Digital Securities: Shareholder Communications
CEO and Co-Founder
CEO and Co-Founder
Oscar is currently one of the Top 10 Global Thought Leaders in Equity Crowdfunding, a Top 5 Fintech Influencer, Top 10 Blockchain and a Top 50 InsureTech. He has published an eBook that has been downloaded in over 20 countries, and been distributed by partners worldwide. Oscar is a featured speaker on Fintech, regulated, equity crowdfunding, compliance, shareholder management, investor relations, and transparency in the USA, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia and China. He speaks to audiences covering alternative finance, RegTech, insurance, banking, legal, and crowdfunding. Oscar also advises the world’s leading research, accounting, law firms and insurance companies on the impact Fintech, RegTech, LegalTech, InsurTech and OrgTech is having in their business.
Vice President of Investor Relations
Vice President of Investor Relations
Evan Veryard Vice President of Investor Relations Flora Growth Evan is an experienced capital markets professional. He currently serves as the Vice President of Investor Relations for Flora Growth, a NASDAQ-listed cannabis company. During his time at Flora, Evan led the company's US$30M oversubscribed Regulation A+ offering and supported its NASDAQ IPO, including the management of its investor base of over 10,000 investors. Evan also advises a number of public and private companies in various investor relations and operations functions. Prior to joining Flora, Evan worked for a digital investor relations consultancy to help companies drive more clear messaging and increase investor awareness. Mr. Veryard obtained his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from McGill University and Master’s of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. Evan is also involved with charitable work and founded the charity Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth in 2017, where the organization works to empower Indigenous youth through experiential employment and skills training opportunities, with a focus on inclusive design.
Kugarands Capital Holdings
The greatest wealth, generational wealth, comes from growing a successful business. The second greatest source of wealth creation comes from investing in those successful businesses. I started the Compassionate Capitalist Movement to fund innovation, create jobs, and create wealth for the entrepreneurs and investors. I use my 20+ years experience coaching entrepreneurs and working with investors to speak about compassionate capitalism and the economic impact of entrepreneur / investor ecosystems. I wrote the best selling book on how to invest in entrepreneurs so that people can create wealth and share in the success of entrepreneurs without all the risks. Learn more bit.ly/insidesecretsbook1
"You may have noted my international greeting, as diversity defines my life and career. As the son of immigrants, I’ve experienced how hard working parents can achieve their dreams in the USA. I’ve traveled to 16 countries (for some that may not be much!), enjoying the cultures and traditions thoroughly. I speak fluent Spanish, basic French and working on Italian. Professionally, I’ve worked in capital markets and financial communication roles helping organizations reach their goals. Each position has provided me with unique opportunities to grow professionally and establish meaningful relationships. Taking time during my career to care for family members and follow artistic pursuits has also been part of my journey.
Oscar Jofre 00:00
All right, well, good afternoon, we are getting closer to the tail end. What a journey. Everyone, thank you, those who have been here this afternoon, for going to each of these panels listening to these experts. As I told you at the beginning of the day. Today, we have a surprise. This subject is so dear to me, I’m actually going to moderate this panel because it’s one that I’ve been waiting for. Since I began this journey, which is over, almost 12 years ago. I’ve written about it, I’ve been evangelizing it to see if it would eventually materialize. And that time is now, you know, shareholder communications is here. And today, we have some amazing people that speakers that have been already they’re doing it, And lucky for us, we found each other because that’s it was meant to be as it is, and they’re going to share a little bit of experience. But before we get started, it’s always great to have the three of you here. But first, if you could take a moment to introduce yourself, Karen, let’s start with you.
