Need to Meet: Brandon Labrum, Founder and CEO, Fund Lab

  • Ran business development at Sterling Partners
  • PR firm targets trade publications and industry owners/operators
  • Believes touting most recent transaction is the best way to drum up deal flow

Fund Lab is really born out of my personal experience in the private equity space,” said Brandon Labrum, formerly of Sterling Partners. “Most PR firms aren’t necessarily built to serve the needs of investment funds. They don’t know the space well enough to provide targeted media activities.”

During three years leading business development at Sterling, Labrum realized how much PE has proliferated in the past decade: “Now you have thousands and thousands of firms,” with an industry presence in “every decent-sized city around the country. Historically, those firms have underinvested in branding and marketing.” But with competition fierce for deal flow and LP dollars, “firms have started to spend more money on how they look and how they sound and, lately, what news and stories they share with the marketplace.”

That last topic is of greatest interest to Labrum, who says “the most underutilized assets in that world are your most recently completed transactions.” Firms “often get the deal done and move on and start searching for the next one,” when there’s still juice to be squeezed, publicity-wise, from the last transaction, he said. And touting success can lead to deal flow down the line.

Labrum said a typical PR firm types up a press release, sends it over the wires and crosses its fingers that somebody will pick it up. More effective is focusing “on communicating to your network [and] the industry vertical where you completed the deal.”

Toward that end, Fund Lab offers tailored e-mail blasts directed at relevant outlets, such as M&A trade publications, and connects to clients’ CRMs to get the word out within specific industries. For a given transaction, “We go deep into that vertical to make sure owners and operators see the deal.”

The firm also takes a different approach to billing, offering services on a per-transaction basis, instead of a bucket of services under a monthly retainer. Clients can allocate the cost of transaction marketing against their due-diligence budgets, rather than as a GP expense at the fund level, saving some management fees.

“The biggest pain point in the M&A industry in general has been and will continue to be deal flow,” said Labrum. Firms are trying exotic solutions, like hiring data-mining consultants, when they could be exploiting something that’s already theirs, “this piece of news that they’re not doing anything with. There are hundreds of deals that happen every year and go completely unnoticed in the marketplace.”

Brandon Labrum, Founder and CEO, Fund Lab. Photo courtesy of the firm.

Phone: +1 312-971-8710