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.

Bailey Fisher & SOLDO welcomed CFOs from some of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies to the latest in our series of Finance Leadership Dinners in London.  Together with guest speakers, Darren Upson from Soldo, Craig Fox from Silicon Valley Bank and Mark Ashworth from Oracle, we enjoyed a roundtable discussion focused on the disruptive technologies available to today’s CFO and how they can be harnessed to automate processes, save time and provide higher quality data.

There were numerous & varied opinions from around the table and, with such a vast array of technology available, it’s clear that choosing the right software at the right stage of growth is critical to how beneficial it may prove to be.

The increased options of platforms and apps are seen by some as an agile way of supplementing core accounting systems, whilst others preferred to utilise more traditional options.

What remains crucial is that the skills and experience of a CFO cannot be replaced by technology alone. Combining automated reporting and technology with experience can reduce time spent on menial tasks and allow more time to be devoted to strategic decision making. A common theme amongst the group was the importance of hiring a strong Financial Controller to support and release the CFO from day-to-day tasks and make efficient use of all available resources.

Fintech products remain a disruptive and beneficial addition to the CFO’s toolkit, but should be seen as such, and not a replacement to the role.

Thanks to SOLDO, the multi-user expense account featuring Mastercard® cards, intuitive admin and effortless reporting, for supporting this event, and for the input from our expert speakers.

If you would like to find out more about future Leadership Dinners, please contact Kerry Linsey at Bailey Fisher.

Bailey Fisher’s Managing Director, Andrew Moore and Head of Technology Practice, Toby Young were pleased to welcome 15 Board members for the latest in Bailey Fisher’s series of Chair Dinners, with backgrounds from within early stage and scale up tech, private equity and PLC boardrooms across the UK and globally.

Lively discussion focused on the importance of governance; strategic advice; Board dynamics; the differences between UK & US; balancing interests of strong executive teams vs investors and ensuring a diversity of thought. The most effective Boards appear to have a structure that ensures governance and fiduciary responsibility supported by Advisory Boards; can demonstrate trust and support of the management team and have a clear path to success.

The Chair Dinner is organised and hosted by Bailey Fisher in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank and Taylor Vinters.

Bailey Fisher & Women 4 Technology are partnering with the University of Cambridge on a unique in-depth study seeking to understand the composite factors shaping successful Founders and C-suite leaders across the UK technology sector.  The initial phase of the research, which is now complete, focused on female Founders and C-suite executives, resulting in novel insights to be published later this year.

The second phase of the research has now launched, focusing on male Founders & C-level executives.  Bailey Fisher & Women 4 Technology are inviting participation from technology Founders and C-level execs across the UK via an online questionnaire.  Involvement is completely anonymous and the questionnaire takes fewer than 9 minutes to complete.

Using advanced analytics, the research looks at a broad range of factors such as cognitive flexibility, risk tolerance, impulsivity, demographics, role models and work flexibility, amongst others. The research has been split into two phases to remove gender bias in the wording and types of questions.  Involvement in the research is completely anonymous and the University of Cambridge and affiliated staff will not have access to individual email addresses or any other identifiable information.

If you have any questions regarding the survey or the study, please feel free to contact the University of Cambridge team at mrv22@cam.ac.uk.

Should you wish to contact Bailey Fisher, please email Toby Young, Head of Technology Practice on toby@baileyfisher.com or Women 4 Technology, email Ann Fisher, CEO on ann@baileyfisher.com

As part of our Leadership Series, Bailey Fisher welcomed C-suite executives from across Technology, Health Technology and Life Sciences to dinner and discussion exploring China business opportunities.

We were pleased to welcome as our guest speakers at the Technology Leadership Dinner, Ting Zhang of Crayfish International; Rick Hao of IQ Capital Partners & Henk Koopmans of Huawei Technologies R&D UK, whilst at the Life Sciences & Health Technology event, guests enjoyed hearing from David Atkins in relation to Congenica’s partnership with Digital China Health; Billy Boyle on Owlstone Medical’s recently announced expansion into China; and Yunming Shao from TUS Park, who provided great insight.

Common themes emerged for UK companies looking to conduct business with China:

  • Due to cultural, language and relationship development differences, in-country partnerships or a localised team/freelance workers are absolutely vital for business success in China;
  • Collaborate with long-term relationships in mind and seek mutually beneficial partnerships;
  • Don’t go it alone; organised events such as investor roadshows make life much easier
  • In China, WeChat is embraced as a far less formal and cumbersome form of communication than email, and often expedites processes and negotiations significantly;
  • The focus between the UK and China used to be very one dimensional. UK would sell to China and outsource there. Now China’s tech is catching up & there is currently a huge push in China for innovation. Historically this has been focused on B2C but is now targeting the B2B space. The government has put in a 5-year plan for AI development;
  • 48% of global equity funding in AI has come from Chinese money. With new US policies limiting this, there will be a greater focus on UK/Europe;
  • The market is dominated by Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent (BAT). They drive investment and set trends;
  • Average time from start-up to unicorn is 4 years;
  • IP protection is far more robust that people typically perceive – this is driven by China’s own need to progress their own technologies;
  • Collectively the UK should be proactive in shaping China’s appetite and recognise that a passive approach will be interpreted as indifference;
  • Don’t be fooled by the apparent large sums of VC money on offer from China – credible investors with experience are what matters and currently this represents a trickle;
  • Common misconceptions can put people off seeking to work with China, however with the right partnerships and guidance, business is no more challenging than any other international market.

