High-definition surveillance solutions maker Avigilon officially made its debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange last week, issuing more than four million common shares and raising just over $20 million for the company in its initial public offering.
Alexander Fernandes, the company’s president and CEO, said that money will be used for three things including extending its global sales reach, increasing brand awareness and bolstering product development efforts.
"Sometimes an IPO is an exit strategy for founders. Certainly, we’re not doing that," he said. "In fact, I invested in the IPO. I put in the initial one million dollars in that financing and it’s not for survival because we’re profitable. We’re self-sustaining, so this is really about accelerated growth."
Fernandes said the company decided to go public to raise funds because the costs were lower and they wouldn’t have to deal with the potential pitfalls that sometimes come with private investment.
"It’s really the lowest cost money available. A lot of our customers, large Fortune 50, Fortune 500 companies and governments, they like the transparency of doing business with a publicly-traded company," he said. "We’re essentially able to get better terms. With private equity groups, one of things that people don’t necessarily see behind the scenes is private investment usually involves a lot of preferred shares instead of common shares, they want shareholder agreements, and I guess it comes down to strings attached. Whereas with public financing, it’s actually a more straightforward investment with cash for common shares."
Fernandes said that the company intends to double its number of personnel in the sales department in the next 12 months and add people in emerging markets such as Latin America, India, China, and Eastern Europe. The company also plans to increase its presence in existing markets.
According to Fernandes, the company also wants to increase its brand awareness among end-users and intends to accomplish this through targeted and direct marketing.
"In the industry today at the integrator level we’re fairly well known, but at the end-user level we’re not a household brand name yet," he explained. "We’ve got several targeted marketing initiatives, for example, increased tradeshows, advertising in certain magazines and direct marketing to raise brand awareness. Simply put, even though we have the best HD solution in the market today, if these people don’t know we exist they’re less likely to buy our product than if they know we exist."
While they want to increase brand awareness among end-users, Fernandes stressed that Avigilon will not circumvent the integrator channel.
"As long as I’m CEO, we will not sell direct to the end-user, we will always sell through a reseller," he said. "We plan to protect our integrators. It’s a partnership."
In addition, Fernandes said that Avigilon plans to increase the size of its product development team within the next six months.
"We’re a technology innovation company really at our core," he said. "What we want to do is maintain our technical innovation or even accelerate it."
Fernandes said he expects the funds raised from the IPO to set the company up for the long term.
"We’re here to stay. The purpose of going public is just to crystalize our position in the marketplace today and to cash ourselves up, which we are now," he added. "The cash is in the bank and we’re set for another three to five years of explosives growth. We have the product and we have the money to bolster our product line and our sales and marketing."