I met Nadim Homsany of Serent Capital at the recent OMMA Response where he spoke about the future of online investments. Nadim is a VP at Serent and leads the company’s efforts in tech–enabled and digital marketing investments. His private equity firm specializes in private traded media-based companies in high growth businesses. Because the workings of private equity are generally in the private sector, it holds a certain mystery to me.
In this fascinating interview, Nadim talks about Serent, the evolving marketplace concept of “Google Street”, rather than Main Street, Big Data applications, especially for locally focused businesses and privacy issues when Big Data is employed.
CW: As you focus on the internet, how do you see it impacting the current media landscape?
NH: I think people have already seen how the internet has impacted big businesses. Over the past five to ten years or so, as Google has gotten more popular, and before that with Yahoo, I think what has happened is people have moved from traditional media consumption to more online media consumption. So more of the question is what is going to happen in the future. I think what is happening today is that there is finally starting to be a democratization of technology into small and medium businesses. The large businesses such as the Fortune 500 companies are already starting to use media, specifically internet media, in more advanced ways than have traditionally been done in the past five or ten years or so. But when you look at the business landscape, 60%-70% of all American businesses are small or medium sized businesses. How do they start to work with the internet? I think that as the technology democratizes itself into those smaller segments of businesses, those small and medium sized businesses are now going to be able to develop online presences and can start to use the internet and technology and media in general to help make the move from “Main Street” to “Google Street”.
CW: As smaller companies utilize the internet to appear bigger and potentially play on the same playing field as much larger companies, how do you think this will impact the position of much larger companies in the marketplace?
NH: Yes, for every action there is a response. I think that it is all for the better. It could make the big companies more nimble and more competitive. Let’s take an example – pricing analysis. For a long time, small and medium businesses didn’t have the capability to conduct pricing analysis because the technology wasn’t there or the technology was not in the correct form or at an affordable price. But now there is the democratization of media, the internet and technology into small and medium businesses. Let’s say that you are a small business owner and you have a retail chain with five stores. You can now run a pricing analysis if you wanted to just off your cash register data using technology that is available today. If you are able to do that and adjust your prices, for example, or to see trends in your business and adjust to those trends you will be more effective and more nimble. And I think that as small businesses become more effective and more nimble, that is going to push larger businesses that may have traditionally had the advantage of technology but not necessarily the advantage of being nimble, to be more nimble. It is the smaller and medium businesses being able to use that technology to force competitive pressures. And those competitive pressures will force those larger companies to be more competitive too.