It seems investors can’t get enough of Miovision.
The Kitchener-based maker of traffic-management technology has closed a CDN$36-million tranche, adding to a CDN$260-million raise announced earlier this year.
The combined CDN$296 million will help Miovision continue to grow organically and perhaps through acquisitions.
“The current economy is turning up a lot of interesting buying opportunities,” CEO and co-founder Kurtis McBride told Tech News. “We decided having a larger war chest would make sense.”
The same six investors who participated in the initial raise in April also kicked in for the added tranche. They include Maverix Private Equity, TELUS Ventures, Export Development Canada, McRock Capital, HarbourVest Partners and BDC Capital’s Growth Venture Co-investment Fund.
Founded in 2005, Miovision’s IoT technology is used by nearly 2,000 customers in 63 countries to reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions while improving road safety and transit performance.
McBride says he sometimes tells his kids, “I make time machines that connect 1985 to the internet.”
Most traffic intersections were built prior to the smartphone, he explains. Back then, every time you wanted to add a new function, a new piece of hardware was required.
That’s no longer the case.
Miovision adds a digital layer to an intersection’s traffic-flow systems, collecting data and creating “connected hardware that’s talking to software running on it and software in the cloud.”
“Traffic is the number one and number two issue for municipal voters in a growing number of urban centres,” said Mark Maybank, co-founder and Managing Partner of Maverix Private Equity, said in a news release. “We believe Miovision has the right solutions, the vision and the team to become a multi-million-dollar, Canadian-based global champion.”
Other investors concur.
“Digitization opens up the opportunity to use rich traffic data to address the negative impacts of transportation—reducing emissions and improving road safety,” Guillermo Freire, of Export Development Canada, said in the release. “These are global challenges, and with EDC’s financial and non-financial solutions, the team of investors and Miovision’s vision and solutions, we believe the company will become a global leader.”
Miovision has done extremely well coming out of the pandemic. Annual revenue is up five-fold since the pandemic began, and investors are eager to jump onboard, McBride says.
Recent acquisitions have enabled Miovision to expand its products and services. McBride points to the Miovision Core, which provides all the things a city needs to control a traffic intersection in one box. Once installed, no additional hardware is required, and the software can be updated by Miovision.
Miovision has made four acquisitions since 2021, the last coming in April when Miovision purchased Global Traffic Technologies (GTT) of St. Paul, Minnesota, for US$107 million.
Asked if more shopping was on the horizon, McBride says “we’re not done with our appetite for growing through acquisition.”
Although tech companies have experienced a rough eoconomy over the past 18 months, raising capital is really a tale of two markets, he notes. It's not easy to raise smaller amounts to cover losses or finance high-risk growth. But if you’re looking for larger amounts, say $300 million, to grow through the purchase of profitable companies, the money is available.
“I’ve told a lot of my peers in town, if they can combine their innovative high-growth company with a profitable company that isn’t growing as fast but has really strong channels, it’s a great time to buy,” says McBride.
“Private equity used to buy them up with cheap debt,” he adds. ‘They would pay crazy multiples for them. That model is done now because interest rates are so high.”
Investors have to be re-paid eventually, McBride acknowledges, either through a later investment round or existing shareholders buying out other shareholders. Miovision has done well on that score, he says.
“Over the years, I want to say we’ve probably returned somewhere around $120 million in capital to shareholders. All of them made money.”
The company won’t be going on a hiring blitz with the lastest investment, McBride says, but it's always on the lookout for talented people. “We’re always hiring.”
Miovision currently employs about 420 people at its headquarters in the Catalyst 137 complex in Kitchener, as well as in offices in the U.S., Serbia and Germany.
Fueling optimism of late was an announcement last April by the U.S. Department of Transportation that it will allocate US$5 billion to accelerate the digitization of intersections in that country and improve road safety, McBride says.
Canada hasn’t announced any similar funding, but the industry is hoping it will follow suit, he adds.