Beyond building a saleable business asset build a strategic business asset to double your value

About 94.6% of businesses started fail to sell and close at great cost to the owners, their families, and employees as they did not have a saleable business asset.

This should worry any business owner.

Aurik is currently working with a client who led the market in automated SME lending a few short years back, with two rounds of funding backing their development and growth. Today, they find themselves increasingly irrelevant, superseded by lending platforms that have AI and ML baked into their performance. They created the market opportunity, and competitors followed with advanced technology to outcompete their more traditional services. To lead again, they must rebuild their platform at a high cost, requiring another round of funding, diluting all parties further!

The lessons are clear. A business never stops needing innovation, and therefore investment, to stay ahead. It means a business owner invests continuously in their company if they wish to remain relevant and ahead of their competitors. There are always fewer buyers than sellers. Your business will be priced based on that competitive environment, with buyers spoilt for choice in a crowded space.

There are two paths to success worth talking about.

Build a business into an asset.

  • It must meet the definition of an asset – i.e. deliver income AND capital growth
  • It must be built to deliver the 5 levers of value and exit.

Build it to be a strategic asset.

  • With the 5 levers in place, you must build it into a strategic asset for a group of 2 or 3 well-defined acquirers who preferably compete.
  • Success here will see multiples rise rapidly. The deals are strategic rather than financial. Your company’s revenue contribution is nice but immaterial to a big player. It’s the strategic value of your business to that buyer that matters most – think Facebook buying WhatsApp at an eyewatering valuation of over $19 billion.

Selling to strategic buyers needs extensive forethought and deep knowledge of your sector and industry. It’s the 5th act of leadership in any business owner’s journey and one that few have the commitment and obsession to attain.

A well-built company that is a saleable business asset with $5m EBITDA can earn you a cool $35m. However, the same business sold to a strategic buyer can earn you $100 million in half the time. It’s worth getting right!

Growing your company, despite the uncertainty in the world: if your business is not growing, it’s dying!

If you are not growing your company, you are dying. The war in Ukraine, global supply chains, microchip scarcity, remote working, COVID, and inflation will kill your business… if you allow them to!

Inflation in a business is like cancer in a body. It’s often not detected until it’s either too late or requires a massive effort to eradicate and remedy. The best way to understand how it works is to think about R1,000 and what you do with it.

Say, inflation is running at 5%. If you place it in a current account, no interest is payable. At the end of the year, that R1K has the buying power of R950, and at the end of the following year, it’s worth around R900 and so on. Alternatively, you could place your R1k into a money market investment offering 4.5%. That way, before tax, you maintain the purchasing power of that money over the year. It’s worth R1,050 at the end of the year and so on. But the problem, of course, is tax and its impact on your purchasing power. That R50 interest earned can only be worth half of that, depending on your tax rate, but in any event, it still sees your money eroded. So here is the problem: many business owners don’t run calculations like this. They are too busy contending with the many challenges in the business environment. Their heads are also full of the deafening, seemingly relentless noise created by the information overflow generated by local, national, and global events.

But you leave it in your current account because you need to have it at hand.

In this podcast, Pavlo Phitidis discusses how your business may thrive in today’s economy, where the business environment, political environment, and global environment all play a role.

Why do you need to have it at hand and readily accessible?

Plan to plan, but no plan yet.
This is likely to develop a growing aversion to risk as well as a mindset that only ever sees risk. If you are here, either sell your business or get some help to get into the next option below!

The plan to sustain
Do what you’ve done until you have an idea of what you want your business to be. Whilst it’s better than not having a plan, it’s not good enough. The reason is simple. In your industry, you have competitors that are planning and acting on their plans to grow. Their growth erodes your business.

Make plans to expand.
Turn an idea into a plan, a plan into a document, the document into action. Or, even better, you can anchor your business into the future by defining what your company needs to be: an Asset of Value™. You engage your leadership team to set the 3-year plan and your operational team to develop the 1-year plan. Once all are aligned, you work with that team to break the year’s plan into quarterly milestones (measured outcomes over time). Once done, you create a budget. Once done, you delegate and assign the budget.

