Canadian CEOs want money, talent, government support, survey by Ottawa’s Sampford Advisors finds

Fundraising

Sampford Advisors’ annual survey of Canadian tech CEOs shows that raising capital and acquiring talent are top of mind of the nation’s executives.

The Ottawa-based technology M&A firm surveyed dozens of CEOs across the country, with the vast majority (86 per cent) running Ontario-based businesses. Ninety per cent of these tech firms were more than three years old, with nearly two-thirds operating in software.

According to those surveyed, the two biggest concerns chief executives in Canada are facing are acquiring new customers (30 per cent) and recruiting talent (24 per cent). In spite of these challenges, 72 per cent of respondents say they grew their firm’s revenues in 2016, with 87 per cent forecasting continued growth in 2017.

The survey also indicates a crowded market for raising capital. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they were planning on raising an investment round in the next two years, with nearly two-thirds of those aiming for series-A or below.

That mirrors the local results of this year’s Ottawa Business Growth Survey, which found that 56 per cent of respondents planned to raise capital in the coming years.

“With so many CEOs looking to raise capital and the VC market continuing to contract in terms of the number of deals, it will be very important for Ottawa’s businesses that want to raise capital to stand-out from their competition and clearly articulate their value proposition and unit economics,” said Sampford Advisors president and CEO Ed Bryant in an email to Techopia.

In the Sampford survey, half of the CEOs who indicated they would look to raise capital said they expect the money to come from the United States.

The survey’s results come as several local industry observers say there are growing opportunities for Canadian firms to access U.S. venture capital, as investors south of the border seek alternatives to overshopped and overvalued American firms.

Despite announcements this year such as $950 million in supercluster funding and $400 million in late-stage funding from BDC, Canadian executives would like to see the government play a more active role in the country’s tech sector. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents told Sampford that they believe the government is not doing enough to support the industry.

In Sampford Advisors’ wheelhouse, the survey indicates that 29 per cent of those surveyed are looking to make an acquisition within the next two years, with 14 per cent indicating they were looking to sell their company in the same timeframe.

In terms of exit strategies, only one in five Canadian tech CEOs believe they’re right for an IPO, with 69 per cent believing a sale may be in their future.