Computershare founder and rich list member Chris Morris admits that parking is a strange thing to love. But the more he looks into the sector, the better the business case becomes for his latest investment, New Zealand-based tech company Meter Eye.
Morris, who has a range of small tech investments outside his large Computershare shareholding, is the chairman and major shareholder in Perth-based company Empire Beer Company.
While the company’s name suggests a big involvement in the brewing sector, the business has been a cashbox for most of the last two years, since it sold its two assets – a pub and a brewery – to Morris in 2008.
But earlier this month, the company finally announced its new direction with the acquisition of Meter Eye.
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Morris told SmartCompany that the process of finding the right investment for Empire has been a long one, as the company looked for the right opportunity with the assistance of Perth capital advisory firm Max Capital.
“We’ve been pretty public about the fact that we are a cashbox so we’ve had lots of enquiry from a number of people,” Morris says.
“The guys from Max love mining and I love technology – and when you put it that way I guess I won.”
Meter eye specialises in “end-to-end” parking solutions. The company makes high-tech parking sensors that allow parking attendants to access satellite technology to monitor which cars have overstayed their allotted time and then fine them.
The company has an exclusive deal with British car park operator Town & City Parking, whereby it shares the revenue generated by parking fines.
Meter Eye founder and managing director Paul Collins will stay with the merged entity, and Morris says he was attracted by the passion of Collins for his sector.
“He’s crazy about parking, which is a strange thing to love, but it’s a fascinating issue the more you look into it.”
Morris, who holds stakes in online services company Webfirm, software-as-a-service firm Qdos and owns a portfolio of hotels in Melbourne and Perth, admits he is now receiving a steady stream of pitches from companies looking for angel investors.
“A million things come all the time. If it’s something I know nothing about then I’ll steer clear. I only look at things where I think can add value.”