In this economy, business environment, political environment, and global environment, it’s tempting to feel overwhelmed, small, insignificant, unworthy, and incapable of growing your company and fulfilling your dreams and ambitions. Many people retain the shroud of an imposter, seemingly in control, up and at it and succeeding. The Jekyll and Hyde conflict exists in everyone – you are not an exception. It’s valuable to acknowledge and embrace. The frustration of this world must turn into anger. That anger must turn into positively inspired action. This is the turbine that propels action to make a difference and create a reality different from what we are told makes up the world. It’s a choice, and it’s in everyone’s power and self-interest to make it so.

Getting new employees up to speed and returning value

The economy is emerging from the Covid slump; it’s the beginning of the year – there are a lot of new hires. So how do you get new employees up to speed fast and effectively?

Employees are drawn to different companies because of their distinct characteristics, whether it be the company’s remuneration package, culture, or growth opportunities within the company

What’s going through the employee’s mind.

  • As is—”re-alignment to the new company and its model and structures.”
  • As was – “It’s not like the past, company, it’s different here”
  • Still settling—”I haven’t settled yet, but I’ll get there, or will I?”
  • Constant flux – “Will I make it past the first 3 months the way things are going?”

Every employee needs a structure for them to get their work done. When there are systems in place to help the employees reach their full potential, it will be easy to settle.

If you build your business on solid systems, you will be able to make use of the right technologies to automate your business systems. The trick is to first build those systems manually and automate them in stages for the employee and the business after this. The implementation of good business systems will result in business achieving scalable and sustainable growth with the new employees and across all areas of the company.

Listen to this podcast from The Money Show where Pavlo Phitidis discusses how to get new employees up to speed and returning value.

HR System

Job Description

This must say exactly what you want the person in the role to deliver. It must thoroughly define what the person must come in to build, run and be responsible for.

It’s even more important to make sure that the new employee ticks the following 3 blocks:

  • The right Fit – they must fit into your company in terms of its culture, values, work ethic
  • The right Skills set – they must have the right skills set for the job they’re hired for
  • The right Aptitude – they must have the capacity to be easily adaptable (change is still on the cards)

Recruitment

A clear and accurate Job description will play a critical role in searching for and selecting the right candidate for the role.

On-Boarding

Training – what and how

Its important to make sure that you prepare a safe landing for your new employee. Make sure you understand the system they will be coming into fully and how they will fit in it so that it becomes clear from the get-go what it is expected of them. Failure to do the onboarding process effectively and provide essential training that enables the new employee to be effective in their role will leave them feeling like a misfit in your organization and lead to their loss of confidence in their own ability to deliver desirable results within their new environment.

Performance Management

Measurement

Without the measurement and management of performance in your organization, you will not be able to gauge your organizational performance. The key here is to ensure that performance is consistently and fairly measured for all employees. Most importantly, good performance must be rewarded, and there must be consequences management for non-performance. This will help you retain good performance and help you weed out non-performers.

The personal cost of leading a standard of excellence

Resurrection is a very long, five-season series about the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. The central character, Etugrul, faces unbelievable ordeals to seed the Turkish State. It’s set in 1200 AD and cleverly presents the many, many challenges the hero must overcome to make it all happen. Among all the bloody battles energized by corrupt, nefarious characters, the toughest was his discipline of his childhood friend and closest, most loyal confidant, Bamsi.

Etugrul directed Bamsi to hold a position in a battle and then followed him to conclude the main battle. In the chaos, Bamsi decided to chase the Mongols who intended to kill their horses, which would have left them all trapped in the Mongol territory. He saved the horses, but Etugrul faced a major battle without backup.

Back at his tent, Etugrul stripped Bamsi of his rank and title. It was painful and dreadful to watch. As a leader, he had to communicate through this action the principles and standards that he had set, his tribe stands for justice. Walking the talk came at a high cost.

Listen to this podcast from The Money Show where Pavlo Phitidis unpacks excellence in business.

Can you afford not to set a standard of excellence?

It depends on how you see your life. The only things we control are the present moment and the future, and it’s all a personal choice. Many businesses generate income for their owners and create a good lifestyle. Few become truly excel despite having the potential to.

It’s a tough call to make.

A lifestyle business can certainly give you just that, a good lifestyle. As it suggests, work is work, and play is play. A balanced life is how it’s sold and very often actively and widely supported and promoted, challenging you with questions such as “how much is enough?”. It’s a subtle but determined intention to keep you at the collective level, since surpassing that collective level might imply comparative failure for those who don’t. Striving for excellence is equally a choice, and it’s far easier to make it if you love what you do and do what you love. This sounds ideal, but it’s not.