Karen Rand 01:13
Great, thank you, Oscar. So I’m Karen Rand’s. My company is Kugarands Capital Holdings. And I have worked with entrepreneurs and investors for I guess, probably about 20 years, when I ran an angel investor group. And we figured out how to syndicate without being able to do Direct Public Offerings and the kind of solicitations that are able to do now. I shifted my business back at the beginning of 2011 when the writing was on the wall about, you know, the crowd. The crowdfunding was coming out with the Jobs Act, and Georgia was one of the first ones to start to do that, along with Kansas with the interstate exemption for direct public offerings. And so it was always one of the things that I felt was the biggest hindrance to entrepreneurs, in getting access to capital is being able to identify the investors that are outside of. You know, the small exclusive groups of angel investors and being able, to control their communications to target investors. But likewise, it was an opportunity for many investors to be able to create wealth where they had not been able to do that before. It was what we call the great democratization of the capital markets and Reg A, was really the first opportunity for any type of investor that had the kind of liquidity. And the knowledge to be able to participate in what creates the greatest wealth, which is successful entrepreneurs. And so I said at the time that I needed to provide education out there and provide a pathway for people to understand how to invest in these private companies, as they were doing that it wasn’t just a video. And so, investor communications becomes a critical part of that. Beyond just the start of said my book, for example, inside secrets to Angel Investing is the book that I created. To be able to provide that should you would you could invest in entrepreneurs as an asset class and how to go about doing that. And I’m a big believer in Reg A plus and Reg CF as pathways for that. And one of the things that I advise my clients is that it all the activity that you do to create awareness about your offering to attract investors, to create trust in your brand. One of the prior panels, they talked about brand and marketing, not as important in that, but I believe that it’s all very integrated into creating a trust. Because unlike raising private securities with Angel investor groups, the odds are that those investors for those companies are never going to meet that CEO directly.
It’s even though it’s a private security, it’s like they’re a public company because their information has to stand on its own, the communication has to be consistent in the same way that public companies do. So that you can retain shareholder trust. And you can retain that goodwill that you have done to attract that investor to begin with and that they trust you. And so how you communicate after they become an investor at a shareholder is as critical as what you communicate before they become a shareholder and investor because. As has been said, on prior panels today, odds are it’s not the only money that you’re going to raise and your best source of that next investor or to reinvest for your current investors. And then them bragging to their friends their excitement about investing in your company and the only way they reach to maintain their excitement is by how you communicate with them on an ongoing basis.
Oscar Jofre 05:08
Great, thank you. All right. Let’s start. Obviously, we want to get into the discussion, and Evan you could ever please take a short break to introduce yourself there.
Evan Veryard 05:23
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Oscar. And hello, everyone. My name is Evan Veryard. I’m currently the Vice President of Investor Relations for Flora Growth, the NASDAQ-listed cannabis company. It’s been several years now and in an investor relations role initially working sort of on a digital space with social media strategies, and then broadly across resource and cannabis and then switching to the actual public and private companies themselves. Over the course of 2020, I led a Reg A for Flora Growth, which ended up being an oversubscribed $30 million Reg A offering. And then subsequent NASDAQ IPO in May of this year of 2021. And then I continue to serve as VP IR, that company today, as well as advise a number of different public or public and private companies in an investor relations capacity, as well as some Reg As within that. That’s all thanks.
Oscar Jofre 06:13
Thank you. Mmm, Pierre.
Pierre Dubois 06:16
Yes, hello, everybody. Thank you for having me today. My name is Pierre Dubois. I lead Procore Advisory based in Houston, Texas. And we help companies position themselves best with key stakeholders, namely the investment community. And we leverage our 25 plus years of experience as an investment analyst on the sell side, and as a Industrial Relations Officer for publicly traded companies. We currently work with startups and what I like to say, startups with the ticker. So those who are publicly traded, but in reality, maybe they shouldn’t have been. And so we’re helping them get back on their feet again.
Oscar Jofre 07:02
Perfect, thank you. Perfect, perfect. Let’s I mean, the idea of having three individuals that have experience is critical, right? Because it’s the whole premise of why we’re here is to provide education, through and to an industry, to a sector that really doesn’t know what this is. So let’s start with that. I mean, Evan, you and I have this great conversation, and I’ll come back to members. I mean, shareholder communication, that’s not where it came from. But there’s another term for it. And, you know, let’s start with you on that, um, you know, give us your interpretation of shareholder communication, how it’s going to be applied to the private company world?
Evan Veryard 07:47
Yeah, well, I think there’s, there’s a number of things to look at, and Karen hit on, hit on some of those points earlier on. But as it relates to shareholder communications, you know, in, you know, I think we. The conversation you’re referencing is kind of the investor relations, classic role with public companies, and, and many private companies thinking they don’t need that. But quite frankly, if you’re looking to raise capital, and for early-stage companies, you know, capital, cash is the lifeblood of those companies. You need to have access quickly and conveniently. You need to be able to have a loyal shareholder base who’s willing to reinvest. And it’s important to be able to have that, that trust built with them, you know, whether your private or your public. You will need to actually have them understand the business trust that it’s growing. Growing in the right direction, and trust that management knows what they’re doing, and they’re good stewards of their capital.
