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BRISTOL EVENING POST – 10 MAY 2017

NEWS POSTED - 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
Bristol.”
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.”


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