Carl (Part 2)

Carl is an M&A platform for SMEs, connecting owners, advisors, and acquirers around opportunities from €1mn to €50mn in transaction value. Carl's private deal network, a dedicated SaaS solution that guides the process and partnerships with numerous associations, banks, and more than 220 M&A advisors, connects more than 2,500 accredited buyers to interesting companies. Carl's mission is to offer the “Mittelstand” the same access to professional and efficient M&A services that large cooperations have had access to since long ago.

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User/stakeholder interviews
Wireframes and designs
User testing
Design library


Alexander Thomas


Carl is building their M&A platform where buyers can find their next investments (and where sellers can reach the right investors). They have a small but efficient product team with a product manager, front-end developers, and two back-end developers. They needed someone to support them with UX design.


It was one of the most productive ventures I've worked with. We had our entire 8 hours planned, where we met in the mornings, synced up in the afternoons and presented results by the end of the day. The year-long saga for getting good design & building a great product was over before I knew it. It was nearing a stage where they needed a full-time UX designer compared to my twice-a-week visits.

Setting up Metrics & Launch


We defined KPIs in our user flows. And this helped us understand what data would be relevant in measuring the first place. For example, in the Advisor flow, one of the user tasks is to create a new deal (creating a profile on the company they're putting up for sale). Once the Advisor creates a new deal, they would submit it for verification to Analysts at Carl. So measuring the time taken for them to complete creating a deal vs the time taken for verification of the deal would give us an understanding of which process needs to be improved.

Measure Results

For the Analyst app, the results are incredible. The trust in data has increased tremendously. Might not be measurable, but feedback from Analysts defined this. With a date and timestamp, Analysts could now carbon date relevancy of the data. This would also have the source of the data - whether it was taken from an external database or if an Analyst manually entered it.

83% increase in Investor responses to deal

Analysts have the most relevant data when shortlisting investors for a deal, thus finding the best investors suited for a deal at that particular time frame. Analysts now make better compatibility decisions between investor and deal.

21% increase in manually entered Investor profiles

Analysts are motivated more than ever, to add and update new information manually now that a interconnect system is in place compared to a shared Google Sheet. This data holds the highest rank as it's from employees of Carl.

17% decrease in deal duration

Deals are now closing faster than ever. With information on how active the investors are on deals and which stages they're in, Analysts could pursue much more compatible leads than before. Thus enhancing the quality of the shortlist of investors to get in touch with.

Test & Iterate

We did the basic user testing with design prototypes before development, but once the users were dealing with real data - that's when things got interesting.

When we checked data of the usage of the Search feature of Analyst app. It wasn't used as we thought it would. This could be an evolving issue or even an evolving solution. So to get to the bottom of the problem, one of the tests we did was having a focus group where we handed each Analyst a printout of the Search screen and asked them to mark the ones they use. Once they did, they had to explain why they didn't use the others.

We got quality feedback on the fields - apparently, it wasn't just a question of familiarity of the terms, but rather being sceptical of the data in the results based on the fields they've selected. This test was quick, cheap - in terms of time and resources and gave us a ton of insights on how and what to iterate.

Evolution into other minor projects

Onboarding Advisor from the Carl Website - Onboarding Advisors were getting more and more imperative as they would be the ones bring in the deals. With the current bounce rate of the sign-up funnel, we made changes to the design and data to create a more fluid sign up process. The Investor Side - The Investor having the best experience is paramount to the operation. The Portal which proved the concept of the platform now would be the foundation of building a platform with the best user experience to the investor. With the new brand guidelines in place and the component library from Chakra, the new full-time designer is now equipped to build the best. As the Analyst application was being used by real users, we did get feedback and had minor tickets to take care of. With the current resources in hand, balancing iterations/fixes to the Analysts app and building the rest of Carl Connect was the real challenge for the team.

Transiting - Do we need a full-time UX Designer?

With aim of keeping design just ahead of dev and having real user input to design further, the need for a two-days a week vs five-days a week resource was the perfect time for a full-time UX person to come in. But now as the groundwork is more stable with the Analyst application, the demand for a full-time designer has emerged for the Investor and Advisor side of things. Not engulfing in a product 24/7 has a few downsides. Lots of ideas and solutions come to you when you're not working on them. But as I was coming in only once/twice a week, I had to wait till the next week to discuss or work on them. But on the bright side, the dev team could keep up with the design requests. When there are limited resources for execution, you don't want to build up 6 months of backlog tickets for development. Especially when the product is at such an early stage, as time may make the future design solutions meaningless. Fortunately, the Carl team could find their perfect match real quick. In a week, the new hire could sync up with us and the handover was a dream.

Back to Carl (Part 1)

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Natalia Bulashenko

Head of Design
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