American Association of Equine Practitioners (“AAEP”) Trade Show Review

I attended the recent American Association of Equine Practitioners (“AAEP”) trade show in San Francisco recently, December 1-5. The show was a great reminder of how varied, robust and global the equine market is. Attendees were the usual mix of veterinarians, salespeople, scientists….and guys with big belt buckles and cowboy boots (a rarity in San Francisco). In the vein of San Francisco, while I’ll never complain about attending a trade show in my home city, in this case, I will nonetheless grouse a bit. While quality of exhibitors and attendees was strong, quantity was lower. Attendance felt down significantly from last year (held in San Antonio – certainly more “horse” country than the Bay Area) and was a common theme echoed by nearly everyone I met. Chief reasons for diminished attendance were 1) coastal city that is a long trip for anyone on the opposite coast, 2) expensive city where hotels, meals, etc., were viewed as “not worth the investment,” 3) the city too liberal a venue for companies from more conservative parts of the country, and 4) San Francisco’s current reputation for dirtiness, particularly in areas around the Moscone Center. My $.02, but AAEP would be better served holding court someplace “in the middle of the country” in the future.

While notable large booths in the center were the usual suspects of, among others, MWI, Patterson, Henry Schein Animal Health (in process of merging with Vets First Choice), and Zoetis/Abaxis (in adjacent booths, not combined), my attention, as is always the case, was drawn to the smaller, growth-oriented companies – particularly in the areas of therapeutics, vet services and vertical software. European attendance is always decent, but it was also refreshing to meet attendees from such locations as Japan, Brazil and Argentina and the Middle East – testimony to the global appeal of horses.

With a market size of several billion dollars, the full breadth of this dynamic, growing market was on display…and appropriate in this season of “muletide,” I mean yuletide!

The Evolution of Event Technology

Live events and technology have a unique relationship, the technology must be used to improve attendee experiences without detracting from the in-person aspect of the live event world. The event technology industry is full of organizations striving to find the best possible use of technology, leading to more efficient event registration platforms, live event apps, ticketing software, and much more. According to a Trade Show News Network (TSNN) survey, event producers are moving beyond technology as a communication tool and have begun capturing and tracking large amounts of data. Specifically, data that can be used to greatly improve attendance, marketing and communications.

According to a study by Mordor Intelligence, in 2017 the event management software industry was valued at $6.89 billion USD globally and is projected to grow to $12.51 billion USD by 2023. Globalization has created many business opportunities for the industry by opening channels of communication worldwide and increasing the number of events overall. Technology solutions have evolved rapidly with the mobile and digital revolutions, and now many vendors are offering their solutions as a service.

With the rise of big data, data analytics has become one of the main focus points for event management software, as providers work to translate attendee data into actionable insights in real time and after the fact. As a result, the most successful providers moving forward will be able to collect large amounts of data and present it to event organizers in a format that is easy to understand. Data will also be extremely useful in building and maintaining attendee databases, allowing event organizers to attain greater success year over year.

The advances in event technology have been so profound that now event organizers have trouble keeping track of the latest available services. The TSNN Survey reports the most cited issues currently seen with event technology include staying up to date with the latest tech, getting attendees to engage with the new technology, and the IT skills of event staff. This is an area in which third-party providers can prove invaluable, providing expertise in the latest advancements, experience in facilitating engagement, and on-site support staff to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Event technology providers have developed solutions for the entire spectrum of live events, ranging from industry trade shows to professional sporting events. However, the industry is still highly fragmented, and it is rare to find a technology provider that can cover the entire spectrum of demands, including venue planning, ticketing, data collection, sponsor engagement, data improvement and payment services. Often event producers are forced to reach out to multiple technology providers to find all the solutions they need.

Given the benefits and advancements of event technology, it’s no surprise that consolidation is taking place among event technology vendors.  In fact, according to Capital IQ, there have been more than 70 transactions in the United States and Canada over the last 12 months. Mordor Intelligence, Capital IQ and Reuters indicate Cvent, Patron Technology, Aventri and Eventbrite are some of the more prolific buyers. It’s a trend MHT Partners, as a business services investment bank, has experienced first-hand, as we recently represented FISH Technologies in its sale to Patron Technology.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=30970

https://www.cvent.com/sites/default/files/files/2018-02/tsnn-event-tech-research-report.pdf

https://www.freeman.com/insights/leveraging-technology-to-build-on-the-live-event-1

https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/event-management-software-market

 

The Promising Emergence of Telemedicine

In the quest to improve U.S. healthcare by both lowering the cost of care and delivering improved outcomes, emerging technology solutions represent the most realistic and achievable path for success. One area of particular promise is the field of telemedicine, which utilizes remote communication programs to connect patients with healthcare providers and rapidly expands access to care, particularly in rural areas. For many healthcare issues, telemedicine can be administered at a cost far below that of live patient-provider encounters. As providers, patients, and payors increasingly recognize the benefits and ease of telemedicine solutions, investor interest in telemedicine is expected to intensify.

