Every year seems to bring a new ‘first’ for ISE. For ISE 2015, it’s the Capital Summit. It has been created, in effect, to bring together AV companies looking for investment with investment companies looking to – well, invest.
Hosted by John Stiernberg of Stiernberg Consulting and MediaBridge Capital Advisors – both of which organisations have a strong affinity with, and knowledge of, the AV industry – in association with ISE, it takes place from 13:00 in Room E102 on Wednesday 11 February.
So: who should attend?
“This event will appeal most to owners and managers of AV companies who want to grow, buy, or sell,” says Stiernberg. “AV companies include branded manufacturers, OEMs, distributors, design consulting firms, and integration/contracting firms. In addition, it will appeal to individual investors, fund managers, and anyone responsible for business development and is looking in on the AV industry from a financial perspective.”
LEARNING ABOUT ALLIANCES
“It’s geared to anyone in our industry who wants to learn more about mergers and acquisitions, funding, or the strategic alliance process; to anyone looking to understand the state of the industry in 2015 and beyond from a financing perspective; and to provide the opportunity to meet like-minded people to build their own network.”
The Capital Summit at ISE follows a similar – and, by all accounts, very successful event at CEDIA Expo in September 2014.
“As a leading global trade event, ISE as has an expressed goal of educating the AV industry and supporting the educational efforts of its owners - InfoComm and CEDIA,” continues Stiernberg. “The three organisations benefit from the Capital Showcase by enriching the experience of ISE show attendees and thus reinforcing ISE’s position as the ‘must attend’ AV show in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.”
The growth that ISE has seen over the past few years – in terms of both exhibitors and visitors – is, it seems, a reflection of a very healthy, vibrant industry that is well established and delivering real value to customers. As such, it’s hard not to believe that it is attractive to potential investors.
“It depends on the investor,” believes Stiernberg. “Our industry is ‘off the radar’ of most financial investors such as private equity funds: in general, the companies in our industry are either too small to invest in – exceptions notwithstanding – or too risky for a variety of reasons.”
“The pro/commercial AV industry is stable and relatively mature, so it is not necessarily for the ‘high risk/high reward’ or venture capital type of investor,” he adds. “The consumer/residential side is potentially larger but is less developed from a technical standpoint – in areas like home and building automation, streaming media, wireless networks and so on.
There are exceptions on the technology and IT side, but AV may be either too tame or too small for some investors or just too wild and uncharted for others.”
“But for strategic investors – those companies that are already in our industry that are eager to grow, diversify, or accelerate product development through acquisitions, investments, and strategic alliances – there are solid opportunities for growth and return on investment,” Stiernberg goes on. “For example, there are many established AV brands that are privately held, profitable, but do not have the capability to grow further on their own.
This has led to the upturn in merger and acquisition activity in recent years. We forecast that there will be further industry consolidation on an ownership level in addition to an increase in strategic alliance activity.”
And what will those who attend the Capital Summit know at 16:30 on Wednesday 11 February that they didn’t know at 13:00?
“That’s tough to answer in a single sentence,” muses Stiernberg, “but let me try. Capital Summit attendees will leave with a better idea of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to securing investment capital, making investment decisions, and buying or selling businesses in today’s rapidly changing AV/IT market.”
In other words: just as ISE has become a ‘must not miss’ show, so the Capital Summit, for the right companies and individuals, looks as if it will be a ‘must not miss’ event.