‘If it weren’t for Dealsuite, we would have missed this opportunity’
When investor Marnix van der Feltz saw on Dealsuite that IT-platform The Future Group was looking for a new owner, he was immediately interested. ‘Its business model is both unique and scalable.’
In their office on a quiet Amsterdam canal, Standard Investment is gearing up for a busy fall season. The investment firm, which in 2019 received an M&A Award for Best Private Equity House Lower Mid-Market, expects to do several acquisitions. Most likely these will be turn-around investments, carve-outs or add-ons to one of the 18 companies it has in portfolio (with combined revenues of close to €1bn).
Staffing and IT
Standard Investment has offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and Stockholm. It considers turn-arounds to be one of its specialties, along with carve-outs and growth investments. Last year, it acquired The Future Group (TFG), the biggest community of self-employed IT professionals in the Netherlands. This was Standard Investment’s first venture into IT, explains investment director Marnix van der Feltz: ‘We have been eying the market for staffing and IT for some time now. There is a chronic shortage of IT-workers across all sectors, which makes a platform like TFG really interesting.’
TFG is a platform company with 40 million euro in revenue. Its members are all independent professionals. TFG helps them source assignments, provides administrative support, organises networking events and facilitates knowledge sharing. In return, contractors pay a percentage of their revenue to TFG. The IT-professionals are organised in partnerships of 10 to 25 professionals, grouped around specialisations such as cloud computing, business intelligence & warehousing or business integration & intelligence.
Van der Feltz found out TFG was looking for a new owner when he saw it listed on Dealsuite. He was ‘immediately interested’. ‘We like a challenge’, says Van der Feltz. ‘Most of the people on our team have a background as entrepreneurs or consultants. When we get on board of a new portfolio company (and we always want a majority share), we like to actively contribute by combining the perspectives as an investor, entrepreneur and manager. Of course we want a good return, but we also want to develop lasting improvements and are not afraid to take risks.’
For Van der Feltz, TFG falls in the category of growth investments. 'Its business model is both unique and scalable', he explains. ‘TFG has already proven that it can scale up. While most of their competitors never grow bigger than 20 to 30 members, TFG has a community of 350 professionals.’ Van der Feltz believes TFG has the potential to further expand its community to 1.000 or more contractors. ‘There is always room for improvement of the proposition and the organisation, but all the systems are in place. We can use the existing tools to build platforms for different professionals, such as finance professionals or engineers.’ Van der Feltz is not just aiming for organic growth, but plans to do several add-on acquisitions of smaller but comparable platforms in the coming years — in and outside of IT.
TFG was the first acquisition of Standard Investment through Dealsuite. Van der Feltz sees the platform as a valuable additional source for deals. ‘Every Friday our team discusses new leads’, he says. ‘Usually, there are between five to fifteen propositions. These can come from all kinds of sources, ranging from corporate finance firms and M&A brokers, to a tip someone got from another parent while picking up his kid from school. But even then, there are deals that escape our attention, as the case of The Future Group shows. If it weren’t for Dealsuite, we would have missed it.’
About Standard Investment
Standard Investment was started in 2004. It currently manages over €90m and has 18 portfolio companies with more than 3.000 employees and revenues of more than €1bn. The investment firm has offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and (since recently) Stockholm.