Nathan Morgan is the Director of ScaleUp at Bristol-based finance and advisory team Shaw & Co, which has a strong track record of helping South West business owners to grow, fund and exit their companies.
This September sees the launch of their exciting new Funding Academy, which provides coaching for early-stage companies seeking to raise investment.
We caught up with Nathan to find out more about this exciting venture and how it all came about.
What do you love most about your job?
Helping great people with exciting businesses to take the next step. After my Physics Masters at Imperial College London, I started my business career with one of the Big Four accountancy firms.
While I learnt a lot there, what I really enjoy is using that experience to help passionate owner managers lead exciting young companies to success, rather than working with big corporates.
How do you see the South West as a place for young businesses?
You don’t need to be a genius to see that this region has a lot going for it. There is a vibrant, growing ecosystem with several world-class incubators and accelerators supporting hundreds of innovative, flourishing companies.
It took a little while for the wider investment world to catch up, but they certainly have now. The region’s growing herd of unicorns has helped put the region on the global stage, but it is the depth of talented founders and exciting businesses that holds attention.
How do you and Shaw & Co help local businesses scale up?
In three main ways. Firstly, we can help you get ready to attract investment – and that might be anything from developing a strong business plan to financial modelling or working on your pitch deck. The second way is through our experience and contacts in the investment world.
We are talking to, and closing deals with, funders all the time so we know what they’re looking for and we can match them up with the right companies. Finally, once a deal is in progress, we help with the transaction process, which can be very demanding for a business owner to handle on their own.
Is now a good time to be scaling up in the South West?
Definitely. From venture capital funds to high net worth individuals and family offices, there is a lot of money looking for a home – and the South West is now firmly on the map! But that doesn’t mean they aren’t choosy, particularly given the high prices that good businesses currently command.
Investors see a lot of decks, so you need to stand out from the crowd as well as being well organised and prepared. You will only get one shot with an investor, so it’s vital to make the most of it.
That can be tough for scaleups who are looking for their first significant or institutional investment, and often don’t have the depth of experience or resources to understand and provide everything that investors need.
Is that part of the thinking behind your new Funding Academy initiative?
Very much so. It offers south-west entrepreneurs structured, expert help to get their businesses ready for external investment. The programme is made up of five one-day classroom sessions spread over five months, with one-to-one support in between.
We have got some amazing speakers lined up, and best of all, the academy is free to all participants and fully funded by Shaw & Co!
Of course, I also work directly with individual early-stage businesses looking to raise funds, but we will expect them to have annualised revenue of around £1m and a defensible track record. The Academy means we can help more businesses get to that point and find investment.
Sounds great, where do I apply?
If you’re looking to scale up your business through external funding and would like to be part of our Academy, simply send your pitch deck or a business summary to email@example.com.
Our 1st cohort in September is full but applications are open for our 2nd cohort starting in January.
What’s different about Shaw & Co?
We put people first. Many of us have owned or run businesses and understand the pressures you’re under as well as the passion you have. We’re a scaleup ourselves and we’re not here to sell a specific product or service, we’re here to understand what you want and help you get there.
On the way, we will provide whatever support you need, using our experience to advise you and negotiate on your behalf. We enjoy what we do and are very happy to have an informal chat, so feel free to get in touch.
And finally, what piece of advice would you give to an owner looking to scale up?
It’s easy to get caught up in, or maybe put off by, the complexities of funding rounds, equity shares and contract terms before you even start. Instead, keep it simple, have a clear vision for your business and what gives it a unique place in the market. Everything else, we can help you with!