Since we launched The Combine, the most popular page on our website is the “Team” page. That makes sense, because in any early stage venture, you’re betting on the jockey, not the horse. It’s our team that our clients will trust with their intellectual property and their capital. For those reasons, we are going a bit deeper in introducing our team. First up is Brian Ottaviano.
I wanted to have a greater impact than what I was able to do at a Big Four.
That’s why Brian Ottaviano joined The Combine in September 2016, and he now manages all finance and business operations for The Combine and our portfolio companies. Brian’s 16 years at EY offered him the opportunity to work directly with global brands on multi-billion dollar valuations and transactions. Brian brings all those years of experience in client relationships to our clients at The Combine.
Q&A With Brian Ottaviano
We interviewed Brian to get his perspective on how his Big Four experience brings value to The Combine and our corporate clients.
Q: We build startups for our corporate clients. How do you fit into that process when you’ve never worked for a startup?
A. In my 16 years at EY, I learned to think critically about every situation, good or bad. I saw any number of problems that forced me to develop a skill set that applies to any business challenge, whether it’s a startup or a Fortune 100 client. So far, I have found it very easy to adapt to the startup lifestyle. It was never a one-size-fits-all approach at EY and that ability to pivot your thought process to match your client’s needs is a very transferable skill.
Q. What specifically did you do at EY that prepared you for what you do for The Combine’s clients?
A. I opened our Mid-Atlantic office, and built a regional team to focus on tangible asset valuation. We started with just me, and when I left to join The Combine, we had a thriving practice of core services and we were launching new service offerings to meet market needs/gaps/deficiencies in operational diligence. For every portfolio company at The Combine, we’re building a new team, solving a multitude of problems, some of which can be foreseen, but most of which are new because we’re breaking so much new ground.
Q. What specific skill of yours do you think will benefit The Combine’s portfolio companies and clients the most?
A. Valuation. I led the valuation team on transactions like the Dow-DuPont merger (>$100B) and the Family Dollar / Dollar Tree ($9B) merger. Finding and understanding where the value in any business really is will enable us to position our portfolio companies better from the beginning and maximize their value in a liquidity event.
Q. How does your experience bring value to The Combine’s clients during the startup stages?
A. At any given time in those 16 years, I was managing 10-13 clients ranging from $100M companies to Fortune 50 clients, each with multiple project types and values. It was all over the board, which is exactly how it is at The Combine. No two of our portfolio companies are the same, but we ultimately work for our corporate clients, which is where I am most comfortable.
Q. What’s your Super Power?
A. I am good at dealing with difficult, high pressure situations in which nobody knows the answer, and figuring it out. I solve the big, complex problems.
Everything Can Be Assigned Value
Brian lives in Monroe, GA, with his wife of nearly 7 years and their 3 dogs. Brian’s financial valuation skills are so encompassing that he successfully assigned a financial value to Shamu. Yes, that Shamu.