Alex Kent is the Managing Director, Group, of Aspermont (ASX:ASP), a leading media services provider to the global resource industries. Aspermont has invested 20 years in building a commercial model for B2B media that is founded on providing high value content to a global subscriber base. Aspermont is scaling this B2B model to serve new sectors and new countries and in new languages to maintain global leadership. Aspermont is ASX listed with offices in UK, Australia, Brazil, North America, and the Philippines.
What was your journey to become a CEO?
That is a big question.
My university degrees in Economics, Accounting and Business Law set me up for a career in the finance and banking sector but I joined Microsoft instead which my family and friends found quite surprising.
I was fascinated by computer technology as a kid and I guess my age made it likely I would be one of the first to adopt and use the internet so maybe the sector was in my genes.
At Microsoft I had a technological grounding at the highest level. The Company was the dominant global tech company at that time and in my opinion their vision of the future, back then, is only being realised today.
Leaving Microsoft in the UK I made my way towards Australia via a 1 year stint in French Polynesia where as an ambitious entrepreneur, I tried to reshape the global market for black pearls…….a pirate’s adventure but invaluable experience for understanding the commercial dynamic of governments and niche but high value industries.
Joining Aspermont in 2007, where my Dad was Chairman, I started working with new technologies to build the internet tools and services to help the company cross-monetise its existing subscriptions-based audiences. My development phase over 13 years with Aspermont took me to the role of Chief Marketing Officer which was a senior executive position.
In March 2015 however a turning point came.
I was appointed Managing Director of Aspermont at the age of 35 and it is fair to say it was an intense challenge at critical time for the company.
A baptism of fire for sure………….
Tell us a bit about Aspermont. This media company has quite a history!
Aspermont is either a 20-year or nearly 200-year company depending on how you look at it. The Mining Journal was first published in 1835 and the first Editor of Mining Magazine was ex US president Herbert Hoover, and these are the longest established mining publications in the world. But over the last 20 years – of the internet age – we built Aspermont’s new business model on these solid foundations.
In 2002, Aspermont launched Australia’s first subscriber-based online news brand (www.MiningNews.net) and began a journey of pioneering paywall technology. We accumulated expertise in digital marketing through Search and Social that brought new waves of data, analysis, and optimisation processes into the business model.
This first new generation product, MiningNews.net; was built simply for the Australian mining finance market; but by broadening this model Aspermont became the leading media services provider to the global resource industries. Our high-quality subscriptions-based content today proofs a tried and tested business model that is scalable both by sector and geography.
At a time when others in media have struggled to find a viable subscriptions model Aspermont has delivered 15 quarters of consistent growth in subscriptions and all associated key performance (SaaS) metrics. In the case of Mining Journal, compound annual growth rates have been well above 20% for the last 5 years…..not back for a product first published in 1835.
It is fair to say that Aspermont dominates media services for the $2trillion global mining industry and has developed a range of revenue generating marketing solutions for its, Fortune 500, client base who need to access our global audience.
While subscriptions are at the core of the business, Aspermont is also building growth in other revenue divisions such as Advertising, Events, Content Marketing, Content Agency, and Lead Generation
How have you handled the COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
I am married with three young daughters and my normal travel schedule made for long absences from home. The travel time saved over the last 5 months has enabled me to see much more of my wife and children which has been a real gift.
From a busines perspective Aspermont has been robust, innovative, and quick to adapt to changing circumstances.
For traditional publishing businesses the internet age has been a greater pandemic than Covid today, causing massive disruption in the global advertising markets. Few traditional publishers have survived that and for many of those that did, this current COVID-19 phase is a crushing blow.
For Aspermont, the outlook is different and that is because the company has been building through and working with, disruption since 2002 (ie. MiningNews.net). An example today is the events business. In March this year, governments around the world effectively shut down the live events and conference businesses; 20% of our revenue was at risk yet 3 months later we are a few weeks away from launching the world first virtual event and 365 exhibition platforms for our sectors and we expect to generate higher margin products through this forced innovation.
What is the most exciting thing about running your business?
Our vision of what we can achieve and the potential scalability of Aspermont’s success.
Our media leadership in a global mining market through coverage and influence have real geopolitical impact. Many media organisations follow their market in their own region, but Aspermont leads globally.
Our unchallenged 185-year brand heritage and our technology innovation inspire me and our key management. In fact, what I find most exciting is to address challenges and opportunities with the people I have around me.
I always tell new investors that if you want to get an idea of Aspermont’s true intrinsic value look at the management team and ask yourself why people with their skill sets and experience commit their time to an obscure and largely unknown company with a $20m market capitalisation. It is reassuring that all key management members are also Aspermont shareholders.
At Microsoft I was lucky to work with exceptional people and I can tell you that over the last few years, we have found people of exceptional calibre to work with at Aspermont.
How do you measure success?
A loving wife, 3 beautiful girls, a close family, and loyal friends define personal success.
From a business perspective, success is simple: Realise Your Potential.
I genuinely believe our opportunities are almost without limit, we have 20-year conceptual plans, but they could go much further. As Aspermont fully develops its global mining media opportunities it will become a very big company; but our model is agnostic as regards sector and geography so the value across several sectors could theoretically on major success, justify a $1 billion capitalisation.
Yet, Aspermont, listed on the Australian stock exchange is capitalised at only $20million.
Personally, I think how you are regarded by your community is a better measure of success. As a media organisation we get instant feedback via our subscription and audience numbers on that front, but the end of the day is not here yet. We are a work in progress as a business with scalable rather than linear growth potential.
In subscriptions businesses, Net Retention Rate and Lifetime Value are the north star. Over the last 4 years Aspermont has trebled its LTV and at the same time seen its NRR trend to over 100%. Empirically, I deem that a considerable success.
What do you think is the most important job for a Managing Director of a listed company?
The most important job is to deliver shareholder value – full stop.
You need to build a team of people who are best suited in skills, values, and commitment to deliver on the company’s vision.
The qualities I look for in key management are honesty, work ethic, strategy, innovation and bravery.
How do you spend each day?
I consume vast amounts of information and content daily and I am fortunate to have a wide range of people I respect who are willing to share their experience with me
There is a time and space dynamic of work, family and friends All share time but the reality is that only at the end of my day do I get time to read a newspaper, play online chess, or play ‘words with friends’ to relax before sleep.
What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Aspermont, listed on the ASX with ticker ASP:
- Is the leading media organisation serving a $2 trilion global mining industry.
- Has built a commercial model for B2B media that can scale across other geographies, languages and sectors like agriculture, energy and technology
- Has delivered 15 consecutive quarters of high growth performance in subscriptions revenues and all key SaaS indicators
- Is a unique value proposition in the global media market
- Is debt free and cash generative to finance organic growth
I am now based in Singapore to extend Aspermont’s model and operational team, product, and services across the Asian market as we have previously done across Australasian, European, and North American markets
How can people connect with you?
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