Membership Login MENU

May 2017

T’S easy to think of investors as either faceless figures of the banking world or the fiery characters
epitomised by the BBC’s Dragons Den series.
But it’s clear from the moment I enter a plush side room in the Clifton Club and meet the five men who are
keen to tell me all about the successof the Bristol Private Equity Club
(BPEC), that this organisation is neither faceless nor fiery “We’re certainly not Dragons,” explains Allan Rosengren, the current chairman of BPEC, whose career has seen him lead big financial service companies like the Lighthouse Group and Falcon Group.
“In fact, we specifically do not want to be like the Dragons – we want to be supportive, whether it’s with the
companies we’re investing in, or with those who come to see us with a pitch.”
BPEC was the idea of Jerry Barnes, who had been involved in a similar club in London and believed it could work for Bristol.
Six founder members including Allan and Jerry each brought their own special skills – Denis Mullan (who
covers corporate finance), Charles Cook (legals) Julian Telling (investment) and digital entrepreneur Mark
Mason (tech).
“The idea was to get together a group of successful entrepreneurs with experience and spare capital,
who could invest both money and skills into local businesses that need it,” Jerry explains.
The club – which meets in the regal surroundings of the Clifton Club -was formed just under 12 months ago
and has already grown to 42 members, who between them have invested £1 million in young busiesses from the Bristol region.
“We’re not angel investors,” Jerry says. “We’re not here to work with start-ups, but rather those who are a little further along their journey, who are ready to take that first step up with investment, but aren’t quite
in the league of the big investors yet.”
Mark Mason, best known for his success with digital agency Mubaloo, adds: “There was a definite gap there
at that level of investment, which we thought we could help with – previously I was seeing a lot of com-
panies at that sort of stage having to look to London for investment. The club is all about keeping growth in
The “club” matches businesses needing support with the capital and skills needed. It receives investment
proposals and a panel of club members decide what to back.
The club supports businesses needing between £150,000 to £500,000 of growth capital and may take a
minority equity stake, but can offer more than cash – with their combined experience in all sectors and
sometimes even joining the boards of companies to offer non-executive guidance.
Denis Mullan says it’s a great time Members of the Bristol Private Equity Club, which invests in young businesses from the Bristol region to be an investor in the city as the Bristol business ecosystem is thriving.
“The incubators that are out there now are doing a wonderful job of bringing talent through and fully equipping them for the world of business,” he says. The club has been working particularly closely with SETsquared, the organisation behind the Engine Shed incubator.
Monika Radclyffe, centre director for the Bristol SETsquared Centre, says: “They have filled a real gap in
the investor market which is making a huge difference to companies at the sort of level we work with at SET-squared. It’s a great initiative.”

May 2017

A Bristol optical products developer has secured a six-figure investment from Bristol Private Equity Club and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund.
Azul Optics is developing an instrument that can help to identify individuals who may be at risk of a common eye condition that can cause blindness. The instrument was the idea of Dr Shelby Temple of the University of Bristol School of Biological Science.
The equity injection of £310,000 will provide seed funding for product development.
Bristol Private Equity Club, which is made up of 41 entrepreneurs, has provided £160,000 with the remaining £150,000 provided by the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund, which is managed by Parkwalk Advisors.
Azul Optics chief executive Joseph Cefai said: “Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of incurable blindness in the Western World, affecting up to one in ten people over the age of 65.
“By screening for low macular pigment density, opticians can advise people to make lifestyle changes early that can help prevent the problem developing.
“Dr Temple invented, prototyped and clinically evaluated the screening device and our aim is to develop the instrument and make it commercially available to opticians. We hope that with this funding we can bring the device to the market within 18 months.”
Azul Optics previously secured a £500,000 non-repayable Innovate UK, Aid For Start Ups grant to get the business to its current level and this latest injection of equity will enable manufacturing, sales and marketing.
Article from 10th May 2017

Latest News and Press

Bristol firm’s camera helps find gas leaks

A quantum-enabled gas imaging Lidar camera able to visualise and quantify ...

April 2021


A group of successful entrepreneurs from the Bristol area have set ...

March 2021

SETsquared Bristol contributes 10% of total investment raised in South West for third consecutive year

SETsquared Bristol is delighted to announce that its members raised a combined ...

February 2021


A Bristol-based technology business which manages household bills for students has ...

January 2021


A group of successful Bristol-based entrepreneurs has invested £192,500 into a ...

January 2021

BPEC beneficiaries celebrate awards successes

Three Bristol-based technology businesses which received vital early-stage investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) have been recognised at two prestigious ...

November 2020