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Aspermont (ASX:ASP) – Alex Kent

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The CEO Mindset - Alex Kent is the Managing Director, Group, of Aspermont (ASX:ASP)

Alex Kent is the Managing Director, Group, of Aspermont (ASX:ASP), a leading media services provider to the global resource industries. Aspermont has invested 20 years in building a commercial model for B2B media that is founded on providing high value content to a global subscriber base. Aspermont is scaling this B2B model to serve new sectors and new countries and in new languages to maintain global leadership. Aspermont is ASX listed with offices in UK, Australia, Brazil, North America, and the Philippines.

What was your journey to become a CEO?
That is a big question.

My university degrees in Economics, Accounting and Business Law set me up for a career in the finance and banking sector but I joined Microsoft instead which my family and friends found quite surprising.

I was fascinated by computer technology as a kid and I guess my age made it likely I would be one of the first to adopt and use the internet so maybe the sector was in my genes.

At Microsoft I had a technological grounding at the highest level. The Company was the dominant global tech company at that time and in my opinion their vision of the future, back then, is only being realised today.

Leaving Microsoft in the UK I made my way towards Australia via a 1 year stint in French Polynesia where as an ambitious entrepreneur, I tried to reshape the global market for black pearls…….a pirate’s adventure but invaluable experience for understanding the commercial dynamic of governments and niche but high value industries.

Joining Aspermont in 2007, where my Dad was Chairman, I started working with new technologies to build the internet tools and services to help the company cross-monetise its existing subscriptions-based audiences. My development phase over 13 years with Aspermont took me to the role of Chief Marketing Officer which was a senior executive position.

In March 2015 however a turning point came.

I was appointed Managing Director of Aspermont at the age of 35 and it is fair to say it was an intense challenge at critical time for the company.

A baptism of fire for sure………….

Tell us a bit about Aspermont. This media company has quite a history!
Aspermont is either a 20-year or nearly 200-year company depending on how you look at it. The Mining Journal was first published in 1835 and the first Editor of Mining Magazine was ex US president Herbert Hoover, and these are the longest established mining publications in the world. But over the last 20 years – of the internet age – we built Aspermont’s new business model on these solid foundations.

In 2002, Aspermont launched  Australia’s first subscriber-based online news brand (www.MiningNews.net) and began a journey of pioneering paywall technology. We accumulated expertise in digital marketing through Search and Social that brought new waves of data, analysis, and optimisation processes into the business model.

This first new generation product, MiningNews.net; was built simply for the Australian mining finance market; but by broadening this model Aspermont became the leading media services provider to the global resource industries. Our high-quality subscriptions-based content today proofs a tried and tested business model that is scalable both by sector and geography.

At a time when others in media have struggled to find a viable subscriptions model Aspermont has delivered 15 quarters of consistent growth in subscriptions and all associated key performance (SaaS) metrics. In the case of Mining Journal, compound annual growth rates have been well above 20% for the last 5 years…..not back for a product first published in 1835.

It is fair to say that Aspermont dominates media services for the $2trillion global mining industry and has developed a range of revenue generating marketing solutions for its, Fortune 500, client base who need to access our global audience.

While subscriptions are at the core of the business, Aspermont is also building growth in other revenue divisions such as Advertising, Events, Content Marketing, Content Agency, and Lead Generation

How have you handled the COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
I am married with three young daughters and my normal travel schedule made for long absences from home. The travel time saved over the last 5 months has enabled me to see much more of my wife and children which has been a real gift.

From a busines perspective Aspermont has been robust, innovative, and quick to adapt to changing circumstances.

For traditional publishing businesses the internet age has been a greater pandemic than Covid today, causing massive disruption in the global advertising markets. Few traditional publishers have survived that and for many of those that did, this current COVID-19 phase is a crushing blow.

For Aspermont, the outlook is different and that is because the company has been building through and working with, disruption since 2002 (ie. MiningNews.net). An example today is the events business. In March this year, governments around the world effectively shut down the live events and conference businesses; 20% of our revenue was at risk yet 3 months later we are a few weeks away from launching the world first virtual event and 365 exhibition platforms for our sectors and we expect to generate higher margin products through this forced innovation.

