Yearly Archives: 2016

Introverts can be undervalued, Chapter III

1st player in NFL history elected All-Pro to 2 positions (DE & OLB) in the same season.

Oakland’s Khalil Mack is the 1st player ever in NFL history elected as an All-Pro at two different positions (DE & OLB) in the same season.

We have written before that introverts are often undervalued in the business world (August 2015) given that introverts often have characteristics which manifest themselves in a positive way in building high-growth businesses:

– a more focused mindset to their leadership style
– better at dealing with setbacks (because they need less external validation)
– more realistic when listening to feedback or analyzing information (because they do less public promotion of themselves)

Similarly, in our post, “Do I put off a human vibe to you? (January 2014), we wrote that the public (and, often, investor’s) imagination can be captured by the extrovert – highly confident, dynamic, charismatic types who are full of outward confidence and whose natural talent or ability seems obvious after a first meeting.  We were reminded of the introvert vs. extrovert discussion when reading Robert Klemko’s feature of NFL star Khalil Mack, whom Kelmko contrasts in some detail with Jadeveon Clowney.

As many college and NFL fans will remember, former South Carolina star Clowney is an athletic marvel, able to rely on his immense physical gifts to dominate lesser opponents throughout his football career, up until his NFL career began.  Every college talent evaluator and NFL draftnik was mesmerized by Clowney’s obvious and immense physical gifts, though fewer paid attention to his work habits, hustle, and understanding of the team concept.

Mack, by contrast, was the classic diamond-in-the-rough, overlooked in the college recruiting process because of an injury in high school and his still-developing frame.  As college recruiters overlooked Mack, however, he honed his craft in relative obscurity at small school Buffalo, far away from the bright lights and television exposure of the Southeastern Conference, where Clowney played.

Far from being discouraged, however, Mack instead focused on honing his craft, paying careful attention to the technique of the position and living in the weight room, whereas Clowney lifted weights infrequently and chose to freelance more during games, confident that his talent (and other less talented teammates) would save him.  Once the talent evened out in the NFL, however, Mack’s habits have overtaken Clowney’s talent, making Mack, not Clowney, the force to be reckoned with in the pass-happy NFL as a dominant pass rusher.

Mack’s ascent has reminded us of Sequoia Capital’s philosophy of investing with entrepreneurs from meager beginnings.  As Sequoia Capital managing partner Doug Leone states, “Sequoia looks for people from humble backgrounds.  Maybe something happened in our lives early on, our system was shocked, and we have this unbelievable need to stay on top and to succeed.”

At Ballast Point Ventures, we know that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but we too are interested in investing with those entrepreneurs who have persisted when times were difficult and continued to chase their dreams of building their companies, oftentimes far away from the glitzy limelight of Silicon Valley and the associated “unicorn” culture.  We know that building a great business takes talent and intelligence, for sure, but hard work and persistence often can carry an entrepreneur when all else evens out.  We will continue to look to partner with the Khalil Macks of the world, knowing that they share many of the values that we hold dear and will exhaust every avenue to make their dreams come true.

When You Change the World and No One Notices

crop380w_istock_000018298852xsmallWe’ve written that it’s a long and difficult journey from idea to successful business, and entrepreneurs need partners who intuitively understand the right kind of support to offer over the long term during which failure can be counted on to make at least a cameo appearance.  In other words, the road to both successful and failed business models can be paved with “innovation.”

That road can also be long and involve a great deal of anonymity.  A friend recently passed along this article about how long it took for the Wright brothers to get even passing notice for an invention that would have seemed miraculous at the time.

(T)he first passing mention of the Wrights in The New York Times came in 1906, three years after their first flight. (I)n 1904, the Times asked a hot-air-balloon tycoon whether humans may fly someday. He answered:

Count

That was a year after the Wright’s first flight.

One would like to think a breakthrough of that magnitude that would kick up the equivalent of a tweet-storm, but even today one never knows.  For further evidence check out our Vintage Future series, a tongue-in-cheek look back at the sometimes tortuous routes to success (or not) of unlikely ideas. E.g., it took sliced bread 18 years to succeed.

Back to the article, which offers a seven-step path “big breakthroughs typically follow”:

  • First, no one’s heard of you.
  • Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.
  • Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
  • Then they view your product as a toy.
  • Then they see it as an amazing toy.
  • Then they start using it.
  • Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

This process can take decades. It rarely takes less than several years.

The author echoes our earlier point, that “invention is only the first step of innovation,” and also adds that while Zen-like patience isn’t a typical trait associated with entrepreneurs, it is sometimes required.

If you are interested in reading a little bit more about the history of the Wright Brothers’ invention, please check out “The only thing he ever made fly was government money,” one of our all-time most-read posts.  It includes a great lesson about the process of productive capital allocation.