How do you set a path toward excellence?

Excellence needs to be superceded by a vision of what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. The cost of excellence becomes an investment in excellence and your life if it has meaning for you. And meaning can be fragile. If you find it, attach to it and don’t share it too widely. People will challenge it jealously, and on the tougher days, you can waver and allow doubt to erode it.

Next, you need to establish a standard of excellence. For example, in competitive sports, you measure your team against many others. What then sets your standards of excellence? Is it the number of clients or the rating from clients?

Motivating and engaging your team is essential to setting a path to excellence. If you have your leadership team inspired, and they in turn inspire their teams, you can, for example, challenge your team to raise the standard of their team by 3% per month. Twelve months later, that team is functioning at a 36% higher level of engagement. Three years later, your expectations have risen by more than 100%. Make the number 3% your mantra!

Succession

In family business succession, excellence is tested to the extreme. How do you involve your family in the company? Should you? If you bring an incompetent loved one into your business, what does this say about you, your vision, and standards? And how does it make your team, especially those committed to excellence, feel and rethink their futures with you?

Dealing with a rock star

Does a commitment to excellence allow you to have rock stars in your business? Top performers always want different treatment. The thing with standards is that they create the framework against which reliable, consistent, and dependable decisions can be made, and therefore leadership ones as well. Do you demote your Bamsi when the fragile principles and standards that everyone has come to rely upon are compromised in your journey to excellence?

“A 3% increase in standards per month adds up to 36% improvement in a year, and in 3 years you can raise the bar 100%!”

Invest where your business value is the highest.

Where does the actual business value lie? Is it in the product, people, or processes? The lazy answer is that it relies on all three, but a deeper look into it might surprise you.

Product

Physical or service, the product of a business refers to what the business offers to solve a customer’s problem. Sourcing, developing, and building a product or suite of products is essential for any business that trades. This often creates a mindset that centers the value of a company on its product.

People

Pavlo says he’s “heard utterances from my team is everything to if you want something done correctly, do it yourself.” So, which is it? Without your team, you are not a business. A one-person or two-person business is one that you create for yourself. The team is vital to “SCALE & GROW”, and advance the size, profitability, and ability of a business.

Processes

The daily, weekly, and monthly activities that you need to perform across your business functions govern the customer experience, the team experience, the supplier experience, and any other stakeholder in your business. Without process, chaos reigns. Too much process creates a pool of treacle for anything new to happen.

The best approach is to adopt an investor mindset, something especially hard for any company founder or owner to achieve.

Listen to this podcast from The Money Show where Pavlo Phitidis discusses “product, people, or processes”

Products can and will be imitated and replicated by competitors. With time and money, their value erodes. People come and go, and skills are more available now than ever before. A mindset arguing that people hold the business value. Then if that’s so, where is the value in the business if people come and go? Processes create the experience behind every engagement with a business. If a good experience a customer, supplier, or employee has with the company is reliable and predictable, they will continue to support that business. To get this right means that you need to understand your customers’ needs, wants, psychographics, and behaviours. It means you need to have a definitive culture and set of values that attract and repel employees, leaving you with those that identify with your company and, therefore, customers. In the order of processes, these elements need good products to trade effectively.

This equation of business value….it all starts, and ends, with processes leading the value investment!

Business Strategy

Business Strategy: The two strategies for your business in 2022

The Covid Era is not over – this is the covid decade! The storm will continue. For those businesses that have survived the last 2 years, there lies within them the possibility of making a success of the next 8 years. The important mind shift needed is to turn ‘hope for a better future’ into a business strategy to adapt. It remains critical for businesses to prepare for this year by having a clear end-objective in mind. The focus should be on why you do what you do and being conscious about the fact that as you cast your mind in the future, the path to get there will chop and change.

Listen to Pavlo Phitidis discuss this on The Money Show.

Possible business strategy:

Growth

“I’m growing despite Covid, the economy and politics”

There is a real opportunity to take up the market, to take up the customers, the products, and the opportunities that your competitors are not going to be taking up because most people will remain indecisive in this country, especially around their businesses.

