What is a "merchant bank"?

Merchant banks are financial firms that serve private companies and help with securing capital and providing advice. The term merchant bank dates back to the Middle Ages, when Italian merchants began extending loans to, and taking stakes in, other business ventures. Over time, merchant banking split into several streams. The largest merchant banks became almost indistinguishable from investment banks; the smaller ones tended to be creative, adaptable and bespoke. You can read more on merchant banks on our blog.

What will I get in working with Windigo Bay?

First, you get an expert in how to creatively finance or restructure your business, or buy another business: whom to approach, what can be raised, how to structure the deals, negotiation skills, and more. Every transaction or restructuring is a puzzle. Our job is to solve it.

Second, you'll save time and preserve your sales. Raising capital, M&A and restructuring are all time-consuming activities, and without help your sales will drop and your business will slow down as you spend time seeking money on your own.

Third, you get our network, our advice, and our wisdom.

Fourth, you get an ardent advocate for your interests. Our job is to structure a deal that achieves your real goals and protects your interests.

Is Windigo Bay an investor?

No. Windigo Bay is a specialist in structuring and raising capital, assembling & negotiating transactions, and advising on deal strategy. To avoid conflicts of interest, Windigo Bay does not invest in its clients. Our mission is to advise you, to work with third parties, and put deals together.

How is Windigo Bay compensated?

Depending on the project, it's a combination of fees and contingent (bonus) compensation on closings. Fees can be either monthly work fees, or hourly fees, depending on the assignment. Bonus fees are kept modest, because we always want to be able to advise a client to walk away from a bad deal.

What's a typical client for Windigo Bay?

Generally our clients are $1–$10 million in revenues, led and controlled by owner-operators (even if they have other shareholders), and typically in technology, media, e-commerce, or renewables/cleantech. They are based in Canada or the U.S. Usually they have no VCs involved, nor are they planning to raise VC. Economically our clients tend to fall into one of two extremes: either they doing well, growing at 20%–40% a year with leading products—or they're struggling and over-leveraged. Our assignments tend to be about either expansion or restructuring.

What's your working style?

We always work with the CEO, and also with other members of the exec team as appropriate. We are focussed on the vital essentials of the project. Our style is blunt and candid. We ask lots of questions. Our goal is to get a result that is good today, and that still proves wise three years from now.

Do you help early-stage startups raise money?

No.

Do you raise from VCs?

No.

Our business is in a difficult spot. How can you help us?

We have advised clients facing turnaround situations. The more difficult the business problem, the more creative we must be.

Are you always successful in raising capital for clients?

Nobody is. Ultimately whether a business can raise money is like an individual qualifying for a big loan: many factors come into it. Each business is unique. And the capital market ebbs and flows; some types of businesses just have an easier time getting funding at any given time.

The ultimate constraint on financing a business is the quality of the business and its leadership.

What we find is that almost every business has at least one path to getting more capital. It may be a different amount that the business owner wishes it to have been—but it can still be plenty to achieve the goals.