Fireminds to expand with major US investment
IT firm Fireminds has won a multimillion dollar investment from the majority shareholder in telecoms company One Communications.
The massive cash injection from US-based ATN International will allow the tech firm to expand into new markets — and provide a wider range of services to existing clients.
And Michael Branco, founder and CEO of Fireminds, said the deal would lead to at least three or four new jobs in Bermuda, as well as potential for extra posts in its Miami office.
Mr Branco said the company’s expansion over the past few years had been fuelled from its own resources.
He added: “To seize the opportunities out there, particularly in the cloud arena, we thought it best to get some capital into the company.
“We looked at a few options and ultimately ATN was the best partner for us — not only did they bring a capital injection, they also sit in multiple markets.
“It was capital injection to grow the business and access to other markets. That was key for us.”
Fireminds will remain a stand-alone Bermuda-based company as a result of the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, and Mr Branco will stay at the helm.
Subsidiary Premier Tickets, a separate arm of Fireminds, is not included in the ATN deal.
Mr Branco said: “I have worked with ATN extensively and I’m really thrilled to have them as part of the shareholders.”
He added: “I’m in for the long term and still a very significant shareholder along with ATN.”
Mr Branco said: “In the next weeks and months, we definitely want to add three to four people — last Monday we added a new staff member. The growth is happening already.
“We will initially focus on growing in Bermuda. We have a lot of happy customers. Now we are part of a larger entity we can deliver a lot more to our customers in terms of more staff, upgraded technology and new opportunities.
“We always had a focus on innovative solutions and our customers. It’s all about the customers.”
He added that software giant Microsoft — which has honoured the firm as regional partner of the year three times in a row — was keen to see Fireminds expand its existing business in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Mr Branco explained: “They want to do that because we are the intersection between software development and the cloud.”
He said: “The great bonus for our Bermuda staff, including me, will be travel.
“Our staff will be able to get that experience and broader opportunities to work on.”
Mr Branco added: “We have spoken to most of our customers and they’re happy about the direction we’re going in.
“In IT, business is international — even here in Bermuda, we’re competing with overseas companies. This is a natural progression to better serve our Bermuda customers and also compete internationally.
“We now have a larger company, more resources to tap into and deeper pockets. Our customers are very happy with that.”
Fireminds built and ran the America’s Cup ticketing system and also created the online census portal for the Bermuda Government, which was used by nearly three-quarters of respondents. This saved the public purse “seven figures” by cutting out home visits by census takers.
Mr Branco said: “It’s going to be really exciting to see this company, which started in Bermuda, and see what it can do regionally.”
Barry Fougere, ATN executive vice-president, said: “ATN’s investment will help accelerate Fireminds’ strategy to be a fully integrated cloud solutions provider that is a single source for all IT needs and will complement our existing telecommunications portfolio with bolt-on cloud and software development services.
“We look forward to working with Michael and his team to combine our resources to increase support for existing customers and fuel further growth in Bermuda and new jurisdictions.”
ATN took over 51 per cent of KeyTech in May last year, while what is now One Communications got a $41 million cash injection and acquired ATN’s stake in CellOne.
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