Exit

“Because of my age and/or stage, I’m exiting”

Once the decision to exit has been made, build, manage and lead your business differently to make sure your business is buy-able and therefore sell-able.

Starting, building, growing and sustaining a business is hard.

Because we have little funding in this process, starting, growing and sustaining a business is done with a view to secure revenue as fast as possible. But this develops habits that, if we don’t change them, builds a business that generates income for us, but that can’t be sold.

94,6% of businesses started, fail to sell and close.

A life lived successfully growing and sustaining a business to build an income generating business, is a life lived poorly when you cannot monetise your years of risk and investment because you cannot sell your business for a capital gain.

Rather, we should have our cake (an income generating business) and eat it (a capital growth business). Both are possible and realising this too late is a costly mistake.

Listen to Pavlo Phitidis discuss how to get this right on this podcast from The Money Show

https://omny.fm/shows/small-business-focus/small-business-focus-building-a-business-that-gene

Think of it objectively:

If you have R1000 and you want to invest in the stock exchange, with a view to hold on to it for 5 years.

You can ear dividends – let’s say R200 per year. At the end of 5 years you’ve enjoyed R1 000.

In your business the income dividends come from a salary, other perks of owning the business and dividends.

In 5 years you now want to realise its capital growth

Let’s say your share is now worth R2000 – you sell it and gain R1000 on your initial investment.

You had your cake and ate it as the R1000 you made in dividends covered the R1000 invested AND you made R1000.

The third element to this is that the share has to be interesting to someone, to buy.

In our businesses, this so often doesn’t happen because the business owner is central to the continuation of the business. Without you there, there is no business.

You need to think with both an operator and investor’s hat as you run and build your business. The sooner you start thinking like this, and behaving differently, in accordance with this, the better your chance of making it into the 5.4% who can sell their business, and secure their retirement, and legacy.

Scale-Grow-Dominate

Why?

In a competitive world, growth is vital for survival. If your company is not growing, it’s dying. You also need to maximize your economic prime’s impact as a business owner and become the best you can be to maximize that return-on-time during your prime.

Successful growth sees revenues and profits increase on a consistent, reliable basis. That would be fine in a less competitive world. To maintain and grow your market share you need to grow well above industry growth rates. To get this done, need to be investing 70% of your time on NLG.

What goes wrong?

  • Clarity of purpose – growth today needs to be driven by intention tomorrow. Being clear about why you do what you do and what you want from your business over time leads to simpler, crisper decisions and leadership
  • More time leading, less time doing – If your time is consumed in daily, weekly, monthly operational activities such as crisis management, failures in delegation, rework, unscheduled communications, administration, and the like, your ambitions to generate sustainable NLG are likely to falter.
  • Freedom within a framework – because you carry all the risk, your ability to delegate responsibility and control over elements of the business to your team impacts your time demands and their confidence
  • Finding, winning, and holding customers – crafting and implementing marketing and sales strategies that get traction and stick result in brand confusion and low profitability
  • Growth drives chaos – when you grow, chaos across operations and administration pull you back into the guts of your business and erode profit
  • Right people doing the right thing – without the right skills, commitment, and effort from your team, you remain square and center in daily operations. Getting your team to do the heavy lifting is essential
  • Growth – when your NLG disassembles the operational activities in your business, creates confusion and uncertainty in your team. It will not deliver increased profit at a higher rate than increased revenue. Increasing revenues with rising costs increases the quantum of profit, not its value, complexity, and risk.

The Solution

We will work with you

  • See the wood from the trees – run diagnostics to understand the foundation upon which growth is driven, the space into which growth can be accelerated, the levers that point to where growth lies, and the aptitudes of you and your partners, which can best be utilized to win the growth you want
  • Clarify purpose into 10, crisply defined, measurable growth goals and load them onto your company dashboard. Monthly we will evaluate progress towards the goals to ensure that they are achieved in our time together.

Working with you and your team, we will:

  • Position your business to deepen market share in amongst all the noise, change, and competition in your market
  • Organize all your commercial functions into a single, simple, smart system of deliveryto generate consistent organic growth
  • Engage with your team to create the commercial systems, embracing their insights to engender ownership, value, and accountability so that they run and lead the system of delivery to release 70% of your time
  • Apply that available time to identify next-level growth opportunities that leverage your system of delivery and team to ensure that revenue growth is supported by moderated cost growth to deepen profit
  • Collecting data across all the systems to support decision-making further builds a body of evidence in support of any capital raise efforts, essential to fuel that growth.

