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Published by the Australian Financial Review, Tess Bennett (Technology Reporter), 28 Nov 2022. View article here.
HyperKu is an investor partner in Vald, and HyperKu Director Remon Gazal is Chairman.

Having abandoned a planned IPO in 2021, Brisbane-based sports technology company Vald has raised $US25 million ($36 million) to fund acquisitions, nearly double its local headcount and expand in the US healthcare market.

The business, which started life in 2015 as a project within the Queensland University of Technology, makes hardware and software that monitors athletes’ performance, injury and recovery.

Its devices are used by more than 1200 professional sporting organisations, including 16 NRL teams, 20 English Premier League teams, 26 NBA teams, and 20 major league baseball teams.

US investment firm Vistara Growth and the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) have led the company’s latest capital raise, after Vald indefinitely pushed a planned IPO last year.

QUT is still an investor in the company, but part of the fresh capital was used to buy out all the convertible notes which were issued in a pre-IPO round from investors such as Ellerston Capital, Regal Funds and Perennial Value.

Co-founder and chief executive Laurie Malone told The Australian Financial Review the business never needed to raise capital through an initial public offering, and the co-founders decided a listing would fundamentally alter Vald’s culture.

“We were headed towards an IPO and we got to the due diligence meeting and then realised that so much of what is special at Vald is the culture and the openness,” Mr Malone said.

“Most people in the business understand what we are doing, where we are going … And we kind of realised if we listed we would need to demonstrably change our communication style.

“For a fast-growth company that’s building and launching products every three, four or five months, the change would have been too great.

“Then you realise being listed isn’t as exciting as the brokers suggest.”

Vald’s devices, which are assembled at its workshop in Brisbane, are leased to customers from $18 to $90 a week, depending on the product.

About 70 per cent of its revenue comes from sports teams, 20 per cent from health and 10 per cent from military clients.

“That’s a big change. If we went back two years, only 5 per cent of revenue would be in health,” Mr Malone said.

“The partnership with Vistara Growth will accelerate our ongoing North America expansion and allow us to make further inroads into the healthcare market worldwide.”

With 120 staff in Australia and 70 overseas, Vald plans to hire a further 100 staff and fund three acquisitions to accelerate its product development.

The company acquired a division of Brisbane-based Fusion Sport, digital health platform Live Score and is buying a Spanish-based company.

The deal is Vistara’s first investment in an Australian company, after QIC introduced the US firm to Vald’s founders.

“Vald’s human measurement technology had been battle tested by the world’s most demanding customers in professional sports and defence organisations,” said Noah Shipman, partner at Vistara Growth.

“With rapid early adoption in healthcare settings, it was time to prepare for global expansion, and we are thrilled to be Vald’s partner in driving this next phase of growth.”

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