Luminate buys manufacturing software maker; Bain Capital Double Impact embraces edtech

Good morning, Hubsters. MK Flynn here with today’s Wire.

It’s a deal-packed Tuesday!

An interesting manufacturing software deal was announced earlier this morning, and we’re continuing to see more portfolio additions in this “Year of the Add-On.”

We’ve also got a Deep Dive into an innovative PE-backed company transforming classrooms with technology.

Digital transformation: Luminate Capital Partners, a San Francisco PE firm that invests in enterprise software, today announced a majority-stake growth investment in Ease, which develops software that automates manufacturing plant floor audits. Customers of the San Clemente, California company include Dana, Eaton and 3M.

Previous investor Spotlight Equity Partners is maintaining a minority stake.

Luminate’s investment is expected to help Ease expand its leadership position in the manufacturing software sector by accelerating new product development, innovation, and other key growth initiatives.

“Manufacturers are just embarking on their digital transformation journey,” said Eric Stoop, CEO of Ease.

“Ease is addressing a large global opportunity,” said Dave Ulrich, partner at Luminate. “Their innovative platform helps manufacturers simplify how they administer, conduct, and respond to plant floor audits, a process still often done manually on paper. Ease’s platform delivers significant value to customers today and we believe through additional product investment there’s opportunity to offer even more.”

Keep on adding on: Here’s a quick rundown of deal activity from PE portfolio companies:

Investing in edtech: Bain Capital Double Impact is betting on the modern classroom with Meteor, which the Boston firm bought from Saw Mill Capital in a deal announced earlier in March.

Reporter Obey Martin Manayiti spoke with Jacob Donnelly, a managing director on the Bain Capital Double Impact team.

Founded in 1967, Meteor focuses on classroom designs, upgrading classroom furniture to suit modern learning environments and teacher training to support modern trends which in turn can lead to an engaging learning culture.

“The combination of expanding our geography, moving into additional STEM-based career technical education and then deepening our services is really the thesis here,” Donnelly said.

In classrooms, Donnelly said technology, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, should be infused in classroom environments to enhance learning.

“It’s not just the physical environment, it’s actually how you pull together the technology, the pedagogy and the physical environment to create a rich learning experience,” he said.

Coming out of the pandemic, Donnelly said there is also a bipartisan desire to improve school districts.

The firm looked at the state of municipal bond financing in the country, specifically around K-12 education projects, and it turned out that 2022 was the largest year on record, with approximately $89 billion against $62 billion in 2020 and $71 billion in 2018, added Donnelly.

“What we are seeing, again coming out a pandemic, is that people are really unsatisfied with the conditions of their learning environments and want better options. Voters, Democrats and Republicans, approve bond issuances to upgrade and renovate their school districts.”

Who run the world? Girls: Throughout the month of March, PE Hub and Buyouts are featuring our annual Women in Private Equity special report.

On March 8, PE Hub Europe will kick off a series of interviews with women dealmakers in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Tune in tomorrow, when we’ll feature Irien Joseph’s Q&A with Natacha Jamar, a managing director in Blackstone’s corporate private equity group.

Buyouts’ Chris Witkowsky will be on duty tomorrow for Wednesday’s Wire, and I’ll be back with more on Thursday.

Happy dealmaking,