If you are interested in a related bit of trivia:  Neil Armstrong carried a piece of the Wright flyer with him to the moon.  In “The Wright Stuff” we recount that story and Mr. Armstrong’s explanation for why they experienced “only” 150 separate identifiable failures per flight when, statistically, they expected 1000.

The Zebra Welcomes Brett Little, Former Travelocity and Match.com VP of Finance, to Executive Team

Posted August 31st, 2016 by The Zebra

Little joins The Zebra to build company’s finance function, bringing 20+ years of global finance and accounting experience from Match.com, Travelocity and AppFolio

AUSTIN, Texas — August 31, 2016 The Zebra, the most comprehensive car insurance comparison marketplace in the U.S., today announced the addition of Brett Little as Executive Vice President of Finance & Administration. Little brings more than 20 years’ finance experience from Match.com, Travelocity and AppFolio, and will oversee The Zebra’s financial, legal, and human resources operations to help drive optimal consumer experience and continued disruption throughout the massive auto insurance industry.

“In a few short years, we’ve grown TheZebra.com into the most visited car insurance comparison website in the U.S. Now, with the addition of Brett, we can accelerate our growth as we strengthen the position of The Zebra and our partners,” CEO Adam Lyons said. “Brett has the right mix of skills and experience to complement an already world-class leadership team. We could not be more excited.”

Meet Brett Little, EVP of Finance & Administration

Little joins The Zebra after nearly four years at AppFolio, a California-based SaaS provider of workflow solutions, where he was part of the team that took the company public in 2015. Little’s tenure saw both a quadrupling of revenue and progress toward realizing operating leverage in the business.

Before AppFolio, Little was instrumental in growing the financial organizations at big-name consumer-facing brands Match.com and Travelocity. In his 10 years at Match.com, Little partnered with the leadership team as the company realized revenue and subscriber expansion and became a globally recognized name in the ever-popular world of online dating.

Prior to his tenure at Match.com, Little built and led a team at Travelocity that contributed to the company’s rapid revenue growth and emergence as a pioneer in the online travel industry.

At The Zebra, Little will focus on connecting all elements of the business to create the best possible product and experience for consumers seeking auto insurance in the modern, connected world.

“I’ve had great opportunities to grow fledgling ideas alongside industry-leading companies, and I’m incredibly excited to do that and more with The Zebra,” Little said. “The Zebra is already revolutionizing the highly regulated and complex auto insurance industry, which is a massive undertaking. I see so many opportunities to continue to tweak the formula and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves.”

Resources:

About The Zebra

The Zebra is the most comprehensive online car insurance comparison platform in the U.S. Since 2012, the company has sought to bring transparency and simplicity to car insurance shopping — “car insurance in black and white.” With The Zebra’s real-time, side-by-side quote comparison tool, drivers can identify insurance companies with the coverage, service level, and pricing to suit their unique needs. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, The Zebra compares over 200 car insurance companies and provides agent support and educational resources to ensure drivers are equipped to make the most informed decisions about their car insurance.

 

Contact:

Alyssa Connolly

The Zebra

Phone: 773.59.ZEBRA

press@thezebra.com

PowerDMS Named to Inc. 5000 List for 6th Consecutive Year

Orlando, Fla. (August 19, 2016) – PowerDMS, the leading cloud-based policy and procedure management software company, has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held U.S. companies. This marks the sixth consecutive year PowerDMS has made the list.

“I’m humbled to be recognized alongside America’s most successful companies,” said Josh Brown, PowerDMS founder and CEO. “Our team is passionate about providing the most innovative product and providing exceptional customer service. It’s rewarding to know the hard work is paying off as evident by our continued growth.”

Founded in 2001, PowerDMS has grown revenue by more than 84 percent over the past three years and is on track for continued growth this year. With this revenue growth, PowerDMS will be able to grow its workforce, provide innovative customer support and enhance the technology platform with new features.

PowerDMS recently launched a mobile app for Apple devices and has now turned their attention to developing an app for Android platform users. PowerDMS is also proud to be named one of Florida’s Best Companies to Work For by Florida Trend magazine and one of Orlando’s Best Places to Work by the Orlando Business Journal.

About PowerDMS

PowerDMS, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is a cloud-based document management software company. The application provides practical tools to organize and manage crucial documents and industry standards, train and test employees, and uphold proof of compliance, thereby helping organizations reduce risk and liability. PowerDMS simplifies document management through powerful collaboration, process and automation. www.PowerDMS.com

About Inc. and the Inc. 5000

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 6,000,000 today. www.inc.com

Iconixx Software grows C-suite again, hires first chief revenue officer

AUSTIN, Texas – July 11, 2016 – Iconixx Software Corp., an Austin-based maker of compensation management software, has named sales veteran David Loia as its first chief revenue officer.