Bailey Fisher’s Technology Leadership Dinners are hosted in partnership with Mills & Reeve and Grant Thornton.  The Life Sciences Leadership Dinners are hosted in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank and Taylor Wessing.

Attendance at Leadership Series events is by invitation for C-suite executives from innovative growth businesses.  For more information on future events please contact Helen Poole – Head of Marketing & Events at Bailey Fisher.

In recognition of International Womens Day 2019, Bailey Fisher Executive Search is delighted to report that 48% of our senior leadership placements over the past 6 months have been women.

The recent placements include Chair, CEO, CFO, FD and senior operational roles for growth businesses across Technology and Health Technology, covering AI, cyber security, virtual reality, diagnostics and digital health.   Clients at which female executives have taken up roles during the past 6 months range from University spin-outs, through VC-backed to AIM listed & FTSE 100 businesses, all sharing a focus on growth.

Headquartered in Cambridge, with offices in London and a European Business Partner based in Paris, Bailey Fisher specialises in finding and hiring people who fundamentally impact the success of their businesses.  We do this by working closely with our clients to gain a deep understanding of their challenges and ambitions.

In 2008, Bailey Fisher founded Women 4 Technology, a network of over 1500 business leaders across technology and health technology with quarterly business focused events.  Women 4 Technology launched in Cambridge, before expanding to London in 2009 and Manchester in 2018.

Bailey Fisher and Women 4 Technology are currently collaborating with the University of Cambridge on unique research into composite factors influencing the success of Founders and C-level executives.  The research originally focused on female tech Founders & CEOs, with novel insights to be published later this year. The next phase of the research focuses on male Founders & CEOs.  The research is conducted via an online survey. If you are interested in contributing to the research please contact Toby Young, Head of Technology Practice at Bailey Fisher or Ann Fisher, CEO of Women 4 Technology.

 

Bailey Fisher hosted dinner and discussion focusing on preparing a family firm for acquisition.  The event took place at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, as part of our Leadership Series.  The dinner was hosted by Andrew Moore, Managing Director of Bailey Fisher, in association with Richard Lane of Farrer & Co and Sian Steele of PwC UK.

The guest speaker was Barry Chevallier Guild of Aspall, who enthralled guests with the story of how he and his brother built on the legacy of an 8th generation family business leading to a sale to Molson Coors.

Barry talked about taking the reins of the historic cyder-making business, founded by Clement Chevallier in 1728.  Whilst he and his brother faced challenges inheriting a 30-person family firm, Barry noted that taking on a larger business would have been far more challenging without the experience and know-how.  Talking about preparing the business for acquisition, Barry focused on:

  • The importance of having a strong brand that differentiates you
  • Building a great team
  • Selling at the right time to the right corporate

The Private Markets Dinner was attended by founders and leaders of privately owned and family firms including Pinkster Gin, HÜGGE, Heathpatch, Mick George Ltd, Nationwide Produce Ltd, Hoare & Co, The Chesterford Group and Sydney Hart Ltd.  The dinner was hosted by Bailey Fisher in partnership with Farrer & Co and PwC.

The next Private Markets Dinner will take place in the summer.  Attendance is by invitation for leaders of private and family firms. If you are interested in finding out more about future dinners, please contact Andrew Moore, Managing Director at Bailey Fisher Executive Search.

Bailey Fisher Executive Search is an independent executive search firm operating globally to find and hire people who fundamentally impact the success of their businesses, working in partnership with our clients to understand their challenges and ambitions.

John Bridger, Director in Bailey Fisher’s Technology Practice, spoke about trends in technology executive search, as part of an event bringing together business leaders, creative thinkers, academics and visionaries to shape the future world of work.

“We are seeing a shift towards a much more commercial focus.  Businesses are hiring commercial leaders; product focused leaders much earlier on.  What’s happening here is that they are moving away from being tech for the sake of tech and becoming tech to really solve problems and create solutions across all markets.”  Watch the full interview here

John’s talk took place as part of Taylor Vinters’ Zebra Project, which brings together business leaders, creative thinkers, academics and visionaries to reimagine business for the future.

As a Director in the Technology Practice at Bailey Fisher, John works with growth companies, focusing particularly on searches for Seed stage and Series A businesses looking to appoint commercially minded leaders to drive growth.  John specialises in working with Deep Tech businesses at the forefront of AI and Machine Learning on CEO, C-level and VP searches.

Bailey Fisher Executive Search is an independent executive search firm operating globally to identify impactful talent across Technology, Health Technology, Life Sciences & Industrials.

Taylor Vinters is a law firm that works with innovative and entrepreneurially minded businesses and individuals.