In 2015 when Kevin McArdle was reassessing life from 360 degrees — career, location, family, etc. — he would put all of his options on the table.
As a former VP at enterprise healthcare giant Cerner, the Kansas City native was educated, experienced, and connected; he describes having no less than four legitimate opportunities on his plate at the time.
And he opted for the riskiest of them all by getting into the business of buying tech companies.
“On July 4, 2015, I declared my independence from corporate America and formed SureSwift Capital,” he proclaims with a tone of liberation.
Living in Victoria, British Columbia at that time, McArdle was partial to Minnesota as a place to be through marriage to wife Kristin from Victoria, Minnesota.
Eventually,the McArdle family would land in Edina where he’s been running SureSwift from since the latter half of 2017.
“Not sure if I’m a Minnesotan yet, depending on when you get the membership card, but I feel at home here.”
Over the course of the past 2-3 years, with his wife by his side, a silent partner, and 60 person remote team, SureSwift has amassed a collection of 28 technology companies under management.
“Our companies are very distributed he says,” as is his own virtual model, though there’s plans forming to establish a cluster of people here in Minneapolis (hence the hiring: Product Manager + Software Architect).
SureSwift is focused on the small side of business buys, such as content businesses, SaaS, and subscription/membership based commerce companies. He declined to cite any specific companies by name, but did describe quite the geographical diversity, with many countries represented.
“The tools and the mentality exist for anyone across the globe to start, grow, and sell their company,” these days, he says, which is part of the SureSwift philosophy: it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are, so long as the company is profitable and customers are happy…I’m interested.
“People tend to assume that we are VCs…but really in almost every case, we purchase 100% of the company and operate it going forward,” he explains. “Usually the founder/seller is involved for a set period of time (earnout) during the transition…and they often times stay on board with as an advisor to the broader portfolio.”
McArdle doesn’t cling to any set criteria when it comes to an ideal candidate for purchase, but elaborates on what might be the sweet spot: founder owned/operated, small/virtual team, bootstrapped, and $200k – $2m in annual profit.
He’s clear to separate SureSwift from a “fund” due to the fact of no fixed amount of capital sitting an account with a given period of time to deploy it; rather he likens what SureSwift does as closer to private equity, though on a smaller scale it’s like a niche holding company.
“We simply buy profitable companies, combine certain elements that create efficiencies, and increase cash flows…repeat. Any business we buy with the expectation that it will grow. We do have a buy and hold mentality, but it’s not a religion, we may resell.”
While SureSwift doesn’t yet claim any Minnesota born businesses within the portfolio, his sense is that’s likely to change now that he’s in town.
“It’s exciting for me to be here in Minnesota as I start understanding more about the local tech industry.”