We went to TechExit so you didn’t have to, here’s what we learnedCategory
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If you weren’t able to attend TechExit, Vancouver’s premiere exit-ready tech conference, don’t sweat it—the Talk Shop team was there! We were able to download some of the most important information for business owners and executives to keep in mind when considering mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and attracting investor interest.

Keeping our finger on the pulse of the Canadian tech industry from the perspective of investors, founders, and business advisors was an eye-opening but reaffirming experience for the team. You may be not-so-surprised to learn that strategic comms was championed across the presentations. Read on to learn some of our key takeaways from the event.

Build your company to be bought, not to be sold

Speakers and attendees were sure to communicate that you do not build a company to be sold, but you build it so that in the case that you’re approached to be bought, it’s an option for you and your team. Throughout the entire conference, one piece of advice that stuck out was that companies should engage with advisors early on. This is to make sure that in the event that someone approaches you to buy your company, you’re proactively set up for success—and a lot less stress.

So what does that look like? Thought leaders mentioned ensuring you have your business advisors engaged early is a good place to start. Partnering with legal counsel, an accountant to make sure your books are clean, and working with public and investor relations consultants to establish your company as a category leader early on were all highlighted.

Culture drives revenue (and interest!)

As an integrated communications agency, we loved hearing how important culture was to Laurie Schultz, former CEO of Galvanize and Catherine Dahl, CEO of Beanworks throughout their acquisition journeys. The two Canadian tech mavens were spot on when they mentioned that culture drives revenue, with Catherine Dahl stating that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

A company’s culture and values are foundational for it to be able to get to a place where the organization can successfully move through a merger or acquisition. Talk Shop prides itself on helping clients like Diligent and Redbrick move through M&As. As a partner, we help tech companies establish themselves as category leaders, raising their profile as an employer of choice and engaging with customers to ensure its entire ecosystem is invested in its vision. What we heard echoed throughout the conference was that these three things need to be in order if you’re looking to attract investor interest and set your company up for success:

  1. Brand awareness as a category leader

  2. Employer branding, showcasing your company as an employer of choice

  3. A strong, happy customer base

Media attention = inbound requests

One of our favourite highlights from the day came from a panel question that our team may or may not have anonymously asked four tech leaders. We asked Kristine Steuart, Co-Founder & Former CEO, Allocadia (Acquired by BrandMaker), Steve Desjarlais, Co-Founder & CEO, HeyDay (Acquired by Hootsuite), Jayesh Parmar, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Gunkii (Founder Picatic acquired by EventBrite) / M&A Advisor, STS Capital Partners and Catherine Dahl, CEO, Beanworks (acquired by Quadient) the following question:

How important is public relations when making an exit? Did you engage with a PR firm? Why or why not?”

Here are some of their answers:

  • We should have done it sooner” — Catherine Dahl, CEO, Beanworks

  • A TechCrunch mention equals inbound VC and M&A interest” –– Steve Desjarlais, Co-Founder & CEO, HeyDay

  • Coverage in outlets like VentureBeat and TechCrunch is important” — Jayesh Parmar, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Gunkii

  • It might have been to our detriment that we didn’t engage PR sooner” — Kristine Steuart, Co-Founder & Former CEO, Allocadia

Clearly, adding an integrated communications agency to your roster of business advisors is an excellent way to prepare your company for M&As and whatever else may come your way. If you’re curious about what Talk Shop could do for your company, please don’t hesitate to reach out—we’d love to chat!