The cornerstone of most countries’ economies are small and medium sized companies.
They are the bread and butter. They are solid, innovative, flexible and understand that surviving in today’s global economy is all about speed, innovation and customer focus. In Odense, we love and support lots of small and medium sized companies, and we want more. 100 companies with 10 employees often have more innovation and growth potential for a city, than one big company with 1000 employees.
Scalable, growing, global companies are at the heart of our focus at Invest in Odense. We want our city to be known for our growth, our ability to attract companies and investors, and for supporting growth and development in our companies.
There are many factors determining if a firm will have success, but even with the best product, great market opportunities and smart staff, there are especially two factors that can hinder growth.
Companies that lack capital, and/or are very owner centered, will often face problems growing rapidly.
Banks are generally not geared for high risk, fast growing IT companies or global expansions, so companies that won’t or can’t attract private or institutional investors will often have to accept organic growth.
Besides a lack of capital, an often overseen restriction on growth is the owner.
Entrepreneurs are amazing people, and are important for growth in any city. As a startup, they are the center of any given product. They designed, developed and created the product. They are also the best sales and marketing guy – because they know the product and its potential better than anyone. They are the customer relation manager and know all their customers. They are handling the invoicing, the finances and all legal issues. They hire, train and handle staff – people that are often close friends, and people they love and trust.
Entrepreneurs and owners are amazing people. They have risked a lot, worked a lot and are creating a lot – but they are also the biggest problem for growth. We often say, that you don’t have success as a business owner until the day, where you don’t know all your staff, don’t know all your customers and have smarter people than yourself working for you!
For a company with serious growth ambitions, the key is really to get other owners in, hire smart people and let go. To grow, you really have to let go!
We recently had a perfect example of that in Odense. TriVision was a solid, well run and successful company working with sensor and traceability technology. Slow but stable growth and decent financial numbers was challenged by their board and owners.
TriVision decided to participate in a growth project with Invest in Odense. Internal and external consultants analyzed the company and worked together on an ambitious growth strategy. New focus on more scalable projects and products, sharper focus on its role in the value chain but most importantly the acceptance of the need for new capital.
Many companies talk about the need for more capital but don’t have the time, resources or knowledge of how to attract investors (and sometimes they really don’t want/like the investors).
Invest in Odense took all the problems out of the equation by developing the investor pitches, ensuring all company data and information were produced/collected in a data-room and to present to possible investors through Invest in Odense’s network as well as external networks.
TriVision was of course a part of the entire process, they focused on their product and customers, while Invest in Odense functioned as their investment manager.
Invest in Odense shortlisted potential investors, participated in meetings, helped with presentations, gave negotiation advice, and after a few months, TriVision accepted two new investors and a substantial cash injection into their company.
New money is essential, when you want to grow, but for TriVision it was as much about getting smart money. The investments came from people with industry insight, business insight, and insight on how to grow a company fast, so TriVision is changing.
Efforts resulted in: a new professional board, the former CEO has become CTO, and new CEO with growth focus has been hired, along with, new front and back office people, a new sharp focus on their core products, new sales channels, new markets and new sales.
After 5 years of slow growth, TriVision has taken some serious steps towards substantial growth and becoming a global player in the last 5 months.
We are proud of TriVision, and we want to help more companies find their path to growth. Are you ready?
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