I mean, at the end of the day, you know, especially as it relates to traditional marketing, you know, you’re not selling a product, right, like you’re having people invest their savings. So this isn’t just, you know, buying a car, this is, you know, someone’s future home, someone’s kids education in the future. And so you need to make sure that you can gain their trust, that you have a sound communication strategy, sound business. You can communicate it properly, and then have them feel comfortable putting that trust in you, as a steward of their capital to grow at moving forward. And I think that’s, that’s a key, key component of any business that’s trying to raise capital, public or private. And to think that you can do that ad hoc without having someone who’s dedicated to thinking about it to execute on that strategy is going to be very challenging. As anyone who’s been in a leadership role knows a CEO or CFO is pulled in a lot of different directions. So it’s very important to not let shareholder communications fall to the wayside.
Oscar Jofre 09:46
No, I agree. And I, I think you’ve touched on a really good point. I mean, we’ve known this role to be called investor acquisition, right. That was the term that investor relations sorry, my apologies. And it’s associated with public companies. And look, you all know when in speaking to me is that terminology, because most of these companies are staying private, we, but they still need to have that foundation. And that there, they need to carry on whether they’re doing their primary. And now I’m going to come to you Pierre because, you know, quite a lot of companies will do everything they can when they’re doing a capital raising, I’ve seen this, they hire PR, they hire media, they do all that and they go, oh, they do all that. But PR, an IR, and shareholder communication are very different. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Pierre Dubois 10:42
Yeah, so um, you know, I have led IR programs, but I’ve also led corporate comm programs. So I think there’s a lot of value when you have PR marketing and IR working together, we call that integrated communications. But it’s really hard to do all of that, as you said, Oscar, and usually that’s relegated to the founder or one of the co-founders to do all of that. If they’re lucky, maybe they’ll bring in a marketing person. But I think we’re having someone who has the background to assist with shareholders specifically. Where it helps is because they are able to integrate a conversation about finance and valuation. And that sort of thing, which is really one of the key talking points when you’re raising capital. And when you’re hopefully engaging regularly with your investors, you, you’ll have the quantitative side of reporting, and the qualitative, right. And I think having someone who can, who can speak to the numbers, and how they’ll affect the strategy of the company going forward is, is really, really important. So it’s, it’s the ability to weave all of that together to create a strategy. So many of you heard that you know, your story is your strategy, right? So that strategy is going to have both qualitative and quantitative factors that need to be communicated appropriately. And, and I think, you know, having someone on with shareholder communications allows the founding team to have a sounding board about what will resonate with investors and might want.
Oscar Jofre 12:44
In, and just, you know, from the experience in general communication, and I’m going to break it down into the three stages because it would otherwise it the subject matter gets convoluted. But they’re the activities you do when you’re raising capital. So that’s one form of shareholder communication, investor outreach. You’re working with firms that you heard on the previous panel, investor acquisition. They’re doing all that they’re they’re communicating digitally, you’re communicating with them alongside. Is the strategy different from the way they communicate at that stage here, or is it different at that moment?
Pierre Dubois 13:23
Well, I think. So I think the first thing that every company needs to do is have a communications plan from ground zero. So when you’re in your room, putting together your business plan and how you think it will resonate with investors you need to be thinking even at that early stage how you’re going to be communicating your value proposition. And then I think what having a formal communications plan will help you, regardless of the stage, you’re in your journey. The journey that you take, and the life cycle that you’re in, will, it will need to tweak, right, your plan will tweak along the way. But having that plan and an updated updating it regularly. And then of course, not putting it on the shelf and actually executing it right,.I think is what’s most important. So it will vary. Your goals will vary at each step of your journey. And that’s why you have to revisit it regularly. So that you have a fresh approach. And when you have a plan, you can check off what you’ve done and refocus on your business.
Oscar Jofre 14:45
Correct. Yeah, no, I agree. I, but you brought up an interesting point. And I’m coming, coming to you with this, Karen, because I heard you say at the beginning. You’ve dealt with companies right at the early stage. And as I said, this is fairly new. I mean, if I went to the hundreds of thousands of companies were dealing with and are poppin. I go, hey, have you heard of, you know, investor relations? They go, no, no, we’re not public. See, that’s the instant knee jerk reaction is private. And now introducing this, and a lot of them. Yeah, we use PR, just occasionally when we’re raising capital, we’re, but this is different. But what I heard you say is a detailed communication plan. So on that note, Karen, you know, how do you think the the reaction? Or how should that get embedded into a company? Because obviously, you’re going to need it before you raise your capital while you’re raising your capital. And afterwards, I’d like to hear your comments on that.
