Meet Luke Bushman, an M&A professional at ASG who sources, evaluates and executes investment opportunities.
Luke received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Business Analytics at the University of Cincinnati. Luke previously worked at Alpine Investors and The Pohlad Companies, where he learned the ins and outs of the financial sector.
After 3 years at ASG, we sat down with Luke to hear about his experiences working at ASG, and some advice he has for those entering the workforce.
How did you decide to join the M&A team here at ASG?
I always knew I wanted to be involved in the realm of investing in and building businesses. I admire entrepreneurship and have enormous respect for individuals and organizations that promote growth in private markets. When I was a freshman at the University of Cincinnati, I began to explore potential opportunities for exposure to the world of investing. Through a combination of luck, coincidence, and perseverance, I stumbled upon Alpine Investors through a personal connection in Ohio. I ended up spending my summer that year in San Francisco, working with the Alpine team on sourcing bootstrapped software businesses. During this time, I was lucky enough to have Jake Brodsky as my direct manager. Through my work with Jake directly and the Alpine team more broadly, I knew this was a culture I wanted to stay involved with. Fortunately for me (and many SaaS founders), this was the exact time that Jake, Mark, and Billy were forming a new group called ASG. When Jake asked me to return the following year as an intern for ASG, I couldn't have been more excited.
As I continued through college, the line between student and professional became somewhat blurred. Every other semester I was out in California working with the growing ASG team. I officially joined the team full time a little over a year and a half ago, but have been part of the team unofficially for much longer. The empowering, dynamic, and exciting culture at ASG led me to join the team initially and has kept me around for the past four years.
What have been some of the biggest learnings and challenges in your professional development, how did you overcome them?
I’ve learned a lot through my time at ASG, but three things in particular stand out:
Think long-term: One of the biggest challenges that I faced early on in my time with ASG was transitioning from short-term to long-term thinking and decision making. Throughout college, I was always focused on one semester at a time, one internship at a time, one exam at a time, etc. While I would consider myself a fairly forward-thinking person, it is easy to have a myopic approach to getting tasks done. However, the more time I spent with ASG, the more I began to appreciate the benefits of a long-term orientation. Despite oftentimes being harder in the short-run, thinking about decisions with a long-term view yields better, more sustainable results. ASG takes this concept to heart by focusing on creating long-term value for all businesses that we work with, and I’ve seen myself begin to change the way I approach everyday decisions.
Act like an owner: I learned very quickly that “I’m just an intern” didn’t mean anything at ASG. Everyone is treated like their opinion matters, because it does. Being asked your opinion isn’t something to placate your ego, it’s a genuine factor in every decision that is being made. One of the reasons that I think ASG is such a good culture fit with most of the entrepreneurial businesses we work with is because we have an entrepreneurial culture internally: one that values every employee as an owner in the business. Recognizing this, I learned to think critically about every stance I took and have a very well-founded opinion when asked. Despite being an associate, I aim to act like an owner.
Leverage your team: I once got the advice “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” I think there is a lot of wisdom in this, and I am sure that I’m not the smartest one in the room at ASG. Having a highly intelligent, driven, and collaborative team around me was something that I’ve taken for granted in the past. As I encountered challenges early in my career, I realized that relying on my team was the only way to win. ASG is an environment where the “better together” concept is at play in a number of ways. Not only do we function as a highly collaborative team internally, but the concept also goes directly to the heart of ASG’s strategy. By creating an ecosystem of highly adept businesses, we are able to create value in our companies by sharing resources, recognizing synergies, and leveraging learnings across the board.
What have you enjoyed most about the type of work you do on the M&A team here at ASG?
I have the privilege of interacting with founders every day. I have immense admiration for anyone who starts a business and find it extremely rewarding to play a small part in helping guide businesses to the next level. The work itself is challenging, dynamic, and interesting. Rarely do I go a day without learning something new about a market, business model, or operating strategy. All the while, I truly believe that ASG is making a real difference in the markets we serve. With software often as the backbone of businesses, the success of ASG has a tangible impact on the users of our products.
Do you have any advice for those pursuing an M&A role in the investment space?
Say “yes” to opportunities. When you are young and pursuing ambitions, you will be afforded a lot of opportunities. Don’t be afraid to take risks, do something out of the ordinary, or speak with someone intimidating. There is no better time to make a mistake than early on, and these are often more valuable than your successes. Embrace the idea of trying to push yourself to do things that seem uncomfortable: saying yes to joining a new organization, networking within a community, or taking an extra class in something you’re interested in.
Never stop learning. After I graduated from college, I had the ill-founded idea that my learning days were over. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Continuous improvement is another value that I learned from the ASG community early on and it really hit home for me. Whether this is in a personal or professional context, the drive to learn and improve yourself is paramount in finding success. Don’t settle for the easy way or take shortcuts. Try to learn as much as you can when you have the opportunity.
Value your thoughts. Don’t think that just because you are a young person your opinion doesn’t have value. Make sure that you share educated and well thought out opinions, but take yourself seriously so that others do too.