What is the most exciting thing about running your business?
Our vision of what we can achieve and the potential scalability of Aspermont’s success.

Our media leadership in a global mining market through coverage and influence have real geopolitical impact. Many media organisations follow their market in their own region, but Aspermont leads globally.

Our unchallenged 185-year brand heritage and our technology innovation inspire me and our key management. In fact, what I find most exciting is to address challenges and opportunities with the people I have around me.

I always tell new investors that if you want to get an idea of Aspermont’s true intrinsic value look at the management team and ask yourself why people with their skill sets and experience commit their time to an obscure and largely unknown company with a $20m market capitalisation. It is reassuring that all key management members are also Aspermont shareholders.

At Microsoft I was lucky to work with exceptional people and I can tell you that over the last few years, we have found people of exceptional calibre to work with at Aspermont.

How do you measure success?
A loving wife, 3 beautiful girls, a close family, and loyal friends define personal success.

From a business perspective, success is simple: Realise Your Potential.

I genuinely believe our opportunities are almost without limit, we have 20-year conceptual plans, but they could go much further. As Aspermont fully develops its global mining media opportunities it will become a very big company; but our model is agnostic as regards sector and geography so the value across several sectors could theoretically on major success, justify a $1 billion capitalisation.

Yet, Aspermont, listed on the Australian stock exchange is capitalised at only $20million.

Personally, I think how you are regarded by your community is a better measure of success. As a media organisation we get instant feedback via our subscription and audience numbers on that front, but the end of the day is not here yet. We are a work in progress as a business with scalable rather than linear growth potential.

In subscriptions businesses, Net Retention Rate and Lifetime Value are the north star. Over the last 4 years Aspermont has trebled its LTV and at the same time seen its NRR trend to over 100%. Empirically, I deem that a considerable success.

What do you think is the most important job for a Managing Director of a listed company?
The most important job is to deliver shareholder value – full stop.

You need to build a team of people who are best suited in skills, values, and commitment to deliver on the company’s vision.

The qualities I look for in key management are honesty, work ethic, strategy, innovation and bravery.

How do you spend each day?
I consume vast amounts of information and content daily and I am fortunate to have a wide range of people I respect who are willing to share their experience with me

There is a time and space dynamic of work, family and friends All share time but the reality is that only at the end of my day do I get time to read a newspaper, play online chess, or play ‘words with friends’ to relax before sleep.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Aspermont, listed on the ASX with ticker ASP:

  • Is the leading media organisation serving a $2 trilion global mining industry.
  • Has built a commercial model for B2B media that can scale across other geographies, languages and sectors like agriculture, energy and technology
  • Has delivered 15 consecutive quarters of high growth performance in subscriptions revenues and all key SaaS indicators
  • Is a unique value proposition in the global media market
  • Is debt free and cash generative to finance organic growth

I am now based in Singapore to extend Aspermont’s model and operational team, product, and services across the Asian market as we have previously done across Australasian, European, and North American markets

How can people connect with you?
Follow the company’s announcements by signing up to our newsletter https://www.aspermont.com/investors/email-alerts/

For investor questions, please email corporate@Aspermont.com or phone +618 6263 9100.

Otherwise you can follow us on social media:
https://twitter.com/Aspermont_Ltd
https://www.linkedin.com/company/aspermont-limited/

Want to be on the list next time this company raises capital? Open an account with Fresh Equities and start exploring capital raises – freshequities.com

A typical work day at Aspermont’s office

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Communication Services

ActivePort (ASX:ATV) – Karim Nejaim

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The CEO Mindset - Karim Nejaim, CEO of ActivePort (ASX:ATV)

Karim Nejaim is the CEO of ActivePort (ASX:ATV), an Australian company that provides a software-defined networking tool and open SD-WAN, to help companies run their technology their way and facilitate global connectivity.

