Who are you, and what do you do?
BGF invests in small and mid-sized businesses that want investment to pursue growth. We make long-term, patient capital investments in exchange for a minority equity stake, providing funding for growth and equity release, and offering access to a talent network made up of board-level business people.
We’re the most active investor for growing companies and entrepreneurs in the UK and Ireland, and most recently we became the only investment company to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. For a company that was set up in 2011, that’s something we’re incredibly proud of.
Tell us about the businesses you back in Surrey
With an economy worth over £37bn, Surrey is well-known for being one of the most productive areas of the UK, and its small and med-sized business economy is no exception. Across the county, we’ve backed businesses from a range of sectors, including law firm MacMillan Williams and fraud-prevention software company Semafone, to support their growth strategies and help build their networks. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the companies we back fulfil their potential.
We initially invested in Guildford-based Semafone in October 2014 to help them deliver their new contract wins and expand overseas. They’re now the leading provider of data security and fraud prevention software, and have been selected for the second time as one of the top 100 UK businesses on the Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track List for having the fastest-growing international sales over the last two years.
What is your top tip for businesses seeking investment?
Know your options. Many small businesses worry equity partnerships mean losing control, but our minority stake means you always stay in control of the day-to-day running of your business. Beyond that, if you want to scale-up, having a good team around you is key. That doesn’t necessarily have to be in place before you receive an investment. In fact, many founders and CEOs use BGF’s funding to do exactly that – scale and strengthen their management team. A good product or service is obviously important, but great people are absolutely critical.