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FlightScope announces management buyback

Africa Global Funds
Feb. 13, 2017, midnight
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Word count: 385

FlightScope, a developer of 3D Doppler ball-tracking radar for sports, has bought out its venture capital partner, HBD Venture Capital.

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FlightScope, a developer of 3D Doppler ball-tracking radar for sports, has bought out its venture capital partner, HBD Venture Capital.

FlightScope was founded by Henri Johnson in 1989 to develop systems that measure projectiles for the defence industry, but it strategically diversified into sports applications in pursuit of growth. 

In 2006, HBD Venture Capital, owned by Mark Shuttleworth and managed by South African venture capital firm Knife Capital, became a funding partner in FlightScope’s worldwide expansion strategy.

“We saw tremendous potential in applying world-class technology to bridge the gap between the passion and science of sports,” said Knife Capital CEO Eben van Heerden in an interview with IT-Online

“We anticipated the impact smart devices would have on this unique niche and teamed up with tenacious entrepreneurs who could execute,” he said.

The capital injection from HBD was the catalyst for FlightScope to aggressively step up the international marketing and sales of its products and services and protect the company’s intellectual property worldwide.

With more than two decades of experience in the field of Doppler radar and phased array tracking technology, FlightScope seized the opportunity to lead the industry and expanded its applications into: golf, tennis, cricket, and baseball.

In 2008, FlightScope relocated its headquarters from Stellenbosch in South Africa to Orlando, Florida to get closer to its end customers and focus on business development.

FlightScope was positioned for an international exit and soon attracted attention from sports equipment manufacturers in various industry verticals. 

In considering deal-structuring alternatives, the management team ultimately preferred to unlock additional potential in a continued growth phase.

“It was good to have various exit options on the table, but the stars aligned for a management buy-back transaction. HBD was very supportive of this structure as the investment team has always been an enabling partner in our growth journey,” said Henri Johnson, CEO of FlightScope.

A management buyback was achieved without compromising on venture capital portfolio return criteria, and there is continued involvement by key stakeholders to facilitate post-deal success.

Knife Capital partners Eben van Heerden and Keet van Zyl will remain on the FlightScope board as independent non-executive directors. 

Other successful South African venture capital exits of the HBD Fund include mobile financial services company Fundamo to Visa and predictive analytics company CSense to General Electric.

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