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PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTING in Education-Focused Companies

Wed, Jan 22 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

How Successful Investors Spot Rewarding Trends in the Education Industry

Private Equity Investing
In Education-Focused Companies


Bain Capital Double Impact Fund’s acquisition of Penn Foster — and its subsequent add-on of Ashworth College — is a classic example of how a private equity firm can successfully capitalize on multiple rewarding trends —

  • online learning
  • middle-skills training
  • counter-cyclical investment
  • roll-ups to add value
  • and impact investing

But Bain’s deal is also an investment that keeps in focus two critical long-term fundamentals in the education industry — costs and outcomes.

  • Costs — Neither Penn Foster nor Ashworth accepts Title IV funding, and both say this enables them to keep the costs of their educations affordable to students. In fact, Ashworth lists its cost per tuition hour at only $64 — one-seventh the fees charged by one of its notable competitors
  • Outcomes — And while both schools have faced issues with outcomes over the years, these appear to have improved because of the two education companies’ unrelenting focus on them. For instance, Bain says an astonishing 60% of Penn Foster’s students report higher pay after graduation.

Hotly favored areas of investment in education come and go (remember MOOCs and coding schools?), but the twin fundamentals of costs and outcomes remain constant, or, if anything, have actually increased in importance!

Burgeoning investor interest in all the subsectors of education – childcare/early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, corporate training, edtech, and education services — is being driven by numerous factors –

  • Private sector education’s size and expected growth — according to one report, it’s expected to grow at more than 4.5% between 2018 and 2026. Another report pegs growth in U.S. private sector education revenue at 3.2% a year over the next five years. Factors driving continued growth include recognition of the importance of both early childhood learning and lifelong learning, and the application of new technologies to education.
  • Education is recession-resistant. Many education subsectors do well in a downturn. For instance, research shows that college attendance has increased in every recession since the 1960s. However, investors are becoming more discriminating among subsectors. There’s evidence,  for instance, that corporations invest less in career training during downturns.
  • Continued technology-enabled disruption. As universities continue to look for partners to launch online offerings, some K-12 education services shift online, and new technologies require job training and retraining, so edtech funding remains strong. According to EdSurge, edtech companies raised $962 million across 65 deals in the first half of 2019, the most since at least 2015.
  • Evolving education & training needs by businesses and consumers

Chaired by

Robert Puopolo, Epic Partners

Robert Puopolo

Epic Partners


Wednesday January 22, 2020

8:00 – 5:00


Midtown, Manhattan


Drinker Biddle
EY Parthenon Logo

Marketing Partners

Register now to gain valuable insights as our 20+ experts assess the outlook for the education industry when you attend The Capital Roundtable’s all-day conference on Private Equity Investing in Education-Focused Companies on Wednesday, January 22, in New York City.

Key Reasons to Attend

Three Key Reasons Why You Should Join Us


  1. Understand how each sector is facing the two fundamentals — costs and outcomes.
  2. Hear from experts about the regulatory outlook
  3. Get insight on the biggest opportunities for technology-aided disruption
Key Points Being Covered
  • Which subsectors have the most attractive valuations
  • Which subsectors are downturn-resistant
  • How to add value in roll-ups
  • How to partner with impact investors
  • How to better measure educational outcomes, from pre-K to jobs training
  • The status of Department of Education approvals for higher education M&A
  • The outlook for Every Student Succeeds and the Higher Education Act
  • The outlook for exits, from IPOs to secondary buyouts
  • The most likely strategic buyers in each segment
  • The outlook for personalized learning
  • The growth of blended learning (combination bricks-and-mortar/online education)
  • Key headline risks and how to minimize them
  • How jobs training is evolving and how to partner with corporations
  • The future of educational publishing after the merger of Cengage Learning and McGraw Hill
Chairperson Info

Robert Puopolo brings to our team of speakers over 35 years of education, private equity, and investment banking experience. He is a partner at Epic Partners, one of the longest standing PE firms focused exclusively on education and training related businesses.  He helped originate Epic Partners’ investments in St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine and Oasis Children’s Services.

