Fri 29 / 09 / 17
Get to know our new members BGF
We caught up with BGF’s Laura Cockburn to find out more about one of the UK’s most active investor.
Tell us about BGF and what you do.
BGF invests in small and mid-sized businesses that want investment to pursue growth. We have £2.5bn to support a range of companies across every region and sector of the economy.
There are three areas of activity. BGF Ventures supports disruptive, technology companies. BGF Growth team supports established (c. £5m+ turnover) companies and BGF Quoted team funds AIM listed companies.
Across all areas of our business, we make long-term, patient capital investments in exchange for a minority equity stake. We provide funding for growth and equity release. And we offer access to a business network made up of board-level business people.
BGF was set up in 2011 and is now the most active investor in small and mid-sized companies by a long way. That’s something we’re really proud of.
Typically, we make initial investments of between £2m-£10m and more in subsequent rounds.
My role is to find, identify and get to know businesses we’d like to invest in. And, help businesses who might be interested in our funding understand more about BGF.
What inspired you to get involved with the business?
I’d had more than 15 years’ investment experience before I joined BGF. I worked with lots of businesses, advising on a range of transactions including fundraising, trade sales and institutional investments.
Entrepreneurs have different ambitions and aspirations for their businesses. But a concern many had around equity investment related to loss of control or being asked to drive the business too hard and too fast.
BGF is a patient investor and only ever takes minority stakes. I knew that would be attractive to lots of entrepreneurs who wanted to add further scale to their business, and also retain control. And personally, being on that journey with a company is fascinating and exciting.
What’s changed since you started the business?
Since BGF has set up in 2011 it has opened 10 offices, backed 180 companies and grown to a team of more than 150. We’ve recently rebranded, opened up an office in Dublin and been involved in the Government’s Patient Capital Review. It’s been a busy summer.
BGF is still relatively young but has been very focused on building scale, and getting even closer in proximity to growing companies across the UK. We operate a regional model. My role, working specifically across Kent, Sussex and Surrey, is part of that model. That means we really are part of the local business communities.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
The best part by far is meeting lots of different businesses, entrepreneurs and advisors. There’s so much variety in my job – a CEO can be demonstrating a new SaaS to me one day. The next I can be heading to see the management team at a growing restaurant chain or digital marketing agency.
Our South East portfolio is quite London heavy and my role is to find the gems across these Southern counties and help them be the best businesses they can be. That’s a really exciting challenge.
What do you love about doing business in Brighton?
Brighton is such a creative city and you can see that in the businesses that are founded and built here. And if it’s not too cliché to say, there is such a great energy and enthusiasm.
What is your top tip for business success/getting investment ready?
Business success means different things to different people, but if you want to scale-up, having a good team around you is key. Have a clear strategy for what you want to achieve. However, great teams are constantly absorbing new information and challenging themselves and their strategy.
We are looking for companies that have the capacity to grow and unique features that set them apart from their competitors. We’re here to help ambitious businesses discover and take advantage of sources of new growth potential, and then work in partnership with them to make a difference.
Thanks to Laura Cockburn from BGF for speaking to us and writing this blog. You can find out more about the BGF here.
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