Two years ago, I was a frustrated fifteen year technology investment banker in Toronto looking at a Canadian investment landscape dominated by the commodities investment thesis to the exclusion of virtually everything else. I realized that the investment banks that purported to serve the needs of small cap non resource growth companies were failing on all counts. Firstly, they were failing their issuer clients. Secondly, they were failing the buyers that invested them along with the talented professionals that worked there. I wanted to build a new breed of investment bank that did a much better job.
The most important asset of any investment bank is talented people. But, on this front, a great many of the talented professionals in the non resource growth sector had been fired, quit and many had left the industry. Some had started burger chains, become head hunters etc. On top of that, the few professionals remaining at the dealers were a depressed and frustrated lot. The boutique investment dealer model was not working as evidenced by the exit of a few firms, which has now grown to several firms. Similarly, on the buy side, much of the ecosystem of capital and people that had risen to great heights financing non resource growth companies, arguably dominating the capital market in 2000, was decimated in the Fall of 2012.
But any wise person in the investment business for any length of time knows it is a cyclical business. I sensed that the commodities investment thesis was crumbling and that non resource growth was on its way back. I wasn’t the only one. Two senior investment professionals, Byron Berry and Ed Pennock, I talked with regularly agreed with me and were interested in joining forces but where would we find the people we would need?
With that as a backdrop, we would meet ad hoc with a few professionals here and there who shared similar thoughts but quickly realized we needed to create a networking event to seriously begin to reconstitute the non-resource growth investment ecosystem. We needed a way to bring together the many talented professionals who care about financing the next wave of non-resource growth companies. And, with that, “Growth Monday” was born in Fall 2012. Since then, every 6 to 8 weeks or so, we have 50-100+ senior BUY and SELL side professionals with a few growth companies in the mix ,meet at a cool bar/patio downtown Toronto. We have had 10 events to date.
“Growth Monday” or sometimes if it is on a Tuesday, “Growth Tuesday”, is a unique collegial atmosphere of senior people who can see old colleagues, meet new ones, eat, drink, get the latest market intelligence, discuss things they are working on, look for new opportunities, recruit people, find investors… A number of people in attendance have found new jobs, created new firms, done deals… In fact, at an event about 18 months ago, I got reacquainted with Brian Piccioni, a six time #1 ranked Technology Analyst, formerly at BMO Capital for 15 years. Together, we started J Capital Partners, a new breed of investment bank financing non resource growth companies. We have figured out a new business model that works for the Issuers, the Buy side and the talent. Since the time we started Growth Monday, the Tech ecosystem has returned to a degree but there is a long way to go still. It may be 1995-1996 to put this time in perspective to the tech bull market that ran to 2000.
The next Growth Event is this Wednesday, September 10th at 5-7 p.m. on Houston’s covered patio on the southeast corner of Yonge and Wellington in Toronto. Please rsvp to [email protected] if you would like to attend, be added to our mailing list, or talk about your company or any of the themes raised here.