Describe the company – the elevator pitch …
SEP help to build great companies. We invest in high growth businesses in the UK, Ireland and other European countries, across a range of technology and tech-enabled sectors. We are an award-winning venture capital and growth equity firm with a successful track record spanning over 20 years, with over 150 investments made and 130 exits completed.
What have been your most successful investments to date?
SEP has been behind some of Europe’s most successful technology companies including Skyscanner, the global travel search business sold to Ctrip at the end of 2016 for £1.5 billion. We were also the largest venture capital investor in online luxury fashion destination Matchesfashion.com before Apax Partners announced their acquisition of a majority stake in September 2017.
What is your experience of investing in Ireland?
We have invested in a number of companies in Ireland over the years. Funding from SEP helped drive international growth at Clavis Insight the e-commerce analytics business based in Dublin, and we were also an investor in Irish electronics business Powervation which was acquired by ROHM Semiconductor.
How are you different?
Our regional focus, technology investment track record and the quality of our team are important factors but above all else it is the quality of the partnerships we build with entrepreneurs and management teams that makes a real difference.
We understand the challenges and opportunities involved in scaling a business and work closely with our portfolio companies to help them capitalise on growth opportunities whether organic, through internationalisation or via acquisition. We believe that being an active, local and engaged investor builds value.
Where are you based?
We have offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, but we operate across the UK and Ireland, and make selective investments elsewhere in Europe.
What market sectors do you focus on?
We invest across a whole range of sectors, but particularly in enterprise software, consumer internet and tech-enabled service businesses. We are currently seeing several exciting SaaS businesses, capitalising on the move away from on-premise software solutions. Typical investment size is €10-25m, but we can also do larger deals alongside others, including the investors in our own funds. Regardless of sector, we are looking for the core ingredients of a scalable business – an outstanding team, a growing market opportunity and a proven ability to manage growth in terms of people, systems and financial controls.
What tips would you give to companies looking to build their business?
Make sure you secure the right investor for your business. Do your own due diligence on whether funders possess the right blend of skills, experience, knowledge and networks to help your company attract top talent, seize opportunities, mitigate risks, navigate difficult times and build value. Investment is a long-term business – or at least it should be – so ask yourself whether you’d want a prospective investor on your board if they didn’t also bring money. If the answer is ‘no’ you should probably go no further, if it is ‘yes’ you are likely to make a smart decision.
Tell us about your team
We are an independent, owner-managed firm with a team of over 40 people. Our partners and senior executives take up board positions with investee companies and so personal dynamics and experience matter if everyone is going to get the best out of the investment relationship. It is vital that our team possess the skills required to align with management ambitions but also to help tackle tough issues in a professional manner.
What are your long-term plans?
Long term we wish to continue to work with ambitious management teams, funding global growth and bringing our strategic input, networks and experience to help increase shareholder value.
How do people get in touch with you?