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Cura Software Solutions: Avi Eyal

South African governance, risk and compliance business is acquired for $19 million by Indian software solutions provider.

Juliet Pitman

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Avin Eyal of Cura Software

When Avi Eyal co-founded Cura Software Solutions, he had a small round of seed funding, some unique IP and a vision to grow a global business in a short period of time. Today he’s in the enviable position of having achieved his goal.

Cura is recognised as a global  leader in governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) and in the seven years since its inception has grown to employ 100 staff members in four countries, with distributors in a further ten countries. For the past four years Cura has posted a compound annual revenue growth rate of 80%, with profits after tax exceeding 20%.For most entrepreneurs, that would be enough – but then Eyal is not most entrepreneurs. He had his sights set on bigger things, better products and a more established international footprint,as well as a global client base.

Taking it forward

“In the global market, which is where the majority of our business comes from, we were playing against established competitors who’d had the benefit of millions of dollars in funding. To remain a leader and really grow the business substantially, we needed to invest considerably in research and development,” he says.

That left the company with three options: raise venture capital funding, ask shareholders to invest more money in Cura or look to be acquired. In the end, they went for the third option,selling 100% of the company to Indian software solutions provider Soft Pro.“It was a fantastic deal for us. At a time of economic uncertainty we sold a business in which we had invested $600 000 over four years, for $19 million,”says Eyal.

Making the grade

When asked what he thinks attracted SoftPro to Cura, Eyal answers, “We’d been independently rated among the top five global GRC companies and SoftPro saw how we’d used our capital efficiently in the past. I think they felt assured that we had sound management and shared common principles.

At the same time our business was also sufficiently small and entrepreneurial for them to get involved and make a difference.” David Frankel, Cura company chairman, also indicates that the strategic fit was ideal for a match and in line with shareholders’ interests.

Shifting gear

For many, the sale of a company would signal the end of an era but Eyal sees it as the beginning of the next growth phase. He will continue to run Cura, which has retained its brand. “Although I now report to a different board, I am still able to pursue our initial vision,which is to be the smarter GRC provider.

What this sale means is that we now have the capital and skills required to get on with achieving our vision by investing in R&D and executing go to market strategies,” he explains. SoftPro has already allocated $5 million to growing the R&D team and India is the place to do it. “South Africa has a dire shortage of top IT talent and even if we’d received the funding from elsewhere we would still have had to expand our R&D in an offshore location.

We were finding it increasingly difficult to locate talented skills in the local market, whereas India has a wealth of skills and expertise in this area. Our connection with SoftPro allows us to attract the people we need,” says Eyal.

New opportunities

With a GDP that’s among the fastest growing in the world, the Indian market is also ripe for Cura’s GRC solutions.“I would estimate that India is where South Africa was in 2004 when it comes to GRC, so it’s a market that we can definitely grow,” Eyal adds.

SoftPro will aggressively market Cura’s products in India and will fund the business’s growth, bolting on additional acquisitions in future. “Its intention is for Cura to grow into a company with revenues of  $150 million by 2014. It’s a tall order and our most immediate need is to find the right people. We’re recruiting heavily at the moment,but once the right team’s in place, everything else will follow,” says Eyal. Is he even just a little intimidated by what lies before him? “Nah,” he replies,“it’s a great challenge and we’re up for it.”

Cura Software Solutions

Player: Avi Eyal

Est: 2002

Contact: +27 11 483 7640

www.curasoftware.com

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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