Slack with my portfolio companies, and a range of dealmaking tools, such as virtual data rooms, e-sig providers, and, of course, Dealsuite. Almost all my dealmaking now takes place online.”
Whilst COVID accelerated the adoption of virtual tools, Sameer thinks the changes we were forced to make to our work habits are here to stay. “Now, post-COVID, our level of virtual dealmaking remains as high, if not higher, than during COVID. Most people I work with seem to be in a similar position, be they investment bankers, lawyers, corporate finance advisors, debt advisors, and I don’t see us sliding back to how we worked pre-COVID anytime soon, if ever.”
As an entrepreneur with a young family, one of the key benefits Sameer has found of being predominantly virtual is that he can devote more time to the things that matter. “For me, the growth of my business and my ability to make good investment decisions are directly linked to my physical and mental health. My son was born in February 2020, my daughter in February 2022, so my ability to be able to do deals virtually has been hugely beneficial. Simply, I can be with my family more. I sleep better, I get in my morning powerlifting sessions in the home gym, go for forest hikes with my kids and my dog, whilst still doing a day of back-to-back meetings.”
This is a compelling argument in favour of virtual dealmaking – it lends itself to more flexible lifestyles – and, as a result, Sameer believes the old deal-making ways are dying. “For sure, in some sectors and some roles, face-to-face, being in an office, sitting round a board table, is still crucial, but I can’t think of a deal that I’ve completed recently that would’ve gone better if I had worked on it face-to-face. I see limited benefits. Honestly, I only see inefficiencies.”
“What’s more, the flex I get from being able to network, deal source, do due diligence, and invest virtually means that if my family and I want to go to, say, Marbella for 4 months, I would still be in control of my business and able to execute transactions. It might be different if you’re a cog in the machine of a large corporate like JP Morgan, but for us at RDCP and for me, as an investor, it’s the future and it’s better in every way.”
Some still feel a deal only gets done when you shake hands and Sameer is sympathetic to this view, knowing not everyone is as positive as he is about virtual dealmaking. He still sees a place for in-person get-togethers, but he thinks when that meeting takes place has changed. “Everyone can find you and your business on LinkedIn, via Google, on Dealsuite, and it’s all about track-record of acquisitions and AUM, so when you’re doing deal discovery or putting a deal together, there’s little need to meet. In recent years, all my face-to-face meetings have been “deal critical”, right at the back end of the deal.” So, an in-person meet isn’t required to network or discover deals. The only place it may be necessary is when it comes to completing a transaction.
Sameer is clear about his ability to get deals done virtually, but are there any downsides to these tools? “Something I absolutely love is a completion dinner, where RDCP as the acquirer, the sellers, the management team, and all advisors meet up to celebrate a successful deal completion. Also, nothing beats a well-organised Christmas party. At RDCP, we do one every December, inviting senior management from each portfolio company and taking stock of our achievements and wins for the year. So I think there are certain types of get-togethers that still must take place in person. And I do understand some people still want to meet face-to-face, so virtual isn’t perfect for everybody. But I know that the time I’m saving by doing most of my work virtually means that the occasional in-person meeting is fun, a joy, and, mostly, a post-completion celebration. Without a doubt, the key benefit of virtual dealmaking is saving time, and the time saved allows you to do more for your business, for yourself, for your family. You can be more present, and there’s no greater benefit than that.”
And what about Dealsuite? How does our platform support Sameer’s positive outlook for virtual dealmaking? “Dealsuite gives us access. Immense access. For example, with Dealsuite, in minutes, I can contact hundreds of advisors sitting across the UK and Europe, and see teasers for deals that they are bringing to market. I can filter by region, size, focus, or whatever I want. Then I connect with one or all of them in seconds. To do that in person would take months. Literally. It’s brilliant. Dealsuite is time-saving on steroids!”
So where does Sameer see the future of virtual dealmaking? Truly virtual? A hybrid? “There will always be a place for in-person meetings. Larger firms with younger employees still need offices. That’s still a culture at, say, investment banks, and it’s not going away. Virtual doesn’t work perfectly for everybody yet, and I think lots of organisations are working out a balance to suit them, and it’s interesting to see a bank like Investec now asking staff to only come into the office three days per week. Given the tools available, the wider culture is now in a place where employees should be able to decide. And my decision, knowing what I now know after the last few years of completing deals virtually, is that I choose time with my family, prioritising my health and fitness, whilst working in a flexible environment, wherever in the world. That’s my choice, and I think it shows the level of trust I now have in virtual dealmaking, virtual networks, and the virtual tools I use every day. I just hope the technology continues to evolve, making that decision an even more obvious one.”