Fast-growing UK businesses operate in diverse sectors and create inspiring success stories for other businesses looking to grow.
But while funding is key to their growth, the human side of business finance is just as important.
Raising your first round of external finance can seem like a daunting task for growing businesses.
It takes time, effort and resource and at the end of the process, could still result in rejection. That’s why any offer of much-needed capital is usually welcome by anyone seeking finance for the first time.
But while hard cash is important, businesses need to look at more than just money when it comes to finance and look to find funding relationships that suit their needs, because it’s the people behind the money that you need to work with.
The 100 Stories of Growth campaignLink opens in a new window has spoken to hundreds of successful business founders across the UK about what successful growth funding looks like.
And without exception, they agree that a great connection with the people behind their finance which helps drive their growth and success.
Trust in your finance provider
Company founders and CEOs look for investment from finance providers who share their business vision.
They want real people who have the patience, commitment and funds to partner with them. But above all, they look for professionals who they can trust on their growth journey.
The following stories, from the 100 Stories of Growth campaign, highlight four businesses that have found their funding sweet spot, showing that all types of viable companies can grow with tailored finance solutions and providers that match their ambitions.
Zilico’s EIS route to medtech success
It can take years for medtech companies like Manchester-based Zilico to achieve clinical validation for their products. But long-term focus and patience paid off for Zilico when the company’s ZedsScan device – which speeds up cervical cancer diagnosis times – secured all-important regulatory approval in 2013, a process which started after the business was founded in 2006.
Then came a vital growth capital choice. While other similar companies were looking for backing from VCs and Private Equity investors, Zilico instead opted for Expansion Capital, not just because it suited both the business and the investor, but also because the £3m it was looking for qualified for the UK’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).
CEO Sameer Kothari says: “EIS has become a real option for growth capital. It allows trusted advisors to make an educated decision on the portfolio businesses on behalf of investors. EIS funding allows Zilico to access generalist investors outside of medical specialist circles.”
Century Tech secures edtech grant and private funding
Edtech specialist Century Tech’s innovative platform aims to improve educational attainment in UK schools.
From its London headquarters, the company gathers and analyses rich data as students learn, helping parents, teachers and schools improve outcomes.
Founder and CEO Priya Lakhani secured a highly sought-after £250,000 grant from Innovate UK in 2016 for her social impact-driven artificial intelligence product.
Lakhani then raised £4.3m in equity investment from private investors, thanks in part to their social impact motivations. They included Sinclair Beecham, the founder of UK-based international sandwich shop chain Pret a Manger, who Lakhani describes as “incredibly passionate about education”.
Lakhani says: “Our investors will see a return, but at the same time they are fuelling a positive and exciting development in society.”
HiB banked on invoice finance to grow
Luxury bathroom mirror and cabinet specialist HiB has thrived on nurturing long-term relationships to break through the £20m annual revenue barrier.
CEO Robert Ginsberg puts his success down to the dedication and commitment of his Tamworth and London teams. But HiB has also reaped benefits of Invoice Finance.
"We had a cash flow struggle between needing the stock to support growth and having cash to support this," says Ginsberg.
HiB's bank helped by raising working capital against its receivables – known as invoice financing or factoring. And HiB's regular sales and purchasing patterns supported this finance option. This strategy helped HiB grow its revenue from the £8m level to around £15m.
Kromek’s long road to listing on AIM
At the other end of the funding spectrum, Sedgefield-based Kromek, a business that builds radiation detection technologies, has raised more than $100m of funding since it was spun out from the University of Durham in 2003.
And it's thanks to patient investors that Kromek has been able to continually grow. Which is why it's no surprise that CEO Arnab Basu, says that without access to a strong patient capital base "you're unable to scale".
In the early days, Kromek benefitted from the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) but since then, it has worked closely with more than 90 investors, culminating in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2013 on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
You can read more about the stories mentioned here in full at www.100stories.co.uk