Our 8th annual growth financing seminar held earlier this year in April, a day filled with discussion around the topic of: Innovation Making an Impact. We selected this theme as we see innovation scaling beyond industry and commerce to impacting our daily lives, – the way we live, love and work etc – and changing society more broadly.
While Kreos is not specifically an impact investor, we do see the several ways that our portfolio companies impact and change our daily lives and how today technology and innovation are ubiquitous concepts permeating into our lives, and not a standalone sector of business.
We put together an exciting program to explore the theme further, launched by our keynote speaker, Michele Giddens from Bridges Fund Management. Michele‚Äôs presentation defined impact investing and highlighted the way innovation can be both a force for good but also have significant negative consequences for society overall. She also discussed how investing has moved from a responsible stance (e.g. to avoid investments in harmful activities) to investing for impact where the investment has a significant non-financial effect for several stakeholders.
Following Michele‚Äôs opening presentation, the CEOs of a selection of our portfolio companies shared with us the ways in which they have significantly grown their businesses and also make an impact on our lives in accordance with our theme.
Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud – one of the fastest growing payments platforms described how his company has transformed the cross-border payments for businesses by making them faster, cheaper and more comprehensive than banks, growing to a point where it handles more than $1bn of transactions per month for blue-chip clients.
Eyal Ronen, Co-Founder & CEO of Puls spoke about how the business has grown from an idea and
100 technicians repairing mobile phones in Israel to delivering in-home services for almost all electrical items in under 60 minutes across several countries. Eyal described the company‚Äôs incredible journey and how Puls is integrating with some leading groups like Target and Walmart to reach even more consumers.
Simon Bryson, Founder & MD of Proveca presented the company‚Äôs unique business plan which takes well-used generic drugs used in the adult market and re-develops them specifically for paediatric use, taking advantage of a specialised European legislation giving it 10-year market exclusivity for each drug developed under this programme. Its first drug, Sialanar was launched commercially in Europe in 2017 to great success.
Asaf Peled, Founder & CEO of Minute Media described how the company has become the fastest growing digital publishing platform in global sports serving tens of millions of highly engaged sports fans. The platform owns well-known brands including 90min, the world‚Äôs fastest growing football media platform, present in more than 10 main markets.
Roland Lamb, Founder & CEO of ROLI told his own inspiring story of developing the unique ROLI keyboard and music system inspired by his vision of empowering everyone to make music. The company‚Äôs products are available at Apple Stores and have won several awards including the Design Museum‚Äôs prestigious Product Design of the Year 2014 award as well as receiving accolades from the likes of Pharrell Williams who is also an investor in the company. We also had a special ROLI jam session with the ROLI team.
As a special guest speaker we invited Christian Tang-Jespersen, former CEO of Heptagon, who presented its remarkable journey from its inception to its billion plus acquisition by AMS in 2016. Heptagon started life as a wafer-level optics developer continuously building expertise to become an expert in integration and miniaturisation of highly complex optical sensors fuelled by the enormous growth in smartphones and other mobile internet devices.
The discussion on impact investing was continued by a panel moderated by David Gann (VP of Innovation at Imperial College) and consisting of David Frykman (CIO of Norrsken), Sabine Kaiser (founder of SK Advisory), Bernard Liautaud (Managing Partner of Balderton) and Charlie Muirhead (Founder and CEO of CognitionX). The panel explored various models for impact investing, concluding that society needs to adopt a continuous and open discussion with its citizens to determine how to best harness the impact of technology and innovation for its benefit.
Perhaps the best example of this principle was given by our closing keynote speaker, Eli Beer, Social Innovator and Founder of United Hatzalah, the Israeli ambucycle service. His presentation left no-one in the room unaffected with many of us teary-eyed from the touching stories of saving lives he described. Eli told the story of how he formed United Hatzalah 12 years ago from the idea of using a team of volunteers riding motorcycles to provide first-aid within 5-10 minutes of an incident as a first reaction force before ambulances arrive (seeing that ambulances were ineffective in negotiating traffic in his native Jerusalem). Today United Hatzalah has harnessed technology to link its team of more than 4,000 volunteers via mobile devices and GPS to offer this service answering more than 1,000 calls per day with an average response time of 3 minutes! The United Hatzalah service now serves as a model and is being implemented in many cities globally. This is truly an example of how technology and innovation can be an impactful force for good!
We have already begun discussing the theme for our 9th seminar in the spring of 2019 so please do not hesitate to send us any thoughts you might have and we look forward to you joining us again in London on 14th May 2019.