What’s your journey in becoming a Chief Executive Officer?
I have been around Software development, IT and Telecommunication for over 25 years. I joined the SingTel Group at Optus as a mid-level network engineer in 1999 and finished up in 2014 as Group Vice President for Optus before moving to Telstra as Executive Director of Product Engineering. The move into executive roles came naturally as my focus was always on the big picture and customer outcomes. My personal mantra is that great technology isn’t great until a customer says it is, and it’s this customer obsession that brought me into my role as CEO for ActivePort. I saw an opportunity to run a company that is focused on simplifying networking and the use of technology and where we can positively disrupt in a market by talking less about the technology itself and more about solving customer business problems.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
ActivePort is all about making it as easy as possible to connect globally. Our CTO, Mark Middleton, has created software that makes the very complicated job of building networks globally, managing legacy and new technology, injecting cloud services and automating, all from one screen. ActivePort’s SD-WAN 2.0 gives enterprises, telecoms providers and resellers access to the latest generation of hardware agnostic SD-WANs, where you can connect, configure and activate the edge in minutes with complete independence from big vendor applications, hardware and proprietary licensing. We’re focusing on rolling this out globally and are collaborating with Console Connect by PCCW Global to extend the availability of our SD-WAN solution worldwide.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
The most exciting thing about running ActivePort is that we are giving control back into the hands of customers. Nothing beats the delight of customers during our software demos which is typically accompanied with comments like “oh, wow, we can do that!?!”. Secondly, the enjoyment of speaking to customer in places like South America, Asia and the US and discovering the ways our whole network orchestration and SD-WAN is suitable for lots of different markets. Also, as a leader of a young company it is fantastic to see the buzz and energy in our team when we land new deals or receive feedback from customers.

How do you measure success?
There is no way around it – heading into an IPO and in the first couple of years we have to prove our value in the market and that will be driven by business success and, largely, revenue growth. We are very focused on escalating revenue growth from our monthly, re-occurring software licensing and the company is geared for growth on the back of the monthly re-occurring licensing.

The precursor to any business success is ensuring that we are delivering value to customers and helping them solve their business problems, whether that be helping them increase revenue, decrease costs or balancing growth. The greatest “lead indicator” I can think of is customers telling you that they love your product. It is important to remember that great engineering is not great engineering until a customer tells you it is!

Lastly, I want ActivePort to be regarded as an employer of choice. Without the people in ActivePort there is no ActivePort. Our company is not just about software; it is about the people that are making the ActivePort journey a personal one for them.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
There are a large number of skills required to sit in the CEO chair – strategy and vision, innovation, the management of competing priorities, growing the people and the company. The most important for me comes back to people and a simple “mantra”: Hire the best people, give them space to do their thing, and listen to them. There are very, very few CEOs (and I would argue none) who are experts in all aspects of a business – listen to your people and then make the call.

What is your favourite book?
I love non-fiction books about major events in people’s lives, the way people think about the past and the future. To pick a few: Thomas Friedman’s “Thank you for being late” which is about the massive growth in technology and where it may be taking us. Craig Challen and Richard Harris’s “Against all odds” is another favourite with its balance of heroism, compassion and the science required to save the group of schoolboys from the Tham Luang cave. My favourite fiction book is Shantaram by David Roberts.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia & Australia?
ActivePort is setting out to make global connectivity easier, faster and better – for less. We are going to disrupt in several areas and we are doing it for one primary reason: To help the world connect and make it simple. That’s why, instead of adding yet another solution for each business challenge and juggle the integration, ActivePort offers whole network orchestration, SD-WAN, real-time provisioning and firewall, all from a single screen. 



How can people connect with you?
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karimnejaim/
ActivePort’s Website: https://www.activeport.com.au/

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Communication Services

Q&A With StockPal – iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI)

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Q&A with StockPal - Kin Wai Lau, Chairman of iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI)

Watch Kin Wai Lau, Chairman of iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI) and Jared Sim, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of StockPal in this engaging Q&A with the following questions:

0:11 – What is your business about?
1:06 – How did your company cope with the COVID-19 pandemic?
1:57 – How does the company make money?
2:54 – Who are your target customers?
3:44 – What is your firm’s competitive advantage?
5:25 – How are you currently engaging with your investors?

Visit iCandy’s website to learn more about their story: https://www.icandy.io/

Email editor@stockpal.asia if you are or represent a listed-company and is keen to be in our interviews.

Want to be on the list next time this company raises capital? Open an account with Fresh Equities and start exploring capital raises – freshequities.com

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Communication Services

CM8 looks to be at the forefront of conversational commerce

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CM8 looks to be at the forefront of conversational commerce

If you though the art of conversation was, at times, difficult to grasp, then conversational commerce may have your head spinning.

