The Growth Builder winners have grown rapidly: on average, turnover has more than tripled over three years

The analysis done by PwC Finland shows the powerful growth the previous Growth Builder (Kasvunrakentaja) winners have achieved: in addition to threefold increase in revenue, headcount has doubled in three years. Most of the growth has been organic.

The Finnish Venture Capital Association and PwC Finland have now organised the Growth Builder competition seven times. The goal of the competition is to find the most interesting and innovative story out of venture capital and private equity cohort of more than 600 portfolio companies that best spotlight growth building together with their investors.

The winner of the 2020 final competition, held on August 27, 2020, was Swappie, the vendor of serviced and used smartphones, who persuaded the jury, among other things, of their global megatrends, based on business operations such as circular economy and sustainable consumption. The jury also praised Swappie’s ability to swiftly open new international markets.

In the analysis, PwC examined the previous winners’ revenue and staff growth from previous years, as well as ownership after the win. The analysis comprised of 2014 winner Musti ja Mirri, 2015 winner Rightware, 2016 winner Kamux, 2017 winner Blueprint Genetics, 2018 winner Unisport, and the 2019 winner Smartly.io.

Revenue tripled

On average, the winners of the Growth Builder contest have increased their turnover over threefold in a three-year period. All of the winners’ turnover has experienced positive growth, on average, 47 % per year after the win. The absolute revenue of the companies increased by a total of €375 million over the following three years.

Most of the growth was organic, either by expanding to foreign markets, bringing in new clients or by amplifying products and choice of services.  But the companies also completed many successful acquisitions.

The revenue growth of the winning companies is double, compared to the average 23% growth previously calculated for the members of the Finnish Venture Capitalist Association’s portfolio company.

“These companies have not only succeeded by winning many new customers, but also by expanding their products and service offerings both in Finland and internationally”, said Hannu Suonio, a Partner at PwC Finland.

Headcount doubled

The winning companies’ headcount grew on an average of 38% in a year. In the three years following the win, these companies doubled their number of staff, and the overall headcount grew by 1,462 people. This number represents organic growth, as well as the additional staff brought in through acquisitions.

“As we can see from the analysis, the Growth Builder winners have created many new jobs, and this is exactly the kind of growth we need especially right now”, rejoiced Pia Santavirta, CEO of Finnish Venture Capital Association.

Growth is more than double over the previously calculated average of 17% for the members of the Finnish Venture Capitalist Association’s portfolio company.

Successful exits

Most of the Growth Builder winners have been exited successfully within a year from the win. Following the win, the average period of ownership of the companies has been just over a year before exiting. All in all, the companies have stayed in venture capital / private equity portfolios from five to seven years.

So far, five out of six winners have been exited partially or completely. These exits have created tremendous value for the owners, and the investments have been very lucrative. Two of the companies, Kamux and Musti Group, are now listed on the stock market. The share prices of both companies are significantly higher than at the time of the IPO.

“Winning the Growth Builder competition has been a good predictor for a successful exit during the next 12 months”, remarked Suonio.

For more information:

Hannu Suonio, Partner, Markets Leader, PwC Finland,
hannu.suonio@pwc.com, +358 (0)40 511 9324

The analysis (only in Finnish):

Kasvunrakentaja-kilpailun voittajat 2014–2019 (pdf)

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