“Something bigger than ourselves”: Melbourne startup Quad Lock sells a majority stake

Quad Lock

Quad Lock co-founder Rob Ward. Source: supplied.

Aussie mobile phone mount startup Quad Lock has entered into an agreement to sell a majority share to Quadrant Growth Fund in order to boost growth post-COVID-19.

The acquisition includes both Quad Lock and its parent brand Annex Products.

Founded in Melbourne in 2011, Quad Lock launched through a Kickstarter campaign and quickly gathered a strong social media following.

Starting out with its flagship bike mount for iPhones, it now also sells products for running, driving and motorcycling, as well as charging mounts for use at home.

Today, the startup has sold more than 1 million Quad Lock products in more than 100 countries.

Co-founder Rob Ward doesn’t disclose any of the financials behind the deal, but he tells SmartCompany the bootstrapped startup has been growing year-on-year “for a while” now.

“The business is much bigger than any other business I’ve ever worked in, let alone run.”

For Ward and co-founder Chris Peters, it was time to bring on a partner “who has the ability to add value and knowledge and capital in areas that we probably haven’t played in before”, Ward explains.

The deal is Quadrant Growth Fund’s sixth investment since it raised its $400 million fund in April last year. Since then, it’s invested in businesses including Love To Dream and period underwear brand Modibodi, as well as taking a majority stake in Kate Morris’s Adore Beauty.

For the Quad Lock founders, there was something appealing about “not having to learn everything for the first time every time”, he adds.

The majority acquisition will “definitely” lead to further growth — and perhaps more structured and stable growth — for the business.

“The business is a lot bigger than it was even a year ago, and it continues to go that way,” Ward adds.

“It just becomes a different game.”

Bumpy ground

The acquisition comes at a time when Quad Lock, like every other business, has been navigating the turbulent COVID-19 environment.

Sales were strong before the pandemic took hold, Ward says. But, they’ve only improved since then.

“We had to ride through that bumpy period,” he explains.

For some time, there were issues getting stock out of China. And, the business ships globally, so lockdowns in other regions have also held up deliveries.

“We’ve sort of ridden waves and troughs of COVID around the world — at certain times, we couldn’t ship to Italy or France,” he says.

“But all in all, it’s been pretty stable for the business,” he adds.

“COVID hasn’t had the same effect everywhere at the same time, and we’ve really noticed that in our sales.”

On the one hand, with exercise being one of the only stable permitted activities, there’s demand for Quad Lock’s running and cycling accessories, he says.

“People are bored. People want something to do.”

Also, the startup’s wireless charging desk stand has been popular, he says, with people purchasing the product to spruce up their home offices.

On the other hand, sales in the ‘drive’ category are down. People are not planning road trips, it seems.

But “the net effect is higher sales overall,” Ward says.

“Somewhere, someone in the world buys a Quad Lock every 30 seconds these days,” he adds.

“There are a lot of Quad Locks around the world now.”

New, but the same

Having bootstrapped his business for eight years, Ward admits that handing over a majority stake is a “funny feeling”.

It’s a big change. But, while this may seem contradictory, it’s almost a case of business as usual.

“We’ve been growing so fast for so long that change is normal,” Ward says.

“It may have been me and Chris calling most of the shots, but the actual business itself has been in a constant state of flux,” he adds.

“We do see it as a new chapter though … when you start off and it’s just the two of you in a little factory in Oakleigh, it’s a long way from here.

“But, at the same time we always wanted to build something bigger than ourselves, and we’re getting there.”

And, when asked if he’ll be taking some time to chill out after reaching this monumental business milestone, Ward responds with a resounding ‘no’.

“It’s full steam ahead,” he says.

“We’re still very much as invested as ever in this business and in what we’re doing.

“We just want to keep doing it and build a great business for the people that work there and that have supported us from day one.”

NOW READ: “Foot to the floor”: Why now was the right time for Kate Morris to sell a majority share of Adore Beauty

NOW READ: Atlassian makes remote work permanent, to “create the future of work by living it”


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