The Outcome

Structure determines behavior, which generates an outcome determined by the design of that structure. Simplifying the design of your business scales it. Successfully done, your path to accelerated growth will deepen value and let you spend your time where it counts most, next-level growth

How we make it happen

Contact us

Succession

Why it matters?

Succession of a business is fraught with emotional and practical challenges, whether in family businesses or across the professional services sector. Success is rare, with 73% of succession attempts failing at a significant cost to the founders, successors, employees, customers, and suppliers.

For family businesses, failure costs both generations the family’s wealth-generating and emotional wellbeing. In private companies, it erodes or stalls the retirement wellbeing of the exiting generation and robs the next generation of their future wealth creation path. All lose.

What goes wrong?

  • Mindsets – The exiting generation has an eye on retirement and their final wealth generation through a sale of shares. Successors look to carve a wealth creation path in the years ahead through reinvestment. The conflict, conscious or not, seeds the frustration experienced by both the timing and method of succession. The different mindsets prevent effective planning or erode trust and the relationship increasing the complexity, judgment, and probability of succession success.
  • Relationships – poor timing, planning, and method in succession create confusion and noise in the business ecosystem. Customer and supplier uncertainty creates doubt and fear, often stalling or changing tac on the succession process and its timing, costing the parties and the company.
  • Value – Neither party has likely valued a company before, and conflicting agendas further impede successful succession. The exiting generation needs to maximize their value as their last wealth-generating act before retirement. The succeeding generation needs certainty that they can afford the acquisition.
  • Timing – the fear of exiting a business by the founding generation is often realized late in the process. Questions on their value and psychology begin to arise, and fear often shows as a reticence to proceed, which the succeeding generation may misconstrue. Once resolved, the timing issues center on the transfer and payment of the shares. The succeeding generation typically requires payment terms, having had no prior opportunity to accumulate capital to acquire the shares. This creates uncertainty and apprehension in the exiting generation who relinquish control, without full payment, that could see their successors erode the value of their yet-to-be-paid-out retirement.
  • Transparency and plan – decisions on successors, the process adopted for the transfer of responsibilities, and the final value and terms of succession can harm the relationships across the company. Good, loyal, capable employees are overlooked because of poorly motivated decisions or poorly planned communications, causing animosity and anxiety through the succession attempt.

Solution

If you’re exiting, your successors will pay you out over time, and you need to be confident that they can operate, run and grow the business without your input. Should they raise capital to acquire their shares, they’d need to meet the requirements of a funding source.

We work with you to develop a structured succession plan that is practical and measurable to

  • Transfer operational and commercial responsibility, over time to successors

Working with you and your leadership team or family members to:

  • Align leadership – run diagnostics to ground-truth and align the understanding of the companies foundation, future growth strategy, team dynamics, and current numbers
  • Set the future goals together – 10, crisply defined, measurable growth goals, and load them onto your company dashboard. Monthly we will evaluate progress towards the goals to ensure their achievement and the structured transfer of responsibilities between the generations
  • Create a schedule of activities over time to transfer the responsibility of the business functions in a structured, methodical manner that draws on the experience, insight, and learnings of the exiting generations alongside the activation and implementation of the activities, incorporating the wisdom to build out the future business
  • Transfer leadership and relations across customers, suppliers, and employees between generations to manage relationship expectations and maintain stability
  • Set up and establish a monthly, performance-based engagement between the generations to the sign-off transfer of blocks of responsibility and set the post-handover relationship between the generations with the exiting generation assuming a shareholding-investor-advisor role and succeeding generation taking an owner-operator-leader role
  • Collecting data across all the systems to support decision-making to moderate decisions, align the parties, ensure objective engagements
  • Build a valuation framework that aligns both generations on the fair value of the business for eventual acquisition and sale of shares to reward the exiting generation and motivate the succeeding generation

The Outcome

An inclusive, structured, time-based engagement to reliably handover in a risk-managed process, the responsibilities of the business operations and strategy, align the expectations between the exiting and succeeding generation on the company’s future direction plus establishes the framework for the transfer of responsibilities while ensuring facilitated communications, the use of data to moderate and guide decisions and the development of respect between the generations. Allows for the alignment on valuation, terms of payment, conditions of handover to preserve the wealth payout for the exiting and wealth creation path for the succeeding.

