Callum Laing teaches us how Agglomeration can solve problems related to equity in small businesses and why collaborative IPOs give small business owners a competitive advantage against big businesses.
Today’s guest, Callum Laing, has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is a partner in the Private Equity firm Unity-Group, co-founder and Director of The Marketing Group PLC, a Director of the Key Person of Influence program in Asia, and an author of two books.
Callum wrote Progressive Partnerships: The Future of Business, a widely acclaimed book identifying the evolution of business from competition to collaboration, and his new book is Agglomerate: From Idea to IPO in 12 months, which is co-authored with his business partner Jeremy Harbour.
We’re going to learn about the concept of Agglomeration developed by Callum and his business partner Jeremy Harbour, how the first collaborative IPO launched by Unity-Group is achieving rapid growth, and how Callum envisions Agglomerations helping small businesses grow in the future.
- 1:45 – “Basically nobody would give me a job so I kept creating businesses.”
- 8:00 – At Unity-Group, Callum and his partners are trying to level the playing field between small businesses and big businesses. They help small business owners maximize shareholder value through private equity, mergers & acquisitions, and comprehensive training.
- 9:00 – “The only way to grow from that 20-person business to that 100-person business is, typically, to get investment or financing of some sort. While the world is obsessed with startups at the moment, nobody is really supporting small businesses.”
- 11:50 – Big businesses have a lot of advantages in the marketplace.
- More access to a lot of capital
- Easier to attract talented staff
- Big companies like working with big companies
- 13:30 – The solution that Unity-Group developed is Agglomeration – basically a publicly-listed vehicle specifically for the purpose of helping small businesses. In effect what happens is a small business swaps their private stock for public stock, and then continues to run their business in the same way they did before.
- 16:30 – “We believe that the best people to be running a small business are the founders and their senior team.”
- 17:20 – How does the scale work in the agglomeration process?
- 21:00 – The Marketing Group PLC is the first collaborative IPO launched using Agglomeration. It was listed on the European NASDAQ with four companies, and every month since then they have added four or five more companies to the group. There are now 19 successful, debt-free, multi-million dollar companies in the group. Their goal is to grow to 30 companies by Christmas and 50 companies by their first anniversary.
- “There’s huge opportunities to collaborate within the group, but the distinction is that they don’t have to.”
- 22:00 – Callum’s first book, Progressive Partnerships, explores the idea that small businesses are moving from an era of competition into an era of collaboration.
- 31:10 – Unity-Group has another 5 or 6 IPOs lined up for the next 6 to 12 months covering everything from education to tech to finance to health to HR. “Basically anywhere you’ve got a fragmented marketplace.”
- 31:50 – How does Unity-Group make money?
- 33:15 – Callum’s most recent book, Agglomerate, outlines every challenge they went through, how the deals are structured, and how the incentives work. He hopes that entrepreneurial communities pick it up and create their own agglomerations.
This episode is brought to you by Audible.com
The Go and Grow Podcast is supported by Audible.com.
You love listening to great content. So why not listen to your next book, instead of reading it?
Audible.com has over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, or tablet.
Get your free audiobook download and free 30-day trial now at audibletrial.com/goandgrow.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- The Marketing Group PLC
- Key Person of Influence
- “Stop calling yourself a startup…” video by Callum Laing
- Progressive Partnerships: The Future of Business (affiliate link)
- Agglomerate: From Idea to IPO in 12 months (affiliate link)
- Billionaire: The Life and Times of Sir James Goldsmith by Ivan Fallon (affiliate link)
Answers to Quickfire Q&A:
- If you could chat with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
- Sir Stamford Raffles, the Founder of Singapore.
- Name a tool, app, or website that you can’t live without and why.
- Google. “My entire world is in the Google app suite.”
- Tell us something unique and interesting about you that not many may know.
- He plays five-a-side football (soccer) every Saturday morning
- What is your favorite business book and why?
- What is the top characteristic or trait that you look for in people you work with?
- GSD – Getting Sh*t Done.
- What is something you believe, but few others agree with you?
- While the rest of the world seems to be obsessed with startups and that space, Callum wrote an article about why you should stop calling yourself a startup.
How to contact Callum:
You can reach out to Callum on LinkedIn or Twitter, and you can find out more about him on his website. Callum will be in New York in November if any East Coast listeners want to get in touch with him while he is in the U.S.
Thanks for listening!
We appreciate you spending your valuable time with us!
If you enjoyed this episode, and we hope you did, please share it using the social media buttons to the left.
Also, please leave a rating and review on iTunes and Stitcher. It will help others like you discover the show more easily, and we’d be really grateful! If you’re not sure how to submit a rating and review on iTunes, check out this blog post for instructions.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them in the Comments section below or email me.
Thanks again for listening and now go and grow your business!