Praveen Varshney on how to become a Bay Street Darling
How investor marketing helps the Street buy your story.
I’m Maddie and I work as a Marketing Manager at Creative Return. I’m a young millennial navigating this world of finance and investor marketing. I hope my blogs can help others who are just getting started in their journey through the world of investor relations and digital investor marketing.
Praveen Varshney works with entrepreneurs to help them grow their companies to become listed in the public markets. He calls his strategy "the one-trade model". Over the years he and his team have taken over 30 companies public. The first company they ever worked on was a diamond mine in Canada.
For entrepreneurs and their financiers, the goal is to be a run-away success. In Canada, this is called a “Bay St. Darling”. I’ve listened to Praveen’s podcast interview on The Insider’s Guide To Finance (now Business) a few times now and I still find new things to take notes on! I was trying to be like a sponge soaking up all the information.
Bay Street is a street in Toronto's downtown business district and is a metonym for Canada's financial industry.
The area around Bay Street is home to Canada's largest banks: BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD Bank and RBC along with a wide variety of smaller investment banks and service providers. It is Canada’s equivalent to Wall Street in the United States.
So what does it take to become a Bay Street Darling?
Praveen gave us the inside scoop and shared his personal experience.
The second company Praveen worked on was a land-based casino company called Thunderbird Gaming.
“It was a rocketship. We grew it from an idea to $35 million in revenue in three years.” Praveen said. “We did $6 million of net income post-tax.”
This was his Bay Street Darling. All the big financial firms were involved in the deal.
What got it into the spotlight? What made it a Bay Street darling?
“At the end of the day, there are two types of public companies that do well,” Praveen shared, “the ones that yield and then the ones that grow.”
He went on to share that when companies are in a no man’s land – no yield or no growth – that’s where equity value is lost, you can’t raise money, and it’s all cost with no benefit. On the other hand, the holy grail is a growth stock that pays a yield.
One thing to consider is that for companies to become Bay Street Darlings, you need to have an interested audience of investors to listen to your story and act on your news.
“We tell our entrepreneurs, if you’re going to entertain the possibility of going down the public venture capital path for your business, you have to be very clear that you’ll now have two businesses,” said Praveen.
Entrepreneurs will have the business of growing the business and the business of managing the market. They both need time, effort, and attention. They both will need to have a marketing budget. One for the product marketing and the other for the investor marketing.
With public companies, he shared that you need to have dedicated Investor Relations and PR team members. He worked with many individuals who were good at getting the messaging and information out there to a broad investor audience. As true IR pros, they had an investor relations strategy they were executing.
“Good IR and PR marketing backed by the management team delivering really strong financial results, that’s the magic,” Praveen explained.
When setting a budget for the marketing on the product side, Praveen recommends having a budget for the public company investor marketing side. The key is to be effective with the marketing dollars. He shared that it’s part art and part science when it comes to these budgets.
What avenues are working nowadays? We’re moving into a digital world with different ways of getting your message out there.
“The internet has changed things because there’s so many different sites and ways to get information out there,” he adds. “You have global reach now.”
Money is more global as well. Before, not as many people from around the world would invest in Canada, but now, Praveen says, there are people from all over the world who participate in the Canadian public markets. Canada has a good brand and the exchanges have a good reputation.
A key piece of advice he shared is that every company needs to use technology regardless of what they do or manufacture. Every company needs to become a tech company. Technology allows operations to become more efficient and scalable for both building the business and engaging investors.
A good management team backed by IR and PR when delivering really strong financial results is where the magic happens - becoming a Bay Street Darling
You need to have an interested audience of investors to listen to your story and act on your news in order to become a Bay Street Darling.
Digital investor marketing is changing how both retail and institutional investors are finding and buying into early-stage opportunities
If you are interested, you can listen to Praveen's episode of the podcast here: