Serent Capital Invests in Knowland, Provides Deep Access to Capital

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Leading Silicon Valley growth equity fund takes significant minority stake in cloud based SaaS hospitality data and technology firm.

Serent Capital, a San Francisco-based growth equity firm that is focused on investing in rapidly expanding businesses, has backed the Knowland Group, a provider of meeting and convention data, cloud based software and services for the hospitality industry. The company provides products and services to over 3,000 hotels in the area of group sales data, sales and catering (S&C) software and outsourced value added services.

The company’s founder and CEO, Michael K. McKean, had been fielding calls from private equity, growth equity and venture capital firms since the company’s first appearance on the Inc. Magazine Fast 500 list in 2009. That interest continued to build as the company was ranked by Inc. Magazine as the second fastest growing company in the travel industry in both 2009 and 2010 and was ranked as the 26th fastest growing technology company on the Deloitte Fast 500 Technology List in 2010 and the 76th in 2011. After careful consideration, McKean ran an in-depth process with the assistance of investment banker Frank Sena of Bentley Associates to determine the best partner to support the future growth of the company.

“I wanted to be as thoughtful as possible as to the next steps for the business,” said McKean. “We ran a wide process that introduced Knowland to a number of great potential partners. At the end of the day, Serent stood out for a number of reasons.” Among other things, McKean stated he chose the fund due to the background and reputation of Serent founding partner Kevin Frick and due to the business-building strategy and successes that Serent has achieved. Other things in Serent’s favor included access to substantial additional capital, experience in the travel technology sector, experience with Knowland’s business model in other vertical markets and a significant appetite for acquisitions.

Prior to co-founding Serent Capital, Frick was a partner at McKinsey & Company, where he led McKinsey's West Coast Private Equity Practice and their Global Technology Private Equity Practice. In those roles, Mr. Frick partnered with several leading private equity and growth equity firms, helping them to evaluate high profile investments. Subsequent to investment, he worked with the management teams of those portfolio companies, helping them to achieve the goals established during the diligence process. Notably, he advised on one of the largest transactions in the history of the hospitality technology sector.

“Our team is excited by the opportunity of working with Knowland and the great executive team Mike has put together,” said Frick. “We feel Knowland is revolutionizing the group segment of the hospitality industry and we look forward to adding value in that process.”

About Knowland

The Knowland Group is a proven innovator, developing intuitive products and services that aid and support event and group sales in the hospitality industry. The firm’s solutions include the world’s largest database of global event data, cloud based sales & catering (S&C) software and outsourced sales services. The company, headquartered in Washington DC, serves more than 3,000 hotel customers and 25,000 users globally. Knowland was ranked as the 76th fastest growing company (public or private) in North America by Deloitte in 2011 and the second fastest growing company in the travel industry for both 2009 and 2010 by Inc. Magazine. For more information visit or call (202) 312-5880 Ext. 302

About Serent Capital

Serent Capital invests in growing businesses that have developed compelling solutions that address customer’s needs. As those businesses grow and evolve, the opportunities and challenges that they face evolve with it. Principals at Serent Capital have firsthand experience at capturing those opportunities and navigating the challenges through their experiences as CEOs, strategic advisors, and board members to successful, growing businesses. By bringing its experience and capital to bear, Serent helps growing businesses thrive. For more information, please visit

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Ryan Miner
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