How It All Began
September 17, 2019 | Business Transitions Forum
As we move into the new season of BTF events, we are excited to share some insights into how our sessions, speakers and success stories have helped 1000’s of business owners over the past five years plan for successful transitions.
To kick things off, we sat down with Mark Stephenson – President and Co-founder of Cube Business Media, the company that owns and operates the Business Transitions Forum, among 3 other conference and trade show brands.
Mark has been a leader in the conference and tradeshow business for over 25 years with a proven track record for success. As a proud contributor to the industry, he has overseen 12+ conference brands across Canada and the US serving both trade and consumer audiences.
Industry agnostic, Mark has produced events in design, construction, fashion, technology, business, action sports and real estate.
In 2007, Mark and his partners sold their business to a U.S. public company and in 2012 the Canadian portfolio was sold again to Informa, the largest publicly-traded event company in the world. With major conference brands like Buildex, IDSwest, The Real Estate Forums and Cargo Logistics, to name a few, Mark was well established to take the next step in his successful career.
In August of 2015, Mark launched Cube Business Media Inc. with long-time friend and colleague David Tyldesley. Together they co-founded The Business Transitions Forum, Canada’s first large-scale exit-strategy event for business owners, and launched the first BTF conference in November 2015.
-What inspired You to create the BTF conference?
MS – After completing the sale of our own business some 10+ years ago I had the appetite and ambition to start another company. Going through the process of selling a business was very fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process while learning a tremendous amount. BTF was created from the conference business I knew already and the fortunate timing of the growing M&A activity in Canada and around the world. With the ageing population and baby boomers coming through the system to transition their businesses, our timing could not have been better. My partner, Dave Tyldesley, and I started in our own backyard here in Vancouver, and quickly grew the BTF brand to 5 annual conferences across the country. BTF is now part of 10+ annual events Cube produces annually.
-What should attendees expect from the event?
MS – Entrepreneurs will learn and understand what it takes to successfully sell or transition their business, regardless of if they ever actually plan to sell – because for every business, one day there will be a transition. The question is, will the business owner control the process? The strategies learned will make any company more profitable, more desirable, more acquirable in the meantime so we are seeing many types of businesses attend, even early stage companies that want to “get it right” from the very start. The transition process does not happen overnight and to better understand it and what it takes to successfully grow and sell a business is the key takeaway from attending BTF. Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to meet and network with advisors that have supported and guided many others through the transition. You will hear from business owners that have gone through transition already speaking at BTF – they are there to share their stories with other entrepreneurs.
-Who usually comes to BTF?
MS – BTF is attended by business owners from all sectors who are looking to sell or transition their business. The other half of the room is comprised of advisors, private equity, angel investors among others that support and guide the owners through transition. It’s not always attended by those that are looking to sell tomorrow but many owners that are starting the process and may sell one day down the road. The education and experience of attending BTF is very rewarding.
-What are 1 or 2 of your most memorable outcomes of BTF since launching the first one 5 years ago?
MS – We get really excited when we learn deals are being initiated and discussed through the BTF platform. We are now seeing entrepreneurs that attended our events previously, have gone through the sell/transition process and are now speaking at BTF and sharing their own transition stories. It’s really about building a community to support entrepreneurs through their transition goals and ambitions.
-Since launching the conference, you’ve gained a lot of experience and feedback. Can you share the reasoning behind the new pricing package?
MS- A sale or transition does not happen overnight and we felt there was tremendous value by offering the business owners a 2-year pass (1 year price) to support their transition ambitions. A 2-year pass will provide greater education and opportunity to meet advisors that can support their desire to sell or transition.
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