Before co-founding Epic Partners, Puopolo was a partner at Leeds Equity Partners, one of the largest private equity firms focused on companies involved in education and training.  Before joining Leeds, Puopolo spent 18 years in the M&A and corporate finance departments of Oppenheimer & Co., Bear Stearns, and Kidder Peabody, and was a managing director and head of the M&A group at Oppenheimer. Puopolo holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an AB in economics from Harvard College

Recent PE Deals

Recent Middle-Market Education Deals

  • Thoma Bravo-backed Frontline Education agreed to buy Perennial EdTech, a Roseville, Calif.-based edtech company, from Alpine Investors.
  • Spire Capital Partners portfolio company Surgent acquired PharmCon, a Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based provider of continuing education to pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.
  • Quad Partners agreed to invest in Nashville-based The Gardner School, a network of academically-focused preschools across the U.S.
  • Leeds Equity Partners made a platform investment in VitalSmarts, a provider of communication, execution and leadership development training.
  • Veritas Capital-backed Cambium Learning agreed to buy the online K-12 test division of American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research nonprofit.
  • Summit Partners-backed Teaching Strategies purchased ReadyRosie, an early education tool that helps schools deepen and scale their family engagement efforts.
  • Silversmith Capital Partners-backed Absorb Software, based in Calgary, bought Tampa-based eLogic Learning. Both companies provide learning management systems used by education, nonprofit and corporate institutions.
  • LLR Partners-backed Edlio, a provider of community engagement solutions for K-12 schools and districts, acquired OSMS, a provider of online payments and school receipting.
Who We Are

This Capital Roundtable conference in midtown, New York City, is all-business, all-targeted, all-designed to be a completely focused day of practical information and revealing insights about education companies. You’ll gain valuable insights from —

  • Three informative panel discussions
  • Two revealing keynote presentations
  • Real-world perspectives from education company investors
  • Industry outlooks from noted sector experts
  • War stories and lessons learned from experienced hands

Chaired by
  • Robert Puopolo, Partner, Epic Partners
Hosted by
  • Burt AlimanskyChairman & CEO, The Capital Roundtable
Preliminary Speaker List
  • Daniel M. Alfe, Managing Director, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.
  • Don Burton, Managing Partner, LearnStart
  • William J. Dyer, General Partner, Boathouse Capital
  • Alexander Hicks, Director, MHT Partners LP
  • Yash Kandoi, Director, Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC
  • John Katzman, Chief Executive Officer, Noodle Companies LLC
  • Rob Kingyens, Founder & CEO,
  • Scott Kirkpatrick, Chief Executive Officer, BrainPOP
  • William R. Loesch, Principal, Goldberg Kohn Ltd.
  • Robert Lytle, Managing Dir. & Global Head–Education, EY-Parthenon
  • Scott Marden, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, CIP Capital
  • The Honorable Luke Messer, Former Member of Congress
  • David Mohr, Managing Director, Azure Creek Capital Partners
  • Adnan A. Nisar, Partner, Vistria Group LP
  • Chris Ross, Managing Director, EY-Parthenon
  • James A. Rowan, Partner, Parchman Vaughan & Co. LLC
  • Lawrence Shagrin, Partner, Millpond Equity Partners LLC
  • Noah Sudow, Senior Vice President, Whiteboard Advisors
  • Jonathan D. Tarnow, Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

*Agenda subject to change

7:30am – 8:30am

Networking & Registration & Breakfast

8:30am – 9:00am

Welcoming Remarks & Audience Self-Introductions

  • Burt Alimansky, The Capital Roundtable
9:00am – 9:30am

Conference Chairman’s Introduction —

  • Robert Puopolo, Epic Partners

9:30am – 10:00am
Introductory Keynote —

  • Rob Lytle, EY-Parthenon

10:00am – 10:45am
Morning Interview —

  • Rob Lytle, EY-Parthenon interviewing John Katzman, Noodle Companies LLC

10:45am – 11:30am

Networking & Coffee

11:30am – 12:30pm
First Panel —
Data Analytics & Student Retention – What’s New in Improving Education Outcomes

Moderator: Daniel M. Alfe, Robert W. Baird & Co.