However, there is nothing really to be afraid of.

Conversational commerce has been around since 2015, when by Chris Messina, the inventor of the hashtag, mentioned it in a short post on the Medium website.

It is a simple concept really.

Conversational commerce is about putting the conversation back into the customer experience.

The catch is, this is done via messaging services and technological means.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a conversation with your customers if they walk into your bricks and mortar store, however you should consider a tech function that also makes it easy for customers to relate to who you are what you are selling.

We now live in an era where communication is a technological experience, so it makes sense that conversational commerce is at the forefront of commercial thinking.

The increased use of messaging services have been proven to coincide with or improve the sales process as it enables customers to interact with businesses via chatting conversations instead of direct calls.

Customers generally interact via messaging and chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat.

ASX listed Crowd Media (ASX: CM8) is a tech-based, vertically integrated social commerce business selling unique state-of-the-art products and services that are integral to the lives of its customers.

The company recently made a big play in the conversational commerce space, when it took a  strategic stake in Forever Holdings Ltd, a London based voice-and-visual Interactive Digital Media company.

This was a touchstone development for CM8 as it supported both the thinking around the conversation commerce science and the vehicle that will eventually culminate in the product that the company believes is the Holy Grail of influencer marketing.

Crowd Media has long been considered a pioneer in influencer and social media marketing, leveraging influencers on a global basis with its own in-house products.

It’s a strategy that has evolved from a mobile  technology and media company to a global social media house where campaigns can be executed with local market knowledge and cultural expertise.

It is now looking to utilise influencer marketing within the conversation commerce experience.

In essence, conversational commerce is emerging as the future of e-commerce.

CM8 has accelerated its push into that field via the beta launch of its first ‘’talking head’’ 12 months ahead of schedule is an important and pivotal development for the company.

This will help customers select the appropriate products from the www.MDComplete.eu brand.

Click here to view an example of how it works.

Crowd’s AI-driven Chatbot technology is unique in that it combines answers from both AI and real humans answering questions.

Crowd has also entered into two new partnerships in order to accelerate its stated Horizon 3 strategy, that has resulted in the instigation of a more focused business aimed at penetrating high value markets with more predictability around monetisation as it orchestrates a direct to consumer sales model.

The to acquire an 8% interest in Forever Holdings Ltd is consistent with the strategy outlined in 2019 as it serves to facilitate a platform that enables conversational commerce between follower and influencer, augmented with a digital visual “talking head” experience.

The 3-year binding Heads of Agreement (HOA) with UneeQ Limited for the creation of ‘Digital Ambassadors’ is designed to help power conversation commerce activity and influencer marketing.

UneeQ has created an AI-driven platform that is currently used across customer support and sales throughout a number of industries and the companies will collaborate to develop methods and technologies on the creation of ‘Digital Ambassadors’ to help power e-commerce and #conversationcommerce activity, as well as influencer marketing which includes the launch of Crowd’s first “talking head”.

Further to this, Crowd executed a binding HOA to form a joint venture with Israeli based VFR Assets and Holdings Ltd (www.Zoe01.com) for the creation of a platform which will allow the scalable creation of the “talking head” visuals which will power the next wave of conversational commerce and digital influencer one-to-one interactions.

The platform will allow Crowd to roll out many “talking heads” in days and at a fraction of the cost of current platforms.

The beta product will be showcased to prospective Crowd Direct brand partners, highlighting the commercial application of conversational commerce across multilingual markets.

This opens unlimited commercial opportunities across entertainment, sport, influencer marketing, health and educational fields.

“We believe conversational commerce is the future of e-commerce and are excited to have executed these various initiatives that bring forward the reality of one-to-one conversations between influencers and their respective followers,” CM8 CEO Domenic Carosa said.

“It takes us that much closer to our stated goal of actually changing the way products and services are sold via digital influencers.

“Our beta version was launched 12 months ahead of schedule and showcases our core AI-driven Chatbot technology and that of our partners.

“By launching this beta version, we can undergo the next level of testing, build on our artificial intelligence and data pools, and advance the technology to extend its commercial capabilities across different products, services and interactions.”

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