News Why The Spin-Off?

AI meets human-first

The genesis of this deal-sourcing behemoth.

Sebastien Douville

Sebastien Douville, Managing Partner and Co-Head

I have been a Partner and COO at FirePower Capital for almost 10 years. And with fellow partner, Cameron Vernest, we’re spinning off a human-first, AI-powered buy-side-only advisor, here in Toronto as well as Cape Town and Bangalore.

FirePower is backing this separate brand and unit with a US$3.2M investment. 

The mission: create and own a new segment of investment banking: Corporate Development as a Service (CDaaS).

Why the spin-off

FirePower is a well-known Canadian brand for Canadian mid-market firms. It advises, lends and invests right here. 

  • 125+ transactions since 2010 
  • 60+ dedicated people in the core units, 800+ equally dedicated folks in the portfolio companies: Wesbell, GrowthGenius, BATL, Konfidis, TIG and VRE

So why spin it off?

1) Global scope 

During our first year (starting in March 2020), we originated deal ideas in 13 countries on behalf of US and Canadian clients. The second year, that number climbed to 29. We went from a Canada-focused outfit to one needing multi-language research and deal-making capabilities, at scale. 

2) Our clients’ aspirations

Our clients are some of the most acquisitive companies in the Americas, MENA and APAC, strategics and PE alike. They want to see every deal that is relevant to them, be it off- or in-market. Their objectives are massive and compelling. We wanted to help. The status quo for them sucks, but making it better is extremely challenging because it’s a three-pronged issue: 

  • Be an exceptional M&A advisor
  • Enjoy sorting and extracting value out of enormous datasets 
  • Harness and adapt the very best of B2B sales development techniques 

Who we’re spinning off

In late 2019, I bet one of our clients that I could take their pace of acquisitions from ~30 to ~40 per year. Didn’t think he’d take me up on that, but he did. So had to do it. The unit is called Spearhead Corporate Development, and while it’s a new brand, we have been crushing it since launch (March 2020). I wish it was about fishing in tropical waters, but no: we enable active large strategics and PE firms to see more opportunities and close more deals with more certainty, worldwide. 

How and what does that mean? 

Our team expertly curates, connects with, and advances deal opportunities for our clients. They focus on closing deals, we focus on the top of the funnel.

Deal origination will, and must, remain human-first. But at our scale, technology & processes are key; we’ve got that in spades, much of which is proprietary. 

As we like to say, just pick up the phone’ and speak to someone. We are thoughtful and memorable in our outreach. 

It is the only way — any other approach would not do justice to our clients’ exceptional brands and reputations. 

Why it has a shot

Our clients love us and keep us around for years because we surface strategically salient deal ideas for them. 

Fellow partner and Co-Head Cameron Vernest has built global, sophisticated business development teams at Shopify, BlackBerry and TradeGecko (the latter enjoyed a 9‑figure exit in 2020). 

I’ll go into battle with Cam everyday. 

Despite heavy investments into our people and systems, etc., we are already profitable. The backing from Firepower is unwavering. Few other teams in the world can thrive at the intersection of advanced B2B sales development techniques, big data/​ML/​AI and M&A advisory.

It’s the future of the buy-side, and Spearhead calls it Corporate Development as a Service. 

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