Kreos‚Äôs seventh annual Growth Finance seminar took place on 29th March in London, bringing together about 200 LPs, equity sponsors, portfolio company senior management, and key service providers from our network for a day of presentations, networking and discussions.
This year‚Äôs discussion was centred around the theme of the Pervasiveness of the Tech Landscape, which set out to explore the strong development of the technology ecosystem in Europe as well as its scalability across almost all industries. The seminar started with an informative overview of the European landscape by Raphael Grunschlag, Managing Director of Technology banking at William Blair, who presented statistics on M&A and notable trends as well as certain landmark deals that characterised the few months leading up to the seminar.
Raphael particularly remarked on the strong growth of the software industry showing several examples that supported the oft-used quote that ‚Äúsoftware is eating the world‚Äù. Trends he highlighted included the strong growth of vertical software where there is an opportunity to create industry-specific software leaders, or big data, deep tech and analytics solutions that are experiencing strong demand across multiple industries. Of particular note were cybersecurity which has become a C-level issue across most organisations, and the global device inter-connectivity of IoT that is blurring the lines between industries. To explore the theme further we assembled a panel of experienced leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds including, Naveed Sultan, head of Citi‚Äôs Transaction Bank; Laurel Bowden, General Partner at 83 North; Marcos Battisti, Managing Partner at C5 Partners; Nezahat Gultekin, Director at Temasek and Jonne de Leeuw, Principal at HPE Growth Capital. The panel was moderated by Pietro Strada, Managing Director at Silverpeak. Each panelist gave their own perspective of how technology today is pervasive across all industries and examples of the disruptive effect it has had on their respective sectors.
As always one of the main highlights of our seminar were the select Kreos portfolio companies invited to present the ways in which their products create significant change in their respective markets. It was interesting to note that our presenting portfolio companies come from a wide range of industries, ranging from software and media to pharmaceuticals and agritech, demonstrating how innovation and disruption through technology is truly happening in almost all industries.
Rick Gruebel, CEO of Israeli agrictech business Kaiima, kicked off the company presentations describing how his company is developing non-GMO technology aimed to enhance the yield of crops such as wheat, soybean, rice and corn. Additionally Kaiima is one of the only companies that has developed and is already commercialising a higher yielding version of the castor plant that is used to produce castor oil, a global $2bn market.
This was followed by Mark Williams, CFO at Seal Software, who detailed how his company is transforming the storage, archiving and analytics¬† of companies‚Äô legal documents and has achieved significant scale with a number of top-tier and diverse clients such as Merck, Deloitte and PayPal.
A key feature of our seminars is the ample networking time over lunch or coffee where our invited guests, including our LPs, equity sponsor partners and management teams, have a chance to mingle. Given that deep rooted and long-lasting relationships with our community are a key part of our DNA there are several opportunities for our friends to interact and meet each other. The entire Kreos team was as always close by to help make mutually beneficial introductions.
On either side of the coffee break we enjoyed presentations from the CEOs of Pharming and SoundCloud, Sijmen de Vries and Alex Ljung.
Pharming has developed Rocunest, a drug for treating a rare hereditary disease called angioedema, and in December 2016 Kreos led the debt component of a ‚Ç¨104m financing that allowed Pharming to re-acquire the license of Ruconest from Valeant, a US pharma company. On a different note, Alex the founder of Soundcloud, presented us with his vision and described his success in building the world‚Äôs largest music and audio platform that brings together both creators and audiences. The company has today signed up more than 19 million creators who can create and distribute music to hundreds of millions of listeners without the added complexity of publishing companies and record labels. Since our event, the deals with both Pharming and Soundcloud quickly generated significant returns and have been exited.
Our seminar closed with presentations from Mark Weiner and Khalid Ishaque, the CEOs of Kreos companies Reduxio and Pixium Vision. While the two companies couldn‚Äôt be further apart in their objectives they are both using revolutionary technologies to create highly innovative products.
Reduxio‚Äôs vision is to redefine data management and protection by creating a unique storage platform that provides breakthrough efficiency in data recoverability.
Pixium Vision combines ground-breaking technologies such as photovoltaic printing with advances in sensors and battery technology to create ophthalmic implants that can restore a degree of vision in blind patients. Khalid screened a powerful video showing a blind patient switch on the device and see the night lights of the Eiffel Tower, which left several members of our audience misty eyed.
Last but not least we were delighted to have a demonstration from our portfolio company ROLI, which has developed a very unusual premium piano-style synthesizer that has recently become a centre of attention in Apple stores, and entertained us during the coffee breaks with their unique sound which bridges the gap between electronic and acoustic.
We hope that all those who joined us on the day enjoyed our seminar very much, and we look forward to welcoming all our friends at our eighth annual event in April 2018 in London.