Karen Rands 15:42
Well, the thing about raising capital is that you know, it, it rarely happens like all at once, right. And even with REG CF and Reg A plus or any of these direct public offerings, it’s over a period of time. Sometimes it could take a whole year in order to do some of these things, because that’s what the, you know, regulations allow for. And so, at any point in time, there’s investors in your funnel, that are either have invested or thinking of investing or have just heard about you. And so if you have that communication plan, you can maximize that relationship and convert that relationship so that you shorten the timeline it takes for you to raise your capital, because of the way that you’re communicating.
Now, what you communicate, varies depending on where you are in that process, right? Because there’s, as has been said, before, there’s some things that you have to legal wise, you can’t overstate, you have to be really clear on your risks. You have to you know, all of the aspects to not falsly sell the security and the outcome of what it is that you’re going to do. And so, as you create that plan, and what depending on the audience, what is it that you’re allowed to say? And what is it you want to say, you know, there’s the legal requirement, once you have closed your security on how you communicate on an annual basis. And those are also opportunities to further engage with your your shareholders. So that they that you are in control, the company is in control of the message, and how that goes out there on all aspects of what it is that the company is doing. Not just financially, but strategically. And one thing that I found in raising and working with companies that we’re pitching to my angel investors, and in following up with that, sometimes entrepreneurs will think that no news just means that it’s good news. But to that investor, that’s wondering what’s going on, no news is not good news. And you get a lot of grace with your current investors if you communicate, whatever delay there might be in your milestones achievement. In setbacks, you might use that you don’t want them to get bad news after the fact, or from somewhere else, or because it’s a press release, or there’s some other kind of information that’s come out. You want them to be beyond that, inside knowing what’s going on, so that they tolerate the uncertainties of how you progress with the, with the organization. And how you’re using the money that they had given you. And you have an opportunity to turn every form of communication into a positive encounter. Whereas no communication can often be a negative event.
Oscar Jofre 18:38
I agree. I mean, look, I, I’m trying to define this, I’m trying to put it into a catechist. This door, this new chapter in the private market is now open, it’s now become critical. I, you know, we’re all talking about the merits during the capital raise. I couldn’t, I think all of you have said continuously having a plan. Why strategically makes sound, you know, to have this and of course, you know, from a company perspective, you know, when they’re doing this, think about it. They pick up their lawyers, they got the investor acquisition, people saying they can do this. But I really believe that this is a discipline, in my view, I’m seen as a discipline, because if it gets pushed on, so let me explain to you what I mean by this. In the early days of the Jobs Act, and all as it emerged, there was no such thing as investor acquisition. People thought it would just be social media, and people that got in in the early days gotten themselves into trouble. There were a lot of agencies that you know, they didn’t know the rules they got in they started doing what they knew best marketing. But marketing with the legal twist, that securities law twist is very different. So that’s why it’s great that you know, marketing but do you understand securities law to, to make sure that resonates well. And so why do I bring this up because here is It shouldn’t be grouped in with PR and all that. Because otherwise, the entrepreneur, in my view, will diminish the role and say, Ah, you know what the other guys are already dealing with this. They’re dealing with my key messaging. And they are communicating with my shareholders and all that. But that’s why I’m bringing the spotlight do this. Because it’s now change that narrative. And I’m going to focus now really, with the three of you talking about what happens afterwards. So this is what we see afterwards, except for Evans company, okay. This is what I see afterward. Nobody saw it. But you know, all the all the publicity, everything, boom, it’s done. They’ve raised our money, boom, they continue they, they do their marketing, but nobody’s talking to their shareholders, not a shareholder. They’re just sending them marketing stuff. So Evan, obviously, you’re experiencing, you’ve had experience both the beginning and now you’re part of the post. What strategies did you put in place to, you know, to make sure that the narrative was directed at the shareholders?