How we make it happen

Contact us

Grow & Exit

Why it matters?

Wealth generation for a company owner requires three acts of leadership, each with its focus and direction.

Make money – build a business that generates organic growth to release your time to focus on next-level growth

Grow money – identify and implement next-level growth initiatives that accelerate revenue growth and deepen profitability

Protect money – lock in the 5 levers of value to secure a successful, premium exit that monetizes years of dedication, care, risk, and investment.

While we spend 10-15-20-30-40 years building a business to generate income that we reinvest to win greater returns and a premium sale and exit, 94.6% of companies started fail to sell. They close at a high cost to the business owner, their family, and employees. Of the 5.4% that do sell, 68% make significant concessions on value and the terms of sale, eroding the value of legacy.

What goes wrong?

Job not an asset

Every business develops through stages. In the early days, income generation is vital. It relies on activities that trap you in an income generation mindset and habit, preventing your company from generating income without you. In effect, this makes your company a job, and a job is not salable. To be sold, you must build your company into a tradable asset meeting 3 criteria; income growth, capital growth, and independence of the business owner.

Not built for sale

Planning – Businesses are not bought; they need to be built to be sold. There are only 2 destinations for any business: a sale or closure. Not planning your eventual exit prevents you from understanding how an acquirer buys a company and what you need to do to build one that meets those requirements. By not developing the 5 levers of valuation and exit in your business today for that future event reduces your salability and puts you on the back foot of a price taker should a buyer make an offer.

Time runs out

Being caught up in daily, weekly, monthly operational activities traps you in an operator mindset. This prevents your progression to an investor mindset allowing you to build for a sale instead of building for simply income generation.

Time  – too much time caught up in your business’s daily, weekly, monthly activities prevents your ability to switch hats from operator to investor. It also impedes your ability to understand the investor/acquirer mindset and then act to build a product they’d want to acquire. Time scarcity often appears in comments like “I will deal with it when I’m ready to sell.”; “I’m too busy to focus on this right now. We’re putting out fires, which takes all my time.”; “I don’t need to plan. I get letters all the time from potential buyers so that selling will be easy.” and”I’m not ready, so planning isn’t necessary.”  

Only 2 destinations

Valuation – the circumstances leading up to a sale event are less strategic and more circumstantial, including moribund or low growth, a significant work effort or investment requirement to maintain and sustain the business, burnout, health, boredom, and relationship pressures, amongst others. This motivates a valuation approach driven by a business owners emotion and necessity, not math. And valuation is very much about math. Five levers or variables influence the valuation of a business and the terms of exit. Waiting for the event that drives a poorly planned exit to occur prevents your business from being ever-ready for a premium exit.

The Solution

By building an Asset of Value today, you can have your cake and eat it tomorrow. An AOV meets the criteria of a tradable asset, locks in the 5 levers of value, and places you in a position to sell in the future

We will work with you

  • Diagnose your Asset of Value status and see what gaps need to be closed to achieve the exit state that would best achieve a premium price and clean exit
  • To set the growth and exit goals that would see your business deliver the 5 levers of valuation and exit

Working with you and your team, we will:

  • Position your business for growth to inspire future acquirers
  • Develop a simple, transferable growth system to make it happen without you
  • Upskill and empower your team to drive the growth system
  • Secure organic and next-level growth outcomes to build confidence on how an acquirer can achieve a return on their investment
  • Meet all the Asset of Value criteria to increase your ability to sell successfully
  • Build the body of evidence to demonstrate the 5 levers of value and exit to maximize your valuation and simplify your terms of exit and payment

The Outcome

A business built into an asset of value allows you to have your cake and eat it. Should you wish to exit, and opportunity to do so a premium valuation on acceptable terms and conditions. Should you delay your exit, your business will be positioned for growth, enabled by a simple, smart growth system operated by a purposeful team. The results will see organic growth and next-level growth initiatives grow revenue while deepening profits. Ultimately, the years of risk, investment, and sacrifices can now be monetized or sweated further to maximize exit valuations or wait for optimal exit timing.

How we make it happen

Contact us

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