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First acquisition for Adelaide holding company


Newly established Adelaide private investment firm Continua Capital has made its first acquisition, buying up Queensland hotel tech business InTouch Data in what the company says could be the first in a pipeline of buyouts this year.

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The purchase comes in the second year of operation for Continua, which was founded in 2019 as a privately owned acquisition holding company specialising in software and IP-based business purchases.

The firm, which has five employees at its Ebenezer Place office, on August 20 announced it had acquired InTouch data – a Brisbane-based hotel technology company that utilises guest data to assist its industry clients curate direct marketing campaigns.

The new agreement will see InTouch’s corporate headquarters remain in Brisbane and expand its staff by 40 per cent this financial year.

Continua Capital CEO Shane Cheek, a long-time venture capital manager, said the purchase of InTouch Data was in line with Continua’s strategy of not chasing high risk high reward “moonshot” acquisitions.

“There are lots of really fantastic small businesses out there that are never going to become unicorns [start-up companies with a value of over $1 billion], but are still going to become fantastic, long-term, sustainable, profitable businesses in their own right,” he said.

“So we focus in on buying small profitable software companies that are higher recurring, higher margin and that sell their software into mission critical areas for enterprise customers.”

Careful to distinguish itself from private equity firms, Continua Capital utilises a buy and hold strategy and says it has no intention to sell off InTouch in future.

Cheek, who is now Chairman of Intouch, said the acquisition would see eight additional employees hired by the Queensland company this financial year.

“We’re very proud of what the team there has built,” he said.

“They sell their data management and BI (Business Intelligence) software to the hotel sector globally, and have managed to grow their business even through the COVID pandemic.

“Particularly for global hotel groups as they start to plan for what they expect to be an influx of new guests post-COVID, they need to make sure they’ve got the right technology and the right technology to maximise the revenue they want to capture.”

Cheek said the acquisition took less than 90 days after initial contact was made between the two parties.

“We’re looking to make at least a couple of acquisitions like this each year and continue to make the sales process as simple as possible for owners,” he said.

“But we’ve got a pipeline of another 10 to 15 companies that we’re talking with now to put offers in front of the next few months.

“We’d like to see an opportunity to make a few more acquisitions locally here in South Australia as well cause we’re headquartered here.”

InTouch Data was founded in 2001 by Queensland entrepreneur Peter Johnson, who retired as CEO and Managing Director after the sale was completed.

The hotel data firm fits the mould of a company-type identified by Cheek during his more than 20 years in venture capital.

“[I was] meeting more and more software companies that weren’t start-ups, but had been operating often for decades and had grown to 5, 10, 15 million in revenue and then plateaued,” he said.

“Many of the owners of those sorts of companies had reached out to me for either investment or advice on how to exit – there were no natural buyers that provide the type of home that those sellers wanted.

“They want to protect the legacy, they want to deliver a really good outcome for their people … and basically just be proud of their life’s work.

“Those outcomes weren’t going to happen if they were going to sell to private equity or a strategic buyer who would typically cut costs or substitute products.”

He said finding an ideal buyer for these types of companies was the inspiration behind founding Continua Capital two years ago.

New InTouch Data CEO Ryan Smith, who started with the company as a junior developer in 2001, said he was looking forward to further growing the company with Continua’s support.

“With Continua, we’ve found a partner that believes in our vision, understands software, and made the acquisition process simple and fair,” Smith said.

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