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a few things to think about. And some of these points have been touched on previously. One point is consistency. So having a good cadence and communications is very important. The second I would say is transparency, you don’t want to be, you know, misleading your investors, it’s only going to bite you later. Even if you think it might give you some benefit now, it ultimately harms you mor. Than I think the third piece is simplicity, you don’t want to have jargon or overly complex information being communicated, you should, you should have it down to kind of the, say, the lowest common denominator. But in layman’s terms, I guess, if you will, and that will greatly help your shareholder base, particularly with retail, in terms of strategies, you know, the way I like to think about it is really about building a community, you want a loyal shareholder base. So really treating them like you know, not as a number or, or just like $1 figure that you can add to your cash balance with, with an investment. But actually, as you know, people that you can communicate with you pick up the phone, you talk to them. And so that that, to me is an important strategy. And, you know, getting getting specific, I mean, this can look like press releases, this could look like newsletters, you know, weekly emails, could look like webinars, and of course, social media as well. There’s a lot of different tools that are available to companies, either your, your shareholder communications manager, or just, just the company as a whole. And, you know, especially these days with social media, you want to make sure you’re out there trying to control the narrative, instead of letting the narrative control you. And you can do that by again issuing consistent transparent, simple press releases and leveraging all the tools that are available to you.
Oscar Jofre 22:54
Perfect, thank you and Pierre. I’d like to hear your obviously that the strategy towards the same question, you know, we’re done the offering, what’s the strategy that I should be employing to effectively communicate with my shareholders?
Pierre Dubois 23:09
Yep. Well, I think, you know, one thing to keep in mind is that after you’ve done your initial raise, is that you’ll likely, you know, if you’re not already, even if you’re a publicly traded company, you’re always raising capital, right? They’ll always be another raise, right? So you’re always positioning yourself so that your current existing current investors might be future investors, right. And I think if you have a regular dialogue with your shareholders, it strengthens your competitive position. Because many companies won’t be doing that. So if, if you can point to the types of things that you’re doing with investors on that next capital raise, I think it gives management a lot of credibility. And as we know, management credibility is one of the top reasons anyone is going to invest in your company.
I think as a as a founder or co founder or part of the part of the team. When you’re having regular dialogue, whether it be through you know, a YouTube video ora newsletter or an email. Preparing that communication, helps you synthesize for yourself what progress you’re making. When you when you see what you said last month, and and you said you were going to do x, and this month you did x, you know, that’s a vote of confidence. Conversely, if you said you were going to do y and you haven’t yet, you can explain that. And don’t forget that when you are fully transparent as we’ve discusse, your network of investors can help you find solutions. I think a lot of companies don’t think about that. And you have a huge network of investors. And in the way I like to look at it sometimes is your family tree. Your shareholders are an extension of your family tree, right? Look within your family to see who might have some potential solutions to the challenges that you’re having. And now, in order to know that, you have to kind of have a pretty good grasp on who those shareholders are. And I think this is where the CRM tools come into play, you have a list of your shareholders, you have some notes on them now that that database is going to grow over time, right? And it’s certainly going to help you to manage who these potential solution providers can be for you. So I think that’s another way to think of these things is that the regular communication will bear fruit in many different ways. And in so doing, so is almost a must for any company.
Oscar Jofre 26:10
Oh, no, I agree. And, yeah, I’m gonna come back to a question, but I want to hear Karen’s comment on after it happens. What kind of strategies do you employ when a company’s done, now we need a strategy? Like, they haven’t even thought of this, to be honest with you. I mean, I think that’s, I see that a lot. And that I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.
Karen Rands 26:32
On a strategy for communicate continuing to communicate after they finish their raise?
Oscar Jofre 26:37
Yes, because I think it can’t be the same as the raise, it just can’t be. Because see, they don’t see the value. They go, I’m done raising capital. And I think Pierre was talking about you there. It’s like anything else, when people know what they’re doing? They, you know why. But um, I can tell you, I can, I can go through all theReg A offerings, I can go through all the Reg CF offerings, and I can see the weakness within the market.
Karen Rands 27:05
Yeah, well, whether it’s going to be to raise another round of capital, or present, prepare yourself for an acquisition, or to want to attract potential acquirers. It is through that communication that you do with your existing shareholders and with the community at large. But within that, that you start to set the stage for whatever that next step is, it keeps your options open. And your biggest fans just like customers are, you know, in theory, you wanted to do follow up with customers. You want to keep them engaged. So they’ll buy more their upgrade, and there cross sell, there’ll be referral. All that stuff is same exact thing with shareholders, they have you have sold them your equity. And so they are probably as important or more important than any potential customer. So the same level of, of, of, I’m sorry, the same level of, of care and concern and strategy that you do with communicating to your market needs to be towards the investors the same way. For all the same reasons because of what the future is, and your options in the future.
