Devon Cranson: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Devon Cranson saw a gap in the market for advisory services catering to small businesses and early stage growth companies, a recognition that led him to launch Cranson Capital Solutions. What advice does he have for other young professionals? Find out in today’s profile…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Cranson Capital is a boutique investment banking firm. The business consists of two divisions; Cranson Capital Securities and Cranson Capital Solutions, both of which offer unique services to support investors and entrepreneurs. Cranson Capital Securities is registered with the Ontario Securities Commission as an Exempt Market Dealer and specializes in raising capital from accredited investors for private placements in real estate developments, early stage technology companies and high-growth businesses. Cranson Capital Solutions is a corporate finance advisory firm that provides debt advisory, capital raising and mergers, and acquisitions for small and medium-sized businesses in manufacturing, business services, real estate, retail and distribution industries.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I was working at one of the large commercial banks and kept seeing clients in the small and mid-market making financing and M&A decisions without the assistance of trusted, experienced professional advisors. The banks and accounting firms do a great job of providing advisory services to large corporations, but when it comes to small businesses and early stage growth companies, there was a large gap in the market. I saw an opportunity to offer sophisticated services to entrepreneurs when they need it most. Over the years, the business evolved to include the Securities division, which gives investors a unique opportunity to participate in private placements that would not otherwise be available through a typical broker or investment advisor.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
We meet and learn about different businesses every day; getting to meet interesting and passionate people and helping them with their business is the most exciting and rewarding part of our business. I also enjoy getting to see early stage technologies and keeping ahead of the curve with new developments. It’s amazing to watch some of our fast growth companies progress along their business plan and be a part of that execution. Seeing our investors make lots of money off of investments they’ve made with us is great too.

The most challenging part is juggling the many priorities that come with running a fast-growing small business.  You have to keep up with the pace and stay on top of many things.  

Where do you see your business going in five years?
In five years I would like to see Cranson Capital expand to have a national presence. There are entrepreneurs across Canada that would benefit from our services.

We’d like to continue to turn investors on to the idea of private placements and introduce more and more people to the opportunity to invest directly into great businesses. We’d like to continue to offer our investors great proprietary deal flow and see them make lots of money off of our investments.  

What does success look like to you?
Working hard every day and doing something that you are passionate about. A big part of my success is helping others succeed; I find it extremely rewarding to know that I’ve helped many other entrepreneurs achieve their business goals.  

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
In 2011 we continued to be approached by entrepreneurs with great growth businesses and nowhere to go for financing as the venture capital markets in Canada had started to dry up. We saw an opportunity to syndicate these investment opportunities to a pool of high net worth investors.  We formed Cranson Capital Securities and registered as an Exempt Market Dealer for this purpose. Over the past two years since that time we’ve been able to raise over $50M.

The transaction that stands out is Keek. We started raising capital for the social media video company when they only had 200,000 users. We worked with them for about eight months and were able to raise capital for them to enable their explosive growth over the past 12 months. They’re now over 65 million users. It’s been quite an amazing thing to be a part of and we continue to watch this company emerge as one of the fastest growing technology companies in Canada.  

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Take advantage of every experience you get, both personally and professionally. Take everything as an opportunity to learn something. Keep an open mind. Try to find something that you are passionate about. If you love what you do and enjoy going to work every day, then everything else will fall into place.

One of the things we look for, whether in a potential employee or an entrepreneur we’re going to raise capital for, is character. Be who you are. Always do the right thing. Don’t be short-sighted, try to think long-term. In business, your name, reputation and track record are so important.   

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We are very fortunate in that we have been successful and with that success comes a responsibility to give back. We take great strides to encourage the Cranson team to support the community and we often participate in charity events or activities as a team. For example, last year a group of us did the Becel Ride for Heart in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. This charity in particular is important to me because I’ve had a number of family members who experienced heart attacks or strokes. We also support a number of other charities including Right to Play, the United Way, Baycrest, the Down Syndrome Association of Toronto, Lupus Canada, the United Jewish Appeal, and a number of other Jewish charitable organizations

What is Notable to you?
Anything that leaves a positive imprint on our society is notable.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
BlackBerry and iPad.

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Two toddlers under the age of four bring out my inner child and keep me on my toes. I also play hockey, do yoga and jump on my bike whenever I get the chance.