M&A meets technology with CDI Global’s Agora platform
The Agora platform is CDI Global’s innovative approach to facilitate pitches to clients while being able to include interested parties from around the world and CDI members from our 50 offices in 30 countries. CEO Jeff Schmidt connected with two of our senior partners, Hein Stoops from CDI Global Netherlands and Jacques Drouin from CDI Global Canada, to discuss the features and successes of Agora.
Jeff: Can you talk a little bit about why CDI Global decided to develop the Agora platform?
Jacques: Agora was developed as a digital platform to connect our clients with our colleagues around the world and have a direct conversation to facilitate finding the best transactional opportunities.
Jeff: How is Agora different from other similar technologies?
Jacques: The main difference is the direct human contact with the client, the conversations, and Q&A ability that refine the understanding of the situation and facilitate finding the best opportunities.
Hein: Interaction is key. The factors involved vary so much between companies and targets, the interaction is necessary to understand what each party is really looking for and guide them if they aren’t sure.
Jeff: What is the ideal client that would use this platform? Are there certain industries or types of transaction that are well suited?
Jacques: Any type of transaction, either buy or sell side, that needs to talk to parties outside their immediate geographic area is well suited. Especially when you need to understand the situation in other regions, talking directly to people in those regions is extremely valuable.
Hein: From an informational angle, it allows exploring relevant local customs and cultures, and even language differences, with local experts from those areas. This can help strategically and bring a unique proposition to the negotiations.
Jeff: How are members selected to do pitches? Do they volunteer or are they nominated, and do they need to be existing clients of CDI Global?
Jacques: They don’t need to be clients already, but they do need to be championed by a colleague from around the world. Then they present to a committee that includes professionals from North America, India and Europe. The pitch has to be relevant for the company and the professionals, and if it passes the criteria then we schedule the session.
Jeff: If a company reading this wants to try this, what should they do to nominate themselves to participate?
Jacques: Contact your local CDI Global office and ask about Agora. One of our professionals will discuss whether it’s a good fit for your transactional goals.
Jeff: In an Agora session, how much time does each presenter have for Q&A and follow up.
Hein: We’ve standardized it to an initial 20-minute presentation of the business and background, the M&A criteria they are looking for, and the value they are looking for along with the ideal buyer. This is followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. After the session the information is centralized to the CDI Global network in order to find the best opportunities and resources.
Jeff: Are people able to follow up with the presenter after the presentation to ask questions or provide feedback?
Hein: A local CDI Global member serves as the one contact person who will funnel questions and commentary, so the process remains streamlined. The process is extremely time efficient; in 30 minutes you can reach as many as 50 CDI Global members.
Jeff: Do you envision any future modifications or enhancements to the Agora platform?
Jacques: We are just starting to use the platform, but one of the natural evolutions we see is to add sessions for experts to talk about industry or M&A trends. We would invite members from outside the firm and have an interaction with subject matter experts.
Jeff: Thank you both for sharing your knowledge of Agora with us today, so far it has been extremely well received. It’s a great way for a perspective or existing client to reach all the parts of the CDI Global network to help with their search for buyers or sellers. We look forward to seeing the future enhancements of Agora as we continue to expand the platform.