Pierre Dubois 28:16
You know, and I think Oscar, and one more thing. So I think that there are different ways that you can communicate different channels, different tools, right. But I think that the important thing to remember, is, too, so I’ll tell you a story. I was in a meeting with a large investor, and the CEO was talking and talking, talking. And i,n finally, the investor interjected and said, you know, you talk too much. He said, you should listen to what I have to say. And I think that one strategy that you always want to implement, is having a mechanism to listen to what your shareholders are telling you what they’re asking you, because that’s some of what you’re going to include in your updates. Say, you know, I’ve been getting a lot of questions on our annual run rate on revenues. I’ve been getting questions on, you know, why we haven’t added any advisors in a year? Well, you know, so listen to what they have to say to or what what their interests are, what their questions are, be responsive to that. And, you know, whether you do it monthly or quarterly, I think it depends on where you are. I think if you’re an earlier stage company, more often is best because you’re establishing your reputation with with the investment community, right? So, I think you need to show that steady cadence that you know, Evan and Karen talked about, of communication. But listening is really, really really important.
Oscar Jofre 30:01
Thank you. You know, that’s a great point. And guilty. I’d been there. You betcha. I’ve been there. All I’ve been in that spot. And you know what I’m trying to do here. I, I’m trying to I’m not trying to picking the whole, you the three, what I’m really trying to do is like anything else, I’m trying to make it a discipline. I’m trying to make entrapreneurs who are listening in today, why this is important, why this is different than what you know, Jason Fisherman Dawson is doing Andrew Coyne all of them are doing what the PR agency is doing. Because see, as an entrepreneur, I now know, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, you know, Evan and Pierre, I know that I, it when you’re running a business, you got so many things going on. You know, what’s all look at all the good news you got all day, but you know what we’re doing, we’re not communicating to our shareholders. We are communicating to the community.
And this is not another point I was gonna bring. I don’t know what you feel about this. But, you know, I recently, they weren’t upset with us. So I’m, I’m very transparent. Meaning that, you know, when I when, when we get it, you know, slop, okay, I’m taking it and I and I was listening. And their their comment was, we haven’t heard from you in a while. And I’m going, oh, my goodness, we’re doing weekly emails, we’re doing this, we’re doing that. But what I what I was, what I got from that was, you weren’t sending me something specifically to me, you were sending me something like for everybody else. Tto all the gladiators in our company, to everybody else. And that’s why I think it’s so important. That’s why I’m so passionate about what you guys are doing and how it needs to change in the market. Because the time has come. Because now there are companies with 10,000 30,000 60,000 100,000 investors. And I think it was Evan who said it, this is someone’s savings. This is their kids education fund, we have a responsibility. Yes, we made it fun at the beginning, we made it empowering to invest, but we also have a fiduciary duty that doesn’t go away. And this is why I mean, you know, I’m, I call it peeling an onion. Peeling the onion to get it to, to bring that out. Because if people think it’s like something else, then it’s not something else. That’s what it is. That’s why the messaging, I think I heard that three times from all three of you. And the only way I’ll summarize it, it’s not the same messaging you’re using when you’re raising capital. Once you bring them in the door, they’re in the door, they’re now stakeholders in your company. They own a piece of your company, whether that representation is point 000, or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. They took their life savings out to do that. So I’m that’s why I’m keep grueling at this because I want them to hear and understand. This is the time you need to budget for this. So for those who have done this before, I’m going to go with you, Evan. When how has a company strategized and understood that they needed to budget for it? That was that part of the leadership understanding where they come from? I’m just curious, because not everybody gets there. And you’ve obviously been instrumental in that with some of the companies you work with?
