When your event software company gets into the acquisition game, it brings a lot of excitement, but also brings up many questions for clients and stakeholders alike. From new changes and opportunities, to costs and increasing product value, communication is key to an acquisition’s success and to getting all those involved on board.
Over the last two years, etouches has made four major acquisitions (most recently with Loopd, an onsite engagement technology platform), to enhance the experience of our users and to provide a more robust end-to-end solution. Deciding to invest in new technology is a long-term, deliberate process that’s unique to each prospective company we look at. However, generally we’ve kept in mind a few fundamental considerations for each of our successful acquisitions.
Thinking in terms of functionality
The acquisitions that we’ve done over the last few years have been strategic in terms of add-on products, with the goal in mind to create a holistic solution (or one stop shop) for our clients. To do that, the first thing we look at is the functionality of a new technology and ask ourselves: is this something that will attract new clients?; is it something that existing clients want and will make their experience better?; and is it something that if we didn’t have it, it would make current clients go to a competitor?
Our acquisitions are also based on feedback from our clients. TapCrowd and Zentila, for example, came from listening to our clients’ needs in the areas of mobile and venue sourcing, respectively. On the other hand, Loopd was different. It wasn’t something that was necessarily asked for, but more from us thinking about the future of the industry. It’s technology that event planners may not know they want or need, but once they do, they’ll be wowed at how it enhances the event experience and event ROI in a way that no other technology can.
Acquiring people as well as product
It’s important to remember that when you acquire a company, you also acquire the people and talent that work there. We look for strategic, forward-thinking employees that not only work well with the people at etouches, but are already thinking about tomorrow. Being adaptable and willing to evolve alongside client and industry needs is vital to the success of any company, and we want to invest in those people who are always a step ahead.
Aligning company cultures
In terms of a timeline, an acquisition can typically take anywhere from six to nine months to complete. Early on, it starts with a conversation about the goals of the company and what they know about etouches. Then it evolves into really thinking about how we could work together, the overall business plan and how it will, in the end, add value for our clients.
After that it’s several more months of discussions. Each of our departments (finance, products & technology, marketing, sales, support, etc.) takes a deep dive into the company we’re thinking of acquiring and performs a thorough analysis, asks questions and gets the answers they need. It’s important that the company not only work from a strategic perspective, but also across our many departments and overall company culture.
Communicating is key
The term “acquisition” comes with a level of uncertainty, but the right communication at the right time can help a company navigate the tricky process that is bringing two companies together. Especially when you’re bringing over new people, we want them to come over happy, valued and motivated. It’s important to communicate to all involved why this acquisition was completed, what the new opportunities are and what they have to look forward to in the future.
We want that excitement to trickle down to current and prospective clients, so empowering the sales and marketing teams by educating them on what this new company is about is crucial.
Keeping a competitive edge
etouches isn’t the only event tech company making acquisitions, and while that certainly makes the industry more competitive, it’s a good thing for event planners and especially our clients. When there’s one company dominating the event space, to have young, hungry competition is healthy for the industry and for the companies themselves. For us, it’s a motivator to offer as much value as we can for our clients so they can be successful at what they do.
Matthew Fish is chief financial officer at etouches.
Written by: Matthew Fish