For more than a decade, Tej Brahmbhatt has worked as a corporate banker. Now, he wishes to share his knowledge and expertise to people who wish to break through in this hyper-competitive marketplace, particularly under the digital economy. He is managing partner of Watchtower Capital, as well as the resident business/client/sales development expert at his website, TejTakeaways. He is also available for speaking engagements.
Tej Brahmbhatt says that banking is “the vehicle for living [my] passion: the art of building relationships.” Through his experiences, making mistakes and going through struggles, he discovered that banking depends heavily on building relationships with people and setting yourselves up to benefit mutually. After spending an entire working career in banking, Tej has built up a grand stockpile of knowledge that could benefit aspiring bankers.
Due to his relentless attempts at improving his communication skills, Tej Brahmbhatt soon rose to the top of the ladder. He fought uphill battles to get the jobs he wanted, until he reached several milestones. From starting out as a cold calling analyst, he became a head account executive on Wall Street. He also became a nationally ranked (#7 out of 1100) banker, working five straight years at Wells Fargo. Then he became a corporate banking regional executive at a Fortune 500 company, until he took the next step and became a founder and entrepreneur himself.
Throughout his career, Tej Brahmbhatt has “personally sourced and booked over $1.2B+ USD in transactions,” and he has “led teams to close over $10B+ in transactions.”
Check out more interviews with accomplished executives here.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Tej Brahmbhatt: We bring an extremely unique personal approach to an otherwise cold industry of financials, metrics, and extreme type A personalities. We were pitching a potential marketing technology company and I shuttered when they mentioned the other candidate for consideration. It was a well-known (mid-sized) firm not too far from us. Long story short, we won their bid because yes, we put in an overabundance of work on the front end. But more so, the client loved the fact that we benefited their cause all along the courting process, they joked that I should buy in some equity. Whereas the big competitor would only give up so much time and effort without the signed contract and retainer, mostly because of their known branding and tenure in the IB world. To be brutally honest, we have lost numerous deals to competitors and while we felt it at that time, there is always a hidden positive message to extract. A value add, empathetic approach attracted us to other, likeminded companies and executives who valued our ethos. We are not everything for everyone. On the contrary, we aim for high quality with similar mindset clients over all else.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Tej Brahmbhatt: Client selection! It is not easy to decline potentially big deals and revenue. At first you want to chase down each rabbit hole you get and while you land more deal, are they profitable and is the ROI worth it? Not to mention reputational risk for trying to work every and any deal. As we all learn, the focused, discerning approach usually serves us well. The same advice we preach to our clients we strive to incorporate ourselves. That advice: it is not just about the money only but also the strings (expectations and outcomes) that may be attached to that check. That is our job as an advisor to guide them and teach them through the good, bad, and ugly of the deal cycle. Engaging clients that value our time and collective experience is much more sustainable than debating other clients on the rates, fees, and prices just for the sake of winning every deal.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Tej Brahmbhatt: I will say my network really did step up to support our firm and me personally. Truthfully, I would say my wife was most critical as a bouncing board of ideas but also as someone to push me off the ledge when I needed it most. She too is an investment banker, so she really understands our industry’s trials and tribulations. She believed in me well before I did and that is priceless.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let us shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let us start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Tej Brahmbhatt: A good company: offers services commensurate with the fees or otherwise. They do what they say for the most part, as promised. When you buy or hire a company for a given service and it goes as planned, you may come back to them. You may not if something better comes up next time or if the experience was not memorable enough.
A great company: brings additional value to their clients, enticing them to come back even if not solicited. Hiring a company for a service and feeling they went above and beyond leaves a lasting impression. Furthermore, that company should continue to “wow” the client after the check has been cashed or service rendered. One of the easiest but most impactful plays in our book — Stay on their radar to show them why they choose you in the first place. Continue to bring them value into perpetuity if possible. This reaffirms why they choose you. Bonus: you win additional referrals from that client. This is the difference between good and great.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Tej Brahmbhatt: Most times their engines are running just fine, but it is the wrong fuel. If we have learned anything in 2020, is that not being able to adapt to change will be our demise. I would suggest that any company stuck in one gear or even heading into stagnation, they need to look at their product or service and convert it to a newer, more adaptable version of where they currently are. In other words, numbers do not lie. If you did not change your product or service but the growth chart is flat or worse, then you need to listen to that and expose what is not working and fix it. For example, COVID disruptions hurt our business in Q1/Q2 earlier this year. We had to adapt to be able to be front and center to catch deal flow, now that most f2f meetings were not happened, we quickly formed Zoom networking webinars and meetings. That kept us relevant and busy. This adaptation is something that will forever for a part of our business development efforts.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Tej Brahmbhatt: You cannot stop. If you are bringing value in whatever it is you do, keep pushing forward. This is where doing something you enjoy with a passion comes into play as I referenced earlier. When things get ugly, most of us do not wish to continue for any other reason that we all must pay bills. That is not a fun existence. Do not let profit margins or cash flows change proven behaviors, especially if due to temporary conditions. Like most companies learned in 2020, keeping a healthy surplus of cash is no longer just an option, it is a dire requirement.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Tej Brahmbhatt: The ability to give up control as you grow. The best entrepreneur is great at what they do and the ability to soften the iron grip is a very slowly learned behavior. I deal with this daily. Allowing things to be delegated to others when I know they will not give the same attention I will. It comes down to prioritizing where I make the biggest impact in relation to time spent, then working downward from there to delegate outward to the team/partners.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Tej Brahmbhatt: By now you probably gathered that everything we do is based on the optimal client experience. From the initial consultation call to delving into financials to the closing table, the client centric focus is always first and foremost! Sounds simple but it means getting into the trenches and staying there with the client (empathy) throughout the engagement and beyond.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Tej Brahmbhatt: Such large companies need to be extremely diligent in how their employees behave online. It is a job unto itself for those big companies to manage a successful social media presence. However, for our client base which is “middle market” (Private companies generating less than $1 billion annual revenue) , it is an additional boost of marketing and credibility if managed properly. The survey you reference includes 1/3 public companies and 1/3 nonprofits, not just private companies. For our target base, any private company not leveraging social media in some form is not maximizing their returns and leaving money on the table.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Tej Brahmbhatt: Knowing whether to raise external capital or self-fund. This is the big question. Spend to build it and then they will come? Or go get the business and build as you go. I believe in the latter. We are self-funded. This is much safer but slower to grow. Now I can make the case for raising serious capital to build out an all-encompassing team and infrastructure as well. For me, the slow but enduring and stable road of self-funding was preferred. My initial nights were sleepiness enough and I did not want the pressure of external investors to sway my long-term decisions.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Tej Brahmbhatt: If money were no object, I would love and focus full time on a nonprofit to help young people find their way through life. Meaning find their passion (say by high school), focus on it, fuel it, then monetize it into their own business. This would solve so many problems in so many ways. For now, I enjoy my mentoring and coaching as my opportunity to help and give back. More to come on that now that you got me really thinking on expansion of the brand.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Tej Brahmbhatt: In order of importance:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post This Is Tej Brahmbhatt, Managing Partner at Watchtower Capital appeared first on Tekrati.