Charles Botchway - CEO & Founder, Madison Street Capital

Charles Botchway is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Madison Street Capital, LLC, where he manages the firm’s overall strategic direction and operations. Prior to forming Madison Street Capital, Botchway was co-CEO and Vice Chairman of Houlihan Smith & Company, Inc., where he was responsible for the company’s strategic direction and operations, as well as crafting and executing the firm’s international expansion strategy. Prior to joining Houlihan Smith & Company, Botchway was instrumental in starting and eventually leading the investment banking subsidiary of one of the largest middle market consulting firms in the world. He has also served in a variety of roles within the corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions sector of investment banking, focusing on private middle market and emerging market transactions.

Madison Street Capital is an international investment banking firm committed to integrity, excellence, leadership and service in delivering corporate financial advisory services, merger and acquisition expertise, financial opinions, and valuation services to publicly and privately held businesses. These services position clients to succeed in the global marketplace. In undertaking each new project, the client’s goals and objectives become the goals of Madison Street Capital, ranging from financial advisory and successful capital raises to M&A transactions to transfers of ownership. Madison Street Capital views emerging markets as the core component driving the global growth of clients and will continue to focus significant assets on these markets. The firm has earned the trust of clients around the world through unwavering dedication to the highest levels of professional standards.

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start Madison Street Capital?

I worked for a management consulting firm that worked with lower middle market companies. We would always run into clients that needed M&A or corporate finance services and the firm would typically pass them by. Eventually, management realized it was a missed opportunity and started an advisory practice. I got involved shortly after, helped build the practice and eventually was given an opportunity to lead the group. I then joined a small boutique that had 5 people and grew it into an international firm with offices around the world and over 300 employees. We did that in about five years. With regard to MSC, as our company (the aforementioned boutique) grew my partners and I had different ideas about the direction of the firm. Specifically, my co-CEO and I had wildly different ideas about leadership, execution and most importantly, a strategy for continued success. When the message from the leadership of any firm isn’t coherent or in sync, it’s difficult for the folks in any organization to feel good about what they’re doing. Madison Street Capital was born out of that chaos giving me an opportunity to define what I wanted for our company. Our focus has always been to bring wall street advice and services to main street businesses. To put our clients first and to make sure that whenever we interact with a client they feel like they learned something from that interaction whether they hire us or not. It’s our deposit on a future engagement so to speak.

How do you make money?

Madison Street Capital provides Mergers and Acquisitions advisory services as well financial opinions and valuation services to our clients. We are paid fees and commissions for those services.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It took a couple of years to become profitable. We started MSC by acquiring a large chunk of the company I was running. This meant we started a new unknown company with 120 employees on day one. Starting at such scale created quite a few challenges those first few years.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?  If so, how did you handle that?

There were plenty of moments during those first couple of years when I thought to myself, why am I putting myself and my family through this? I love the work that we do, it is impactful in the lives of so many, our clients, our people and the folks that depend on them. It is gratifying to know that a client’s business has been saved or improved because of working with us, the employee that is experiencing success as a result of the mentoring and training they received from our team. That always reminds me that what we were doing was righteous. I’ve never needed any more motivation than knowing that our cause is just.

How did you get your first customer?

We were fortunate when we started Madison Street Capital to have a team of folks who had worked together for years. We had enough depth on our team to ensure that first client meeting went well. We were able to get our client to understand that we would be a fearless advocate on their behalf and that won us the mandate.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

Over the last few years, we’ve become more active in using digital marketing avenues to augment the referrals that we get from law firms and accounting firms. That said, our most predictable marketing and effective tool remains the telephone. There’s nothing like talking to a prospect over the phone to identify a fit which then leads to face to face meeting and ultimately an engagement and a completed transaction. It always works and we’re hard pressed to find an alternative that’s more effective.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

The termination of one of our senior transaction executives and the timing of it, in order to minimize the impact on the clients for whom he was responsible.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I have an insatiable thirst for learning and combine that with constant self- assessment. I look inward first when things don’t go my way to understand what I could have done differently or better. I do that same analysis when things do go right and that enables me to keep improving. In addition, I make it a point to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am knowing that I’m no slouch in the intellectual department either. It affords me the benefit of the best ideas possible. Lastly and most importantly I’m not afraid to change my mind, change course or direction if necessary.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I can’t point to a single event. Over the last few years, we’ve won several industry awards and that’s very gratifying to be recognized among our peers. It’s gratifying to see folks who’ve been trained under our system go on to do things with their lives and credit the training they received from us for their success. It’s gratifying to speak to a client after our mandate is complete and hear about the impact the folks from MSC had on their lives.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

We have a plan of controlled, sustained growth that we’ve been executing and will continue to do so. Like all things, it has its hiccups but I’m excited about the opportunity to expand our cross-border activity. We have a nice pipeline of transactions and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year looks like for our firm.

What business books have inspired you?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of the first books that inspired me. I first read it some 25 years ago and still refer to it frequently. I was in introduced to Ayn Rand by a former boss of mine and her book Atlas Shrugged has had a lasting impact on me.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

We experimented with an online platform that caters to entrepreneurs and folks in our industry. That platform has improved our workflow from client acquisition through the deal marketing and execution.

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