Posts Tagged ‘portfolio company’

An Italian Adventure to Produce a Video Profile of a Private Equity Portfolio Company

February 13, 2014

The opportunity to produce a video profile of a company in a portfolio of our global private equity client The Riverside Company often takes Curt (director of photography) and I (producer) on interesting adventures. Two weeks ago, for instance, we had the opportunity to spend a day in Verona, Italy filming Olympics and World Championship swimmers who endorse the racing swimwear of the brand Arena, a company in Riverside’s European fund.

As I watched Ruta Meilutyte (Lithuania, 16 years old) and Daniel Gyurta (Hungary, 24) fly through the lanes of the Olympics-sized pool while testing out the latest carbon technology that has been incorporated into their suits, I imagined them standing on a podium, gold medal in hand, filled with emotions as the national anthems of their home countries blasted into the ears of the world after their wins. They and their World Championship gold medal colleague Katinka Hosszu (Hungary, 24), who was also present in Verona, are international stars, revered by swimmers, athletes, and ordinary people who delight in the extraordinary talents of superpeople. During international events like the Olympics or the World Championships, they live in a bubble of fame surrounded by countless other swimmers and coaches, reporters and fans. But on the day we videotaped, there was almost no one around but the folks from Arena and us, and we were treated to a slice of time with these wonders of the world.

 

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Curt was excited to use a GoPro to capture them from the underwater perspective. Attaching the camera to the end of a long stick, he walked down the perimeter of the pool holding one end, ensuring that the camera at the other end stayed beneath the swimmers’ bellies as they glided effortlessly through the pool lanes adjacent to him. His footage highlighted their perfect underwater moves — as well as the brand name of the company they endorse. Adding to the value of the video, we also spent time interviewing the Olympians, a formality that was preceded and followed by normal conversation. I was excited to learn that Katinka – and her coach/husband Shane Tusup – went to USC, my daughter’s alma mater. Most impressively, all three of the swimmers were very humble, friendly people simply doing what they love to do and fortunate to be so successful at it.

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We spent that day in the closed confines of an indoor pool facility which could have been located anywhere in the world, but when we finished recording the interviews and b-roll, we had two free days until the next planned day of shooting. We spent a sunny morning at the Adriatic Sea, and another day driving on little roads that traverse tiny towns with stone buildings that have been standing for centuries. In these non-tourist locations, I ate the freshest and most delicious Italian veggie food I’ve ever tried. A special treat was stopping for lunch one day to meet our friend Ruth Ellen Gruber, an award-winning writer and journalist who lives near Todi. She gifted us with a can of oil pressed from olives she had picked in her garden. I’m quite sure I will never be able to enjoy store-bought olive oil again.

A couple of days later we were back under the Arena wing. Katinka stopped by the company’s headquarters in Tolentino to meet the staff and learn about new products. It was fun to see her surrounded by scores of staff asking for her autograph. She chatted with them, one at a time, writing personal messages on the postcards they handed her. We also enjoyed watching her delight in the panoply of Arena products that filled the company’s headquarters, examining the fabrics of swimsuits, trying on new goggles, and picking out her favorite sports bag.

As Cristiano Portas, the company’s CEO told us when we interviewed him later in the day: “We want to fully understand the needs, the wishes and even the dreams of the athletes and to transfer this knowledge into products which are delivering an outstanding performance. The concept is that all the people watching the competition and going to the shops to get the swimwear or a pair of goggles, they will see the champions and they want to wear the goggles and the swimsuits of the champions because if it is good for champions, it is good for me.”

Very cool to have such incredibly talented and down-to-earth folks as brand champions for millions of people to emulate in countries around the globe.

As for the video, we are having a very good time in the editing suite. We get to ooh and aah over footage of perfect strokes of several of the world’s most talented swimmers. We even get to act as surrogate coaches in a way, choosing where to start and stop each beautiful shot.  Editing this company profile (as all videos we produce), we are ever mindful of its ultimate audience – the Riverside investors and others interested in the firm’s portfolio of companies. I am certain they will be very pleased to be a part of such an exciting and successful venture.