Not all stories of computer companies have their origins in a garage. In November 2011, Cuatroochenta was born, from the seedbed of the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón with a partner graduated in Computer Science, Sergio Aguado, and the other, Alfredo R. Cebrián, in Advertising and Public Relations. In the little more than 10 years of life, this company has found the support of Banco Santander’s Smart Fund, the venture capital firm Inveready, the construction company Pavasal and Vicente Montesinos, a local businessman and current president of the company, who also He is in charge of the Club Deportivo Castellón. And in this story of rapid growth, it made the leap in October 2020 to the BME Growth stock market with a current capitalization of around 47 million euros.
The company, in which 260 professionals work, is dedicated to offering customized technological solutions to manage the digital channel or streamline internal processes for clients and partners in all types of economic sectors, such as mobility, health, distribution, tourism , culture and leisure. In addition, it has its own products such as FAMA, CheckingPlan, Escena Online, USign and UareSAFE and participates in other technological projects such as the Invoice System. Among its clients, the supermarkets Consum, Industrias Dolz, BCD Travel, Renfe, Iberdrola, Endesa, Fiatc Seguros, EMT Valencia and Sareb, among others.
Its figures are still modest, although its evolution has been meteoric. In 2021 it closed with a turnover of 14.8 million euros, compared to 1.7 million just five years ago, and likewise its EBITDA (gross operating profit) has gone from 0.1 million in 2017 to 1 .73 million with which it ended last year. The latest data from the first quarter of this year point to a growth in its turnover of 26%, to 4.32 million euros.
In the future of the company, cybersecurity is playing a very relevant role and already accounts for 18% of its turnover and has also grown by 29% in the last year. Cybersecurity crime exceeds drug trafficking in terms of the money requested for these attacks, explains Alfredo Raúl Cebrián, founder and CEO of Cuatroochenta. “The attacks are not sophisticated, but massive, especially on SMEs. Companies that do not have alarms and have their computer doors open. The demand in cybersecurity is overwhelming and there are no problems with the competition because there is room for everyone”, he adds.
In addition to the development of its computer products, a key to its rapid growth has been the continuous purchase of companies. Cebrián explains that they are in a “very fragmented” sector with an average turnover of between 500,000 euros and one million euros. “The objective is to offer the companies we acquire the possibility of growth with our years of experience. We are constantly looking for opportunities that are a good fit for the business model,” he says.
Thus, two years after its foundation, in 2013, Cuatroochenta carried out its first capital increase, becoming a shareholder of Word Wide Networks, 100% owned by the family of Vicente Montesinos. In April 2017, it executed another increase of 600,000 euros to absorb the branch of activity of Gimeno 111, owned by Santiago Gimeno. In 2019, it acquired Asintec Management and Sofistic, specialized in cybersecurity with implementation in Latin America. And now he takes advantage of his presence on the stock market to ask for money. At the beginning of June, Cuatroochenta approved a capital increase for eight million euros with a price per share of 14.20 euros. A demand for money from the market that, according to the company itself, seeks to reinforce its growth plan.
In July 2020, the IT firm continued with its purchasing strategy: 4TIC Castellón 2009, specialized in electronic administration and blockchain, Ekamat and Microsoft Gold Partner. In February 2021, Pavabits was built as a result of the union of the Pavasal construction group with Cuatroochenta for the digitalization of the customer-supplier relationship. In October 2021, the acquisition of Develapps, the Valencian application developer company in which it invested 600,000 euros, was carried out, and during 2022 the Barcelona company Matrix was acquired through Pavabits to strengthen its position in business management software by an amount of 5.5 million euros.
open to offers
Although Alfredo R. Cebrián prefers not to specify offers received to acquire Cuatroochenta, he says that “the market is dynamic, and there are always proposals of all kinds”. However, he laments that “when Spanish companies stand out, a foreign investor comes and buys them”. And he adds: “As a nation we are not aware of the problem. They often receive grants and subsidies, and when they start to be profitable, they are acquired. A national counteroffer must be developed. We have talent, good ideas, and there is recognition of our know-how in this world”.
According to Cebrián, the subsidies received by Cuatroochenta have been very specific, aimed at R&D (research and development), in addition to having the support of the University and some local entities. “But from the beginning we were afraid to fit into a grant-based business,” he says.
Another characteristic of Cuatroochenta has been its international vocation. Of its turnover of 14.8 million, 15% comes from abroad: Colombia represents 4.9%, Panama and the Dominican Republic 10.5%, and the remaining 84.6% comes from Spain. “We are present in 50 countries, especially in cybersecurity issues in the banking sector, where we work with more than 50 entities. Last April we landed in the United States especially on security issues. It is a more mature market, but it helps us to learn and share experiences with other companies”, explains the CEO of the firm.
The continuous purchase of companies has significantly increased Cuatroochenta’s debt. In 2020, it closed with a net financial debt of 4.91 million euros, which at the end of last year rose to 7.31 million euros and already represents 4.24 times its EBITDA. “Our goal is to have a debt that does not exceed 3.5 times the EBITDA. Currently, including the five million euro convertible bond program of the venture capital firm Inveready, we exceed four times the operating result. However, we have three million euros of cash in case it is necessary to make new business purchases. We rule out paying a dividend to the shareholder. It would not make sense because the objective is to take advantage of every euro that we have invested”, concludes Alfredo R. Cebrián.
Investors are on guard
The great technological giants in the world are experiencing a difficult year. The Nasdaq index leaves 25% of its value and everything that sounds like technology investors do not like, after years of strong growth and increases in the markets. The most pessimistic speak of a return to the dotcom fiasco that was experienced in 2000. However, the CEO of Cuatroochenta points out that, in a few years, the concept of a technology sector will cease to exist because everything is already technology: transportation, food, shopping, textiles… “There were technology inflated by fundamentals, but it is not a bubble. Services have appeared that we have incorporated into our lives, comforts that we have become accustomed to and we are not going to give up, ”he comments. That yes, the economic uncertainty is not good. “Our clients’ decisions are delayed, except in the case of cybersecurity, where the demand is very strong,” he explains. But the CEO of Cuatroochenta says he is prepared for any setback: “Our philosophy is one of prudence, doing it well and taking one step after another. We are prepared for scenarios that you cannot imagine. It is about being strong in complex situations”, he concludes.