When Simon Hammerton (57) together with son, James (26), founded Vault, an investor relations cloud software platform, their goal was a simple one – to make the job of an investment relations officer easier.
An investor relations officer (IRO) is typically responsible for managing a company’s communication with investors.
Their duties may include everything from overseeing aspects of shareholder meetings, press conferences, private meetings with investors, investor relations sections of company websites, and company annual reports.
CEO Hammerton, who has ten years experience in the investor communications industry says they were motivated to build the platform after experiencing first hand “the frustrations, inefficiencies and disconnects in the investor relations communications channels.”
Vault provides IROs a platform to manage media and investment contacts, meetings and notes in a variety of formats, including audio recordings, says Hammerton.
Solutions to date include list and alerts management, meetings management, investor website content management and shareholding intelligence.
The startup has been focusing on providing services to companies listed on the JSE and other African exchanges. So far they have managed to secure clients in three African countries – South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.
We speak to Hammerton about Vault competitors, challenges and expansion plans.
L to R, Vault founders James and Simon Hammerton.
On gaining traction
We were fortunate in that our existing client base came on board early on, giving us some big names on the platform.
Vault has grown at around 20% per month since launch, through a very targeted and well-managed marketing programme. A most recent breakthrough is that IR consultancies and web development companies are enthusiastically adopting and taking Vault to their client base, seeing the opportunity to reduce their costs and offer a new service. This means that we are now developing a 3rd party reseller model in South Africa, West Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
On future growth
The vision for the company in the next 2 years is to have over 500 clients from all the three key African regions, with a strong reseller base and be ready to step into further emerging markets such as India and the South Americas.
The economic downturn has influenced our business, however, Vault does reduce costs so to an extent it plays to our benefit.
Our model is one of user-generated content versus their model of teams of researchers, we believe that user generated content is the future ‐ i.e the Wikipedia model versus teams of researchers trying to keep the data up‐to‐date.
Spending too much time on development, without testing the model constantly with the paying users ‐ i.e IRO’s.
Thinking that we were quite good at marketing and development – and then finding out that our initial concept was misdirected.
We bootstrapped the development.
The Standard Bank Ignitor team, hard work on behalf of the marketing team, our brilliant developers, and most importantly the advice we constantly seek out
and get from IRO’s across Africa.
[There is a] lack of government funding and infrastructure ‐ they should be running a national accelerator programme that brings in the continent’s top business executives to guide and mentor startups.
Get into an accelerator programme, or persuade a leading business executive to come aboard as a mentor.
Ask your paying client base what are the problems and opportunities they face in their day‐to-day activities, then build your platform. Not the other way around.