Friday, July 20, 2007

Fast 100 talk to Young Entrepeneurs about BSI's Journey

BSI Started when I left the accounting profession and said to myself that I would never fill another timesheet!

Everything that I did was based on some form of success fee based on a successful outcome for clients. Accessing Government grants was a major focus.

The grants that I focused on were was

• the EMDG – where for every $ spent on marketing and promoting your product overseas, the company gets 50c in the $ back up to $150k per annum.

• Import Credits in the Textile Industry – also export related

• R&D Tax Concessions and Grants – Incentives given to companies who innovate.

These companies had a huge need for business planning, capital, management advice and management accounting services.

2001 -
Enter an old school friend of mine, Alan Milwidsky, who was at the time a partner in a BIG 5 company, specializing in Growth Strategies – looking for a change…. I said Al… come spend a week in our business, have a look at our deal flow, join me in the business and you will make a lot more money and have a lot more fun… I was ½ right…. We have a lot more fun!!

We developed the BSI business plan – the Vision being “To Help Companies Grow” and “ To be a “one stop shop for the entrepreneur”
Providing Grants, Growth Strategies, International Gateways, Capital Raising.

We believed that in order for us to leverage our skill base, we would take equity stakes in Innovative Companies and back Motivated People, and over the years help there companies grow with the objective of getting a return on our investment.

We worked out the money that we needed to grow the business, identified a number of strategic investors and pitched our plan to them.
We were fortunate to raise the money that we were looking for from these parties, together with some of our own money.

With the money raised, we acquired
• A Bizcap team Specialising in Early Stage Capital Raising
• The leading R&D Tax Concession Firm, being run by an old friend of mine,
• a Recruitment Business (which acquired a few more recruiting businesses)
• a Training Business ((which acquired a few more training businesses).
• As well as making a number of Investments in Innovative Companies.

Our model was to set up different Companies with a common brand and Philosophy, whereby each Head would be a stakeholder, and a group policy of X referring Clients, people and knowledge with a common culture.

It was 2001, and the dot com crash happened…. And there was no environment for the SME innovator looking to raise between 200k and $2m….
Alan M developed the
“BSI Investor Forum” – where every 3 months we showcase 8 innovative companies to 200 HNI and Funds in Sydney, Melb and Brisbane.
Over the past 4 years…. We have had 15 forums, showcased 120 companies, of which +40m have been raised for more than 60 of them.

This year we have set up a USA office as part of our International Gateway Strategy, and are having our first forum in Silicon Valley at the end of July, where we will be showcasing 10 Innovative Australian Companies at “ALWAYS ON” – the key Silicon Valley Conference – where 900 people are expected.

Our Investment Fund
In 2003, an amazing opportunity presented itself…..
We had the opportunity to acquire a small BITS fund, sponsored by the Federal Government, from a group looking to get out of the early stage marketplace.
This Fund was a dream come true for us…. It gave us Capital to co-invest with our HNI and Funds, and we would not have to use our working capital to invest in these Innovative Companies.

We have subsequently merged with another fund, and together have made in excess of 30 Investments in what we believe that some will be successful world beating companies.

Since 2001 – we have grown from a turnover of 1m – 15m ….
Did I do this…. I have pretty much done nothing besides picking guys who are brighter than I am, passionate at what they do, with the right incentives to help them achieve their goals and objectives.

Where to from here?
We are currently working on a number of projects that will hopefully take us from $15m – 150m over the next 10 years.

Lessons Learned:-

• Have a Vision – “help companies grow” and “ be a one stop shop for the entrepreneur
• Be passionate – if you aint passionate get a job
• Get the brightest and best people, and make sure you look after them like gold. Your people are your assets
• Be able to sell and network
Keep communication lines open – our biggest failures have been through an inability to communicate
Cash Flow, Cash Flow, Cash Flow – hire people based on your actual needs , not your projected needs – be nimble and ensure you have adequate cash resources to achieve your objectives.
Avoid FTI – take action – make a decision and implement it – even if it is the wrong decision – you can always change it
Your Database is an valuable asset keep it updated, respect it and guard it. Use it for networking
X referring clients throughout the service lines – providing a holistic service to clients has been important
Build your Brand – this is where you will get leverage and credibility – update your website, provide links, use professional mweb marketers, create your blog, have events, seminars, attend seminars. Become “the college of knowledge” in your field of expertise. If people perceive you as a leader, performer and creator – then that is reality – PERCEPTION IS REALITY.

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