Esendex co-founders Julian Hucker and Adam Bird share their thoughts on the deal and plans for the future. New CEO Geoff Love explains his role and how he intends to drive the business forward, while Nick Jordan from Darwin Private Equity explains what the attraction of Esendex was in the first place.
You started the business with a £2,000 investment, working at your kitchen table and the company has just been acquired for £11m – how do you feel?
Julian Hucker: Like everyone has won! I’m obviously delighted that we’ve completed the acquisition but this is a good deal for everyone involved: all the original shareholders, Darwin – who will help Esendex grow to its full potential – and the whole team at Esendex who can look forward to many years of exciting growth.
Adam Bird: Immensely proud of the part I’ve played in building the team and making this possible. Companies should be places where great people can achieve great things and it feels like we’ve made that happen.
Why did you decide to sell the company and accept an offer from Darwin?
Julian Hucker: I believe that the people who set up businesses aren’t necessarily the best people to run them when they are mature. Esendex needed a new management team to have the remit to grow and run it, and shareholders who are able to back it to its full potential.
Adam Bird: As a founder, shareholder and executive you have to simultaneously wear three hats and reconcile the demands of each. In my role as executive, I recognised that the company needed to realise the full opportunity that is there for it and it needed shareholders with the ambition of Darwin to support the management team. This is the right time for Esendex.
You will remain with Esendex in a consulting role, but will undoubtedly have more free time – how do you plan to spend it?
Julian Hucker: For many years I’ve been an enthusiastic but time-crunched triathlete. I now intend to commit to my training to try and achieve my dream of qualifying for the GB Age-Group Team. I think it’s worth a shot!
Adam Bird: After a relaxed summer with my family and a bit of cycling, I’ll be starting it all again with a new venture. Hopefully I can add another successful tech business to the Nottingham economy.
What attracted you to acquiring Esendex?
Nick Jordan (Partner, Darwin Private Equity): Darwin’s strategy is to search for markets where there is a high growth potential and then acquire the companies that are leading those markets and have the businesses or technologies best equipped to take advantage of growth opportunities. Esendex is the leading provider of mission-critical application-to-person SMS services to enterprises using its proprietary technology and is run by an outstanding management team. This is exactly the kind of investment we want to make.
How will this acquisition help Esendex realise its growth ambitions?
Nick Jordan (Partner, Darwin Private Equity): All the the key components are in place – a great product, sector leadership, a strong management team and motivated workforce – but we feel having a single investor with experience of supporting high growth businesses can help Esendex realise its potential. Geoff will also be supported by Tim Duffy, the co-founder and former CEO of conference service provider Meetingzone, who will join the Board as Chairman. We also have additional funds we can provide to the business to accelerate entry into new countries or to acquire businesses that will fit well with Esendex.
Geoff, how has your day-to-day role changed?
Geoff Love (formerly COO will now be CEO): In simple terms my role now encompasses every aspect of the business including finance and development – which is the other half of the company I wasn’t previously responsible for. I am really looking forward to working far more closely with these teams.
What is the biggest opportunity you see coming from this acquisition?
Geoff Love: In one word – growth. With Darwin backing us, we now have the financial clout and independence to grow more aggressively. This may be through expediting the organic growth of our current core markets, opening in new ones, targeting market segments we currently don’t focus on, new product development or through the acquisition of other businesses. It’s going to be hard work but it is going to be fun!
What is your personal motivation for driving Esendex forward?
Geoff Love: I want to make Esendex the best it can be to fulfil its potential. We have built a great business but we know there’s so much more we can do. A2P SMS is still in its infancy and we need to grasp the opportunity that Darwin’s ownership brings. I want to see everyone play their part in this and, by being the best that they can be, help us become the best that we can be.