OpEx Awards 22: EMEA Small-cap winner – ECI Partners

With ECI Partners’ backing, safeguarding software developer CPOMS entered new geographical markets and saw the number of schools adopting its software more than double.

In 2018, ECI Partners acquired UK-based CPOMS, a provider of safeguarding software to the education sector. At the time of the firm’s initial investment, the company served 6,000 schools. At the point of exit last year, its software was used in more than 14,000 educational institutions.

Product expansion was one of the key ways in which ECI helped the software-as-a-service company to achieve this growth. The PE firm provided support on a customer engagement project through which CPOMS assessed demand for products that complemented its core child safeguarding and wellbeing software. This led to the launch of two additional products: CPOMS StaffSafe, which aims to strengthen governance relating to members of staff, and the CPOMS Engage module, which aids alignment and communication between schools and local authorities.

14,000+

Number of schools served at exit

Not only did the business expand its product range during ECI’s ownership period, it also grew its geographical footprint. ECI’s commercial team worked closely with CPOMS’ management team to increase its presence in international markets, with a particular focus on the US and Canada. To help position it in the North American market, telephone interviews and an extensive survey were conducted to evaluate opportunities. As a result of these internationalisation efforts, the Yorkshire-based company went from serving clients in four countries outside of the UK in 2018 to selling its products in 34 countries three years later.

The growth strategy was further strengthened by a focus on people, pricing and data analytics. ECI introduced a finance director, a chairman, and a finance and tech-focused non-executive director to help support the management team as it scaled. Meanwhile, the firm developed an advanced predictive analytics model that enabled the company to identify and convert sales opportunities.

ECI’s commercial team also supported CPOMS in the delivery of a pricing project that provided insights into how to systematise price increases and how to price new products.

As it grew, the company also sought to act in line with its mission of improving safeguarding for children. With the shift to online at the start of the pandemic, which placed an increased emphasis on the digitisation of safeguarding processes, CPOMS offered its student safeguarding tools for free to schools without digital systems in place to assist them in meeting their legal obligations.

ECI, which was praised by one judge for the “innovative execution” of its value-creation strategy, sold CPOMS to private equity-backed US school safety software provider Raptor Technologies in October 2021.


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