The FORT Podcast: Michael Arrieta – Founder of Garden City – Buying & Growing Great Companies with Permanent Capital

Michael currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Garden City, a purpose-driven holding company that buys, grows, and permanently holds family-owned companies. Once acquired, Garden City seeks to grow them through culture, technology, and sales.

Most recently, Michael was an early employee & executive at DocuSign, serving as Global Vice President, General Manager, and Chief of Staff to the CEO. DocuSign has now achieved a $30B market cap with 5,000 employees. In 2016, he founded MAV Ventures, a venture capital group that has invested in over 100+ companies and multiple funds. Michael also co-founded New Story, a non-profit that has built 2,000+  homes in developing countries and is recognized for creating the world’s first-ever 3D Home Printer.

He graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management, and he lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children. Mike is a follower of Jesus and seeks to honor God in everything he does.

On this episode, Chris and Mike discuss:

  • His story and how he learned to be world-class at sales. (He was the #1 CutCo Knife salesman in the US)
  • How Garden City values and ultimately transacts on businesses.
  • How Garden City creates value for the companies they acquire.
  • Why he chose a permanent capital structure.

Listen on:
Apple Podcasts

(2:10) – Michael’s career and background

(4:51) – What did you do that made you the top Knife salesman in the country?

(9:45) – What can get someone to believe in their product or company?

(12:46) – What does a Chief of Staff do?

(16:58) – Why do you have an affinity for boring SMB’s?

(19:50) – What led you to the realization that you wanted to start acquiring businesses?

(23:30) – What are you tangibly doing to make people the focus of the businesses you buy?

(29:21) – What’s your filter for red flags in businesses you look at acquiring?

(32:19) – In what capacity do you want the previous owner involved after an acquisition?

(33:49) – What do the first 90 days look like post-acquisition?

(37:11)  – How do you find the line between letting the business run and being very hands on as owners?

(40:20) – When an owner doesn’t stay on, how quickly do you have to get on with replacing the CEO?

(43:06) – What are most of these SMB’s lacking generally from a technology standpoint?

(46:17) – How do you find someone who is going to be really accountable for making sure tech is adopted?

(48:50) – How do you approach Sales training?

(53:45) – Why did you choose to pursue Permanent Capital?

(57:01) – How do you think about the platform of being able to help people when you’re a business owner?

(1:00:58) – Is it possible to instill this mindset in an already existing business?

(1:02:33) – How does Permanent Capital work?

(1:04:46) – How do you think about cash flowing out of the businesses you own?

(1:07:06) – Do you have an example of a Christian Business owner who is killing it in both their career and their faith?

Sacred Pace by Terry Looper:

(1:10:17) – Why did you consciously decide to slow down? What have been the consequences of that decision?

Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder:

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer:

The Fort is produced by Johnny Podcasts

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