The Elevar Method, or e.M, is the outcome of 15 years of building ‘equity for equity’. Our investment thesis focuses on three aspects: customers within low income communities, business models that deliver products and services affordably and at scale, and entrepreneurs with the ambition and ability to build businesses that address barriers of access and inequity.
How do we know an e.M company
when we see one?
Let’s start by talking about LAhWS and CBV.
‘LA : Low ARPU (average revenue per user), hWS : high Wallet Share’, or LAhWS, is how we define our target customer segment. Quality products and services that our customers can afford i.e. low ARPU, delivered at a profitable margin at the unit level. A high wallet share relationship (or the potential for one) that demonstrates the essential nature and importance of the product or service, and a discerning customer who demands value and accountability.
Execute on these lines and we believe you have a company that is valuable to marginalized or underserved customers within low income communities, and a business model that is enduring. A model powered by customer driven revenue and margin driven scale. A company with a compelling impact proposition for low income communities. It is how we filter investment opportunities and navigate the complex and sometimes perplexing world of impact investing.
All it now needs is a strategy for scaling business models.
Introducing Customer Business Value.
We are obsessed with something we call Customer Business Value or CBV. If revenue is the dollar value a company receives from a customer, Elevar defines CBV as the dollar value of goods and services a LAhWS customer receives when transacting with an e.M company. It could refer to the value of loans outstanding, working capital, transaction value, gross merchandise value, insurance coverage, value of assets being leased and so on. In some cases, of course, revenue and CBV can be the same. When we deliver high CBV to a LAhWS customer, we believe they have potentially received far greater value than the ticket price for the product or service may suggest.
Return on equity (ROE), a tried and tested metric for demonstrating returns, was insufficient to measure impact. And so working CBV into ROE we get … RO(m)E, a metric to measure both not just business performance but also impact, and by derivation what we call “customer margin” and “impact leverage”.
We believe downward or range bound pressure on customer margin ensures that an e.M company is constantly adding value for a LAhWS customer, affordably. Upward pressure on profit margins ensures that efficiency and productivity of the company is being enhanced. And upward pressure on impact leverage means that CBV is not driven by an increase of prices but by drawing more customers, getting those customers to keep doing business with the company (high customer loyalty), and then smartly expanding the portfolio of offerings to a growing and loyal customer base.
To summarise, RO(m)E is a vision for calculating ROE for a company that focuses on a LAhWS customer, with momentum – a direct correlation between impact and business performance for low income communities.
For Elevar, it means that we’ve identified an e.M company with twin business and customer impact flywheels that deliver enduring momentum. Let’s get deeper into flywheels.
Mechanical flywheels enable machines to work with energy efficiently. They store and unleash energy exactly when a machine needs it. Business flywheels, on the other hand, enable businesses to work with equity efficiently, unleashing the power of capital when needed.
But what does that mean in practical terms? What do we mean when we talk of the e.M Twin Flywheels? Consistent with RO(m)E, there are twin wheels: business performance and customer impact. Together the twinned performance and impact wheels make up the e.M Twin Flywheels.
Look at the business wheel and you see a company that is building a profitable business with a carefully chosen customer base. Look at the customer wheel and you see a RO(m)E business that delivers high CBV to a loyal, resilient and vibrant LAhWS customer base. Combine them together and we believe you have a business model that scales profitably, leverages customer margins to deliver impact, and then in turn levers that customer impact to drive even greater scale. Two aligned wheels, accelerating each other. The goal of the e.M Twin Flywheels is to build a high momentum LAhWS focused business.
An e.M company, then, is simply a LAhWS customer focused business that delivers high RO(m)E at scale. Fifteen years of hands-on experience distilled into a philosophy for investment that speaks to solution-oriented entrepreneurs who love engaging with low income communities, and executing a LAhWS customer oriented business. Impact that starts with our equity backing a transformational entrepreneur, and scales up with momentum. This is The Elevar Method :: Equity for Equity, with Momentum.