“The biggest thing for me is accountability. I don’t have a board, I own 100% of the company so I don’t have any shareholders to report to and I don’t have any external advisors, so Michelle holds me accountable.”
ED IN 100 WORDS
Ed Bryant, President and CEO at Sampford Advisors, grew up in the UK. After university, he worked for Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong and Singapore, and then joined Deutsche Bank and moved to New York. “After 17 years in investment banking, I realized it wasn’t sustainable to have a young family and an iBanking career in New York.” Ed and his family moved to Ottawa, Canada and he took a corporate job with a tech company. It was the right move for his family but after a couple of years, Ed noticed a big gap in the Canadian market for mergers and acquisition advisory work for middle-market technology companies. That’s when Ed started Sampford Advisors.
Sampford was founded in 2015 on the premise that middle-market technology companies were being underserved in Canada from an M&A advisory perspective. “There’s lots of help for large companies, but not the same quality advice for mid-market companies,” said Ed. In addition, every other advisor in the Canadian eco-system is an industry generalist – focusing on multiple industries. “Given my experience in tech and telecom, it was easy to focus all our efforts there and not get distracted by anything else. As such, this has made us more valuable to our clients.” Sampford now has a staff of eight employees, with offices in Toronto, Ottawa and the United States.
Ed first joined TEC as a KEY Executive member in 2014 while with Conversant Intellectual Property. He had been promoted to CFO and with his CEO in TEC, he was offered the opportunity to join. “As you get into a senior executive role in any company, it becomes very lonely and it becomes difficult to talk about some things,” said Ed. “Having a peer network of like-minded individuals is very helpful.”
“When I was in the KEY group, I was in the transition from being an employee to starting my own business. When I asked them about going out on my own, they gave me honest advice and that was very helpful for me, both professionally and personally.”
Ed joined a TEC Small Business group in 2017. “As you move to CEO and a founder of your own business, it’s even more valuable,” he adds. “When I started my company, the things I didn’t know had exponentially increased and, therefore, the benefit of being in a TEC group had also increased dramatically. As a small business owner, there are so many things you have to become good at from marketing, branding, growing the team, business development, etc.,” said Ed. “I realized I had very limited experience in these areas and needed some support to make sure we were doing everything in the best way possible.”
“Growing a company is difficult especially when it is done over a short period of time. The problem I have faced is that with limited operating history, it’s been hard to make future decisions off of historical results (something I have always leaned on in my previous experiences),” said Ed. He found that talking to the other business owners in his TEC group that have also grown their businesses from scratch and his Chair Michelle Van Tol during their one-to-ones has really helped him decide when and where to scale, what activities to do more of and where to really focus his attention. “The biggest thing for me is accountability. I don’t have a board, I own 100% of the company so I don’t have any shareholders to report to and I don’t have any external advisors, so Michelle holds me accountable. She follows up every month at our one-to-ones and she’s helped me drive my business forward by adding that level of accountability,” added Ed. “This has helped us make better decisions and at the same time empower my team.”