AVCAL Awards: Three business lessons from the winners

The Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association announced the winners of its annual AVCAL Awards last night, which recognise vision, achievement, creativity and entrepreneurship in portfolio management and outstanding returns for an exit in the 2012 financial year.

The award for excellence in investor reporting was presented to Brandon Capital Partners and private equity partner CHAMP Ventures.

Best early stage award went to Starfish Ventures for telecom expense software company Quickcomm, while best expansion stage award went to Equity Partners for the designer of compression sportswear Skins.

Best management buyout awards went to Archer Capital container leasing company SCF, sports retailer Rebel Group and software giant MYOB.

Last night also saw the presentation of the inaugural Michael Hirshorn Award to BTF Ltd. The award honours a private equity or venture capital backed company whose products or services have been instrumental in doing public good and delivering to the community.

We’ve taken a look at the companies which took out AVCAL’s awards to identify the lessons you can learn from them.

1. Keep adapting to new trends

Telecommunications expense software company Quickcomm took out one of the top gongs thanks to the company’s ability to keep on top of new developments in the constantly changing telecommunications industry.

Quickcomm was founded in 1997 and has increased its scope beyond just monitoring billing and security risks to encompass wireless, employees working remotely and employees bringing their own devices to work.

It has developed expertise in wireless technology, noting that 31% of an average company’s overall spending is made up by wireless and as workforces are mobilised and the use of mobile devices continues to rise, both costs and the percentage accountable to wireless will increase.

Quickcomm has also moved quickly to capitalise on the trend of employees bringing their own devices to work noting a need for management strategies that incorporate a mobile device management solution to ensure data security.

2. Expand what you offer

SKINS won best expansion stage award and one of the ways the compression sportswear designer has managed to expand so quickly has been by increasing its product range.

Rajeev Ehawan, partner at Equity Partners, told SmartCompany that a bigger product range had been key to expanding the company.

“We basically took a small Australian company global. When we invested the company was turning over $15 million and had 24 employees. By the time we finished the company’s head office had moved to Switzerland, revenue had grown to $55 million and it has over 70 employees,” Ehawan said.

“We obviously expanded the project range, as when we invested they had one range that had been going for five years. So we invested in expanding the range to include products for females and products aimed particularly at the Japanese market.

“It was quite a ride.”

3. Take control of your own business to grow it

A section of the AVCAL awards is dedicated to buyouts, and specialised container leasing company SCF took out the award for best management buyout under $100 million.

Investor and fund manager ICG supported the SCF Group’s senior management team in its buyout of the company from Archer Capital in order to grow the business.

At the time, Richard Sykes, founder and chief executive of SCF, said the management were “thrilled” to have acquired a majority stake in their business.

“We see substantial opportunities to further expand our operations both in Australia and internationally and look forward to working with ICG for the next phase of our business.”


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