Hum-an Stories: Q&A with Head of Strategic Capital John Slater
This interview is part of Hum-an Stories, a Q&A series with Hum Capital leadership providing a look under the hood at what drives Hum and its funding platform, the Intelligent Capital Market.
John Slater has over 20 years of investing, deal sourcing, and diligence experience. At Hum, he is the company’s Head of Strategic Capital where he focuses on providing creative, non-dilutive capital solutions to private companies.
John’s experience ranges from private credit to private and public equity as both an investor and operating partner or board member. He has made investments in many industries including SaaS, e-commerce, and business services and has managed capital or invested at brand name investment institutions such as Paulson & Co, Lehman Brothers, and GPI Capital.
In this Q&A, John discusses his investment career, why he joined Hum, and what success will look like for Hum at the end of this year.
Q: What drew you to lending and investing and why have you decided to focus your career in this space?
I’ve had a pretty varied career for an investor. I started as a consulting engineer and strategy consultant working with companies to improve operations in the UK and US. Part of the role was working with their private equity investors to assess opportunities. I’ve also worked company-side in the finance group of a software company and shipping company, so I know what it’s like in the CFO seat.
As an investor, I’ve always liked to work with management teams to create value. A lot of that comes from the provision of the right capital and a partnership approach. I enjoy the process of analyzing an opportunity, structuring a solution that works for company and investor, and helping entrepreneurs and leaders succeed.
Q: You have worked at established financial institutions and credit funds. What drove you to join Hum who is aiming to reinvent the traditional fundraising process?
Over time I developed a reputation for really creative financing solutions…finding a way to safely underwrite credit (and equity) investments in companies as diverse as declining yellow pages businesses to rapidly growing but unprofitable Amazon resellers. It’s usually an analytical matter of understanding what parts of a company’s business have value (inventory, recurring revenues, subscriber bases) and crafting a way to get comfortable lending against that. Hum specializes in smaller growth companies which are not historical candidates for debt financing. This fits my wheelhouse exactly and at Hum we’ve done a really good job of opening up this market.
Q: What drives investors and startups to use Hum’s platform?
Focusing on the private capital markets, we have completely re-invented the processes of origination, data provision, and analytics. There’s plenty more to come, but we’re using technology to help solve what was a very manual problem. For investors, they can get private market origination, data, and analytics with a couple of clicks or we can offer fully managed investment programs and yield structures. For companies, we can make the capital raising process faster and more likely to succeed, matching them with the right investors that understand the profile of their business. But it doesn’t stop there: we are set up to continue our relationship with these companies to help them with their future financing needs.
Q: What are some of Hum’s greatest strengths and greatest areas of opportunity?
One of our greatest strengths is our origination engine: through this we’ve seen some incredible companies that haven’t had the business profile, network, or connections to access the right capital themselves. Businesses such as P97 Networks and Ideal Agent are two really exciting businesses that have received financing via our Intelligent Capital Market platform. Our opportunity is to get capital to more companies, quicker – a problem we are solving with technology.
Q: Fast forward to December 2022. What will success look like for Hum?
I think success will be if we can provide a capital offer, or the steps they need to get that, to the vast majority of companies on our platform. Also success is providing a diverse set of investors with a steady flow of opportunity that provides good yields in the context of today’s low-return public-market financial environment.