Richard TurnerWhen looking for high-tech venture funding it is crucial to get over the credibility gap. Meeting people’s expectations in terms of the motivation, calibre and track record of the management team is key. How the team complement each other is also important. As a general guide here are our thoughts: -

A Chairman – As the public face and advocate of the business the chairman should have industry credibility and a demonstrable commercial awareness. Ideally he should have developed and sold a business in the space and have invested in the company.

CEO – The primary entrepreneur of the team – its entrepreneurial heart. the CEO should be technically literate and have the drive and ambition to keep the momentum of the company moving forward. He must be able to sell and execute substantial deals.

CTO – As the person to supervise the product development, testing, and future product evolution the CTO must have a proven track record in the field, be able to communicate with sales and marketing, and represent the product to customers.

These three team members are the foundation of the company. If these are strong other members of the team covering areas such as sales, marketing, and finance can always be added.

There may be a gap between how the team works operationally and how it looks on paper However what is important is the level of real commitment and whether the team can deliver.

If the right team is not in place you will have a hard time convincing a VC to invest – however good the proposal or business plan.


Mentoring PlusSuccessful entrepreneurs and business leaders will often mention the name of someone who has inspired or mentored them at some point – and often it is an ongoing relationship that will will last for years. Having a mentor means having a supportive relationship with someone that can influence your life in a positive way and can help to develop self-esteem and confidence. For vulnerable young adults in a society with low social mobility this can be a life changing experience.

This is why Catalyst are supporting Mentoring Plus – an independent Bath based youth crime reduction and prevention initiative working with young offenders or those who at risk of offending aged between 12 and 17.

The overall aims of Mentoring Plus are to

Reduce youth crime and other at-risk behaviour;
Increase young people’s involvement in education training and employment;
Empower young people to maximise their potential;
Enhance young people’s sense of personal worth and community responsibility;

The Mentoring Plus model of mentoring and social/educational development is one that the staff and volunteers are sincerely committed to, believing that the combination of one to one support and structured activities gives young people the maximum opportunity of succeeding.  They hope that at the end of the project all the young people involved do not offend and in addition have an improved quality of life.

As explained by one of the mentors “Mentoring is not about radical change. It’s about nudging someone a few degrees in a different direction. But these degrees can mean the difference between prison and a job, and that really matters“.

For more information see the Mentoring Plus website.


Typically, the stages involved in a Management Buyout and the likely sequence of events are;

agree on members of the management buy-out team, and the choice of managing director;
select and appoint financial advisers to the management team;
assess whether the opportunity is suitable for a buy-out;
obtain approval or accept the invitation to pursue a management buyout, if the opportunity is suitable;
determine or evaluate the vendor’s asking price;
write the business plan;
meet three or four carefully selected equity investors;
obtain written offers of financial backing from each investor;
appoint legal advisers to the management;
select the preferred lead investor;
negotiate the best possible equity deal for the management;
negotiate the purchase of the business, with a cost indemnity and a period of exclusivity;
carry out due diligence using investigating accountants;
obtain debt finance and syndicate equity investment if necessary;
prepare and negotiate legal documents;
and achieve legal completion.

Read about the importance of the Business Plan in an MBO in our blog next week or download the white paper from our Resources section


It’s an understatement to say that it has been a very tough time for businesses recently. On top of the difficulty that many small businesses have raising finance the economy is pretty flat, there are government cuts, and many challenges ahead.

But it’s not all bad! I was really encouraged last Tuesday when I went along to the Investability conference organised by Bath & Bristol Enterprise Network (BEN). It’s tremendous to see so many people seriously engaged in looking to support early stage technology businesses in the South West.

There are many organisations working in this sector including BEN itself,  Universities, Technology Strategy Board, South West Science & Industry Council, Set Squared, IOD, the Innovation Centres, SWAIN, and professional advisors to name but a few.

A major new resource, the science park, will open later this year. BEN is organising a further major event, Venturefest Bristol 2011, on 3rd November this year. Don’t miss it if you are seriously interested in this sector.

By Jim Marshall, Associate