Growing your business with an exit strategy

Rodney Appiah, Director of Foresight Group shared an investor’s perspective over dinner with leaders of privately owned companies. Rodney gave an insightful, candid view of what private equity investors look for in a business and, post-investment, what the relationship between the company and its new investors might look like.

Rodney talked about the importance of building long-term shareholder value; the benefits of a strong, motivated senior leadership team and offering something to your customer that is both different, and defensible. He quoted Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…” 

There was much discussion around exit options, with trade sale, MBO/MBI and equity release enjoying plenty of airtime, and inviting debate from various guests as to which route was more appropriate in their situation.  Rodney talked through various case studies post-investment, leading to exchange of views on how to ensure that investor and shareholders remain aligned, the right talent is used to supplement and support existing management, relationships are managed and exit strategies are fully understood.

The dinner was hosted by Andrew Moore, Managing Director of Bailey Fisher, in association with Farrer & Co and PwC.   The dinner took place at Downing College, Cambridge as part of Bailey Fisher’s Leadership Series. Attendees included business owners and leaders from Aspall, Plextek, Go Ape, Amina Technologies, Howard Group, Pinkster Gin, Sydney Hart, Wren Investment Office and Hoare & Co amongst others.

Our Tech Practice lead, Toby Young hosted discussion for CEOs & investors with talent experts including FiveAI’s Michelle Coventry.

Toby welcomed Michelle Coventry, VP People at FiveAI and Talent Adviser at Kindred Capital, who kicked off a fascinating discussion on how to build a team. Discussion focused on the importance of engaging all members of your team in the hiring process. It is vital that they recognise the importance of their role in the process, and are given training on how to interview.

Much of the hiring agenda inevitably stems from the CEO, particularly in a start-up, but the importance of having a senior individual in the business from an early stage to focus on hiring can’t be overstated.

Hiring is only the first step in growing and nurturing a successful team, and talk turned to the importance of talent retention and development, and the role that company culture plays in this.

Recently there has been a step change in how talent acquisition and retention is viewed in the sector. Previously often written off as just the concern of HR, there is now recognition that it is integral to the success of the business. In Toby’s view “You should be giving the hiring of talent as much importance as raising money, if not more so.”

Thank you to Michelle for her insight and to our event partners, Zickie Lim at Mills & Reeve and Paul Naylor at Grant Thornton.

The event took place in London as part of Bailey Fisher’s Leadership Series for entrepreneurs, investors and influencers across the growth technology market.

Iain Hopper, Director of Life Sciences & Health Technology, welcomed Founders & C-suite leaders from growth companies across the sector to discuss the benefits of accelerators for business success.  Taking place as part of our Leadership Series, the dinner was hosted by Iain in partnership with Nooman Haque, MD of Life Sciences at Silicon Valley Bank and Adrian Rainey, Partner at Taylor Wessing.  We thoroughly enjoyed hearing from Karolina Zapadka in relation to Accelerate@Babraham, Jason Mellad discussing Start Codon and Nate Mayfield providing fantastic insight into Illumina’s accelerator model and exciting plans for expansion. There was a real energy in the room and a great atmosphere which was very pleasing to see.

The discussion was moderated by Nooman Haque, and highlights included:

  • Are UK founders, companies, or even the wider ecosystem ambitious enough? How do you balance ambition with the need to be cautious and deliberate in healthcare?
  • How do we address the scale-up challenge and foster an ecosystem focused on creating £1bn companies?
  • How do we recreate the “bottom up” enthusiasm for entrepreneurship that is so prevalent and infectious on the west coast of the US?
  • What happens post-accelerator? Are we developing the companies with full foresight of the road and challenges ahead, e.g. will they be able to raise the VC round?
  • Whilst funding is important, Founders and business leaders are crying out for guidance and mentorship from experienced business leaders on the practicalities of how to run and scale a business
  • How do we better promote entrepreneurialism and communicate business acumen to scientists and academics?

The dinner took place in Cambridge as part of Bailey Fisher’s Leadership Series for Founders & C-suite leaders.  If you are interested in finding out more about future Life Sciences Leadership events, please contact Iain Hopper, Director of Life Sciences & Health Technology at Bailey Fisher.