Recently we were asked to consider sitting on a panel for an executive conference of growing companies, and of course, we jumped at the chance. But, one of the “corporate sponsors” (i.e. an investment banking firm) quacked at the thought of it, and so we were asked to participate in a program later in the year. Why? Of course we know why! Investment bankers are our competition and although a national accounting/consulting firm highly recommended us, the investment banker wasn’t buying it. Using Lantern Capital Advisors to raise capital or get a company refinanced is like wearing a Target T-shirt to the Oscars with your Georgio Armani silk skirt. Same outcome, less price. We get it, but does the rest of the world?
This same story played out years ago. During that time I was an internet consultant and had the opportunity to work for Frederick’s of Hollywood where I was part of a team that helped them complete a technology assessment, a marketing strategy, and their dot com strategy. Prior to that, I had always thought of Frederick’s as being “trashy” and it wasn’t until I went to work for them that I actually ever stepped foot in their store. Once I got behind the scenes, it truly became a company that I respected. In short, I was a “WonderBra” evangelist. During my stint with Frederick’s, I got to work with an awesome woman executive, Terry Patterson, who was brought in by their private equity investor to turn the company around. It was great working for a very savvy business woman, and I was mesmerized by her drive. Terry was charged with redefining the Frederick’s brand and her first order of business was to put some Hollywood glamour into the brand and pull away from the stereotypical client that hung out on Hollywood Boulevard. It was working. Terry was rebranding the company and I was working with my team to redesign and rebuild the website so that it was more “department” focused. It was also one of the first websites to implement “suggestive” selling.
Things looked even brighter because Frederick’s was also in the final stages of developing an innovative new “water based” product and the combination of our new products and growing Internet revenues forecasted a rosy future.
Then, one night as I sat in Fredrick’s design room (a small windowless office on Hollywood Boulevard), Victoria’s Secret announced they were now producing their own “Water Type” Bra. In my humble opinion the product was inferior to Fredrick’s. Both Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood were getting their products manufactured in China. Using the same lace, and the same thread, and most likely…the same pattern. Different factories, I know, because my Frederick’s bra is still holding strong. Still, Victoria Secret charged more for their bra, and ended up selling millions of them. How can Victoria’s Secret sell so many bras? Advertising.
The same holds true today. Quality doesn’t always win (or at least not in the short term). Lantern uses the same sources of capital as the investment banking community in order to access capital for our clients, but we charge less for it, and we do absolutely no advertising, well, besides the web, if you categorize having a website as advertising. 🙂 We depend on word of mouth. We charge for our time. If a client is going to be successful raising capital, using our team to achieve the same goal makes sense. We respect the quality of our clients, and we strive for quality in our work and that shows in our unique process and consulting steps done very early in our engagements to remove risk and provide an effective roadmap that works consistently well. Investment banker’s don’t do this because it could endanger their ‘advisor’ fees. But by not seeking those big advisor fees or accepting referral fees, we are able to create competition for financing for our clients at a fraction of the cost and have those savings accrue back to our clients.
We built our firm to help REAL companies with REAL growth potential and while our clients can afford to buy the Chanel White T-shirt, they are still REAL enough to choose the Target t-shirt that works just as well because they know REAL value goes beyond just window dressing.
For our clients, every dollar saved today can be used to create even greater value tomorrow.