Need To Meet… Burt Alimansky, Chairman, The Capital Roundtable; Managing Director, Alimansky & Bethell Group

Burt Alimansky is a self-admitted “conference junky.” But something irked him about the events he attended early in his career.

“They were often epic events, lasting two or three days and having hour or two-hour presentations on a variety of topics,” Alimansky recalled. “Some of the topics would be of value and interest to some of the people, but not all of the topics would be of value and interest to all of the people.”

The long-time entrepreneur decided to address the problem on his own by founding The Capital Roundtable, a New York-based conference company that produces about 25 day-long, private equity-focused events per year. Each multi-panell conference, branded as a MasterClass, is focused on a single, tight-knit theme—such as health-care investing in an age of reform or raising money from institutional investors in 2010—and usually attracts 50 to 70 attendees.

Through The Capital Roundtable, Alimansky has build countless relationships with the likes of Leonard Harlan, chairman of Castle Harlan’s executive committee; Robert Landis, a partner at The Riverside Company; and David Turner, head of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America’s private equity investment initiative.

While some MasterClass event topics, such as one on mezzanine investments, tend to be repeated every year, others evolve with the market. It’s not uncommon for conference attendees—60 percent of which are general partners or limited partners—to suggest ideas for future conferences. For example, at a MasterClass on investing in media companies, Elizabeth Granville-Smith, a managing director at Boston Ventures who was speaking on one of the panels, suggested holding a conference on investment opportunities in the growing education market. About three months later, 80 people were sitting in the audience of an education-focused MasterClass, Alimansky said. Similar is the story behind the genesis of the MasterClasses dealing with independent, or fundless, equity sponsors, he added.

Alimansky graduated from Harvard Business School, and gravitated toward the world of private capital. In 1985, he formed Alimansky Capital Group (now Alimansky & Bethell Group), a provider of intermediary services to mid-market and emerging companies.

About 10 years after that, he launched the predecessor to what today is The Capital Roundtable. The forerunner business was heavily oriented toward the venture market and benefited greatly from dot-com exuberance. When the bubble burst, that model was wound down and a retooled version of the company emerged in 2002 with a focus on the needs of mid-market GPs and LPs. For Alimansky’s purposes, the middle market is defined as firms with assets of $1 billion or less.

“This is by far the largest part of the private equity spectrum both in terms of capital at work and number of people,” said Alimansky, whose firm has compiled a marketing list of 70,000 names.