Loia was previously the vice president of sales for Austin software maker ZenossInc. and senior vice president of revenue for Austin-based HumanIntelligence Inc. Before that, he was vice president of sales for Spokane, Washington-based Next IT Corp. and a director of California-based Oracle CX Cloud, according to his online profile.

Iconixx Software, founded in 2010, develops software designed to manage sales compensation, bonuses and salaries. It employed about 80 workers last year.

Last August, Iconixx Software reported raising a $10 million financing from investors that included Florida-based Ballast Point Ventures LP and Alabama-based Harbert Venture Partners LLC, CEO Derrik Deyhimi said.

In December, the company hired William Getchell as its first chief financial officer. Then in April, Iconixx announced establishing a credit facility with Comerica Bank to fund future growth, but it didn’t disclose the financial details of the facility.

This article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal.

 

kSep Systems acquired by Sartorius Stedim

Sartorius Stedim Biotech acquires U.S. start-up kSep Systems

Transaction to expand SSB’s bioprocessing product portfolio with innovative single-use centrifuges

AUBAGNE, France– 7.6.16 –(BUSINESS WIRE)–Regulatory News:

kSep LogoSartorius Stedim Biotech (SSB), a leading international supplier for the biopharmaceutical industry, today has signed a contract to acquire U.S. centrifuge specialist kSep Holdings, Inc. (kSep). The privately owned company based in Morrisville, North Carolina, has been operating on the market since 2011, and is expected to achieve significant double-digit growth and to generate around $7 million sales revenues and a strong double-digit EBITDA margin in 2016. The transaction values kSep at around $28 million and will be closed by the end of July 2016.

kSep has developed and markets single-use, fully automated centrifugation systems used for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals, such as vaccines, cell-based therapeutics and monoclonal antibodies. Reinhard Vogt, member of SSB’s Board, commented, “kSep’s centrifuges are a very innovative, single-use cell separation technology that perfectly complements our offering for downstream bioprocessing. Our clients will greatly benefit from the unique ability to collect, wash and concentrate cells quickly and reduce both the time and cost of downstream purification steps.” SSB will retain kSep’s current leadership and staff.

“Sartorius Stedim Biotech’s strong relationships with its customers will significantly speed up our internationalization and business growth. SSB will provide access to considerably more customers, especially in Asia, a market we haven’t developed yet,” said Sunil Mehta, President and CEO of kSep.

This press release contains statements about the future development of the Sartorius Stedim Biotech Group. We cannot guarantee that the content of these statements will actually apply because these statements are based upon assumptions and estimates that harbor certain risks and uncertainties.

A profile of Sartorius Stedim Biotech

Sartorius Stedim Biotech is a leading international supplier of products and services that enable the biopharmaceutical industry to develop and manufacture drugs safely and efficiently. As a total solutions provider, Sartorius Stedim Biotech offers a portfolio covering nearly all steps of biopharmaceutical manufacture. The company focuses on single-use technologies and value-added services to meet the rapidly changing technology requirements of the industry it serves. Headquartered in Aubagne, France, Sartorius Stedim Biotech is quoted on the Eurolist of Euronext Paris. With its own manufacturing and R&D sites in Europe, North America and Asia and a global network of sales companies, Sartorius Stedim Biotech has a global reach. The company employs approx. 4,200 people, and in 2015 earned sales revenue of 884.3 million euros.

A profile of kSep

kSep Systems leverages its innovation, engineering, and cGMP manufacturing expertise to provide robust and automated single-use centrifugation solutions for the manufacturing of recombinant therapeutics, cell therapy products, and vaccines. kSep products solve the problems of traditional centrifugation-based systems by providing a gentle processing environment for the concentration, washing, and separation of cells while maintaining high recoveries. kSep Systems, a spinoff from KBI Biopharma, Inc., was established in 2011 and is based in Morrisville, NC.

BPV completes successful exit from Tower Cloud

BPV portfolio company Tower Cloud has been acquired by Communications Sales & Leasing, Inc (NASDAQ: CSAL) in a stock and cash deal valued at $230 million plus milestone payments.  

Here is today’s write up from the Tampa Bay Business Journal:

St. Pete fiber optics firm acquired in $230 million deal

tcloudSt. Petersburg-based Tower Cloud is being acquired by Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. (NASDAQ: CSAL) in a stock and cash deal valued at $230 million.

Tower Cloud, founded in 2006 and backed by private equity investors, operates a fiber optic network in 15 markets in the Southeast United States, with nearly 6,000 route miles connecting large markets and Internet hubs with smaller markets and rural areas.