Although telemedicine in one way or another has been around since the introduction of the telephone in the early twentieth century, the expansion of widespread access to live video communication in recent years has brought telemedicine into its prime. Free, secure video links allow providers to visually inspect and communicate with patients that otherwise would face obstacles to receiving care. Patients with limited mobility, those who reside in areas far from providers’ offices, or individuals with chronic conditions who do not have the time to frequently travel to a provider’s office benefit from consulting via telemedicine. Telemedicine thus results in increased access to care and clinical touch-points with patients who otherwise would not receive them. As a result, telemedicine in many cases directly drives improved outcomes, which in the long term reduces the lifetime cost of care. Moreover, the potential cost of care can be decreased if (1) increased efficiency with time allows providers to see more patients than they would in the office, or (2) providers face lower overhead expenses when they are able to downsize their physical footprint as their practice moves to the digital realm.

First-movers in several specialties have begun to embrace telemedicine, with particular advancements in fields that are more dependent on visual and interpersonal observations than physical ones. Teledermatology, telepsychology, teleneurology, and telenutrition represent some of the services that providers, patients, and payors have begun to accept as legitimate substitutes for face-to-face care. Private equity investors have noticed, with companies such as Specialists on Call, MDPlan, and MYidealDOCTOR attracting investors’ attention.

Though the future of telemedicine is promising, certain hurdles to wide-scale embrace of the technology remain. As with all healthcare technology solutions, HIPAA considerations, including the importance of protecting patient health information, are paramount. Also, in most cases initial consultations or periodic live interactions between patients and providers are required to maintain a care regimen that includes telemedicine. The payor community has taken time to embrace and reimburse for telemedicine as well, and payors have not yet universally adopted it. In the coming years, companies will distinguish themselves by incentivizing telemedicine adoption and introducing technology to address the aforementioned considerations.

MHT Partners, a leading healthcare services investment bank, believes that innovative, niche solutions that decrease the cost of care while improving outcomes will shape the future of healthcare. If you would like to learn more about MHT’s healthcare services advisory practice, please e-mail Taylor Curtis (tcurtis@mhtpartners.com) or Alex Sauter (asauter@mhtpartners.com).

 

What You Really Need: Smarter Offline Retail

For those consumers overwhelmed by choices when shopping at a traditional big box retailer, good news – smaller footprint, well-curated retail formats are on their way. Specifically, Amazon is continuing to experiment with various offline retail formats (“clicks to bricks”), recently opening a second Amazon 4-Star brick-and-mortar retail location in Denver, Colorado, to augment its first 4-Star location in New York City. 4-Star locations offer the consumer a variety of items, including consumer electronics, kitchen tools, home goods, toys, books, and games, which are either best sellers or new and trending on the Amazon e-commerce platform, in an approximately 4,000 square foot retail footprint. This format is meant to give the consumer a more streamlined set of purchase options and utilizes online data to curate products that will likely sell well at the local level. The 4-Star format joins Amazon’s other forays into the brick-and-mortar retail world, including the cashier-less Amazon Go grocery/convenience store, Amazon bookstores, Amazon pop up kiosks, and Whole Foods. Amazon is clearly trying to figure out what works in terms of structure for offline retail, to compete with the likes of Walmart, Target, etc., and it will be interesting to see which concept(s) are most successful in the long run.

Other retailers are trying to emulate these new and innovative formats to keep pace with Amazon. This month, Sam’s Club (owned by Walmart) announced the opening of an experimental retail format, called “Sam’s Club Now”, in Dallas, which will be cashier-less and mobile-app oriented, much like the Amazon Go format. The consumer will use the “Sam’s Club Now” app to shop, and some of the features that are being debuted in this new shopping experience include a map function that will lead consumers to what they need in the store, as well as “smart” shopping lists, which will use machine learning and purchase data to help build a consumer’s shopping list. The new Sam’s Club Now will also only be 32,000 square feet, which is roughly a quarter of the size of a traditional Sam’s Club retail store. By potentially evolving its format and reducing overhead and labor costs, it is an opportunity for Sam’s/Walmart to enhance profitability and remain competitive in the changing brick-and-mortar retail landscape. A smaller footprint store also affords more options for Sam’s/Walmart in terms of where they can open future locations and are especially well suited for urban environments.

As a consumer investment bank, we are keen to see how the retail wars continue to play out as retailers try to find the optimal way to profitably cater to their customers both online and offline.