On Thursday 21 March, more than 50 Founders and CEOs of the UK’s leading tech companies attended Kennet Partners’ London technology event.
The event aimed to provide helpful insights to Founders/CEOs on navigating companies through phases of growth upwards to 100M+ in revenues.
Adrian Blair and Mike Laven shared key lessons from their recent journeys. Adrian was COO of Just Eat from 2011 to 2018 where he had P&L responsibility for all markets, growing revenue from £25m to over £700m. During this time, Adrian oversaw the company’s transition from start up to a FTSE 100 company. In February 2019, Adrian was appointed CEO of Kennet portfolio company Receipt Bank. Michael has had an extensive career in building and leading successful software companies in Silicon Valley and London.
Currently CEO of CurrencyCloud in London, Michael was previously Chairman of Kennet portfolio company FRS Global (sold to Wolters Kluwer) and has also been CEO of Iris Financial, KWI, Cohera, Infinity Financial and Coronet, and COO of Traiana (sold ICAP for $247 million). Michael sits on the Kennet Executive Advisory Board.
Here are some of the insights shared from the event for founders/CEOs.
• Trust your Team. As your company grows beyond the initial founding team, it’s important to empower the next layer of management with real responsibility, otherwise your organisation won’t scale with the growth of the company, and bottlenecks will arise. Doing so may lead to short-term issues – but will be worth it for the resulting impact on long-term growth, both personal and at the company level.
• Culture, Culture, Culture. Once you have built an empowered management team, the key determinant of execution success is culture. Make sure that you have a culture where good performance is rewarded, bad performance is dealt with professionally, and teams have fun together.
• Have a Vision. Having a powerful vision that both founders and employees buy into is a strong strategic asset for any growth-stage company. It helps to ensure that people pull together in the same direction and that the team is more than a collection of highly educated mercenaries. You might scoff, but these days the majority of employees at many tech companies are Millennials, who have been shown to genuinely care about values. It’s important to remember this when coming up with your company vision.
• Focus on your customers, employees, senior management and investors.... in that order. If you focus on your customers and employees, good things will happen for your investors. But if you focus only on your investors, then customers and employees will suffer, and ultimately so will your investors.
• Be wary of Investors with a large number of portfolio investments. Traditional VC investors own a portfolio of businesses and rely on a few big winners to generate their returns. If you are a bootstrapped founder, be wary of VC investors that push for you to aggressively expand your business, as this may not sit well with your risk appetite. Growth capital may be a better suited to your needs.
Overall the evening was a great success. Look out for the next Kennet event in H2 2019 and if you have any questions about funding your business, please get in contact with a member of the team.
Kennet is an established growth equity investor and is actively seeking investment opportunities in bootstrapped and capital efficient growth stage technology companies in the UK.