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Knowing when to raise and when to acquire

On Jan. 18, Miovision announced it had acquired CJ Hensch & Associates, a Texas-based traffic technology company. 

While this is Miovision’s fifth acquisition, it is unique in that CJ Hensch is one of Miovision’s customers. The company was an early adopter of Miovision Scout, a traffic data collection tool used by cities worldwide.

In a press release, Miovision co-founder and CEO Kurtis McBride said that taking a customer-first approach has contributed to the company’s success over the last 19 years. 

“Deeply understanding our customer’s challenges – and how they work – has enabled us to develop really compelling solutions,” said McBride. “Acquiring CJ Hensch will help us more deeply understand the data collection business. These insights will shape the evolution of our products, helping all our Scout customers to better serve their clients – and grow their businesses.”

CJ Hensch joins Miovision’s four previous acquisitions, Traffop, Rapid Flow, MicroTraffic and Global Traffic Technologies (GTT). 

McBride said the increase in interest rates and other economic factors have made the current climate well-suited for this type of acquisition. 

“One of the things that’s changed is that during my whole career, interest rates were low,” he added. “It used to be that a company like Miovision could never buy a large incumbent as a growth strategy because the math never made sense. Recently, the math changed because of the lower interest rates,” said McBride.

CJ Hensch specializes in traffic data collection and engineering studies, which McBride said will continue to help the company meet municipalities' rapidly changing needs. McBride said that every car manufacturer is now thinking about their products as software-defined vehicles, which presents new opportunities for municipalities and Miovision.

“Cars are becoming computers on wheels,” he added. “When a vehicle becomes purely software-based, it can start to interact with data in a way that traditional cars can’t. It’s not just cars, infrastructure providers are moving from being hardware companies to software companies.” 

Miovision, a graduate of the Accelerator Centre and a long-time Communitech member, will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2025. While this is a significant milestone for any company, it is especially important for a made-in-Waterloo Region startup like Miovision. 

Startup founders are presented with exit opportunities throughout the company’s life, and knowing when to seek funding or accept an offer can be challenging. 

McBride said that an early piece of advice from the founder of RUGGEDCOM has helped him chart the company’s course.

“He told me once, “Never sell your company. Force someone to buy it from you.” That really stuck with me, because I've watched a lot of my peers sell—and good for them, like nothing against that at all. We've had opportunities along the way. But no one was ever so desperate to buy that they were willing to rip it out of our cold, dead hands, so we just kept building it,” said McBride. “Miovision is a purpose-driven organization. Unless someone comes along in a position to steward that purpose into the future and do a better job than we would do, then we'll just keep building it.”

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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