It was great to see over 150 delegates representing a broad range of equity sponsors, Kreos portfolio company management teams, institutional limited partners, advisors and other friends of Kreos getting together for our 5th annual Growth Financing seminar at the end of April at Arundel House in London.
As well as discussions on a variety of themes, we heard from the management of several Kreos portfolio companies, illustrating the breadth and depth of opportunity we are seeing as we continue to invest in our fourth fund across Europe and Israel.
Keeping with this year‚Äôs theme of ‚ÄúNew Horizons‚Äù, we had a change of pace with a¬† keynote speaker from outside the financial industry (to say the least) ‚Äì Dr. Gernot Groemer, President of the Austrian Space Forum and leading expert on Mars. ¬†Dr. Groemer fascinated the audience with some magnificent space photography and a discussion of how a potential European expedition to Mars could be a beneficial investment for Europe. As innovative industries have experienced from previous developments in space exploration, the ambition to travel to Mars would develop new technologies and drive the education and training of a new generation of engineers. This in turn would be sure to develop new market opportunities for European companies. For our financially oriented audience he even suggested an ROI for the approx. ‚Ç¨35bn investment the expedition would require. Whether they thought the investment made sense or not, everyone certainly came away with some new insights and inspiration.
Moving on to more traditional themes, Eric Sanschagrin,¬† head of¬† EY‚Äôs European TMT M&A advisory service, moderated a lively panel discussion, covering a full spectrum of topics that European high-growth companies are tackling as they move from ‚ÄúGrowth to Exit‚Äù¬† The highly experienced panel included: David Reis, head of European tech investments at Goldman Sachs, Simon Calver, Chairman of Chemist Direct and former CEO of Lovefilm, Alan Feld, Founder & CEO of European/Israeli fund of funds Vintage Investment¬† Partners¬† and Asaf Homossanny, MD of EMEA for NASDAQ.
Some of the topics discussed included:
¬®¬†the current exit environment and whether an M&A or IPO exit option may make the most sense
¬®¬†how many financing rounds and what mix of equity/debt financing makes the most sense based on company stage, growth rate, industry and geography
¬®¬†new business models that have been emerging and how they have been able to raise significant growth financing.
The panel was generally cautiously optimistic about growth financing availability, and highlighted some new approaches they were seeing succeed in the market.
During what over the years has proven to be one of the audience‚Äôs favourite parts of the programme, four of our¬† portfolio companies shared insights into the drivers of their success:
Lopo Champalimaud, CEO of Wahanda discussed how Wahanda has become the leading European beauty and wellbeing e-booking service, which led to Recruit Holdings acquiring a majority stake for $211m, and as part of the same deal making a further $46m investment in the company.
Mirko Caspar, MD of Mister Spex, discussed how Mister Spex has become Europe‚Äôs leading online eyewear and contact lens provider as their roll-up acquisition strategy has gained momentum.
Nadav Zohar, VP of Gett (formerly GetTaxi), discussed how Gett has become one of the top three global transportation ordering services and discussed its growth plans in new markets, including package and food delivery plans.
Larry Jasinki, CEO of ReWalk Robotics, discussed his growth plans for the company which has developed the world‚Äôs only FDA-approved wearable robotic exoskeleton system that enables paralysed people to walk again. To conclude his presentation, he introduced James Johnson, a British soldier wounded in Afghanistan. James walked into the conference room using the ReWalk system. It was a powerful moment with James not only demonstrating the system but describing the power of ReWalk to transform his and many other people‚Äôs lives.