Evan Veryard 33:24
Yeah, well, I think it comes down to understanding the value of having a strong shareholder base, and really putting $1 figure on that, particularly once you’re public. But even before then, if you have intention of going back to your shareholder base to raise money, 10 million, whatever it might be, you know, you need to understand that you need, you know, they’re an important tool. And if you’re public, and I know this is a private focus, but if you’re public, it’s even more obvious and even more important. Because you know, every day between 930 and four, you’re being judged by your shareholders, or by the market as to the performance of your company. And your ability to communicate that and to have a good share price to build and raise capital in the future is extremely important. So you know, I, you know, I can’t speak to any specifics on, you know, what should or shouldn’t be spent, or how dollars could be allocated, but I think, you know, you can contextualize it by looking at, you know. Future potential raises, and understanding the value that having an engaged, loyal shareholder base can bring in terms of, you know, again, budgeting, I think, something that, you know, companies should understand and appreciate. And, you know, I know, there’s been a lot of different groups that have have presented over the course of this this conference, but leveraging service providers can be an exceptionally valuable tool. It’s a low cost, it’s quick startup, you get experience, you get experts, to be able to support you in your communications and your marketing and your capital raising. And so that should be something that As a CEO, or as a management of a company looking to raise capital, that you make sure you look and find, you know, the most efficient, effective ways of solving a need. It’s not always hiring someone or building it yourself. It can be finding a service provider who can offer that immediate value.
Oscar Jofre 35:18
That’s a great point. So, but it did start with the leadership inside the company to get it started. And Pierre, I mean, when, I mean, the success you’ve had with the private companies and working with them, did it come from the leadership? Did it come from the board that it came from a lead investor? Where did it come from, for them to recognize they needed this external element?
Pierre Dubois 35:41
Well, you know, despite the fact I think I’m a very persuasive person. I’ve had I’ve had instances where I have, I believe. I have presented a compelling story for having an element of shareholder communications with a startup series A company that two of them actually spoke to recently, who, who, in their own words, said. Look, I assist a bear doing the shareholder communications, I spend 90% of my time doing this and I don’t have time to focus on the business. I heard that echo. The second company said the same thing. I haven’t heard back from them. And I think, you know, it’s it’s a challenge right now. I mean, you know, if, if that same company, if I talked to that same company, when they were maybe in the seed stage, and I said, you know, 40 to 50% of companies fail, according to research, because there’s no market need for their service or their products, right. So let’s, let’s do the research. And let’s create this message that makes it clear to potential investors that there is a need for what you’re doing. Well, since now, they’ve already raised a little money, right? And so maybe they’ve gotten a little bit too comfortable. And they think that they don’t need to change anything, that that they can continue on the same path. But it’s, it’s at their own risk, right?
I mean, at the end of the day, if you’re not constantly managing your existing investors and your potential future ones, then I think, you know, you run a very high risk of falling into that failure rate. And so I think some people see it. Interestingly, I’m, this month alone, I’ve been contacted by 25 companies, who are in like, series A series B mode, and they realize you know, what we need, we need somebody to do this. But that wouldn’t have happened a year ago, I think. And it surprises me that they’re thinking about it early. I’m pleasantly surprised. Right. I think it’s a great, a great signal for us that come in investors, because I think investors see that these companies are taking it more seriously now. Right? And there’s always there’s always a budget that can be set aside, either through an advisor on an hourly basis or a small retainer, to do some of the work for you. And so, I think this panel, I think, will will go a long way in that direction to help increase awareness.
Oscar Jofre 38:40
Oh, yeah, it’s step one. And step one. And Karen, yes, I’m bringing it up. Because I’m, you know, obviously, you been, you know, we talked about the capital raising, so the experiences you’ve had with the you, you said, you, you’ve been brought them to your investors. So where did, when the engagement began? You know, were the intrapreneurs open to it, were they that they understood it? I mean, because this is part of that journey, right?
