JEGI CLARITY’s 19th Annual Media & Tech Conference focused on ‘Maintaining a Winning Mindset,’ brought together senior executives and investors from across the global media, marketing, information, and technology sectors.
At the conference, Marcus Anselm, a Partner from JEGI CLARITY’s London office, interviewed Gurman Hundal, CEO & Founder of MiQ, a leading programmatic media partner to the world’s largest brands and agencies.
In H2 2022, MiQ received an investment from private equity firm, Bridgepoint, which valued the company at nearly $1Bn, generating a 6.1x return for its previous investor ECI Partners. JEGI CLARITY had the pleasure of advising Bridgepoint on the transaction. During their fireside chat, Marcus asked Gurman about the journey he had been on since the business was co-founded in 2010 and its transformation into the major global player it is today. Gurman shared his views on topics ranging from how the business started out and how to build the best relationship with private equity firms to future trends in the AdTech space. We’ve picked just a few highlights from the thought-provoking session.
From ‘bootstrap‘ beginnings to private equity funding
Gurman and the Co-Founder & Global Chief Growth Officer of MiQ, Lee Puri, started the company in the UK without any external funding, investing $20,000 each at its genesis. Within a few months they had a revenue of $100K and $20,000 in EBIT which they reinvested to grow the business. Early challenges included building a business in South India to provide the right technical expertise for their service and breaking into the US market.
Up until that point, growth had been entirely organic, but it was an offer to buy the business that Gurman and Lee walked away from in 2016 that led to them to think about partnering with a PE firm. It challenged the misconception they had previously held about what it would be like, and the value that an investor could bring to them. When asked about the advice he would give both to an agency thinking about bringing in a PE partner, Gurman advocated spending a lot of time getting to know one another, ensuring the culture is right. From the PE firm’s point of view, he advised that it was vital to take the time to understand the complexities of the fast-moving AdTech industry. For agencies, he advised that a good PE partner “should be an extension of your leadership team, you should want to pick up the phone to them.”
The power of retention – clients and talent
In the face of a talent shortage, Marcus asked how they keep retention rates well above 80% at MiQ. Gurman explained that two main areas of focus for the business were retention of clients and retention of talent. At the start of the pandemic they made a promise not to fire or furlough any employees. They worked hard to listen to what their employees wanted and tracked employee engagement religiously. Gurman stated that he and Lee have been “relentless about the people experience. At the end of the day as Founders that’s our legacy – how people felt when they worked at MiQ, that’s what we care about the most. Ultimately, I believe if you care about that the most, you tend to have a good business.”
Next stage for growth
The conversation then turned to growth for MiQ and current market sentiment. Gurman commented that although the market was still volatile, programmatic advertising, because of its flexible and responsive nature, was well positioned. Brands, as ever, are interested in how they are reaching users, they want to follow the ‘eyeballs’ and behavior. Gurman predicted the continued rise of digital at home among other platforms and there was real interest in how opportunities in home game consoles might develop as well as branding in games.
In response to Marcus’ question about what is next for MiQ, Gurman said he believed there was still more opportunity for organic growth – which could lead to them doubling the size of the business. He also talked about their new M&A capability, which completed its first deal earlier this year and will provide MiQ going forward with “the muscle to be a strategic buyer in the AdTech space.”
For more information about our conference please click here.