The right combination at the right time became the key to unlocking the potential of companies and more important, people.
One question has always nagged me, "What determines success"?
Is it timing, capital, ideas, connections, or people?
Why some people succeed and many others fail has become an enduring curiosity of mine. Many books have written on the subject of success. Searching on Amazon.com, at least over 200,000 books are already written on the subject and more every year are still being written. Seems like sorting through the countless choices is now a new challenge to find which book finally unlocks success. I wish it were as easy as reading a book.
It does take people but the loud question is what type?
By sharing my experience, perhaps you can glean what you are searching here beyond learning about us. If mistakes are the best teachers, then I hope my time working with companies in trouble or about to face extinction can shed some light. People are people regardless where on the planet they are, the systems, governments, attitudes don't change the fact that universally people all want the same things.
I began the process of understanding this question and possible answers by starting with a company which tried expanding from Canada to the USA. The company hit a stall. It was successful in Canada. Sales was an issue. The customer acquisition cost was also high. The sales people were spending too much time with internal meetings. Next, customer perception was mixed. This was just the tip of problem.
What was originally thought of as problems turned out to be symptoms of a larger deeper issue. The previous management team were mismatched to the mission of expanding into a new market. Plus the management team were adept in big company systems and didn't have the skills to scale "down" to a small entrepreneurial company.
Next, the company needed not only right sizing, the company was literally stretched too thin considering the US market is 10 times the size of the Canadian market.
Focusing on the markets where the customer density was high and served by a large airport was the first step in the turnaround strategy. Next, we employed an opportunity cost criteria to evaluate where and how to spend precious sales resources. Surprisingly, still to this day, it is not common to see opportunity cost to prioritizing resources. However, over twenty years ago it was bold and new.
It was then that I started to appreciate and understand the often quoted saying of "keep it simple". It became self evident that unearthing assumptions was fundamental. Assumptions cloud thinking. Observing became the critical tool. It was only when I could strip away these assumptions that the answers to complex and complicated issues would reveal themselves.
Although the software company fortunately turned around and became the market leader in the key markets in less than 18 months,
My curiosity and this early success led me to further opportunities. Next were opportunities industries in real estate development, gaming, startups, professional service companies and in one of the oldest organizations, the catholic archdiocese. And that led to a new countries as well. Each teaching me how assumptions and ego get in the way.
Each experience stripped away theory and revealing the answers that evaded those before me.
Where I am now is in applying what I have learned in the capital markets. If people and ideas are fundamental to a vibrant growing company, capital is the fuel.
The first venture in the capital market is Bespoke Private Equity. With the right approach, we think capital can enable founders and entrepreneurs to reach even greater heights. Balancing the interests of the investors and the entrepreneurs is the challenge and the opportunity.
We hope to capitalize not only startups but rejuvenate mature companies while applying the lessons learned.