Karen Rand 39:05
What, yeah, it is part of the journey, I think the thing that you it’s a mental process, that the entrepreneur, the founders, this, the C suite has to go through that, too. It’s not one and done, you know, so many times they think of raising capital, and we just got to get through it. It’s painful. It’s, you know, tough, all that and they just want to get to the business to Pieres point, you know, they don’t want to do these kinds of things. And so it’s, it’s flipping the switch in the, in their brains to say, it’s not, if you do it right, and you make it part of your plan, that the same pieces of digital communication that you create, to attract customers can be repurposed for working with your investors. And while you’re preparing with your accountants and with your different people, you’re transfer agents for the communications that you’re legally required to provide on an annual basis or when you complete your thing, complete your offering. You can take that and own the communication of it, and the raw informations there that they can go to Edgar to look up or things like that. But you, you use that information as a positive engagement with your investors, and to what I said earlier the same way you would with your customers and your potential customers. The same level of effort that goes into retaining, attracting retaining customers, is what you want to do, you want to have the same mindset with your investors. And then just it’s a matter of taking the content and repositioning it for an investor flavor of it versus a future sales, kind of a customer flavor of it. It’s what we’ve done, what we’re doing kind of a thing, so that your investors gain even greater confidence and trust with your brand. And with the founders. I mean, there’s, when it comes to public companies, you know, right now we see a lot of, of stockholder activism. And I saw a statistic that said that there’s, whereas it was like 87%, of proxy voters will vote against the management in the past due to insufficient corporate governance, and communication. And so it’s the things that are our PR that, you know, people when they first invest, they’re investing, because they like your story, or whatever it is that you’re that you’re doing. But then they start to pay attention to other things that involve whether its environment, social government, governance, is the sustainability and the transparency that make them want to buy again. Or tell somebody else about it and say something positive about it. And when when you are a big investor that’s on the cap table or get ready to look at it, there’s, you know, a lot of times the community investor community is a small community. And if a company has a reputation for not being transparent with their current shareholders, then it gives pause to future shareholders. Because they worry that discussed, this company is going to go sideways, because they have the lack of transparency, and its transparency is on the obligate is part of the obligation of a private company. Whereas with a public company, there are mechanisms in place to ensure transparency. But with a private company, you have to behave like that when you’re dealing with a public offering, even though you’re not publicly traded. And so it’s really, really it’s, I stress it so much as a cost-saving measure to entrepreneurs and the founders, that if they if they invest in this as an ongoing part of their strategy that parallels what they do with customers. Then they will save a lot of money and don’t have as high as steep of an on ramp when they get ready to raise their next round of capital.
Oscar Jofre 43:19
Yeah, it’s a great point you brought there the difference between private and public. And I think this is one that I think CEOs that are listening in here right now, the biggest difference. And that was a great statistic, by the way, Karen, because I come from the public world. And here’s a typical CEO, he he knows he’s got 130 million shares outstanding, and he only knows his big-ticket investors. And that’s it. You don’t exist on the line. That’s what’s different about private and public. In the private, every single shareholder sit on your capital city, you know who they are, John Smith, Evan, Pierre, Karen, and Dodd responsibilities right there staring at you. And, you know, it is it is great to begin this discussion I want this is what I’m getting. This is my takeaway for the three of you, because I’m telling you, this is a great discussion. And not only that, I think it needs to be brought in early on, I think, Pierre, you said that getting these companies right from the beginning. Look, up until recently, the secondary market trading was this thing that that’s the next panel, by the way, that, you know. Everybody talks about, oh, yeah, we’re gonna trade we’re gonna trade. It’s only till now that it’s finally going to happen. That door is now been open. And people are going, okay, I want it and they go, Oh, I can budget for it. Okay, that’s what that but then the new companies that are starting the process, they’re already adding it in. So for those who are about to start your Reg A, Reg CF or reg D offering, listen to what’s happening here. You’re going to have a CMO you’re going to have someone in marketing, but you need someone even on the advisory capacity as Pierre and Evan and Karen are alluding to here that to guide you to make sure that you got a message specifically for them. I’m a big advocate of brand ambassador, I really am. But I also learned something very powerful this week, as much as I want everyone to be a gladiator. And they will be in what we’re doing, I still need to treat my current gladiators in a certain way. I need to respect the fact that they are there. And I need to, you know, report to them in a certain way that treats them differently. So I can listen to them. And that was my, you know, I need to be waking up. That’s why I really, and I only have a very small shareholder base. Mine is, you know, under 100. No, I’m thinking about my, my clients who have 10,000 30,000 100,000. And we’re not seeing anything other than email broadcasting. And so I think this is great. I implore you to start working on a framework, I implore you to start putting best practices. And we as an ecosystem will be your biggest advocate to it. That’s how I employ you. Because the time is now. Because the regulations are being successful, companies are raising their capital. If they’re fortunate enough to bring you in, in the early days, great. But the reality is, they need to keep retaining you right to the end. It doesn’t stop when you get your money. It now just begin. So Karen, Pierre, thank you. Evan needed to leave. He had another meeting to attend to so but for everyone else, thank you so much. We’re gonna end this session. We’re going to take a few minute break. You can see here and Karen and Evan, on the lounge you if you have more questions I’m sure you do. We only scratched the surface today. But it is now part of our ongoing dialogue, of KoreSummit. It is now part of a new discussion point that we’re adding and more surprises to come as our as our new summit because we need to make sure we hear from everyone. That was Pierre’s word, we need to be listening to everyone. So thank you both for an amazing time today. And look forward to seeing you backstage. Thank you