Why this Aussie software firm is going public in the middle of a tech wreck

Why this Aussie software firm is going public in the middle of a tech wreck

“We didn’t have as high a revenue multiple as our SaaS peers. We were trying to price it so investors coming in would be able to make some money, rather than some of those IPOs where they’re pricing themselves really high and investors coming in get burnt as everyone else exits,” Mr Conyngham told The Australian Financial Review.

Bridge plans to issue 22.5 million shares at 20¢ a share, valuing the company at about $13.9 million when it lists on the ASX on September 20.

The company could only price itself at a relatively low revenue multiple because it did not have any venture capitalists among its existing shareholders.

“A lot of tech companies (IPO) at a very high multiple, and they have to because of the VC involvement. The VCs have to get a return on their money. But we don’t have to because we’ve had organic growth funding us,” he said.

The company was founded in 2008, focusing on providing a customer relationship management platform for Australia’s roughly 150 employment service providers to manage their clients and interact with government services such as Workforce Australia.

But now that Bridge is pushing into the NDIS market, which has about 17,000 service providers, the platform needs to be streamlined so it is easier to purchase, Mr Conyngham said.

“The reason we’re floating is to make the product easier to buy and easier to use for these providers, and easier for us to onboard them.

“There are 17,000 providers (in NDIS), and unless your systems are really streamlined, you can’t bring in a lot of customers, fast, unless it’s all automated,” he said.

Having the former head of the NDIA, Martin Hoffman, on the Bridge board as a non-executive director would help, too, despite Mr Hoffman’s apparent unpopularity with Disability Minister Bill Shorten.

In April, Mr Shorten said that he had not “spoken to anyone in the disability sector who has a good word to say about Mr Hoffman,” and the NDIA announced Mr Hoffman’s resignation on June 8, the day Mr Shorten was appointed as the minister for the NDIS.

“I didn’t really pay that much attention to that stuff. I was just looking at who was running NDIS, and how valuable that would be to us. We’re better off knowing what the real pain points are in the NDIS, from someone who was running the whole show,” Mr Conyngham said.

Mr Hoffman declined to be interviewed, but said in an email: “I believe technology like Bridge’s has a big role to play in reducing complexity and overhead costs, and enabling providers to focus on delivering great service”.

“We owe it to the participants of the NDIS to make the scheme as cost-efficient as possible, so funds can be dedicated to pursuing their goals and aspirations.”

Bridge’s platform could help cut NDIS costs by “slashing overheads associated with support services,” Mr Hoffman said.

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