“Tower Cloud significantly expands our backhaul network and greatly accelerates our entry into the high growth small cell and dark fiber businesses,”Kenny Gunderman, president and CEO of Little Rock, Arkansas-based CS&L, said in a statement. “We continue to grow our wireless carrier relationships across all asset classes and are seeing an increasing number of opportunities arise as carriers densify their networks and look toward the deployment of 5G and related technologies.”

In an investor conference call about the deal Monday morning, Gunderman said, “Tower Cloud is very complementary to our strategy of acquiring and building mission critical communications infrastructure and becoming more and more relevant to the national wireless carriers in particular. The deal makes CS&L one of the largest owners of fiber in the country,” Gunderman said.

“We think that fiber is and will be the most critical component of the communications network going forward and Tower Cloud is an established provider of two of the biggest growth areas within fiber including dark fiber deployments and small cells,” Gunderman said in the call.

The acquisition expands CS&L’s national wireless carrier relationships because more than 90 percent of Tower Cloud’s revenues are from national wireless carriers. The deal also advances CS&L’s diversification strategy by increasing its exposure to the national wireless carriers with long-term contractual revenues.

Tower Cloud’s recent dark fiber and small cell awards with national wireless carriers will accelerate the company’s initiatives, the company said in a statement. Tower Cloud is currently constructing dark fiber routes in Florida and Georgia with total contractual revenues of $175 million.

Last November, Tower Cloud signed a contract with one of the “big 4” mobile carriers to expand its fiber network infrastructure and bring high-speed connectivity and capacity to Augusta, Georgia. It also announced last September that it would expand its fiber network into Jacksonville.

PowerDMS aids Baltimore PD

PDMSPowerDMS, an Orlando-based portfolio company of ours, has received widespread local and national news coverage for its efforts to help the Baltimore Police Department ensure officers see, know, and implement critical policies in critical moments.

Here is the story in the Orlando Sentinel, which includes an interview with PowerDMS CEO Josh Brown.

National print coverage included stories in The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun;  national television coverage included ABC News (“…the department will use web and smartphone applications to help make sure officers read and understand new rules.”) and Fox News (“Baltimore police to use apps for new policies.”)

Baltimore PD’s press conference included a 15-minute live demonstration of PowerDMS, run by the customer.  The local CBS Affiliate has footage of that press conference here.  (Scroll to the bottom of the story.)

This story is also an example of one of the best things about our business:  one of our companies doing well by doing good.  While this happens often, it rarely is highlighted so clearly (and broadly!).

 

 

BPV Portfolio Company API Acquired by Upland Software

AUSTIN, Texas, April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Upland Software, Inc. (UPLD), a leader in cloud-based Enterprise Work Management software, today announced that it has acquired Advanced Processing & Imaging (API), a highly effective content management platform driving workflow in governments and schools across North America. API will be combined with Upland’s enterprise workflow automation solution, FileBound, to create the industry’s most powerful workflow automation and document management platform.

Workflow automation and document management software is a large and growing market. Businesses across industries use workflow automation and document management tools to organize and automate document processes to improve ROI. FileBound is a leader in this industry, providing exceptional solutions in healthcare, education, legal, government and automotive markets. With the addition of API, Upland’s FileBound will expand service offerings in the municipal government and education verticals.

“We are very pleased to welcome Advanced Processing & Imaging and its valued customers to the Upland family,” said Jack McDonald, chairman and CEO of Upland Software. “FileBound and API power some of the most efficient organizations. The combined solution, with fortified strength in education and government verticals, will support even greater customer success.”

“FileBound is committed to driving efficiency and delivering outstanding value to our enterprise customers and resellers,” said Sean Nathaniel, CTO and SVP of Workflow Automation Solutions. “We look forward to ensuring the ongoing success of API’s customers. The combined organization is poised to deliver enterprise-level service and support to API customers, ultimately providing more value.”

“This is a very important milestone for our customers,” said Juan Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Advanced Processing & Imaging. “In combining Upland’s enterprise-level capabilities and the passion for customer experience that both companies share, we see significant value in this acquisition for our customers.”

The transaction will be immediately accretive to Upland’s Adjusted EBITDA per share. Further details regarding the transaction can be obtained in the Form 8-K filed April 27, 2016.

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Drew Graham to Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research Board of Directors

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Drew Graham to the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research Board of Directors

Graham, 49, of Tampa, is a managing partner with Ballast Point Ventures. He currently serves as vice chair for the Tampa General Hospital Foundation. Graham received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and master’s degree from Harvard University. He succeeds Manny Fernandez for a term beginning April 27, 2016, and ending November 03, 2018.

 

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