Trailmaker customer Sponsor Capital aims for continuous improvement

Sponsor Capital is a Finnish private equity investment house that acquires majority stakes in small and mid-size Finnish enterprises. Trailmaker has typically helped in the development of Sponsor Capital’s portfolio companies, but this year the buyout firm turned to Trailmaker to improve its own strategy execution.

Sponsor Capital operates in the buyout sector and invests in SMEs with turnovers of 15–150 million euros. Portfolio companies have stable market positions and positive and predictable cash flows, alongside interesting growth and development potential. Sponsor Capital launched its latest fund, Sponsor V, in early 2021 with 200 million euros in equity.

Sponsor Capital are “generalists”, says Managing Partner Juhani Kalliovaara. “We don’t have restrictions in terms of sectors, so portfolio companies can range from meat manufacturers to debt collecting agencies. But the core of our philosophy is that portfolio companies have a strong link to Finland, such as headquarters or top management here.”


Market changes sees Sponsor Capital renew strategic focus

“Our strength is that we are an active owner, with a low hierarchy. We have a long heritage and experience across a wide range of industries,” he says. “The same players have led in the lower mid-market segment for the last ten years and we’ve been around for twenty five years with our current structure.”

According to Kalliovaara, the private equity market in Finland is mature and competitive, but “new business models and technology are bringing opportunities and challenges.”

“This year we reviewed how we acquire SMEs and develop their operations, and how to improve our internal processes related to these activities.”


Common view about future reached by management team

Sponsor Capital brought in Trailmaker for the review – which marked a historic break from using the Trailmaker process just for portfolio companies, says Kalliovaara. Working with Trailmaker, the Sponsor Capital management team was able to reach a common view about “what needed to be improved and what needed to be kept and safeguarded.” 

“We are smaller than our portfolio companies, but it’s just as important to align on strategy execution,” says Kalliovaara. “We have similar needs and struggles, and because we’ve seen the Trailmaker process work we used it for ourselves. Companies have strategy in place, but how to execute and maintain continuous visibility is difficult. Trailmaker is an excellent tool for that and it has saved the management team valuable time.”

TRAILMAKER is a concept for faster strategy execution:

• Concrete common view and commitment

• Identified capability needs

• Visibility