Midven’s Chairman Brian Blakemore, a leading financial expert with a career spanning 40 years in the banking and investment industries, shares his perspective on entrepreneurship and risk taking. His full commentary may be found in the forward of the recent Midven Annual Review.
I remain very bullish about the new opportunities being seen in start-up, early stage and growth businesses across the UK as today’s entrepreneurs have access to vital elements needed to succeed within the current market environment: inspiration, drive, favourable business conditions and access to capital.
Negativity surrounding the market continues to be overdone and an overly pessimistic view of the financial markets may prevent entrepreneurs from taking the essential risks necessary to create dynamic businesses and technologies. Risk taking is essential. An innovative entrepreneur must have a well-founded business plan and the foresight to buck trends to benefit from a real market opportunity.
When investing in early-stage and growth businesses, the fundamentals of a successful investment remain the same almost regardless of the overall economic situation. Put simply, we consistently look for sound business plans and good management. One of the key challenges we face is finding good management who have the initial vision for the business and the skills to grow and develop the company coupled with the ability to adapt to work as part of a team as the business grows. This is a challenging combination, but there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who fit the bill.
Venture capital firms should maintain a positive focus and at Midven, we expect a strong investment pace throughout 2014. In the recent months, we have made a number of new start-up investments including Corso, Caption Data, Kobus, Diverse World and Craft Dragon. These innovative companies across a wide spectrum of sectors show that there is a thriving entrepreneurial drive, which is being bolstered by venture backing.
Brian joined Midven as a Non-Executive Chairman in 2009. His career spans 40 years in the banking and investment industries, mostly within the West Midlands. Mr Blakemore was most recently with Barclays Private Equity, which he joined in 1989 to open their first regional office in the UK, located in Birmingham. He became a director in 1998 and was a member of the UK Executive Committee. After leading the Barclays Private Equity Midlands Team for over ten years, Brian was appointed Investor Relations Director in December 2000.
He was a key part of the team which successfully raised the firms first 3 funds: the €1.25 billion Barclays Private Equity European Fund in 2002, the €1.65 billion Barclays Private Equity European Fund ll in 2005, and the €2.45 billion Barclays Private Equity European Fund lll in 2007. Mr Blakemore retired from Barclays Private Equity in September 2008 and as well as his involvement with Midven is engaged in various consulting projects and training. Brian is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.