When we invest in an early stage technology company, the future is always unclear. One thing we know with certainty is that there will be unexpected twists and turns, unforeseen challenges, and market events beyond our control. Our bet is always on the long term vision and the team, and that was certainly the case when we made our first investment in Envysion in 2006.
At the time, not only was Envysion creating a new product, but they were attempting to create a whole new market. In fact, not long after their launch, they coined the term MVaaS (managed video as a service) and became the world’s sole evangelist. The education process proved slow (as they usually do), but fruitful. As the power of video became more and more apparent, Envysion uncovered early adopters in the restaurant and retail verticals and was off to the races.
The unexpected arrived in 2008 in the form of the recession. When the economy contracted, some of the first budgets to shrink were in the retail channels. Overnight, Envysion’s pipeline slowed and the sales cycle lengthened. Faced with the new reality, Envysion’s management made some tough calls, but soldiered on. Over the next two years, they scraped and clawed for every account they landed, protected their existing customer base, and never gave up their mantle as the leader in the emerging MVaaS space.
In 2010, as the economic storm clouds cleared, Envysion’s persistence paid off. They emerged as the uncontested leader in a recognized and growing market, with technology that remained cutting edge, and opportunities to expand into several new verticals.
As I write the paragraphs above, the story seems so logical, and the outcome so obvious. But when you are in the middle of it — making tough decisions every day, and never knowing what’s over the next horizon — it is far from obvious. Despite the challenges, everyone stayed committed to the vision, and the company became a great example of what can be accomplished when good technology is combined with passionate management and supportive investors.
Last week, Parthenon Capital Partners announced a controlling investment in Envysion. Parthenon’s investment and partnership allows Envysion to further solidify their leadership position, and to attack the growing market with the resources necessary to win big. It also provides a nice return for those of us who have backed Envysion from day one.
After 7 years of trench warfare, “thank you” hardly seems adequate, but sincere thanks to Matt Steinfort, Rob Hagens and the entire Envysion team.
I look forward to watching you finish what we started back in 2006.