  • Don Burton, LearnStart
  • Bill Dyer, Boathouse Capital
  • Alexander Hicks, MHT Partners LP
12:30pm – 1:30pm

Networking & Luncheon

1:30pm – 2:15pm

Afternoon Conversation —
Next Year’s Regulatory Outlook — From Charter Schools to For-Profit Colleges

Moderator: Jonathan D. Tarnow, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


  • The Honorable Luke Messer, Former Member of Congress
  • Noah Sudow, Whiteboard Advisors

2:15pm – 3:15pm
Second Panel —
The Direct-to-Consumer Education Model –- How to Invest Successfully in This Trend

Moderator:  Chris Ross, EY-Parthenon


  • Yash Kandoi, Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC
  • Rob Kingyens, Yellowbrick
  • Scott Kirkpatrick, BrainPOP
  • Adnan A. Nisar, Vistria Group LP
3:15pm – 3:30pm

Networking & Dessert

3:30pm – 4:30pm

Third Panel —
Is the Education Industry Really Countercyclical? If Not, Which of Its Subsectors Are Recession-Resistant ?

Moderator:  William R. Loesch, Goldberg Kohn Ltd.


  • Scott Marden, CIP Capital
  • David Mohr, Azure Creek Capital Partners
  • James A. Rowan, Parchman Vaughan & Co. LLC
  • Lawrence I. Shagrin, Millpond Equity Partners LLC

Networking & Adjournment

Space at this conference is limited, so register as soon as possible to assure yourself a seat. To avoid disappointment, please contact Chris Agar today to confirm your attendance at 212-832-7300 ext. 0 or

Please note that The Capital Roundtable limits the number of registrants from a single firm to three.

Best Rate – Early Registration

Save $300 off the standard fee of $1,495 when you register by Friday, December 6. Just $1,195.

Incentive Registration

Save $200 of the standard fee! Register by Friday, December 27, and the fee for the conference is $1,295.

Conference Rate

$1,495 increasing to $1,595 day of conference, space permitting.

Group Rate

$1095 each until Friday, December 27, when you register two or more people to attend from the same company . This rate increases to $1295 each after Friday, December 27.

You can pay by credit card (using the links above or below) or by check. Mail your check and business card to: New York Business Roundtable Inc., 747 Third Avenue, Suite 200, New York, NY 10017.

This event is sponsored by:

Marquee Sponsors:

Drinker Biddle
EY Parthenon Logo

Contributing Sponsor:

Data Partners:

Marketing Partner:

Alpha Leonis Partners

Arcady Bay Partners

Argosy Private Equity

Arizona College of Nursing

BMO Capital Markets Cadence Education

Cain Brothers

Carl Marks Advisors


CIP Capital

Cobbs Allen

College of Health Care Professions

Credit Suisse Group

Drinker Biddle & Reath

Duane Morris

EagleTree Capital


Enrollment Resources


Firstrust Bank

Frontline Education

Goldberg Kohn

Halladay Education Group

HCP Ed Holdings

Hogan Lovells

Institute of Culinary Education


Knowledge Leaders Group

Lazard Middle Market

Learn Capital

Lincoln International

LLR Partners

Longhouse Partners

Marblegate Asset Management

McKinsey & Co.

Oaklins DeSilva & Phillips

Oliver Wyman

Palm Ventures


Parchman Vaughan

Penn Foster Education Group

Rasmussen College

Renovus Capital Partners

Rethink Education

Sterling Partners

Stifel Financial Corp.

Symposium Ventures

University Ventures



Wed, Jan 22
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Contact Us

747 Third Avenue | Suite 200 | New York City | 10017