Another chapter unfolds…
February 2021 – This week is a big week for me and for the company I founded eight years ago.
For the last three years, we have been talking to a private equity house over in the States. Today, I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we have raised £75m from Great Hill Partners, an incredible growth specialist based in Boston, and that BigChange is now valued at £100m.
But this post isn’t really about the news. It is about recognising the people who have contributed to the success of this company. Without them, there would be no growth, no customers, and no BigChange.
Last week, I wrote about the importance of having a good team https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/takes-all-sorts-martin-port. I hope that this fundraising announcement puts my words into a new context. The 170 people who work at BigChange have made it the £100m company you see today.
The important people on this journey are my family. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with me sometimes. I’m always on the go, always trying to be three steps ahead with the business. That means I sometimes miss things – important things – at home. Yet my wife and my children have supported me and backed me all the way, even when I was distracted as they talked about their day, when I had late nights, when I wasn’t around as much as I would like.
No one deserves more credit than my brilliant wife (and co-director), Mandy. She is not only a wonderful mother to our kids, she also juggles everything from office cakes to commerce here at BigChange.
So, first and foremost, this growth opportunity is down to my family.
It’s also down to the team, who have worked tirelessly to create a technology that puts customers first, and help them become more efficient and successful – even through these challenging times. I want to give a shout out to my amazing management team: raising investment can be a distraction for growing businesses but we never missed a beat, thanks also to Andrew Scully and Johann Levy for being with me from the beginning of this journey. Whether here in Leeds, or in Europe, people are the lifeblood of BigChange.
Next, I want to thank our customers for being loyal fans of this company. When we first started out, we had a vision of where we wanted to go and how we wanted to get there. Our first customers took a chance on us. They helped to hone our proposition, telling us what they liked and what they needed. This two-way communication has been vital to our growth and I am so grateful to the 1,500 companies and the 50,000 mobile workers and back office personnel that use our platform today.
I can’t imagine a better investor than Great Hill Partners. Over these past weeks and months, partners Chris Busby, Drew Loucks supported by Greg Stewart, and Richard Warley we got to know one another pretty well. Respect has turned to friendship and I know that they will be an asset on our journey ahead. From that very first meeting, I saw that GHP shares many of our values: a commitment to ethics, transparency, caring for employees and customers alike, and a vision for how technology can help shape the future.
I also need to say an enormous thank you to our outgoing shareholders. Where would we be without your faith and patient capital? We raised £1.2m back in 2013. That investment allowed us to expand internationally and build out the platform. It gets easier to raise money when you’re a big, established business but I’ll never forget the people who believed in my Yorkshire start-up before we had the track record and global reach we do today.
I also want to thank my advisers. Graham Pearce and Ekrem Shahin from KPMG supported by Chris Langrick from Langrick’s helped on the corporate finance side, and Andrew Harris from Vedder Price and Nigel Hoyle from Blacks provided exceptional legal advice. Advisors rarely get the credit for the brilliant work they do and the insight they bring: let me tell you, when they are this good, it makes the process a whole lot easier.
I share the credit for this landmark investment with all of these people, and I promise that I will keep working as hard as I can to live up to your belief in me and BigChange.
We plan to double the size of the team over the next three to five years, taking us to 400 people. That will mean that there is incredible scope to develop a career within BigChange, and even to travel to other countries, for those seeking adventure.
This growth opportunity also gives us the firepower to make a big investment in our technology, and keep bringing out new features and improvements. We are absolutely committed to achieving every single one of the pledges we made to our customers day one: we help them to: go paperless, become leaner, cut carbon emissions, drive more safely, and grow their businesses. Now, we will do that faster and more efficiently than ever before.
And this is only the beginning, the next chapter in the story of BigChange. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to work tirelessly, alongside my management team and new partners from GHP, to build BigChange into a tech unicorn, worth £1bn.
I wanted to write this post because it’s easy to scroll past a deal announcement without really knowing what – or who – went into making it happen. I’m so proud of all we have built and how hard we have all worked to get us to this point – and so grateful.
And now… Let’s get to work. That unicorn won’t build itself.